Industry Profile: Louis Posen
By Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess MediaWire)
This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Louis Posen, president, Hopeless Records, and executive director, Sub City.
Since 1993, Hopeless Records, based in Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley of California, has issued more than 200 recordings.
This includes releases by Yellowcard, Thrice, Avenged Sevenfold, Melee, All Time Low, There For Tomorrow, Anarbor, the Dangerous Summer, There For Tomorrow, Still The In Crowd, Amber Pacific, the Human Abstract, and others.
Headed by 39-year-old Louis Posen, and run with eight employees, feisty Hopeless is widely celebrated for its style and class in the punk world as well as its astute, if not timely, A&R acumen.
There are also, of course, its wonderful, stylishly-packaged CD compilation series, “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” and its “Cinema Beer” video compilations.
While attending California State University-Northridge in the early ‘90s, Posen—then a 19-year-old aspiring filmmaker—was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare disease in which the retina of the eye progressively degenerates resulting in eventual blindness.
Posen, however, opted to continue his studies (receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree), and his pursuit of a film career. He was camera assistant on various films, commercials and music videos. While becoming immersed in California punk’s teeming club world set in Los Angeles, and San Francisco, he also directed video clips for several leading punk acts, including NOFX and Guttermouth.
In 1993, on a dare from Guttermouth members, Posen launched Hopeless Records and released their 7-inch single “Hopeless” from a Van Nuys’ garage.
Only in 1995, did Posen decide to take the label full-time. He soon signed such bands as 88 Fingers Louie, Funeral Oration, the Nobodys, Falling Sickness, Digger, Dillinger Four, Against All Authority, Atom and His Package, and Mustard Plug which delivered the label’s first release to break the 50,000-plus sales with its 1997 third-wave ska release, “Evildoers Beware.”
The first “Hopelessly Devoted to You Too” compilation in 1998, consisting of all Hopeless artists, became the label’s first release to sell over 100,000 albums.
More sales milestones were also made.
The 2003 release “Waking the Fallen” by Avenged Sevenfold sold over 500,000 albums in the U.S. alone. This groundbreaking album stayed on the Billboard Heatseekers chart for over 30 weeks
In 2009, All Time Low’s second album for the label, “Nothing Personal,” debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200, and had Top 50 debuts in Canada, Australia, Japan and the U.K.
In 1998, Posen decided to start a label devoted to helping those in need. Hopeless’ sister label Sub City (a 501C3 non-profit organization) was born a year later.
To date, Sub City has donated more than $2 million to over 50 nonprofit organizations with proceeds generated by Sub City's releases and the label's annual Take Action tour which has attracted such notable acts as Jimmy Eat World, the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Avenged Sevenfold, Paramore, Cute is What We Aim For and others.
It is not that different than when I started the label. We just had the Yellowcard record (“When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes”) come out (on March 22, 2011) and it debuted at #19 on the (Billboard) Top 200. That was great. Silverstein is coming in April (with “Rescue”). Wonder Years, one of our hotter newer bands, will have their debut on Hopeless coming out. We re-released their debut full length album (“The Upsides”,) which was originally released by No Sleep Records. We have There For Tomorrow’s sophomore release coming out this year. We Are The In Crowd’s full-length debut is coming out. There’s a lot of anticipation for it because the EP (“Guaranteed To Disagree”) has done so well. Anarbor should be going in the studio this year. So their record should be coming out this year or early next year.
[Anarbor will be featured in the upcoming documentary "Warped! No Room For Rock Stars." With more than 300 hours of film shot, the cinema vérité documentary was produced by Agi Orsi and Stacy Peralta, and directed by Parris Patton. A film crew followed Anarbor, and a number of other bands, during the entire 2010 Vans Warped Tour.]
Are you proud of the way Homeless and Sub City have developed?
I love what I am doing, and I am excited about the journey that we’ve been on, so far. I think that we have got a lot of opportunity, and a lot to improve on. I am not much a prideful person. I have a lot of pride in our staff, and in all of the people that have helped us along the way. And pride in the bands, for sure. I feel fortunate to be working with all the people that we work with, and to work with such amazing artists.
How much staff do you have?
We are eight in our Van Nuys’ office, and then we have label managers who handle our sales and marketing in different territories. We have someone in the U.K., a team in Italy for mainland Europe, a team in Australia, and Japan, and our newest (office) in Canada. Some of the people are exclusive and some work other product lines. Sarah (Lutz), who is our newest (representative) in Canada, also does Metal Blade Records and Prosthetic Records.
