Industry Profile: Tom Chauncey
By Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess MediaWire)
This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Tom Chauncey, president and owner, Partisan Arts.
There aren’t many jobs in entertainment that Tom Chauncey hasn’t mastered.
His resume—if he chose to have one—would highlight stints as a musician, roadie, personal manager, producer, sound engineer, songwriter, box office worker and booking agent.
Growing up in a suburb of San Francisco, Chauncey was a guitarist in several bands; managed several groups in the local punk and new wave scene, including Wire Train and B-Team; and worked in various capacities for independent local promoters Harry Duncan and Ken Friedman, as well as for Bill Graham Presents.
For 16 years, Chauncey was the senior agent with The Rosebud Agency, handling such artists as John Lee Hooker, Robert Cray, the Neville Brothers, the Staple Singers, John Hiatt, JJ Cale, Los Lobos, and others.
A decade ago, Chauncey launched Partisan Arts, currently based in Sausalito, California.
Today, Partisan Arts represents an eclectic list of top drawer acts, including: Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Femi Kuti, Donovan Frankenreiter, ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra), Martin Sexton, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Galactic, the Disco Biscuits, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Gotan Project, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Railroad Earth, Amadou & Mariam, Yael Naim, Paolo Conte, Vanessa Paradis, Manu Chao, James Taylor Quartet, and Zap Mama.
What did you learn from working with Mike Kappus at The Rosebud Agency?
A lot is the easy answer, but let me say that I think I learned to open my mind to different styles of music in ways that I hadn’t before. When I started working there, you know where I was coming from, right? I didn’t know anything about blues music or jazz. Robert Cray gave me a jazz record. I asked Robert Cray, “Where do I ever start?” It was a (Clifford Brown) bebop era (recording) that I fell in love with. (Working there) gave me an appreciation of a broader range of music that I didn’t have before. It opened the door for me to understand different music styles.
I spent a lot of time with John Lee Hooker. I was the agent there, and I was his tour manager for a number of years. We toured all over the place. Being able to sit down and hang out with that guy was unbelievable.
Mike operates both as an agent and as a manager. You have never gone that route.
I haven’t. I really like the role of being an agent. It’s something that I feel that you can compartmentalize in a sense that you can gauge when you are doing good work. A manager has a never-ending job that is often difficult to gauge. Like, “Am I doing a good job, or am I not doing a good job?” As an agent, there are measurable markers along the path. I like that.
I also like the ability to give a manager…I can feel free to serve up ideas and debate strategy, but ultimately, my responsibility is that of the agent. It is nice to be able to challenge or to engage with a manager and give them my thoughts. They can use them or not use them. Ultimately, it is going to benefit me. I feel like I have had some creative input with some of those areas beyond what a normal agent would do.
For the international clients, many of those artists don’t have representation in America. I am certainly not claiming to be a manager of any act, but we do have a deeper relationship, a deeper voice, and a deeper conversation with all of these players because they just don’t have anybody here (in the U.S.).
So I love being an agent. I don’t really enjoy the management thing, but I love to be able to chip in that extra little bit, and not feel an obligation. It’s more like a joy to give (advice and opinions).
You have an eclectic roster. You have created a niche as an agency. How planned was that?
I think that happened not by design but by—sort of by gut. Like anybody, you’ve got a record collection. Hopefully, you have more than one genre in your record collection. What you listen to on Sunday morning, hopefully, is different than what you listen to on Thursday night at 11 P.M. or noon on Tuesday. For me, music is not one niche. It’s not one genre. It’s multi-faceted. My roster, and what I have pursued, tends to reflect my musical interests. I love all sorts of things.
How did you get involved in working with so many international acts like Femi Kuti?
I worked with Femi when I was still at Rosebud. He was one of the artists who came with me when I started Partisan. So the international component pre-dates Partisan and goes back to when I was at Rosebud.
At the time, Rosebud was representing mainly blues, some jazz, and sort of soul artists. We were booking them internationally. John Lee Hooker, the Staple Singers or Robert Cray and Los Lobos were touring in Europe at the time. I said that I wanted to do the international (bookings). “It’s interesting to me. I love to travel. I want to broaden my knowledge.” So, I started doing international work at Rosebud. Through that process, I was booking the Rosebud acts into Europe and the festivals (there), and I developed relationships with the promoters and the festivals there. That was really the starting point for me to start to know those people. I became comfortable going over to London and meeting with people there. I go to ILMC (International Live Music Conference) every year. It’s an amazing place to meet the international business.
