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  Industry Profile




Industry Profile: JC Ahn

— By Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess MediaWire)

This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: JC, Ahn, business partner and international director, VU Entertainment.

Snoop Lion is among the latest in a growing wave of American acts seeking to crack South Korea’s entertainment market.

Presented by VU Entertainment, Snoop will be holding his “Unite All Originals Live with Snoop Dogg” at Olympic Park in Seoul on May 4, 2013.

In the past few years, South Korea (officially the Republic of Korea) has embraced international acts, emerging as a crucial territory on the music industry’s global map.

For Westerners, South Korea is a mix of new challenges and familiar frustrations, due to rampant piracy of music from the internet, and an evolving touring infrastructure.

Despite these obstacles, the wide commercial potential there makes South Korea an irresistible draw as record sales elsewhere continue to plunge, and new sources of revenue have become essential.

At the same time, a new wave of South Korean acts, including PSY (who’s "Gangnam Style" topped the music charts of more than 30 countries), JYJ, TVXQ!, Super Junior, 2PM, Shinee, Beast, Infinite, Sistar and Eru, Big Bang, 2NE1, Girls’ Generation, and Wonder Girls are beating a path to Japan, Europe, and North America.

Recently, the 5 member girl group f(x)—Victoria, Luna, Krystal, Sulli and Amber—became the first K-pop act to appear at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

South Korean rockers the Geeks, Yi Sung Yol, Guckkasten, No Brain, Jeong Cha Shik and Galaxy Express also wowed industry attendees at SXSW with their own sets.

At the dead centre of South Korea’s event entertainment world is a 42-year-old Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, JC Ahn, business partner and international dir. of VU Entertainment.

One of South Korea's leading promoters, Ahn oversees international artist bookings for VU Entertainment as well its club, concert, festival, label, and artist booking agency interests

Starting as a club promoter almost a decade ago, Ahn has worked with David Guetta, Jason Mraz, LMFAO, Deadmau5, Far East Movement, Bone Thugs & Harmony, Akon, Paris Hilton, David Beckham, Bob Sapp, B.O.B, Smashing Pumpkins, New Order, Gym Class Heroes, Justice and others.

With the current tension from North Korea, Western artists may now be unwilling to travel to South Korea.

That has happened to us before in the past. If you are Seoul right now, however, you would see that everybody is doing their everyday thing. Every weekend, all of the clubs are full. Everybody is partying. Everybody is drunk. No one is really taking the threats (seriously) or as the media is making them out to be.

As with the Israelis, South Koreans are used to being continually under a threat.

Well, (Palestinians) are shooting missiles into Israel. They are killing each other. In Korea that’s practically unheard of. When it does happen, it’s like, “Whoa. What the hell just happened?” With all of the fire power South Korea has in addition to all of the fire power and technology that America has over here, I don’t think that they (North Koreans) could get one missile into the airspace of South Korea. There are enough patriot missiles, and air-to-surface missiles in South Korea to overwhelm all of North Korea.

Most Westerners think of South Korean music as only K-Pop. But there’s an abundance of heavy metal and punk in South Korea.

Oh yeah. If you bring Metallica to Korea [as Ahn speaks of South Korea], it will sell out. Hands down.

This year’s South by Southwest featured such South Korean acts as the Geeks, Yi Sung Yol, Guckkasten, No Brain, Jeong Cha Shik, and Galaxy Express. Hardly K-Pop.

No Brain is a punk rock band. They have a lot of energy toward the crowd. They are very famous in Korea. There’s a lot of music in Korea that needs to be put out in the international markets. So people don’t think that Korea is only K-Pop. It’s not only K-Pop.

You joined VU Entertainment in 2010. VU isn’t a new company.

VU has been around for a long time. Mainly, they did club events and electronic music. The way that VU started was that they wanted to promote their own artists, and their own DJs. They were trying to find their own venues, and do their own things. They built it from there.

In 2010, I came into the picture.

When Icksoo Han (VU Entertainment’s CEO) called me in to meet him, I thought he wanted me to work for him. He surprised me by saying that he wanted me to be his business partner. I said, “If you want me to be your business partner, be expecting VU to become a lot bigger then it is right now. Your expectations need to triple. If I come in as your partner, I’m going to go all out. I’m going to do everything that I can to build this company up. He just rolled his eyes, and said, “Whatever.” Later on, I began bombarding him with “I got this. I got this. I got this.” He was like, “Slow down. We can’t do all of that stuff.” I said, “Well, let’s pick and choose.”