In the U.S, we are distributed by ADA (Alternative Distribution Alliance). In each territory, it's a different physical distributor because each territory is so different. In Canada, we go through E1 (Distribution) for physical. Digitally, we go through INgrooves outside the U.S.
What attracted to you to punk music?
There’s a culture around punk. I’m not one to define things like that. I let writers like you do that. Or I let the fans do it. I have never been the one holding the flag of punk rock.
Would you call Hopeless a punk rock label?
Well, I do but a lot of people hear the music and they say, “Well, that’s not punk rock.” We’re punk rock because that’s where we came from and that’s the community that we’re a part of. There are other communities like the independent community one but yeah, we are definitely part of the punk rock community.
When I was growing up (punk) was about sticking together, looking at things, bucking the current way of thinking about things, and trying to find solutions to problems. That was the part that I really identified with.
Punk was very much part of the independent music world too.
At the time, I didn’t identify it as independent versus not independent. In reflection, it is. But it was its own world, it still is and, there is a community. We hang out together when we see each other. We hang out at South by Southwest or wherever we are at as a community; and we look at each other as partners. We are not really looking at each other as competitors.
I love finding new labels and entrepreneurs in this business, and sharing whatever experience and knowledge I have. I’m not someone who is protective of what we have learned. I think that the more people who are doing well, the better it is for us. I love finding similar minded people, who are going to do great in this business, and helping them any way that I can.
How much of your business is still physical?
Less than 50%. That started to change in 2004. (Digital) has been a great opportunity for small companies. It really has leveled the playing field on distribution. It has caused some issues that we have to work through. Like an unhealthy physical retail business, and people deciding to get things for free (via downloading) rather than paying. There are some challenges involved, but I don’t think that they are outweighed by all of the opportunities there are.
What is the primary advantage of digital for a niche label?
We are never out of stock at the #1 retailer in the world (iTunes). When we started this business, to say that we could never be out of stock at the top retailer, we would have been jumping up-and-down. (Back then) we would have to go in (retail stores) sometimes on our own and sell (records) directly to them. Or go in and move (records) to a better position in the store because nobody would have been able to find it.
Digital has leveled the distribution field.
I agree. That is why I feel that it is a great time, and (there’s) a great opportunity for smaller companies, and for unsigned artists. I feel that we are in a good place as a company which has been around, and that has deep relationships. So when we do need a gate opened, it can be opened. But we are also small enough to have an infrastructure that makes sense for the kind of revenues that are coming in now.
Do you do A&R directly yourself?
That’s a word we don’t use very much here. We’re a team so everybody is A&R. But, I’m still the one who negotiates the deals.
You have the last say?
Well, someone has to have their hand on the wheel. Everybody can’t have their hand on the wheel. That person, with their hand on the wheel, is the one with the best direction or knows how the engine works, or knows how to fit all of the luggage into the trunk. I hold the wheel, but clearly we have a team that makes this thing work.
How are the artist deals structured?
When we started we didn’t have enough history or experience to ask an artist to stay exclusively with us. So we started slow, and we did one-off deals. Then, we went to two album deals, and then to three album deals. We haven’t yet gone to four album deals.
What’s your average breakeven sales figure for albums?
It is different with every artist. It is a challenging number to put because as soon as we hit that point then we want to keep re-investing. It really depends on if this is an artist that we’ve got more future with. (If so) then we will continue to invest and continue to not be profitable in hopes that we are investing for a larger return down the line.
Avenged Sevenfold’s 2003 album “Waking the Fallen” sold 500,000 units. Pretty substantial at the time.
It is still pretty substantial in our business. If all albums could do 500,000, that would be great.
How deep is your catalog?
We have over 200 releases between Hopeless and Sub City. Everything is available digitally. Everything is available physically, and most of our catalog is available on vinyl as well. Now that there’s the technology to do short runs (for CDs) I don’t see us not carrying physical. That was a concern a couple of years ago. That if something was selling under a certain amount, that it wouldn’t be able to stay in stock. But now with the technology, (manufacturers) are able to run off 30 copies of something.
It has been argued that the music industry has been too hasty in dumping formats.
Our philosophy is to listen to the fans. If the fans want vinyl, let them have vinyl. If they want a CD, let them have it. The same with digital or with streaming. We don’t decide what the fans want to listen to in order to experience their music. We just are the ones that are providing those files or products. The second that we stop listening to what the fans want we’ll be in big trouble.
I love the Newbury Comics retail chain because it carries all formats.
