Industry Profile: Joel Flatow
By Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess MediaWire)
This week In the Hot Seat with Joel Flatow, general manager, West Coast Operations, and senior vice president, Artist and Industry Relations, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
In a recent op-ed in The Tennessean (Dec. 1, 2011) Liz Kennedy, director, communications, the Recording Industry Association of America defended the music trade organization’s history of lawsuits and government lobbying.
“In the Nov. 20 story ‘Music Row spent $4 million on lobbying in 3 months,’ The Tennessean drew an incorrect conclusion when writing “piracy lawsuits failed” because ‘the suits ultimately proved ineffective in ending systematic online piracy.’
We never expected to ‘end’ piracy. The goal is to bring the problem under sufficient control so that lawful businesses can compete and the industry can earn enough to protect jobs and invest in new bands.
Our legal efforts served as an essential educational tool: Fans know far more now about copyright laws and the legal consequences of stealing music than ever before. Before initiating lawsuits in 2003, only 35 percent of people knew file-sharing on P2P was illegal; afterward, awareness grew to 70 percent.
Where there was virtually no legal digital market before the lawsuits, today the market exceeds $3 billion annually, and revenue from online platforms will comprise more than 50 percent of total industry revenues this year. To boot, there are more than 400 licensed digital services worldwide, compared with fewer than 50 in 2003.
To be clear, no legal efforts are a panacea — compelling legal consumption options are the most important. But we believe our efforts made a difference. Consider the alternative, if we had done nothing and illegal downloading skyrocketed further and strangled a flourishing legal marketplace.”
RIAA members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the U.S.
Kennedy’s startling statement comes as 2011 is being heralded in some quarters as the year the music industry finally regained its footing after a decade of spiraling sales and messy and controversial scraps suing its people for illegal downloading.
Maybe, it’s too early to break out bottles of Shipwrecked 1907 Heidsiec (the world-renowned Holy Grail for champagnes), but consider:
Due to the enormous growth in legal streaming, the success of internet radio and the maturation of iTunes, legal consumption of music climbed sharply this year.
President Obama’s administration, along with considerable bipartisan support, has made it clear that responsibility for licensed rights does not end when commerce moves from physical to digital.
LimeWire is shut down. While some users are migrating to other illegal options, many have not.
It just cannot be disputed that the music industry has made progress in its fight to make the internet a place where legitimate players work together to encourage legal activity and suppress illegal activity.
Last summer’s deal with the ISPs, negotiated by the RIAA is, a striking example of the new climate. As well, the House of Representatives on Oct. 26, 2011 introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act.
The legislation was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, ranking Democratic member John Conyers, Intellectual Property Subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and former Subcommittee Chairman Howard Berman.
The House Judiciary Committee announced a hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act on November 16, 2011.
The bill serves as a counterpart to similar legislation in the Senate, known as the PROTECT IP bill which was introduced by Sen. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, and currently has 34 bipartisan co-sponsors.
The Stop Online Piracy Act will disconnect websites dedicated to online piracy and counterfeiting from the U.S. marketplace. This legislation will provide U.S. law enforcement with the legal tools to act against rogue sites which the industry says attract 53 billion visits per year.
Upon the introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act, Cary Sherman, chairman and CEO of the RIAA stated:
"This legislation is a first step towards a brighter day when these rogue offshore websites can no longer duck accountability under U.S. laws, all the while providing a critical boost to the marketplace for legal digital music services. The Smith bill sensibly requires relevant parties to work together to address the collateral damage caused to everyone involved in legitimate online commerce and appropriately complements other voluntary efforts already underway. Notably, the bill also allows reasonable flexibility for ISPs in determining the most appropriate technological manner for blocking illegal sites and provides ample legal safeguards for sites accused of infringement.”
As GM, West Coast Operations and senior VP, Artist and Industry Relations, and one of the RIAA’s key point personnel ensuring that its message is being heard and understood, Joel Flatow is a seasoned lobbying veteran who -- more than many -- can argue the reasons why artists and other creators should be compensated for their work.
Upon joining the RIAA in February 1995 as director of Government Affairs, Flatow created the RIAA’s first artist relations program, a department he currently heads. Flatow was named senior dir. of Govt. Affairs and Artist Relations in 1997; promoted to VP in 1998, and appointed to his current position in 2000 when he opened the RIAA’s first west coast operations office in Burbank.