As far back as 2003, you were booking U.S. dates for Ute Lemper.
Ute Lemper as well as for Paolo Conte. We just finished a tour with Manu Chao. We do quite a bit of international work. Well, it’s sort of multiple scenarios. One is that we represent a number of international clients in North America who have representation outside North America that needed someone here. Manu Chao Amadou & Mariam, Femi Kuti, Yael Naim, Paolo Conte, and Vanessa Paradis. Those are clients that we only represent in North America.
Then we handle a handful of people that we represent globally like Jack Johnson, Donovan Frankenreiter, ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra), Martin Sexton, Grace Potter, Galactic, the Disco Biscuits, and Big Head Todd. For the most part, these tend to be the U.S. centric-based artists that we were able to offer that service, and they were happy to let us do that.
There was a time that I was very focused on only working with people that would allow me to represent them globally, but I have since come to the realization that it’s okay to do different types of things with different artists. So I’m not locked into any one particular (type of representation).
Does an artist have to touch you emotionally for you to represent them?
Oh, without doubt. Having a small roster and having a smaller agency, we have to be excited about everybody that we work with. Everybody is going to say, “I only sign stuff that I love, and I only work with people that are incredible.” But we’re six people here, counting myself. The roster is small by design, and what we are doing is really focused. We have to believe in what we are doing. There’s only so much time in the day. It’s not like we scoop up things, and shuttle them off to a department on the 6th floor, and see if it blossoms and then take credit for it later. We sign stuff that we love. I’m proud to say it.
Are we not living in a great music era today? You can easily discover music from anywhere in the world.
Without a doubt. I can’t think of a more exciting time. To not only be discovering music, but the access to it is unbelievable. On the business side—the tools—have never been better. It’s a remarkable moment. It’s great. Anybody who is complaining about how it used to be, I think that they are missing the boat.
Securing an international tour years ago meant sending press kits abroad and seeing contacts at MIDEM. Today, you can flip international promoters an MP3 or tell them your act is on YouTube.
Yes, and it’s instantaneous. My little story to follow that is you are on the phone to a promoter in Europe that you may or may never have worked with. He is explaining to you how the venue is this incredible outdoor square in this ancient European city. “It is beautiful.” He’s going on and on how fantastic it is. Luckily, you are on the internet, “What city is that? How do I spell that?” You are googling it. “This is a dump. It’s a parking lot in ancient Europe. That looks like a very special place? No thanks.” So that is all of the beauty of the world that we live in.
Why have artists stayed so long with you? What do you bring to the table for them?
A good agent can operate from any corner. I like to approach the job beyond just the mechanics of routing, negotiating and issuing contracts. For me, the interesting part of about being an agent is learning how to contribute something beyond that. Specifically, being involved with strategy conversations about how and when they tour and why and what does it look like and how can we contribute. I like to be that additional voice in the equation. I think that if you are creative, and you have time to invest, it can have an additional impact. We have the time to spend talking on the phone as long as necessary for every act that we represent. That’s a luxury, really.
Not only have you been representing the acts for so long, but you have also been working with some of the same managers for years. So you know what they are seeking as well.
That and buyers as well. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and Hank (Sacks) has been doing this for a long time too. We have real solid relationships out there. When we make the calls and talk to buyers in the field, we get a sense of their opinions. There are a lot of people who believe they know everything. That can be a dangerous approach.
Hank Sacks joined Partisan Arts as an agent in 2010. Had you two worked together at The Rosebud Agency?
Hank arrived at Rosebud after I had left. Hank and I knew each other. We met each other when he was at Paradigm (Paradigm Talent Agency) and became friends. We would run into each other at Bonnaroo or other festivals. We became friends, and then started the conversation about possibly doing some work together.
Hank had also worked at Metropolitan Talent with John Scher.
Exactly. So he has a really nice trajectory of working from John’s promoter background, and working at Rosebud, which is a really intense, driven kind of environment, then going to Paradigm and being in a major large agency. So his background is fantastic.
Had you had another agent before or did you feel that you had to grow with a second agent?