We’re big fans of Newbury Comics. They have done an amazing job because they are a lifestyle store, not a record store. That (strategy) adheres to what we have tried to do with our company. We have never called ourselves a record label. We have always said that we are a lifestyle company. We are an artist development company. That hasn’t changed from 1993 to today.
[New England-based music retailer Newbury Comics, co-founded by John Brusger and Mike Dreese, began as a comic book vendor in Boston in 1978. Today, the 27-store chain sells CDs, LPs, singles, and DVDs. It also sells comics, books, posters, T-shirts, trading cards, action figures, sports merchandise, novelties and other pop culture-related goods.]
Sub City will soon announce an event to celebrate raising $2 million for charities.
We are going to announce it in May. The event will most likely be at the beginning of September. We started Sub City as sort of an imprint of Hopeless in 1998. The concept was connecting bands, and fans to the causes that they are passionate about. We started putting out records, and doing the Take Action tour. We have broken the $2 million mark donated to various non-profit groups. So, the event will be a way to recognize all the people who have helped make that happen from the bands to distributors, managers, retailers, writers and so on.
[On Sub City releases, 5% of the gross goes to a charity. Sub City also sponsors tours from which 10% of ticket sales go to various causes. The label works with more than 50 charities.]
In 2007, Sub City held a similar celebration.
We had a fun event at The Troubadour (in West Hollywood) when we crossed $1 million. All Time Low played acoustic, and we gave out awards. We gave an award to Kevin Lyman for all of his help for the Warp tour subsidy; and to other people who really helped us make that milestone. We’re looking forward to doing the same with the $2 million event. I am promising not to have another event until $5 million.
Of course, 10% of the door from the upcoming Take Action tour will go to a charity.
This year it is headlined by Silverstein and Bayside. Our benefiting charity is Sexetc.org, which is a great site for young people to check out and find accurate information about sexual health.
[The Take Action 2011 tour will kick off April 22nd in Boston and wrap up May 28th in New York City and features Bayside, Silverstein, Polar Bear Club, the Swellers, and Texas In July.]
You went to film school at California State University Northridge. Did you want to be a director?
Yeah, I was pursuing a directing career. My area of emphasis was in film production. I focused mainly on feature films, documentaries and cause-oriented films. My heroes at the time were Alfred Hitchcock and Akira Kurosawa. I had earlier looked at a few film schools in Canada because I looked at myself as an honorary Canadian by that time. I was also playing hockey. I went to Calgary a couple of times to train there, but I decided to stay in L.A. I was already camera-assisting, and I wanted to keep working while going to school.
When did you start working in film?
I started taking still photos when I was about 12. I had a darkroom in my house when I was 15 in my bathroom. It created a nice smell in there. My parents loved that. I had a Pentax 1000. I also had a Pentax Super Program (known also as a Pentax Super-A) too. Along the way, I had a couple of different Pentaxes.
Then you started working as a production assistant.
I got a job at a yogurt store to make money, but that wasn’t my passion. I started driving down to Hollywood and I found Raleigh Studios. I just started walking around the lot, and knocking on peoples’ doors and said, “Hey, do you need any help with any projects that you are working on?” I soon became a P.A., getting people M&Ms and coffees. That led to the camera department, which I was interested in. I started being a camera assistant by the time I was 18. My main source of income through college was first or second ACing.
[Originally founded by Adolph Zukor as the Famous Players Fiction Studio in 1912, Raleigh Studios on Melrose Avenue is the oldest independent studio in Hollywood in continuous operation. Undergoing a five-year renovation and expansion in 1979, the 11- acre complex has 12 sound stages as well as production and support space. Some of television's most famous early shows were filmed at the studio, including “Superman,” “Gunsmoke” and “Perry Mason.”]
What attracted you to film production?
I have always been interested in things that move people emotionally, and that may make them think twice about the current way that they are thinking. That is more of an adult analytical view of it. I think that, as a kid, that I just liked that someone could see something or feel something, and it made them think beyond the current way of their thinking or made them feel connected emotionally.
Growing up, I don’t know about you, but many of us are looking for a culture that resonates with us, to help us identify and feel part of something. I tried a lot of different things and music and film were two that…when I met people that were into those things it reminded me of me, and it felt comfortable.
Film offers a global perspective.
It was wonderful, and it was eye-opening in seeing what was going on around the world through the eyes of film makers. It is experience that is hard to get in other disciplines at university.
Film is also a collaborative art. You learn to work with others. I would imagine you could bring that to running a label.
