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  Industry Profile




Industry Profile: Bruce Houghton

— By Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess MediaWire)

This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Bruce Houghton, president, Skyline Music Agency; editor/publisher, Hypebot and MusicThinkTank.

Bruce Houghton co-founded the American booking agency Skyline Music Agency with Andrea Sabata in Boston in 1985.

Houghton had earlier kicked off his career in the music industry as a lowly intern at the local branch of A&M Records after leaving Boston University.

After selling advertising for the Boston Phoenix, he was offered a job booking Boston's infamous nightclub, The Rathskeller better known as The Rat Club.

Next came stints as a regional college middle agent at Pretty Polly Productions, and Collins/Barrasso Agency. Afterwards, Houghton returned to booking The Rat where he also had an office, and began doing regional bookings throughout New England.

Sabata, who previously worked with Bill Rezzy's regional booking agency in Albany, New York, and with MCM Management in Massachusetts came to work for Houghton in 1984.

A year later, the pair decided to form the Skyline Music Agency.

From the get-go Skyline has nationally represented mid-level classic rock acts (including Foghat, the Outlaws, and Blackfoot in its early years) as well as celebrated Americana-styled or folk acts (starting with ex-Band bassist Rick Danko followed by John Sebastian, Tom Rush, Roger McGuinn, and Al Stewart).

In 1997, acknowledging that older music fans had no interest in shows at many music clubs, and noting that performing arts centers were struggling to stay relevant with an audience no longer interested in classical, jazz or even traditional fine arts performers, Skyline's moved as well into performing arts booking

Today, Skylineís roster is enormously diverse, but familiar to most consumers. It includes Al Stewart, John Sebastian, Tom Rush, Tartan Terrors, Throwing Muses, Gaelic Storm, Hot Club of Cowtown, ZoŽ Keating, Kristin Hersh, Leon Redbone, Al Jardine, Asia, the Family Stone, Felix Cavaliere, Rick Derringer, and the Lovin Spoonful.

Skyline also operates the influential music and technology blogs, Hypebot and MusicThinkTank.

How many acts are on the roster of the Skyline Music Agency?

We try to keep it somewhere in the 50 to 60 act range. Thatís the size that we feel comfortable with given the agent team that we have.

You started Skyline with Andrea Sabata?

Yes. Andrea and I were married at time. We were married for 20 years. We got divorced about 8 or 9 years ago. Itís not a secret. Itís a testimony to our relationship that Andrea and I are together in the agency working together for 25 years. (Mark Lourie) has been with us just a little bit less than 24 years out of Portland.

Over the years, Skyline has operated with agents in different locations. Who is out there now?

Obi Steinman, and Chris Cate are both in Los Angeles. Andrea is in Florida. So is Steve Peck. Mark is in Portland, Maine. Those are the agents. The admins are spread. Two are in New Hampshire, one is in St. Louis, and one is here in Virginia.

What was the first satellite office you opened?

I want to say Santa Cruz with Charles (Lochtefeld). Then Atlanta was 15 years with Barron (Ruth).

The internet has made it easier to work with staff in different locations?

The internet clearly has made it easier. It was far more difficult before. A lot of it, at the beginning, was simply I didn't want to live full-time in New York, Los Angeles or Nashville. At that point, I had to create a virtual company. It has been an advantage because I can hire people where they are as opposed to where I want them to be. The internet has made that much easier. We are all on an integrated computer system. We are all on a phone system. Iím calling from Virginia, but I think the phone number says New Hampshire.

Where are you based in Virginia?

Iím in Roanoke. I was in New Hampshire for 20 years. Then I kept an apartment in LA for quite a long time. Going back and forth. But Iím just happy here. Iím a small city person. I think thatís who I am.

When did you move to Roanoke?

Four and a half years ago. We did a search of small cities in the South, and visited Asheville, Hickory and Charlotte (in North Carolina). A half a dozen places. I wanted some place warm or some place warmer than New Hampshire to be honest. I grew up in Connecticut, and I lived in New Hampshire for 20 years. I was used to it (the cold), but I got tired of it to be blunt. Iím not a Florida person. So this was it. We fell in love with Roanoke because it is a nice small city. It has worked out really well.

Skylineís roster is split between heritage rock and Americana-styled or folk acts. Not big headliners, nor acts on the lower rung. You work in the middle ground.

Yeah. We are the middle ground. Serving the middle (in the marketplace) is the niche that we found for ourselves.