No one left. I had been doing the business for nine years on my own being the sole agent. Having Hank come here, it just felt right. He’s somebody that has a similar vision and commitment with the acts that he works with. He and I get along great. In terms of expanding my business, thankfully, I am not beholden to any shareholders that want quarterly growth projections, and share price or anything of that nature. It is simply that he’s the right guy for the job. I wouldn’t open the doors to anybody that couldn’t walk in here, and fit in, and share the larger vision.
In general, has the live business been weaker in recent years?
I haven’t seen it. From our chair, the business is strong. Everybody is working as much as they want to work. Yeah, it’s an interesting contrast between what I read in the paper every day about the world economy, housing starts, and fear of unemployment. The idea that people will still freely spend money on a luxury experience of seeing a live music event is an important one (factor) for me. That’s a really powerful thing to me.
Culturally around the world, people still value that (live) experience, and I don’t see that changing. Whereas you look at other mediums, be it the record business or (with) a lot of consumers products, you can see that (economic factors) reflects on the changing cultural tastes of the consumer, but the live experience, thankfully, continues to be something that people need and they love.
With other product experiences, there’s competition. If people want a live music experience, there’s only one direct outlet. Also people will always want a night out.
I love media, and I love culture; and I love how they interact and evolve what we do. I got into music because that is where I found who I was. When you are a teenager, and you make those identity associations, that’s really powerful stuff. I think that this is a common thing that exists for everybody to a certain degree. Some more than others. For me, (music) was very powerful because it was an outlet. But for other people, it’s their niche; it’s their tribe; it’s what they find when they are a certain age; and they carry that with them for their entire life. It doesn’t go away.
With the U.S. economy under pressure, have guarantees lessened in the past two to three years?
From my perspective, I think that is, perhaps, an issue that buyers have become more selective, and more conservative. But contrast that with an artist who has a certain touring history, and (drawing) strength, you are going to come to the right conclusion of what the deal should look like. So as long as you are realistic, you are going to find the right deal, and the artist is going to be happy with the result.
Club owners are seeking more flexible deals.
I think that’s a good thing. Being open to talking about different deal structures allows you a certain freedom as an agent as opposed to having a locked in approach.
It can often lead to a better pay day for the act; and the buyer regretting doing a deal to lessen risk.
For me, strategically, the key is if you are working to build a career versus a short term money grab—this kind of relationship that we were speaking about earlier. The artists that I work with, the thing that appeals to them, and the thing that appeals to me about them, is that they are going to be doing this (performing) forever. They are career-based artists.
If you have someone that is in your corner that is working to develop a career for you and not with what I would call a money grab approach—a short term approach—yeah, ultimately that is how you win. You are in it for the long haul, and those are the kinds of clients that we have been lucky to find, and build relationships with. I think buyers feel the same way too. I’ve been working with buyers all around the country or all around the world that I have been selling artists to, and who have been working with certain artists on my roster, for years. It’s a mutually beneficial equation to work long-term.
With those long-term relationships, you can better spot problems in bookings. Buyers may be more honest with you about any problems if you have that kind of relationship.
If you build a deal where that if the artist does the business, they win, then everybody is happy. Nobody is unhappy when you sell out, and you structure a deal that you know was a “Let me show you what we’re worth.” People are happy to pay because everybody did well, mainly including the artist.
You have long piggy-backed acts for tours. Jack Johnson first toured with Ben Harper to get a fan base. Does that strategy still work?
It does. I wish it worked more often because everybody does it today. There are always a handful of great examples (of that strategy) and Jack is a classic one. It doesn’t always work, and that’s the problem. People fight for that support slot, and often it’s considered the make or break (of a career). I wish it worked more often.
It depends on how the support act handles the dates; and it depends on how the lead act embraces the support act. With Ben and Jack, there was obviously camaraderie.
Yes. There was an amazing synergy between those two artists. They shared a producer. They shared a tour together. They were friends. There was a cultural crossing point between Ben’s audience, and where Jack was coming from. It was just a magical intersection.
[Jack Johnson sold over 100,000 albums before he was played on U.S. radio The former champion surfer developed his own category. From first building a fan base by touring small venues, Johnson went on to open for Ben Harper at theaters and amphitheaters in 2003. A short headlining tour, featuring G. Love and Donavon Frankenreiter in 2004, paved the way for a 33-date headlining tour in 2005 that also featured ALO, and Matt Costa.]