What did you pick?

So obviously, it was Global Gathering 2010 (an all day electronic dance music festival in Seoul). Then we did the first Seoul Electronic Music Festival. We did MGMT, Deadmau5 and a Far East Movement concert. This was in the first couple of months. We just went all out. We just bombarded the whole market. From there we just kept the momentum going to this day. We have done the Global Gathering Festivals for Korea for the past five years.

What’s your role at VU Entertainment?

I’m the business partner for VU and international. I am also the CEO for VU International Agency. We do artist bookings all over the world for K-Pop. If an Asian gives us the rights to do artist bookings for Asia we help with that. We support it. I do all of the bookings for all of VU and all of the clubs. We are opening up another club in Seoul in May. We have two clubs now in Seoul.

VU Entertainment also operates VU Records.

Some of our artists are only well known in Korea. We would like to branch them out internationally. We have EDM--a ton of electronic DJ producers. We have Inside Core, and we even have an electronic band Idiotape. They use percussion. There’s a drummer and two guys as the digital DJ. It an amazing thing. When you listen to their music, it’s electronic but it’s electronic/rock.

You work with many South Korean acts.

Yeah. Not major league K-Pop. We do have a K-Pop band opening up for Snoop Dogg (Snoop Lion). It’s (four-member South Korean girl group) 2NE1. We’ve have worked with them a couple of times, and we’ve worked out a relationship with them. Since 2NE1 is sponsored by Adidas, they are coming in as well. Adidas is our sponsor, and we’ve made it into an Adidas’ concert.

[On May 4, 2013, Snoop Lion will be holding his “Unite All Originals Live with Snoop Dogg” at Olympic Park in Seoul, Korea.]

This is Snoop’s first concert in Korea. He is well-known for advocating marijuana. In many Western countries, marijuana possession is not a big deal. In South Korea, it is. How will you handle that issue with him?

I’m sure he’s a professional. He knows what can be done, and what cannot be done.

Cannabis use is strictly forbidden in South Korea. You risk imprisonment and hefty fines if you are caught with marijuana.

It’s not like Singapore. They aren’t going to hang you for it. I heard a story about this 25-year-old Vietnamese guy flying in from Viet Nam who had a couple of grams of cocaine on him, and they hung him.

[Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

Drug trafficking there carries a mandatory death sentence under its Misuse of Drugs Act. Despite pleas for clemency from the Australian government, Amnesty International and others, Van Tuong Nygyen was executed by hanging in 2005 after being convicted of drug trafficking.

In 2012, Singapore amended its law to exempt some drug cases from the mandatory sentence while boosting enforcement. Although the death penalty is still on the books, discretionary measures have been given to the trial judge.]

Last year, you booked American rapper Ludacris for SummerWave at Caribbean Bay.

Yes, SummerWave was Ludacris, Taio Cruz, and this Japanese electronic group m-flo.

[Also on the bill were Drunken Tiger, T Yoon Mi Rae, and Buga Kingz.]

Obviously, there’s a demand for Western acts in South Korea.

There is. But you can’t take a no-name, and bring them to Korea and expect to do well. Nobody is going to want to pay that price of the plane fare, and the hotel unless there was a profit to be made.

Unlike years ago, there is no shortage of promoters in South Korea now.

There are so many promoters now. Before there was hardly anyone. When I first started off, I could literally count them (the promoters) on one hand.

Now multiple that by a hundred today.

There are a lot of people trying to get into this business, and do what we do. Not everybody is going to work with the right people. There are a lot of people coming into Korea, and trying to get into this business, right now. But the thing is, these guys are in their 20s or early 30s. I’ve been in the game for such a long time, and I know all of the players. These people can come in, and try to build new relationships, but the people I work with are the people that I like to work with, that believe in loyalty. That’s what our company runs on. Loyalty is one of the most important things in this business.

What’s the attraction to being a promoter there?

A lot of promoters in Korea get into the business thinking that it is like a celebrity type business. That you do it to be popular. You do it to make tons of money. All of this stuff. They don’t understand that it’s a gamble. It’s a risk that you take when you do these events.

Do the other promoters book western acts as well?

They are doing a bit of everything. There’s the club promoters, the event promoters, and the brand promoters. Now it’s like an overabundance of promoters in Korea. Only a small handful execute (come through with dates). Most of them are out there ruining the marketing by talking a big game by promising a lot of stuff, saying that they are going to do stuff, and sometimes fraudulently forging documents.