How to you choose what acts to work with?

How do we choose something? Is it great live? Does it have an audience? For the younger bands that audience might be 200 people; but (thatís fine) as long as itís in multiple markets. It could three or four markets. Does it have an audience? Can it move that audience? And is that audience growing? Thatís really is what we look at. It helps that, within the company, that there is someone who is passionate about that particular artist. Who is the advocate for the artist. Thatís the final piece.

Beyond that, I have always believed that we were not served finding a particular musical niche. Going mostly Americana or going mostly classic rock or going mostly contemporary. I guess that I never felt that we were going to be well-served by that. Itís not interesting to me, and itís not interesting to Mark or to Andrea or any of us here to just do one thing.

As well, your conversation with a buyer would be over very quickly if they knew you only handled acts in one genre. Theyíd also figure, ďI wonít call Bruce. He doesnít book that.Ē

But there are clearly people like Paradise that are essentially an oldies/classic rock agency, and agents like Paul Lohr (president, New Frontier Touring) who is essentially Americana that are doing very well. My respect to both of them, but I just donít find that interesting.

I have also learned over the years that many artistsónot all artists--but the ones that we want to work with, donít find that interesting either. Felix Cavaliere, from the Rascals, may be a classic act, but he is also is storyteller and a singer/songwriter who wants to play 375 seat art centers with his solo show. I need to be able to do that. He doesnít want to just be on an oldiesí package. He will go on an oldiesí package, but thatís not all what he wants to do. Or John Sebastian who, in essence, views himself as a folk artist. So thatís where John Sebastian wants to play.

Itís that kind of diversity that I find interesting, and itís been another point of differentiation for the agency as well in terms of signing artists. It happens to have served us well. Also more and more buyers at art centers and, even now, we are starting to see fairs and casinos starting to be more diverse. They now understand that they just canít do one thing, and get a broader audience.

Skyline is able to offer buyers artists that are familiar to mainstream audiences.

Correct.

Have you seen a booking bounce for Felix Cavaliere from last yearís Rascalsí national reunion tour?

We are just finding that out now, but it does appear to be so. They just decided six or eight weeks ago that the tour wasnít going to continue. So we are just finding that (the impact) out now. The tour got some great press, and most of the press was pushed towards Felixís performance. Yeah, itís been good for us.

What are the challenges in booking an act in which the key playersóthe main voice or the primary creative people--are no longer there?

To be crass about it, the average fan knows the songs, and not the band. So if the band is a great representation of the original sound; if it sounds like the people imagined it; the way the record sounded; then they will be happy.

The fans are happy, and we sell dates.

Itís different if it is a performing arts centre in a college town where the audience is very sophisticated. They may not be comfortable with that. But if itís a casino or a performing arts centre in a different market, the fan just wants to hear the hits.

I remember as a middle agent booking both the Guess Who (under the leadership of original founding members Jim Kale and Garry Peterson), and BTO (Randy Murray, Robbie Bachman, Fred Turner and Blair Thornton) in the same summer series at the same night club--Christine's in Cape Cod--a month apart. I was thinking, ďBTO is just going to kill it because those are the guys that did it.Ē No offense to who is left in the Guess Who. But the Guess Who sold three or four more times what BTO did because the fans know the name, the Guess Who and they want to hear those hits. And the Guess Who did well, and does, very well today.

You also book guitarist Al Jardine, who was closely associated with the Beach Boys for many years. He was the lead vocalist on a number of the band's songs, including, "Help Me, Rhonda."

The Beach Boys were so huge and Al was an integral part of it. No one pretends that heís Brian Wilson. But he was such an integral part of the group that the fans want to see him. It goes back to you asking me why do we sign bands. Do they have an audience, and can they motivate that audience? Thatís what these acts do. Who am I to judge?

Then thereís Roger McGuinn. Though closely associated with the Byrds he has had such a rich solo history as well.

Like (John) Sebastian, Roger established a solo career early on. He has been very consistent in what he does. Neither of them are running away from their hits. They love their hits. They perform their hits. They do what the audience would expect. But, over a very long period of time, they have built individual identities. You and I can look at the marketplace, and know what artists have been smart enough or consistent enough or talented enough to do that. Some have and some havenít. Obviously. The ones that have are the ones that are easier for us to book and build a career around.