Too often packaged tours are straight business deals that don’t make creative sense.
We see that too often. Then it’s clear that those opportunities are mainly doomed to fail because they were just never meant to be.
Have the agency consolidations of the past few years affected your business at all?
It didn’t affect us. It didn’t affect me as they were happening. If you look at my roster, most all of the clients I have represented for many years. So no, it really has had no impact.
Have larger agencies come knocking at your door saying, “You’d fit so well here?”
Yes, we do have those conversations from time to time. It’s extremely flattering when people come knocking on the door like that. But I love what I’m doing and the clients here are happy. We feel that we are doing good work. If, at the end of the day, what we do can be done better with some other structure, it’d be an appropriate thing to do; but, thankfully, so far, we are doing good and our clients are happy.
Are you a better guitarist than an agent or a better agent than a guitarist?
I was a guitar player since, maybe, the 6th grade. By the time I was a junior or a senior in high school I was playing in bands, and I was relatively good. I played in bands around town. Then I got more into the business side of the industry, and I stopped playing. In my mind, I still think that I am an amazing guitar player.
Is your past as a musician beneficial in dealing with your clients?
Well, it is, but I don’t think that I got a sense of that until I got a little older, and I had a little more wisdom. Not necessarily in just simply dealing with musicians, but just having a little bit more life experience. It’s more about life experience.
You don’t think that your musical background bears directly on your work today?
Well, I do because the reason that I do what I do is because I got into music. I was making music and I was a fan of it. When I was a teenager—I think this is the case with every young person—you find music, and that’s become your outlet. That becomes your passion. For me, that became my passion. Not because I wanted to get into the (music) business, but because I just loved music. Way back when I was super young, it was because I wanted to “make it” and—or—I found commonality with my friends through the type of music that I listened to. It was my tribe, basically.
Back when I was a teenager, there was no internet. There were limited entertainment opportunities. There was the radio and you could make music. I used to be in bands. I would play gigs. It was a (local) scene. That was a big distinction between that era and now. Whereas now we are a global scene. Everything is online. Everything is available. Everything is connected. In those days, you have to remember that nothing was connected.
Thankfully, I lived near San Francisco at that point in my growing up. If somebody had a car, we got in the car and we drove to San Francisco and we saw shows. It was an amazing moment in the shift of moving away from AOR classic rock. This was sort of 1978 or 1979. At that point, punk rock became very much an underground thing. There was a local music scene, and that was like the new world that I discovered.
Being a musician and with your history as an agent, you might recognize certain traits—like, if the artist is really committed to their career.
That and, hopefully, I’ve got a pretty good A&R antenna. It’s like because you were in a band, you can see somebody that is better than you, and you go, “Wow, this guy’s way better than me. I’m in. Where do I sign up?”
Where did you live when you were growing up?
I lived in the East Bay on the other side of the Oakland hills. There’s a small town called Moraga, which is very much a bedroom suburb.
At what age did you pick up guitar?
I was in 6th grade, so it would be when I was 11 or 12. Somehow a guitar materialized in front of me, and I started played. I took a few lessons, and it was fun. It wasn’t work, it was fun.
You grew up as punk music was breaking in America.
Yes, and that was transformative. I was around 15 when that happened. Before that I was like any kid my age in the suburbs, I was into rock music. I listened to Jimmy Page to learn how to play guitar. I saw all of those bands back in the day as a young teen—Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and many obscure rock bands. Everybody. I went to shows. I loved going to concerts.
Then, there was this moment where me and my friends discovered punk rock, and it was this transformative period. If I had to pinpoint the moment, it’s the Clash in 1979 at the Berkley Community Theatre and standing in the (mosh) pit. I don’t know how we got tickets down there. But we bought our tickets; we got there early; we’re fans; and that place just exploded. I had been to a lot of concerts before that—rock shows that were fantastic—but there was nothing like that. It was a moment that completely shifted everything for me.
Punk challenged the status quo of the music industry. It was a separation. Traditional promoters like Bill Graham and others didn’t know how to work with punk rockers.