For example, some people claimed that they were going to do a Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg (Snoop Lion)/Game concert last year. I was totally confused because I was already talking to Snoop’s management. I thought I already had it locked up. So, I called them up, and asked them and they didn’t know. They said “Talk to Brent Smith” at William Morris Endeavor. Brent said he didn’t know anything about it either. I also talked to Dre’s management. It was 100% bogus. The people who were investing, and the people that were being asked to be sponsors, they forwarded me the documents that they received from the people who said that they had the contracts. I saw the contracts, and none of the contracts were with the managements or with the agencies. They were these no-name companies that I had never heard of.

There are only a handful of music artists with global profiles. The latest being Lady Gaga. Many acts you can’t book because they are unknown to audiences in South Korea.

There’s one band called Twenty One Pilots. They came to Korea, and they played at the Jisan Valley Rock Festival (in 2012). At the festival, the sub-stage was operated by our company. We were supporting that festival. The festival is owned by Nine Entertainment, and CJ Entertainment. We came in to help out, and support.

At the end of the night, this last act came up on the main stage, Twenty One Pilots. I was in either London or I was in Birmingham for the Global Gathering Festival. One of my partners, Kibum Kim (COO) was there. He called me from the site saying, “Listen to this!” He was holding his (cell) phone up in the air. I couldn’t really hear because there was too much distortion. But he called me, and some of my staff called me. They all said that this is an amazing group, and we want to bring them back again. Normally, we would not bring in an artist more than once a year but we ended up bringing these guys again for our Global Gathering festival in October.

[The Jisan Valley Rock Festival is a three-day event held every year in late July at the Jisan Valley Ski Resort in Icheon, South Korea.]

The follow-up (at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill in Seoul on March 1, 2013) was really great. Everybody really loved it. It was an amazing performance. They are the nicest, and most humble guys to work with. So we decided to bring them back again for their concert. Just for them. so they are not part of the festival. We did that and we took a loss on it. We didn’t sell that many tickets. We gave out a lot of tickets. We really believe in them.

In essence, you are developing Twenty One Pilots for the South Korean market.

Right. We developed apps, marketing tools, and online sites for these guys. Now a lot of people want to see them again. It’s mostly been (because of) their performance onstage. How they react to the crowd. A Korean crowd is pretty unique. They are not the type that just stand there. In Japan, they (audiences) will just kind of stand there and not clap or jump or anything. Just listen to the music and, maybe, jump later. It’s kind of awkward. In Korea, from start to finish of a show, you have people jumping and having their hands up in the air. It’s just a full-out, wild ride. The artists love it. The fans love it.

Is that true across all music genres?

Yeah, it goes through all genres.

How did the annual Rainbow Island Festival come about?

The Rainbow Island Festival was created by me, and my partner. Icksoo came up with the concept of doing something toward nature, and recycling and things like that.

The festival takes place on an island.

It does. We took a year trying to find a venue. We were looking at mountains. We were looking at resorts. We were looking at golf resorts. You name it, we looked at it. We couldn’t find anything. We were stressed out about it.

What were you looking for?

We were looking for something with a lot of wilderness. Something clean and unique to do something that nobody in Korea had ever done before. Then my mother came into play. I was at a dinner with my family, and my mother overheard me talking about how we were trying to find this venue. It was aggravating because it was taking so much time. Then my mother goes, “I have a venue for you.” I started laughing. “What venue could you have?” It turns out our family owns an island. It’s a privately-owned island. I was like, “We don’t have time to get to get people travel a major distance to the ocean. “She says, “No. It’s not on the ocean. It’s on a big lake. It’s called Nami Island. It’s 45 minutes to an hour away from Seoul.”

To get onto this island you can either take the ferry boats over or you can zip line over. There’s a 15-story tower where you take the elevator up. It’s a one kilometer zip line all of the way to the island. There are two zip lines side by side so you can be with your lover or friend and you can take the zip line together all the way.

[South Korea's Nami Skyline ZipWire ZipRider, starting from Gapyeong Wharf and ending at Nami Island, covers 940 meters. To check it out, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz6EFjz9Ums]

This will be the third year for this festival.