I haven’t thought about the benefits of the transition in that way, but I agree with you that film is a team sport, and so is running a company. I think that those experiences definitely benefited me, especially as we started to have more staff here. So, did my early years (benefit me), working with my step dad, my mom, and with my dad and seeing how businesses run. Those were all positive experiences. Human relations, organization and prioritizing.
Later on, I got into finding mentors and seeing how they do things and finding books and authors who could help me be, at what I thought at the time, was better at management. But, I realized later they helped me be better at leadership.
Were your parents in the entertainment business?
No. But I grew up working in my parents’ businesses. When I was pre-high school, I worked in my mother’s manufacturing and distribution business; doing the shipping and receiving, packing up plastic casters, and shipping them out. I also worked part-time in my step dad’s CPA (certified public accountant) firm, learning about book keeping, accounting, and taxes. My (biological) father had a sign/menu board manufacturing business in the restaurant industry.
Did you hang out at music stores as a teenager?
I did. I was the one going from one independent store to another trying to find that punk rock record that I couldn’t find in the larger stores; when Tower Records, which had a great selection, weren’t carrying the new NOFX (record) on vinyl. So I was going from store to store. I still keep in touch with some of those people that I used to hang out with in the record stores.
Los Angeles has had a strong punk scene dating back to Redd Kross, the Weirdos, Middle Class, Social Distortion, and Black Flag.
My era of L.A. was a little later than that. My first punk rock show was kinda old school in that it was X at The Reseda Country Club in ’86, out here (in the San Fernando Valley). It was really a life-changer for me. I was 15 years old. It was the first time that I had experienced music as a hands-on experience, not just a listening experience. I had never seen that kind of energy in a room at a show and I had been to a lot of concerts up until that point. (Starting at eight) my dad brought me to shows, including to Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, and I had seen the Police. I’d seen a lot of great bands before 15. But that was the first time that I had experienced the whole crowd moving to the music, and that type of energy. It really was a life-changer.
Did you see local bands like Fear, the Germs or the Circle Jerks?
I had seen many of them. I was so young that those were older bands to me. I started getting into the more of the Epitaph and Look Out (based in Berkeley, California) stuff. By high school, I started driving up to Berkeley to go Gilman Street and see the Bay Area bands, whether it was Green Day or Rancid. That (scene) is what led to my relationships there. The third video that I did was for the band Schlong with the drummer for Operation Ivy, Dave Mello.
You first operated Hopeless Records from a garage?
I started out from the garage of the house that I was renting while still going to Northridge. I was using the phone and fax machine at my step dad’s firm until they kicked me out once they realized what I was doing.
Why start a label?
It was a dare from the band. I was doing a video for Guttermouth, and they were in between labels. They had put out a record on Dr. Strange Records and we were doing an (animated music) video for "1, 2, 3…Slam!" They knew that they were going to another label, but they didn’t know where. They had new songs and they wanted to put them out. I guess that they didn’t know anybody who could do it. While we were doing the video they said, “This is really well-organized. Do you know how to put records out?” I said no. “Well, we’re guessing that you could do a better job than the other friends that we hang out with that drink to four in the morning, and sleep to three in the afternoon. So, do you want to try it?” So I said that I would try it.
Meanwhile, you were still in school.
I was. I had already done a NOFX video, so I knew those guys. So I was in touch with Fat Mike (lead singer/bassist of NOFX) and I knew that he had Fat Wreck Chords. So, I had a resource to call, and ask questions. Then I went searching for a (music industry) book so I would have some idea of what I was doing. It was really a one-off dare. It wasn’t a business plan to start a record label.
You purchased Diane Sward Rapaport’s ground-breaking book “How to Make and Sell Your Own Recording.” It’s an outstanding book on how to break into the music industry.
It is. I remember the day that I bought it. I remember the store and I remember where it was. The store doesn’t exist anymore. It was Crown Books on Van Nuys Boulevard and Ventura Boulevard (in Sherman Oaks). I remember reading it.
At the time, I copied out a one-page (sell sheet) example. I didn’t know what a one-sheet was, and I had the 7-inch (“Hopeless”). I got them out. The book had a list of distributors. I called each of them. I Xeroxed the one sheet. I whited out the stuff from the example, and just pasted the Guttermouth information there. Then I made more copies and then faxed them out to all of those distributors in that book. That’s where I got Sounds of California, Dutch East (Dutch East Indian Trading) and Revolver—my first slew of regional distributors. We sold quite a few of those 7-inchers. That was another stroke of fortune that the first thing that we put out was a band that we had a demand. I really didn’t have to do a ton of marketing in order to sell the 7-incher.