It was a separation. It was dangerous, and that’s why it was exciting. When you’re a teenager, you are looking for something that is going be your own thing; that is going to make your elders troubled, basically. This is something that has gone on through the ages. When rock and roll happened (in the ‘50s), that transformation between the pop crooner, and rock and roll was a dangerous sexual moment. Punk rock had a lot of that. It also had that do-it-yourself ethos that ran completely against the rock AOR business at that point. For me, as a teenager, that was exciting. What was really exciting was that we were doing it ourselves too. We had our own band. We played in those clubs.
What was your band called?
I’m not going to tell you. I was in a skinny tie, power pop band. I wasn’t in a punk band which was a big distinction at that point. I was in a power pop band called the Blitz. We made one 45 when I was in high school. There was a whole scene in San Francisco and in the U.K. There were the real hardcore punk bands like Sham 69, and the Clash were punky, but they began to transcend that. We were a power pop band. So we were skinny tie.
[Blitz was a Bay Area pop band that released "Panic Button" on the Psychotic Pineapple's Richmond label in 1979 when Tom Chauncey was a high school senior. The band’s vocalist/bassist Todd Stadtman later fronted B-Team which Chauncey managed, and then ZikZak.]
There are a lot of great singles from that time.
The music was amazing. The cultural reverberation was immense. How that (music) shifted all sorts of things. Even now in the cycle of music, references go back to that era. It’s palatable. You can see it everywhere. It was an amazing moment in time. It definitely inspired me to do what I do.
I still have a copy of the Clash’s “White Riot” on CBS UK.
I’ve got it. I’ve got every single (by the Clash). We bought all those records back in the day. My wife was buying the same records and, of course, we fell in love. When we started to compare notes about what we listened to, of course, she’s got all of the same singles I have. I knew we were destined to get married at that point.
Where did you buy your records?
We were super fortunate because Rough Trade Records had a shop in North Beach, which was incredible. It was like a scene out of “High Fidelity” (the 2000 film starring John Cusack) where you walk in, and the guys (clerks) are like…it was exactly like that, but the guys there were English and extremely snooty and cool. You weren’t worthy enough to walk in and buy anything. You had to sort of pretend you knew what you were looking at.
This was in the era when all of the Factory Records stuff was coming out, and they were releasing singles and EPs with beautiful picture sleeves. You’d buy all of these wonderful EPs and singles. That’s all we did. We went to Rough Trade in North Beach. We’d get the Joy Division single or whatever crazy obscure thing that they were putting out and go next door to Savoy Tivoli (the legendary café, and beat poet hangout).
Who booked your band?
We booked ourselves. I don’t know if we knew how to book our band. That’s why we broke up and didn’t go anywhere.
You were talking earlier about how Bill Graham didn’t know or didn’t understand the punk rock scene. One of my first jobs in the industry was working at the box office of Bill Graham’s club, the Old Waldorf. Queenie Taylor hired me to do that.
An independent promoter called Harry Duncan, who was doing a lot of R&B and New Orleans bands, would also hire me to put up posters on the street for $5 an hour. Basically, I would work for anybody and everybody, and I was hungry to do it. Like whatever. “You want to hire me for $5 an hour to put up posters? Sure. You want me to work in the box office for 20 or 30 hours a week? Sure.”
Then, I was also working for BGP (Bill Graham Presents), I got a job working for an independent promoter called Ken Friedman who was the college talent buyer at UC Berkeley (University of California, Berkeley). A great guy.
Basically, I was working for both sides (BGP and an independent promoter) at the same time which was a really interesting place to be.
Ken was promoting at California Hall and he was doing most of the FBI (Frontier Booking International) acts. He had a really good relationship with Ian (Copeland). A lot of the English bands like XTC, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Gang of Four. He was the first guy to bring those (post-punk) bands to San Francisco, and he did a whole successful run of shows. So, I worked for Ken doing promotion and trying to get tickets for my friends, which was a big deal.
Then eventually Bill Graham hired Ken because his company realized that “Hey, we’ve got to get involved with this stuff.”
It’s interesting how things evolved for me from being with an independent player through working for the larger company.
Meanwhile, you were still playing in a band.
It was all at the same time. While I was doing all of those things I was either playing in a band or managing a band. I managed a couple of bands. I managed B-Team that made one EP (“Not Crazy”). We licensed it to a label in L.A. I can’t remember who they were. B-Team were great. They were like the Gang of Four, and Echo and the Bunneymen. That sort of angry, but fantastic sound. It was awesome. We opened for a bunch of bands. Then, I started managing the Renegades, which opened for the Jam. We had some great gigs.