Nashville-based live music producer Tom Jackson and I talked last year about how many veteran acts think that they know all about performing, and will refuse outside direction to build their shows. No fan wants to see an act just go through the motions in a show.

It is absolutely all about the live show, and delivering a positive fan experience. Iím not ever going to name names, but we can look over on peoplesí rosters and see the acts that donít work as much as you think that they would. When you delve into it, it is usually because--or often because--the show wasnít that good. They werenít that professional or whatever. Over time, that changes the trajectory of their careers.

When Skyline launched 28 years ago, was there a niche in the marketplace for booking mid-level acts?

Skyline existed in a more floundering form for about a year; but Skyline as we know it after that first year or two really was a reaction to the fact that the major agencies at the time were not paying attention to what was beginning to be the classic rock artists. An artist that would, perhaps, have sold an arena 10 years earlier, wasnít anymore, but still had a place in the market. The first one (booking client) was Foghat. When I realized that we could service Foghat better than whoever they were with, I realized that there was a niche there, and then one thing led to another. Now a lot of people do this, but this was in the pre-casino era.

At the time, third-tier markets were being ignored by most booking agencies and by promoters who figured there wasnít enough money in those markets.

Correct. And the guy who had signed them (the band) and booked them into arenas or theatres didnít necessarily want to sully his hands with a nightclub in Virginia Beach (Virginia). Thatís what those acts had to do to survive in the era of pre-Indian casinos doing classic rock. We did it, and it was a successful way to launch (the agency). I was, in essence, a regional agent prior to that. This was an opportunity for me to both serve artists, and grow the company. They (buyers) didnít know who Bruce was but they knew who Foghat was or who the Outlaws were or any of those early bands.

What was your booking region?

Before this it really was just New England and New York. We immediately started to book nationally. But, again, it was because people knew who the bands were not because of who we were.

What acts did you begin with?

Early on, it was Foghat, the Outlaws, and Blackfoot. Also Rick Danko came pretty early.

Rick Danko is hardly a classic rock act.

Rick Danko, in essence, was the classic artist for the acoustic venue, and thatís how we booked it. We went to all of the larger folk venues, and some of the smaller classic rock venues we did really well with it. Rick Danko led to John Sebastian, Tom Rush, Roger McGuinn and Al Stewart. All of these people who are still clients.

In the early days Skyline primarily booked clubs, but you moved into the performing arts sector in 1997 as well. Has that sector changed much since?

A couple of things have happened. I donít claim to be particularly prescient, but this is one that we sort of saw coming--was first the acoustic artists. The performing arts centers were saying, ďOur audience is getting older. They are not necessarily as interested in fine artsóclassical, music, and even jazz, as they used to be. So we have to start programming some other things.Ē The first stuff that they started programming were the acoustic acts, the (Roger) McGuinns if you will, because it didnít feel too loud, and too rocky, and too different. It still felt, for the want of a better world, classy. Then it sort of moved outward from there to having them booking almost anything.

That trend has somewhat continued with PACs.

They are trying to serve their audience and their audience needs. The people who will not only buy tickets, but will also, perhaps, become donors and who are 40, 50, 60 years of age. And what do those people want to listen to? We increasingly see that. Itís been good for the artists too because the artists donít necessarily want to play the clubs, and audiences donít necessarily want to go to those clubs. Although that has started to change too (with clubs too). We have seen just in last few years where there are rooms like City Winery in New York which is a primary example or all of the City Wineries or little rooms like the Tupelo Music Hall (in Londonderry, New Hampshire) that are catering to older audiences. Thatís a smart thing. Thatís a trend that we have seen.

Acoustic-styled music at PACs is a market that James Taylor and a few other others developed.

Yep. But James was always big enough that heís still able to go and sell 2,000 hard tickets in Roanoke, Virginia. The problem was more for the other acts that could only sell 200 to 1,000 tickets. Where were they going to go when playing unseated, even at the House of Blues, wasnít really the right thing for them or their audience? Itís been great that the performing arts to have picked up the slack with those artists.

Previously, there was only a handful of smaller venues in the U.S., like McCabe's Guitar Shop for such acts as Tom Rush or Tom Russell.

Thatís exactly right and not every city had them, and the ones that had them they were very small. It was a place to play but it wasnít necessarily all that profitable, and there werenít enough of them. I still have acts that play those small venues and they are fabulous. Itís just that some artists have a bigger audience than that or deserve a bigger stage than that.