Flatow is the lead contact for all RIAA functions and operations on the west coast, including leading RIAA’s state relations, politics and policy for California and serving as its voice in the state legislature in Sacramento.
He oversees national campaigns, significant lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, national advertisements and media and events on Capitol Hill, as well as for political conventions and presidential inaugurals.
Flatow has brought politicians of both parties together with an array of artists including the late Johnny Cash, Alicia Keys, Kid Rock, Rihanna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers (he helped line up the Peppers for the Democratic National Convention in 2004), Cassandra Wilson, Asleep at the Wheel, Chaka Khan, and Fleetwood Mac.
Working with sister organizations, including with The Recording Academy, Flatow also co-facilitates the bi-annual Music Community CEO Summits attended by virtually every music community/industry association leader to discuss joint efforts and strategy.
From Long Island, New York, Flatow attended Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music Pre-Colleges--studying piano, French horn and voice—from age six to 18.
A graduate of Yale University, he performed with the Yale Symphony and toured worldwide with the Yale Whiffenpoofs. He also performed for a decade as a tenor with the Washington National Opera.
In 1989, after serving as legislative assistant for the Congressional Arts Caucus, Flatow served as special assistant to the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. From 1989-1995, he served as Legislative Director of the Congressional Arts Caucus.
How did you take a detour from law school at Yale to working in the music industry?
There has always been this dual interest (in my life). Music is so pre-dominate. I was very interested in American history, and public service. I interned on Capitol Hill as a sophomore. I thank God that I landed somewhere where that if the two realms (public service and music) had a baby, that’s what the job is. It is basically fulfilling those two great loves of mind.
What does your job consist of?
It’s a couple of different roles which have grown in the organization. The first (part) is strictly the West Coast aspect -- of being a base here for labels, being a point-of-contact, and doing our lobbying for the state -- being our face in Sacramento.
Building relationships both in the (music) industry, and in the public realm.
The second part really grows out of my work in Congress and working for the RIAA in DC for the first five years. It still has a congressional focus. It is the artist relations role, and industry relations role. So it is focused on working with various parts of the industry on the macro issues. Part of that is geared toward Capitol Hill and continuing to help the RIAA and help our members in fostering good relationships with other parts of the family of the industry in the music community.
The RIAA, of course, is headquartered in Washington.
Of course. That’s our mother ship and our largest presence.
How does what you do dovetail with what goes on at headquarters?
I’m part of a public policy team. We work very closely. We also have a terrific anti-piracy division. So we work very closely on what the legislative priorities are. It is all very integrated. Being here but coming from a DC background has helped to keep it seamless.
As a collective group, the music industry has done a poor job of lobbying in Washington over the years. It is only in the past 10 years that the various sectors of the community have come together.
I think that we (the RIAA) have always got the respect for our lobbying skills. I think that you are right that as a community, we could have worked so much better over that period. And there are some lessons, for me—or, maybe, at least it’s my own prism that came out of the Congressional Arts Caucus days. I seem to pick very boring issues here—like music online, and federal arts funding—but we (as a community) have to be engaged. We have to work together as a community.
I worked for Senator Moynihan. He is just an absolute hero of mine. He was that sort of intellectual statesman. He was also very engaged in his constituency. He said, “My polls are the letters that I receive from my constituents. Those are my polls.” Not that he didn’t have sophisticated other polls, but the importance of weighing in and being present and doing something like an Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill can’t be overstated.
[A Democrat, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was first elected to the U.S. Senate for New York in 1976, and was re-elected three times (in 1982, 1988, and 1994). Prior to his years in the Senate, Moynihan was America’s ambassador to the United Nations and to India, and was a member of four successive presidential administrations, beginning with the administration of John F. Kennedy, and continuing through that of Gerald Ford. He died in 2003.]
Moynihan was the Democrat that the Republicans didn’t hate. He even worked for Nixon. Yet, he was quite radical on many issues. He might not be tolerated in today’s political climate.
A rare breed. But you are right. And it does hearken back to the day when you may not like the other senators or member of Congress’ philosophy or politics but in the end you would respect their intelligence and you would hash it out. You would work to some common agreement. It is very rare these days. But you are right. He was very liberal and very progressive in a lot of things and very conservative on others. I hate those terms (liberal and conservative).