You managed the Renegades which became Wire Train, and received songwriting credits, including “When She Was A Girl.”
Oh my goodness. Well, you did your homework didn’t you? I think that if you asked the band they wouldn’t be happy that I said this, but I fancied myself like the fifth Beatle (with them). I was the was the guy who wasn’t quite good enough to be in the band. But I would help write songs or I would help produce the demos and I became the manager. Then I was the sound guy, and I also drove the van.
You were about 20 or 21.
Eventually, working with them was the first legitimate thing that happened to me. When we got that record deal (with 415 Records), that’s where things started to become more like, “Something is really happening here.”
You started working with them when they were the Renegades?
Oh yeah. We (Kevin Hunter and Kurt Herr and I) went to school together at S.F. State for a little while.
Howie Klein gave the band its break.
Absolutely. Howie ran this town. Then he had 415 Records. He was the real barometer. If you got on Howie’s radar, it was all good. Thankfully, he was a huge fan of the Renegades. He signed the band. We got a record deal. We got in the van. Paul Goldman (at Monterey Peninsula at the time) was their agent which was fantastic. We got in the van and we drove the country as 20 year olds. It was incredible.
[415 Records was founded in 1978 by Howie Klein, Chris Knab, and Butch Bridges. Klein was a writer, radio host and promoter; Knab owned the San Francisco record store Aquarius Records; and Bridges was a music collector and retailer. The label had a partnership with Columbia Records from 1981 until shortly before it was sold in 1989.
415 Records largely focused its efforts on local punk rock and new wave. Among the acts were Romeo Void, Translator, SVT, the Nuns, Red Rockers, and Pearl Harbor and the Explosions.]
Wire Train’s first album was recorded in 17 days for $22,000
By (producer) David Kahne who is still making amazing records today.
The band recorded its second album in Vienna.
It was felt that the band should be perceived as an international kind of band and going to Vienna was going to be a way of breaking beyond the barrier of being in the U.S. When they were making that record, that’s when I stopped working with them. That was when I stepped off and I got a job at Rosebud.
What’s the worst gig you’ve booked that you didn’t know how bad it was going to be in advance?
That’s a good question. I’m not trying to avoid it, but I have to think about it for a minute. I have probably tried to put it out of mind. Like any good agent, I only remember the good ones. The ones that are fantastic.
Band members always remember the bad gigs.
Oh yeah. But an artist standing on the stage, the gig that they experience is completely different from the gig that the audience experiences most of the time. I have had so many experiences where an artist has said, “That was a pretty good show” (and it wasn’t) or “I wasn’t really happy with my performance” and I’m standing there thinking, “How is that possible? You just did two encores and the audience was going nuts, and I loved it.” So you never know.
What are some of your favorite festivals?
I really like Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza, ACL Music Festival, the obvious ones in the U.S. Not so much because they pay my acts more or anything. I am talking about where I like to go to see music and have a good time.
Fuji Rock is an amazing festival. We didn’t do anyone there this year, but over the years we have had Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, and Galactic play there. So many of our acts have played there. We work a lot with Smash which does Fuji, and they are a great company. Fuji is a very special festival. I’m also big fan of the Paleo Nyon Festival in Switzerland. Those are two (international festivals) that I just love going to. They are great.
After 9/11, it became difficult to attain visas for international acts coming to tour in the U.S. Any easier today?
It’s not easier. It’s more challenging. It’s more expensive. It’s not just immigration. It’s also taxation for those acts that has also become much more complex. I guess that the I.R.S. got the internet at some point, they figured it out. When an artist arrives at the airport, they know if they are working or not. Somebody got hip to that. No, it’s become more challenging as the years have gone on.
U.S. tours by artists from overseas have sometimes been cancelled.
It’s so shortsighted to me. Culturally, the idea of art and music transcending borders and spreading messages and fresh ideas can be inspiring. Femi Kuti, comes here, and he’s got a very important message (educating and enlighten the world about the problems of his African homeland). If governments would realize that (touring) fosters an improved relationship globally by letting art and music move in an easier fashion, I think they would ultimately see some better results. It’s unfortunate that there are these really stiff requirements for artists and musicians when they travel. I wish it would change.
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.”