L.A. is a perfect place to launch a label in terms of influences and opportunity.
It is amazing how many courses of luck there have been along the way; and different forks in the road that I either chose to take or were unconscious choices that have brought our company and me to where we are. I can’t tell you how fortunate and lucky I feel. And being in L.A. has definitely been one of them.
You didn’t do much with the label until 1995.
That’s true. It was really a hobby for the first couple of years. Doing it out of my step dad’s office, and the garage. I was continuing school and directing music videos. I did the video (“Shattered Life") for Schlong. They said they’d always wanted to cover “West Side Story.” I said, “Okay. If I pay for it, will you do it?” And they said “yes.” And that (“Punk Side Story”) was the second release with Schlong.
It’s a classic.
It certainly is. It is amazing. The guitar player (Gavin MacArthur) didn’t have the sheet music, and he didn’t have the CD. He had a vinyl version of the (Broadway) play. He listened to it over and over again and figured out all of the parts. He taught it to the rest of the band. I drove up to Oakland, and they recorded the whole thing in two days.
It really had an authenticity and spontaneity to it because it wasn’t over-thought. Guest vocalists came in, and just belted the songs) out. They weren’t trying to go for something. They just did what felt right to them. “Maria” was sung by Andrew Asp from Nuisance. He just came in, he was totally drunk, and he just sang it, and you could feel it.
So that was the second release for the label.
Number three was the video compilation (“Cinema Beer-Te” with clips by NOFX, Rancid, Guttermouth, Lag Wagon, Pennywise, Schlong, White Kaps, and Slapshot). We didn’t know if people would want music videos. Nobody had really done that. But the collection was the ones that I had directed; and I had some friends who had directed some punk rock videos. So I thought, “Let’s put these all on a VHS cassette and see if anyone wants to buy it.”
These punk videos weren’t that known. They were mostly played on local punk rock and skateboarding video programs. Obviously not on MTV.
They were being aired a little bit on local programs. Some of those public access shows that don’t exist anymore. It’d be like a guy (host) that played videos and brought bands in. There was probably about 50 of those (shows) across the country. The videos got some airplay here and there. When the video I did for NOFX for Bob from “White Trash” had a video promotion person behind it, and it got very little play (outside public access), I thought, “More people probably want to watch this than have seen it on these public access channels.” That’s where I got the idea to do the video compilation cinema vérité which was sort of taken from my school days of cinema vérité. It did really well.
At the same time that came out, my eyesight started to become pretty poor. So there were two things kind of colliding. The hobby of doing a label that was doing really well, and my eyesight was declining, making it more challenging to continue directing music videos or moving into documentaries or features. I took the leap in 1995 to do the label full-time.
You had known for some time that you’d lose your eyesight?
It’s a little different with everybody. In my case, I was diagnosed when I was 19 with retinitis pigmentosa which is a slow degenerative eye condition. Each person's “de-generation” is at a different pace, and there are different symptoms. In reflection, prior to being 19, I did not notice some issues with my eyesight that was always determined to be near-sighted or an astigmatism. It wasn’t until I was 19 that they finally figured it out.
And 23 was a turning point. I lost the eyesight of my right eye from a botched procedure. That’s when I stopped driving. That was sort of a turning point for my eyesight; and it was sort of a turning point on me focusing on music full-time.
After learning about your eyesight at 19, did that make you more focused? The clock was suddenly ticking, and you knew it was ticking.
To be honest with you, probably not. I was a typical 19 year old. When I got that diagnosis, I thought, “Screw you.”
I definitely had some anger, but it was, I think, denial more than anger. My ophthalmologist at the time said, “You definitely should switch majors (at school) and get out of film.” Any time anyone tells you something like that at 19, you think “Well, I’m going to do the opposite of what they tell me to do.” I just went 100% at doing film.
In reflection, I am glad that I did. All those things that happened in film are what led to me starting the label, led to the relationships with our artists, and with other people that I still have relationships with now. But it isn’t something that I have thought about. Clearly, me losing my eyesight has affected my life. It affected decisions that I have made, but I think that is the same with anybody with any adversity in their lives. And, we all have adversity.
[Fittingly, Sub City’s first release, the “Take Action!” compilation, benefited the Foundation Fighting Blindness, an organization that raises funds for research in retinal diseases.]
You have a considerably more balanced view of life than many people in our business.