Does the RIAA consider that we are still living in the Wild West with music on the internet?
Well, one of the last vestiges of that are these rogue websites where it is so outrageous that these foreign services are reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in ad revenue. They absolutely thumb their noses at us, and our inability to bring any kind of action. They have the appearance of being legitimate because they have advertisers, and they are making a profit off of (music). I think that is one of the real Wild West things that we have to stop.
With an estimated 53 million views annually.
Unbelievable. It’s not just music. It’s pharmaceuticals, it’s auto parts, and it’s movies. On the music side, that’s musicians. Often there is spyware, and malware (that may include computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, dishonest adware, scareware, crimeware, rootkits). That’s not harmless.
Did the Jammie Thomas case enable the RIAA to get its story across that unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing was happening or did it become distracting because so much got focused on this singular issue?
I wasn’t directly involved with that specific case but…
[The first unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing suit against an American consumer that reached trial came about in 2007 when Jammie Thomas, a single mother, chose to fight rather than settle the copyright infringement suit filed by six major labels.
The labels sued for infringement of 26 recordings, a sample of the 1,702 audio files they claim Thomas shared over Kazaa just after 11 p.m. Eastern time on Feb. 21, 2005.
In July 2011, following three trials, and after unsuccessful negotiations, a court in Minneapolis ruled that a $1.5 million award was "so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned to the offense and obviously unreasonable."
The court reduced the jury award to $54,000. The record labels filed for appeal in the Eighth Circuit on August 22, 2011.]
The first thing people usually say about the RIAA is that labels sue their own customers.
Well, I think we get what the backlash was from that. But that was, in essence, an education campaign. We weren’t cherry-picking who gets sued. It was based on activity. It was the serial uploaders. It’s not invisible. I worked on a number of campaigns where artists were directly saying, “This hurts music. If you want music the right way, these are the legal services.” All that sort of education.
A lot of artists don’t advocate that at all. They are in favor of their music being freely downloaded.
You have some artists that say that. It got short-handed in the media that there are artists on both sides (of the issue). But, I think, that the predominance of artists, big or small, they would like the opportunity to decide themselves that they would like to make a living. I think that those lawsuits really educated families; and educated parents about the risks of this (illegal downloading).
We haven’t continued them (the lawsuits) now--and that is why it is great to see the ISPs step up--which is not to say that we wouldn’t ever bring a suit against a serial uploader. But, because of the notoriety, it informed people, it educated people about the risks.
For the past decade, the music industry has identified illegal downloading as the primary reason for the downturn of music sales. However, there are other reasons including label consolidations; enormous competition with games, and even a lack of great new artists.
Well, it’s a complicated issue. For me personally with a music background and working directly with the music community—it is not about suing for the sake of suing. It’s not all this punitiveness for the sake of it. It is about how do we migrate people to legitimate services, to services that are licensed, that pay musicians, and that pay the artists? You draw people to legitimate services otherwise it is the Wild West that continues. If people can get it for nothing why wouldn’t they?
No matter how much enforcement or education, there are those who will never pay for music.
There are some very stubborn demos in there.
In the late ‘90s, several states were considering restrictive music legislation. There were obscenity issues, harmful to minors issues, and problems with lyrics. Those were big issues then, were they not?
You are absolutely right. In fact, there are state legislations that I flew into to fight those battles. There were always the same artists that were the lightening rod. It was Marilyn Manson and Eminem at certain times — artists that were viewed as dangerous. But we have had that through history for decades. There was Elvis Presley back in the day. It would lead to effort to try to legislate what is acceptable music. First of all, it’s unconstitutional to say that you can’t sell this particular album to a minor. But we took responsibility with a strong parent advisory program—that you had to give parents warnings. In the online sales realm, I think that there is an understanding that you would bring down a voluntary system if you tried to legislate this. It would lose on the merits anyway. But you are right. We definitely had those battles.
Kids can download music from anywhere today, making it difficult to control.
The thing that probably hasn’t change is that parents need to be engaged (with their kids). That part hasn’t changed, and is a challenge.
The advent of the internet greatly accelerated rights issues. The velocity of speed of technology in the past 10 years has been astonishing. Issues are front and center because things are moving at such a velocity.