Booking prices seem to have exploded in the past few years with so many different venues available. Has the advent of casino, and performing arts buyers booking more popular music acts driven up prices?

I think thatís true for the older acts. Itís probably true all around. You can only go into a marketplace once a year or once every two years. Some acts can go into some markets twice a year. Everyone, whether itís a festival or a PAC or even a club, has a radius clause. As the agent, you are always looking for the best opportunity in the market and it gets tricky. I think that most of us would pick a festival if it paid reasonably well, and work around it because itís a way to build an audience and be seen not just be their own fans, but by more casual music fans as well.

Still many festival bookers complain of having to compete with casinos who can overpay an act because of gambling.

I will tell them to be patient because those casinos are starting to get a lot smarter about what they are buying. We have seen that in the last few years too. There are fewer of them that are overpaying. They are much more looking for value. They are interested in packages in a way that they werenít before. But you are right. They want to bring people in, and they want to get them back out onto the (casino) floor. Thatís true, but they are getting smarter.

Government arts cuts have been an ongoing challenge for the performing arts community. Many PACs have had to cut back or reconsider their programming.

That is definitely the case. First we saw public money leave the performing arts with tax cuts etc. Frankly, in recent years, they (PACs) are even telling us that the corporate sponsorship money isnít as strong as it was for whatever reason. So, yes, performing arts centers are more concerned than ever with selling tickets. Also most of them, not all of them, have fewer season ticket holders because people donít want to decide 9 months in advance where they are going to be 9 months hence. Definitely performing arts centers are more concerned with selling tickets. Thatís fine. I wouldnít want to be the newest version of the Chinese acrobats who got booked because they were found interesting or culturally different. But, if you are an act that can sell tickets reasonably priced, itís actually been a good thing.

People still want a night out and many want the well-being of a performing arts centre over a casino, a club or a festival.

Yes. Each of those venues has their audience. But you are correct. As the audience gets older, having a reserved seat, getting a decent glass of wine, not having their feet stick to the floor or stuck in the mud, those are all good things. For the younger bands that we represent, the festivals and the nightclubs are where they build their audience. Where the tickets are affordable or thereís value because you can see a bunch of bands; and where music for some of them is a social experience. They want to go where their friends are or where people who like the same things are. Speaking as a 58-year-old. Absolutely, thank goodness for performing arts centers. But speaking as someone who books bands, thanks goodness there are all these types of venues.

Barry Dickins, co-managing director of International Talent Booking Agency, said that his wife told him, ďIím too old to stand in a field. I donít care where the field is. Iím not standing in a field. Iíve done all that for years. Iím not doing that anymore.Ē Many older folks have that attitude about festivals.

Thatís certainly true for some people. Yet, there are kids who canít wait to roll around in the mud. So itís all good.

With the breakdown of the music industry system a decade ago, Skyline began working with clients in a variety of areas including public relations and tour marketing as well as digital marketing.. How did that come about?

Nine to 10 years ago, I started to see the change in the music industry, and it was most obvious in the record labels. I felt a responsibility to understand it. Tim Collins--I worked at his agency, and we have remained friends for a long time--said to me a long time ago, ďBe a student of the music business.Ē That stuck with me.

With all of the changes in the industry, I decided that I should be a student of these changes so I could explain them to my clients, and the managers, many of whom were old school or were not quite keeping up. There was a learning curve. Thatís why Hypebot and some of the work that weíve done began. My exploration and trying to share it with others.

But yes, it has evolved into making sure that all of our clients have all of the resources that they can possibly have to be able to compete in the new marketplace. It is about the labels, but it is also about the promoters who used to be able to buy ads in the weekly music rag and, maybe, on the local radio station and sell tickets. Now, itís much more about bands being able to communicate directly with their fans because theyíve got good email lists and because they do social marketing and they buy Facebook ads. There are all kinds of way to do it (develop an act) and we canít necessarily rely on the promoters to do that for us. Some of them try it, and are good at it, but none of them have the same kind of direct connection with fans and the access that a band has.

Most promoters have the long term interest of a band either.

Thatís correct.

Did Hypebot start out in 2005 as an ancillary tool to educate your clients?

Yeah. Blogging was the rage. I decided that if I was going to do all of this research and write up these little miniature reports, and share the information with the bands and managers, and our Skyline team etc., why not publish it? Then it became apparent over a period of time that the it was a space. It was an interesting space between the marketing department at the labels; the manager trying to push his band forward; and the independent artist wanting to take control of their own careers. Thereís this place where they all meet and thatís not well served and thatís what Hypebot attempts to do.