This will be our third year. In the beginning I had a real close friend of mine that’s famous, and it seemed liked it worked really well for the concept of the festival. So I asked my partner if I should invite my friend. He said that it was a beautiful idea. So we ended up getting (American singer/songwriter) Brian McKnight and we got KT Tunstall on for the festival which took place July 2nd and 3rd, 2011.

How did the first year work out?

It was us sort of testing everything out. We were trying to feel it all out. The worst thing that could ever happen did. We did the festival on a Saturday and a Sunday. Two days with camping. Saturday was beautiful. Saturday night and throughout Sunday we got poured on. It was raining like hell. Over 200 tents flooded. We had to reimburse everybody. It was horrible, but people enjoyed the festival.

When the second year came around, we changed the event date. We didn’t want to do it in July. July is kind of the monsoon season in Korea. It’s a rainy season. We pushed it to June. When we pushed it to June, we thought about who should we get to build this brand. Obviously, a lot of people knew about it by then, but we really want everybody to know about it. Like it’d be a huge name. If you say Rainbow Festival everybody would know what it was.

So we came up with Jason Mraz (as a headliner). Then his manager Bill Silva said it’d be great to if we had Christine Perri on the bill. That’s his artist. It turned out that “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” was such a huge deal in Korea at the time. So she did the OST (original soundtrack) for “Twilight” (with the song "A Thousand Years") so I was like, “Okay. Let’s do it.” So we did Christina Perri and Jason Mraz--all of Bill’s artists as our headliners. Close to 30,000 people attended.

How many people are you expecting to attend this year’s Rainbow Island Festival?

It’s up in the air because this year we didn’t go for a major headliner like we did last year. But we have booked Travis from the UK.

Why no major headliner this year?

Trying to save money. We spent a lot of money on the last one so we could build the brand. Now it’s time to get people to come for the concept and not the artists. That’s what we are aiming for. Who in Korea does that? A festival on an island.

You have done SummerWave festival for the past two years. Will it happen this year?

We are still debating on it. When we do the SummerWave festival, we do it with Samsung.

When you have booked international acts, have the South Korean divisions of major labels provided support with a current release, and marketing backup?

It’s hit and miss. We’d like to think that the labels get involved for everything but I think that they pick and choose. When we did David Guetta, Jason Mraz, LMFAO and Far East Movement, the labels were involved 100%. As far as some of the other artists that we bring over sometimes, the labels don’t even contact us. They will probably do something on their side. We wouldn’t really know about it.

Copyright enforcement remains a major issue in South Korea.

Yeah. The person probably leading the fight is my friend Bernie Cho (president of Seoul-based DFSB Kollective) When it comes to copyright, he’s the man hands down for South Korea. A lot of people are sick of it (illegal downloading.) Of course, the public loves it. Free music all of the time.

Blocking or deleting infringing content online hasn’t worked in South Korea as hoped.

Yeah. It’s too early to know. It really hasn’t been pushed into full effect. It’s just at its beginning stages. We’ll just have to wait, and see how it turns out.

[In 2009, South Korea became the first country to introduce a graduated response or "three strikes" law for Internet copyright enforcement. The statute allows the Minister of Culture or the Korean Copyright Commission to tell ISPs, and Korean online service providers to suspend the accounts of repeated infringers, and block or delete infringing content online. Enforcement, however, has been deemed ineffective to date.]

What did you do when you came to Korea from America in 2001?

When I came here I started working for my uncle. He owns this big company, Locus Holdings. He put me in the finance, the IT department. I was trying to learn IT, and all of this stuff. Me being at a desk for an entire day just doesn’t work.

Did you then speak Korean?

No.

You had to start anew in South Korea.

Yeah, and it was hell. But I realized that my English wasn’t a handicap. It was an advantage. So I started teaching English. I taught children and adults for about 5 years. Starting with adults in a classroom, and later teaching children. I was pretty good at it. I made it fun for the kids. I guess we really understood each other. It was like we were all on the same level.

You later became involved in club promotion starting with Club Circle.

I helped open Club Circle because I knew the owners. The owners are very close to me. They were on planning on making a regular (South) Korean style booking night club . Booking night clubs is where a customer sits at a table and waiters grab girls from all over the club and drag them to the customer; make them sit with them and drink with them. These girls know the Korean operations of the club. They go to the club knowing that they are going to get booked for other tables or rooms or what not with guys. The guys come in and they pay full price for tables and bottles or whatever. The girls pay $50 to get a little table and they wait until the waiters grab them and take them to all these rooms where they drink for free.