That’s right. It’s interesting that you mention 10 years because that’s about how long I’ve been in Los Angeles. The impetus for my having come was the old version—the original version—of Napster. It was seismic change for the industry. I think that for the music specifically, we were the guinea pigs. Not just for entertainment industries online, but I think for any businesses online.
We’ve come a long way as a music industry with copyright issues, in general. We have done a lot of self-help. We’ve taken our own actions. We educated consumers. We have gone after the worst case offenders. We have reached out and done a whole array of licensing. You have 400, at least, services online right now and, on the copyright side, there is some understanding in this arc.
What role does Washington need to play in curbing illegal downloading?
Government has a role in this, and they need to step up. (Illegal downloading) affects our economy. It was really extraordinary that just this month that the administration unveiled a new intellectual property awareness campaign, a public awareness campaign. There is an amazing spot of a musician Addie Brownlee busking on the subway with her case open. People are taking the money. A girl looks up at her mom and asks if it’s okay (to take money). The artist has a smile on her face and, maybe, the right thing will happen here. However, the little kid takes a dollar out of the case. This video was released by the administration (the U.S. Department of Justice). That’s progress. There is an understanding that there is a lot at stake.
[In the video for “It Hurts,” Kansas-born musician Addie Brownlee plays her guitar to the commuting crowd in a subway station. At her feet is a guitar case open for donations, some loose bills are scattered inside. As she sings commuters gather around but one by one they remove money from her guitar case. (link) ]
This summer, the RIAA and other entertainment organizations made a pact with the ISPs. That was a big step given their resistance in the past to any kind of enforcement.
Absolutely true. It was painstaking negotiations with the ISPs but it was a healthy ‘land.’ It is important. But you are right. It is part of the evolution of an internet environment that supports business. And it is also another piece of the industry itself working a lot better together with a joint purpose and also some understanding in the community that this should be win-win in terms of content and technology working together for a net gain.
[Under the agreement unveiled July 7, 2011, the music, movie and ISP industries agreed upon a graduated response system called Copyright Alerts. The program establishes a set of best practices for how ISP subscribers will be notified when their account has been identified as having been used to download infringing content such as music or movies, as well as a set of actions the ISP will take if the behavior continues.
The new program features up to six graduated alerts that ISPs can opt to send subscribers. The first alert informs the user that their account was identified as one downloading infringing content, and that such activity is a violation of their terms of service.]
The technology and entertainment cultures have always clashed.
I think what you said earlier is exactly right. The pace is so quick. But people have to be smart and substantive about what the actual deal is and where it lands. They can’t just throw out the investment. We saw some of that happen in Silicon Valley. There was one after another announcements of an online music company that would attract hundreds of millions of dollars and then fold later. There was just a series of them. A press release would almost happen every six months. Now we do have such an array. We have the all of services like iTunes, internet radio, subscription services, video streaming, iCloud, and social networking services. But it’s licensed. That takes a minute (to do).
But the RIAA can’t get Google to take down MusicPro.
Ahhhh, no comment; except to say that there has been some progress in certain aspects, but there’s a whole range of progress that we all hope will happen.
[Google has refused requests to remove MP3 Music Download Pro, a popular Android app which allows users to download copyrighted music onto their phones, according to the RIAA who argue it is being used for piracy.]
Washington has gone from days of bipartisan issues being settled with mutual respect to today where it seems that neither Republicans nor Democrats want to give an inch to the other party.
Yeah. It has become a bit scorched earth or zero-sum. One guy's win is another guy’s loss. For us, not to change gears, for our issues, they really cut across partisan lines. I mean, they are business interests, they are property rights, they are a healthy part of the economy and trade. Even on these recent bills we’re working on—like the PROTECT IP bill---there’s a real unusual bipartisan support for that.
In dealing with both parties, do your own politics stay in your pocket?
That’s where the Congressional Arts Caucus background comes in handy. We were 280 members and bipartisan. You really did get to know members. There are good people on both sides. There are people in (politics) for the right reasons on both sides. You see all of it. I think that for this industry, the issues cross (party lines) and that allows you to have friends on both sides.