What are the differences between Hypebot and MusicThinkTank?

MusicThinkTank was founded by Derek Siver (CD Baby), Ariel Hyatt (CyberPR) and serial entrepreneur. Bruce Warila. They co-founded it, and because of their own projects, didnít have time to keep it up, and they gave it to us. MusicThinkTank is essentially user-generated content.

Which often finds its way into Hypebot.

Correct. They are related, and there are a lot of overlapped audiences. Hypebot has a bigger audience. MusicThinkTank is, essentially, you have an opinion about how this should be done. Well write it, and if itís decent reading, we will publish it.

You may be giving artists DIY (do it yourself) tools but most artists donít or wonít do their career on a DIY basis. They usually have someone else do it or have a team.

Absolutely. I preach DIY Team or DIY with a team. In the very beginning, of course, thereís nobody that is going to help you, except your sister or a fan. But as soon as you can, you have to build a team. A lot of people that we deal with are trying to make sure that this stuff is done right. I do think that it is important whether you are the manager or the artist that you have an understanding of how Facebook is different from Twitter, and the fact that your younger fans may be using Snapchat (a photo messaging application) right now or whatever it may be and that you have an awareness of that. So yes, you are right. You absolutely canít do it on your own. Anything (other than working) at the basic level.

Very few artists have been successful working on their own.

We have this artist ZoŽ Keating, a solo cellist, who has a 1.2 or 1.3 million Twitter followers. She was just at the World Economic Forum with Peter Gabriel on an artist panel. She can go anywhere in the county, and most of Europe, and draw 500 people. Sheís essentially a (successful) indie rock cellist. And itís solely because she was an early adopter of Twitter and other social media, and she knows how to work them. Is that amazing career but if you are a girl playing cello and you get to your shows your way and tour to the degree that you want? Itís a nice little career.

Iím not saying DIY-based careers donít happen. Since the emergence of Ani DiFranco in the indie singer/songwriter community, artists have looked in that direction. Iím just saying that few artists have done DIY successfully enough to sustain a major career.

You are absolutely right. Most artists canít do it, and wonít do it. There are clearly some artists that I wonder sometimes if they are more about social media than they are about music. Amanda Palmer would be an interesting example. Sheís a very talented person and it appears she almost spends more time doing interviews than she does making her music. And yet her music touches people. Sheís found an audience. I probably shouldnít have said any of that.

How do you balance the two worlds: Publishing and the agency? Hypebot is published daily.

Iím an early riser. I spend from 7 AM to 9 AM setting up Hypebot. There is a coterie of independent writers. One in particular that we use a lot, (senior contributor) Clyde Smith (author of ďFlux Research,Ē and ďCrowdfunding For Musicians.Ē)

Still publishing is time consuming.

It is. Thereís no question that it does take a couple of hours out of my early morning. I view as it as a way to do something different with the agency. The stuff that we have done with Agency+ is a direct result of the relationships Iíve developed.

What is Agency+?

Agency+ is a specific tool kit that we have put together so when we book a dateóit is still, honestly flushing itself outóbut itís a tool kit that we can give to the artist that they can use. Touring software and those kinds of things so that when we book a date, it is instantly published using SongKick, StoryAmp, Bandsintown and hundreds of sites around the world, including where, if itís allowed, the site does ticketing links to buy and those kinds of things. Agency+ is basically a tool kit we are trying to automate to the degree that it is possible to empower the artist to help promote every date that we book. Itís a work in progress.

Hypebot obviously helps your clientele but publishing it also forces you to keep abreast of new music-related trends in technology.

Oh absolutely thatís what itís about. Why do I spend two hours a day doing it? Because I find it intellectually interesting and, honestly, you do anything for 25 years and you want to keep it intellectually interesting. I love the bands that we book and, frankly, in the past six months Iíve gotten more hands-on booking. Not just running the company but doing more booking again and I am enjoying that. But as with any journey a little bit of change is a good thing and Hypebot has absolutely been a part of that.

Talking about newer services and technology, whatís your take on Beats Music that has just launched? It has entered a crowded field of competitors who have been hard at work building a customer base. Beat Musicís Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre, Trent Reznor, Ian Rogers are certainly smart cookies.