Instead, we ended up doing a luxury dance club which started an entire new night life for south Korea.

You later launched On and On Communications. Did that develop from your work with Club Circle?

Yes. The company I was with while at Circle was Asian Global Entertainment, We organized parties at the club, plus did sponsorship and worked with artists. If there was an opportunity to work with the people that I already knew in the United States, I would try and pull it in. So there was Paris Hilton, David Beckham, Akon, and the Black Eyed Peas. And a lot of major name DJs. That was just for Circle alone.

A very impressive list.

It was the first time that anyone had done something like this. I was the first person to do it. Circle was the first dance club in South Korea’s history. A luxury dance club. It started this entire huge movement of a nightlife culture in South Korea. After Circle, all of these clubs suddenly opened up everywhere.

Was it common for a Western act to perform in South Korea a decade ago?

In all honesty, booking artists in Korea was just for concerts or festival type things. There was nothing else within that. People didn’t really know what to do. They would book these concerts, do the concerts, and then there’d usually be no after party. If there was, it would be in a hotel lobby or something. It was something that I wasn’t used to. What they were doing was really lame.

But back then it wasn’t that common for western artists to drop into Seoul.

No.

Western artists would perform in Hong Kong, and Tokyo, and go home.

Yeah, pretty much.

But that has changed.

That has changed in a huge way. Asia is such a huge market now.

What made the market open up?

It is just an opinion, but I think that the only reason that it really opened up was because more people were traveling to other countries, and living, working and going to school there. More children were going to universities in other countries. So they would be living there, and become Westernized. They would come back for vacations or after they graduated and they would bring that (foreign) culture with them as well. It was like, “I don’t want to be F.O.B.” F.O.B. means fresh off the boat. Meaning that you are really Korean. Or that you are Chinese/Chinese. Then there are gyopos. In Korea, gyopos means Korean American or Korean Westerner or Korean foreigner, like me. It seemed that when they brought it (the foreign culture) over with them that it was just the cool thing to do.

You grew up in America.

I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I got to go to the Three River Stadium when it was still growing up to see Willie Stargell (of the Pittsburgh Pirates) play.

Can you remember your first exposure to live music?

In Pittsburgh, my parents went to a mall, and there was a live band playing. I don’t even know the band. But I was just mesmerized watching the people play. I think I was in first grade. A really small little kid.

I have loved music all my life. My mother was a huge Jimi Hendrix fan. As I was growing up, I’d be in the back seat of our car listening to her 8-tracks. She would be playing the Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, the Doors, and the Rolling Stones, of course. So I grew up listening to music that was culturally trendy at the time.

My biggest involvement with music was at summer camp in Pittsburgh. The theme for one of the days was “Grease.” So everybody dressed up like John Travolta and were singing the songs from “Grease.” That’s how I started really getting to feel what the music all about.

Did you ever own a white suit?

Not a white suit. I was wearing blue jeans rolled up, and a white T-shirt. I had my hair slicked back with some grease.

A punk?

It was so far away from punk. The picture on my T-shirt was a picture of Fonzie (Henry Winkler) with his thumb up going, “Hey.”

You left Pittsburgh when you were 6 or 7 to live in Houston. A big change?

I’m going to be very blunt. I wasn’t exactly a good boy. I had a lot of bad habits. I got sent away to a military school for four years when I was a juvenile. Then, when I got out and eventually I did what I had to do. Marine Corp and what not.

Did you attend university?

I went to a few. I graduated from the Texas School of Business. That was in 1998 or something. Actually, I went to prison a couple of times. I went to Harvard University in Boston. There were these classes that if you did well, they’d put you into the university programs. They said I had a high IQ. With my experiences, I don’t think that I have that high of an IQ or I would never have gone the way that I went.

Smart people are often drawn to crime.

Yeah. Some of the smartest people that I’ve ever met were in prison.

What directly led to you going to prison?

I got into drug dealing, banging, and doing things that you shouldn’t do. Eventually, I started throwing parties, and promoting for clubs to help sell the things that I had.

In Houston?

This was in Boston, New York, Houston, wherever I was. I moved around a lot. I promoted for clubs in Boston, and in New York, and Houston. In Houston, we had our own club which was called Spy Club. In 2001, the club got shut down for (having) the world’s largest ecstasy drug trafficking ring.

[In 2002, federal authorities closed down an international MDMA (widely known as "ecstasy") trafficking ring that used two popular Houston nightclubs-- the Spy Club, and The Hub--to launder profits from a chain of dealers throughout the U.S.