We also have to respect that musicians have a range of feelings in their politics. It’s a very personal thing of where they are going to lend support and who they are going to back. We have great respect for that. What is great about the (political) conventions is that we partner with a cause. So it’s less about the politics than helping something like Musicians On Call.
Nashville would tend to be Republican.
You’d be surprised.
Are there artists that both Republicans and Democrats really want for events? Or is there someone for both?
I don’t think that there is for both. Certain artists transcend (party lines) but it is usually for their beauty.
That’s a good answer. I have never gotten so many ticket requests from so many different sides, of every age and every political persuasion. She cuts across party lines. It is really amazing.
It takes something for an artist to step into something that they believe in and be very vocal and to be very out there. A lot of artists will never do it. That’s their right. It’s another level of engagement and it has become part of the internet environment. As well, a lot of artists have their own causes. (Involvement) stems from them wanting to make a difference and knowing that they have an amplified voice. But it is not without peril to get involved in things. So I really respect it when they do.
What are the perils?
The risk, if it’s pure politics (like picking a candidate to support), is that they upset half of the people that they would (normally) please. if it’s on the purely political side. But I don’t think that there’s any abatement (in getting involved). More than ever, artists are lending their voices to causes that they believe in. It’s beautiful to me. I don’t think that there’s another community that lends their voices as much as music does. I don’t think that there’s a community that is able to step into a Katrina (Hurricane Katrina relief); step into a, god forbid, Sept. 11th; and bullying. Lady Gaga cares enough about bullying that she went to the White House.
Bullying is something most people are against. How many artists will stand up for the rights of transgendered people? Not as many. Too controversial.
She’s one that will. Look, it’s an evolution. At one point, people looked at Sting and said, “The rainforest? Why?” There’s just an article that there’s less rain forest destruction. That just caught my eye a few days ago.
Former ASCAP president Hal David told me that politicians rarely want to meet songwriters, but will certainly meet with well-known artists.
I don’t think that’s true. I think that politicians are dying to meet creative sorts.
C’mon, when you took the late Johnny Cash into a room...
Okay, there are levels. But I do think, for instance, for working with our sister groups, the Nashville Songwriters Association, International Songwriters Guild, ACAP, BMI, SESAC, that for a lot of politicians it is unbelievable for them to see the guy who wrote the song that they know and the story behind it. That’s one of the things that I most loved about being in Nashville so much (a few years ago) were the guitar pulls---the trading of the stories and humour.
Still, a politician can’t resist star power whether it’s Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash.
It helps and the range of voices helps. But yeah. Johnny Cash was singular. It was like Mount Rushmore coming to…The name recognition matters. That’s part of the society that we live in.
Is it true that you sat down with Johnny on a piano bench as he was writing his speech for Congress?
Literally. It was one of the great honours of my life. He was staying in the Presidential Suite at the Watergate.
The impetus for him to come to DC was that he performed at Ford’s Theatre where Lincoln was shot. It was the Cash/Carter show. I still get a chill thinking about it. They put a spotlight on the Lincoln booth (with a flag draped over the ledge), and he did “This Ragged Old Flag” the recitation about this war-torn flag in that voice. Every person in that audience was on their feet screaming their heads off. You couldn’t believe it.
The show coincided with a hearing on international copyright protection that was the next day. However, when it was agreed that that Mr. Cash would do the (Ford) event, Lou Robbin, his manager —said, “I don’t want to schlep him around the Hill lobbying.”
Well, that obviously changed.
I had to go back and say, “I know what we said but there’s a hearing that could really advance the cause for international copyright protection.” God bless them both, Johnny did it. He brought June to the hearing. He made his statement, and everyone was awed.
Nothing beats star power.
Well, I will agree.
[Johnny Cash was one of dozens who testified in 1997 at two days of House hearings to ratify treaties signed by the United States at the World Intellectual Property Organization's diplomatic conference in Geneva, Switzerland earlier that year.]
What led to Fleetwood Mac coming to play a farewell party for President Clinton in 2001?
It was before they were touring again. It was the President’s last big White House lawn event. Hillary Clinton had got in the (Clinton/Gore campaign) bus that they toured in. She had the tour bus pick up the President at the (White House) Portico with him thinking that they were going to ride somewhere. The bus took them to the tent of the end (of the lawn). That afternoon was amazing. Everything built to this last moment. (President Clinton's secretary) Betty Currie introduced Fleetwood Mac. She said, “Mr. President, we have one last surprise for you.” The band came out straight into “Don’t Stop.” They did an hour set, and it was amazing.