All of them are. I think that itís going to be beautiful, brilliantly executed, and brilliantly marketed. Is that enough to have it be successful? I donít know. Iím cautiously optimistic for them because they are really smart people but at the same time there are two kinds of fans. One is the one who hasnít gotten into streaming yet, and hopefully, maybe, they can. But likely they are going to enter the streaming world with one of the services like includes Spotify which offers them almost unlimited (usage for free. Once you are in an ecosystem like Spotify, and you have built playlists and favorited all of your artists, is there an incentive to move to another one? Iím not sure that there is. They are great guys and I hope that they succeed, but Iím skeptical.

Out of Boston University, you started as an intern at A&M Records?

Yep. Back in those days, the labels had local branches (throughout the United States). Billy Gilbert was running the branch. He was my mentor. In the beginning, it was just (promoting at) college. That was the internship. College radio. I did a little bit of secondary market stuff under Barry Corkin, another mentor. I moved from there to sell the record ads at the Boston Phoenix.

Why the move to the Boston Phoenix?

A&M was only going to offer me a job in Buffalo and I didnít want to move to Buffalo. Thatís really the truth. I didnít want to move to Buffalo. I just remember me saying, ďI want a job. I want a job.Ē They came back to me about three days later going, ďOkay, you can go to Buffalo.Ē I said, ďNo, Iím sorry.Ē Youíre young and you donít know. I wanted to stay in Boston. So I sold record ads at the Boston Phoenix for a couple of years. I was quite good at that. It was in the day when Strawberries, and Music City and there were a lot of co-op dollars (from the labels). I was running from one to the other going, ĎThey bought four pages, you should buy six.Ē And then going back saying, ďThey bought six, you should buy eight.Ē It was fun.

You started booking The Rathskeller better known as The Rat Club, Boston's answer to CBGB's.

I started booking The Rat, right. That was the next evolution. They were a client of the Phoenixes. At some point it became my advertising client. When I wanted to leave the Phoenix, Jim Harold, who was the owner, offered me a job, which I took.

[The Rat was open from 1974 to 1997. During its heyday, the infamous Boston club hosted such acts as the Cars, Pixies, Metallica, the Dead Kennedys, the Ramones, Talking Heads, R.E.M. and the Police. The venue closed in 1997, and was torn down in 2000 to make way for the Hotel Commonwealth, a 148-room luxury hotel.]

You reportedly advanced the Police $300 in 1979 so they could eat.

We paid then $300 a night for three nights. They only had a singles deal with A&M. They walked in the door and I am pretty sure it was Sting and he walked up and said, ďWe need to eat. Can you advance us the first night?Ē I believe that they slept on the floor at Oedipusí (aka Edward Hyson) then at WMBR (the Massachusetts Institute of Technologyís college station), later a legendary PD at WBCN in Boston.

What did you study at Boston University?

Journalism and secondary school English. It was the journalism major that got me the internship at the record label. I quit university two courses short of graduation. I went back eventually and got those two courses. My father, who was in industrial sales, was like, ďYouíre quitting to do what?Ē For years, my father would come up and say, ďI can get you this job or I can get you that job.Ē My mother was a school teacher. Finally, I said, ďWould you be happy if I made what a school teacher makes? $35,000, for some reason, sticks in my heard.í And he said, ďYes, I would be happy with that.Ē So I remember the first time I made $35,000, and mailing my father my tax return with a note that said, ďNow will you leave me alone?Ē he called up and he said, ďYes. I will leave you alone.Ē

How long later?

Not too long afterwards Pretty Polly, and Collins/Barrasso Agency were successful regional agencies.

Pretty Polly Productions was a good place to start out.

I was doing colleges, big to little colleges, and doing very well.

What attracted you to being an agent?

Iím a salesman. I like selling. And, at that point, I liked music and the two of them fit together.

You jumped ship from Pretty Polly to Collins/Barrasso Agency to work with Tim Collins. The big time?

It felt like it at the time. It was a big move, yeah. Tim was booking a wider region. He was the primary agent for Jonathan Edwards, Orleans, James Montgomery and some other things. Going from being a middle agent to being a primary agent attracted me. He actually fired me for not doing well.

What did you do next?

I went back to the Rat. I did some booking at the Rat, Out of that, I started doing some booking on my own. Thatís how Skyline was born.

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 ďMusic From Far And Wide.Ē

Larry is the recipient of the 2013 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who have made an impact on the Canadian music industry. He is a board member of the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, Ontario.


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