Authorities charged 24 people in Houston, and 10 members of the international organization--mostly in Israel, the base of the operation, and in the Netherlands, where the ecstasy was produced.]

You were then called Richie.

Pretty much. Wow! How did you know about that? A lot of people don’t know about that. My real name is Richard Jung Chull Chong Ahn or Jong Chull Ahn.

Where did they put you in prison?

I was in Walpole State Prison, and Billerica State Prison in Massachusetts. In Texas, they moved me around a lot. I was In and Pam Lynchner State Jail (in Humble, Texas). I was in a couple of state penitentiaries.

Were the charges against you all drug related?

The one in Texas was drug related with organized for possession and the one that I got arrested in Massachusetts was possession of a machine gun.

Did you get to a point where you thought, “I will never go back inside again?”

Actually, that never came to mind. O f course, I never wanted to go back. The reality is that all I wanted to do was figure out what I want to do with my life. I had no clue. The only thing that I knew was how to scare the shit out of people and make money where most people would never thought of.

How did you get to South Korea?

That’s a funny story. I came here after I got released from prison in Texas. They arrested me for manufacturing, delivering a controlled substance—MDMA—with the intent of (being a part of) organized crime. Once I was released, I found that the state (Texas) took me on for that particular crime, but the feds never touched. I found out that they were waiting until I got out, and they were going to re-indict me again for my firearm charges. They were going to get me for a “third strike” because the state would have been considered a felony, plus the felony in Massachusetts. Once I was released they could pick me up on the third felony of firearm charges. I could have been considered a violent offender. So I was looking at 35 (years) to life. So, what I did before they could indict me was that I sold everything and I took off to Korea.

What do your friends from your bad days in Houston think of your life now?

They just don’t believe it. A lot of people thought I was dead. A lot of people thought I was put in prison for life. But some of my close friends told me that they knew that I could be successful in this business.

Do you return to America often?

No I don’t. I think the last time I went was to go to Hawaii in 2012 to see my sister and my family. It was very nice. Mainly, I enjoyed the food and spending time with my family.

Do you have trouble with American authorities in returning home?

No problem at all. But I’m so busy over here. Every time I travel, I travel for a reason. I don’t go somewhere just for myself. The only reason I went to America three years ago was to go to my sister Stephanie’s wedding. After that I went to Hawaii because my family wanted to do this family get together thing. Those were the only two reasons I went back to America. I recently went to Canada for Canadian Music Week as a speaker.

How did that come about?

(Canadian Music Week’s) Neill Dixon visited Korea. He called me and asked if I had time to meet with him. I met with him in a hotel lobby. We spoke for awhile. Later on, I spoke to one of my mentors, and he told me he went every year and I should go and see him. After a month or two of thinking about it, I sent an email to Neill saying I’d do it. The reason was that Seymour Stein (co-founder of Sire Records) told me he’d be there. So I went to see him. He’s a mentor,

You and I met through producer Bob Ezrin at Canadian Music Week.

I met Bob through Ralph Simon (CEO, Mobilium). I was the only young Asian guy hanging out with these guys. I was hanging out with people like Tommy Silverman (CEO of Tommy Boy Entertainment), and Seymour Stein. Having dinner, listening to their stories was the most amazing thing. People told me I was hanging out with the Rat Pack of the music industry. All of them combined into one little near crew. People were like, “Who are these old guys?” I was like, “You have no idea.” You can’t buy this (experience). You can’t even read it in books. They haven’t written about these types of things. I hope they wouldn’t.

As well, relationships are so important.

I believe that so strongly, but the people that I work with—even my partners—they all believe that email is stronger, and more important in doing business than phone conversations, and being upfront and personal. I keep telling them, “That’s not how I work.” The way I work is phone calls, being upfront and personal, and getting to know the people that I’m working with as friends rather than business people. I feel like I can get a lot more done and there can be understanding between the two of us rather than me being a dick or them being a dick to me. Other people are like, “No. No. No. Just email.”

You sound like you are having fun.

I don’t know if it’s fun. It’s fun but it’s stressful. I don’t think that anyone who has normal senses would go into this job and do what I do and be sane. I think they’d go crazy.

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.”

The recipient of the 2013 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who have made an impact on the Canadian music industry, Larry will be honored at the 2013 Juno Gala Dinner & Awards on April 20th in Regina, Saskatchewan.


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