This was his event but it was a surprise?
Nobody knew. They had called Hillary Rosen (then chairman and chief executive of the RIAA) and me and had said that this is the band that they wanted to perform. So there was a lot of separate brokering with management. Mick Fleetwood said that they had actually not met the Clintons that big night on the convention floor (at the 1992 Democratic National Convention) when that song (“Don’t Stop”) became the theme song (for the Clinton/Gore campaign).
Was the RIAA involved in any of President Obama’s inaugural activities?
We have done inaugural convention events for both parties and all presidents. That’s the nature of our role. So we did do an inaugural event that was very meaningful. We partnered with Feeding America and Rhianna was the entertainment. We did the cool after party.
And coming up?
We will be doing really outstanding events at both conventions. I think that we are known for giving a good party at both conventions. We are partnering with Musicians On Call, a phenomenal organization, that brings the healing power of music to hospitals and to veterans. So we will be at both of the (party) conventions. We will have the hottest parties there.
Who are your favorite artists?
I’m all over the map. It is always about the current obsessions. Right now, there’s this (English synthpop) band Mirrors from Brighton that I can’t get enough of. It is in heavy rotation. I love a lot of Spanish music so there’s this new artist Pablo Alborán that is like flamenco but pop that I am obsessed with. I absolutely love Idina Menzel, (known for originating the lead role in “Wicked”) who has an album "I Stand” — anything she does. Just the sound of her voice—whether it’s “Wicked” or her album I will definitely be in there. Probably, the “West Side Story” soundtrack too. Etta James’ “Deep in The Night—it is just this bad-ass album and the lead song is just amazing.
The thing is that I grew up such a classical geek. Living out here (in Los Angeles), I have gone to Coachella for seven or eight years in a row. I like a lot of electronica. I like the Presets, and Cut Copy—bands like that. Kind of the cool electro vibe. And I like good vocals. Wherever the vocals come, that’s what I am drawn to usually.
When is your album being released?
It has been a long time coming, but the album is coming out on December 19th. It is called “Rebirth.” It is completely for friends and family. It’s low production but it’s been a joy getting back to (making music). It's without a label home. It’s standards, musical theatre, and songs I grew up with. There’s “Summertime”: “Keeping Out of Mischief,” “The Nearness Of You” by Hoagy Carmichael (and Ned Washington), “Anthem” (from “Chess”), “Move On” from “Sunday In The Park With George,” and “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked.” I also sing "Bésame Mucho" which was one of my dad’s favorite songs.
Your collaborator on the album is musical director and film composer Ben Toth who has worked with Mandy Patinkin, Wayne Brady, Lea Michele, and Taye Diggs.
I lucked into working with him. He just music directed Cheyenne Jackson at Carnegie Hall. He’s a friend, and he’s a genius.
What music did you listen to growing up?
In our family, it was the “Oklahoma,” South Pacific” and “West Side Story” soundtracks. That was just what we grew up in. There is such a romance with music and there is such idealism to it. Both of my parents had beautiful voices and were very musical.
My dad, who passed away, had just a beautiful voice. His father was a cantor; and mom, who is still alive, has a gorgeous voice. Her mom played piano for the silent movies. I have a brother who is a piano prodigy and a sister who is a working violinist in New York. We used to troop in from the time that we were six through the time we were 18—all three of us—from Long island to Julliard in Manhattan, for Music is the basis for so much of my life.
Did you realize at some point that the concert world wasn’t for you?
It’s interesting. The ante kept upping. In DC, I was young, and I was working on Capitol Hill during the day and then 10 seasons of the Washington Opera at night. That usually would be from September through March. Then the work and travel demands became greater. It got harder to do both. That’s why getting back to the music again—singing in any form—is such a joy.
Still, it must be hard to find the time.
It is, it is. But there are a lot of talented people at the RIAA, Cary Sherman (chairman and CEO of the RIAA) included. He is an accomplished pianist. There is a reason why we are working in this realm. We still get to be in love with music and, hopefully, support music. But I’m not going to lie. It’s also nice to go out, and play and sing.
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.”