I remember a turning point for me. I was on my way to MIDEM seven or eight years ago, and I was in the LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal, and had extra time. My friend and I were in the gift shop. I was looking for a book to take on the plane. They only had one audio book. It was the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” written by Stephen Covey (first published in 1989). I thought, “Sounds pretty lame, but I’ll get it, if it’s the only choice.” I listened to it on the plane. It was a life-changer for me in recognizing that there are ways of organizing your mind, and ways of organizing your life that make it easier for you to reach your goals.
Some of these people (in the book) have done lots of homework to figure out what are the most effective ways to do things; some of which I’ve implemented at work, and some I have implemented (outside of) work. But it was the beginning of my pursuit to become someone who will work on the business, and not in the business.
Who have been your other mentors?
I put my mom at the top of that list. On the author side, I’d also put Jim Collins (“Good to Great”) and Marcus Buckingham (“Go Put Your Strengths To Work”). Also (former head coach at UCLA) John Wooden. I went to his basketball camp as a kid, read all his books, and I live a few blocks from where he lived most of his life in L.A. I attempt to emulate his leadership philosophy and style.
I’ve got a circle of (mentors). Some of which are alive, and some of which aren’t. One of which is clear when you walk into my office is Benjamin Franklin. I’ve got a bunch of Benjamin Franklin stuff here, including a talking Ben Franklin (figure) that my wife got me. Everybody that comes into this office gets one piece of advice from Mr. Franklin. If you push the bottom on his chest, there’s a random bunch of 50 sayings. I have a lot of Benjamin Franklin sayings. One is “Diligence is the mother of good luck.”
Any mentors from within the music industry?
There have been a lot of people from the music industry. John Esposito (president/CEO, Warner Music Nashville) took me under his wing when I met him about seven years ago. He has been there to lend advice, or been there to answer a questions, or feedback, or anything. He’s an amazing guy. (Elektra Record founder) Jac Holzman has always had his phone and email open to me, which has been amazing because he’s such an icon. He started his label out of his dorm room too. We shared that in common. And he’s always been at the forefront of technology. It’s been great to have that relationship.
You enjoy going to conferences that aren’t music related.
I’ve learned to look outside of music because I feel the music world could get, at times, inter-focused, and forget that there are other worlds outside of that. So, I like to hear a fresh perspective from someone who might be in meat packing or whatever.
I’m involved in a lot of non-profit (organizations) including being involved with Mediators Beyond Borders. I have done 200-plus hours of training and I have met the most interesting people and heard (about) their problem-solving. Most of the people there are professional mediators; I’m just a certified mediator.
I haven’t done any formal mediations, like civil divorce type stuff. I’ve mostly been involved in trying to do more training so people around the world can learn these skills and realize that there is a non-violent way to solve problems.
With Mediators without Borders, I am on the Middle East team. We’ve been working with a village in Israel, Oasis of Peace, that is between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It’s a co-existence village that has been there 30 years. It’s half Arab Israelis and half Jewish Israelis, living together. They have been living together a long time, and they have an elementary school where classes are taught in both Hebrew and Arabic. They have a peace centre in which they are trying to create a cultural mediation curriculum. Our team has been brought in to help develop that curriculum from a world perspective.
[In 2006, Pink Floyd`s frontman Roger Waters chose to have his solo Israel concert at Oasis of Peace, seen as a symbol of peace following Palestinian protests.]
Why continue to do mediation training, including workplace mediation and conflict management training?
I have an almost four-year-old girl who one day will be a teenager. I want to make sure early on that I have conflict-resolution skills. So I have to prep myself. Secondly, in running a business, dealing with difference licenses and exclusive recording agreements, and dealing with artists and managers and international companies, these are important skills to help informal problem solving. Rather than getting adversarial, and going down a negative path.
Have you ever been approached to sell the company?
No. There has been nothing tempting. We’re open-minded, so we listen to people. We don’t want to have a pre-judgment, but there hasn’t been anything interesting. We have been profitable for 17 consecutive years. We have an infrastructure that we think works. We don’t want to do get too confident about that. But it works for now; so we’ll keep having it work, and improving it.
Larry LeBlanc is widely recognized as one of the leading music industry journalists in the world. Before joining CelebrityAccess in 2008 as senior editor, he was the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard from 1991-2007 and Canadian editor of Record World from 1970-89. He was also a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record. He has been quoted on music industry issues in hundreds of publications including Time, Forbes, and the London Times. He is co-author of the book “Music From Far And Wide: Celebrating 40 Years Of The Juno Awards.”