That headline is asked with all due respect.
You’d struggle to find someone in the upper echelons of the global music business who doesn’t know of Sat – whether that’s as the founder of MUSEXPO, the Worldwide Radio Summit and other widely-attended global music business events, the DJ behind the influential Passport Approved broadcasts which beam out over 70 radio stations on six continents worldwide, or the founder of artist discovery and development firm, A&R Worldwide.
Few could describe him more accurately than Lava Records founder, Jason Flom, who – as he put it during MUSEXPO 2017 at the W Hotel in Hollywood – regards Bisla as a “professional nice guy.”
Here’s the short version of Bisla’s early years: he started off a boy from Wolverhampton, England who moved to Fresno, California before embarking on a career as a club DJ and music and media trade journalist.
So from there, how did he end up launching one of the most influential digital A&R tools in the world (A&R Network), before quietly becoming an essential connector, influencer and networker?
And, along the way, how did he link some of the music industry’s biggest executives with world-conquering artists?
Good questions. Let’s ask him.
How did you go from a teenager in Wolverhampton to making your way in the US music business?
Music was always what got me through the bad times, the good times, the in-between times – so unwavering passion for music was the biggest driver in that development.
My family were from a rough neighbourhood in Wolverhampton, and the challenge was always to put food on the table and avoid being beaten-up to and from school by local bullies. Back in the ‘70s, Britain was in a recession, so a lot of factories were shutting down, and both my parents were factory workers who lost their jobs.
A family member who lived in California actually suggested to my dad, “Hey, you should come over to the States and see if there’s a better life for you here.”
There was also a lot of racism and social unrest we had to deal with in the UK in the ‘70s, but a nice memory I have of that time was that a friend of mine in Wolverhampton had turntables and we’d mix records as a way to escape the turmoil around us. That was my first step towards becoming a DJ.
Age 14, I moved to Fresno, California.
Fortunately, coming from Wolverhampton, I was exposed to many genres of music. My parents played Punjabi and Bollywood music at home, but also listened to pop, disco, rock and reggae. I was also a huge fan of BBC Radio 1’s John Peel, who exposed me to all sorts of things – so I was always influenced by a lot of varied sounds and styles of music from around the world.
When I arrived in Fresno, I used to bug the local radio stations, requesting all these artists they’d never heard of that I grew up listening to in England. So one day, one of the DJs said, “You know what? You call me almost every single day requesting artists I’ve never heard of. Why don’t you start sending me some of these records?”
Then he offered for me to come and sit in on his show – and that’s where I started learning the fundamentals of music programming and radio broadcasting.
From there you worked at the college radio station in Fresno, making a name for yourself as an imports specialist, before launching a mix show on local station KMGX-FM. What came next?
In 1988, I noticed that the biggest commercial rock station in central California, KRZR-FM, was spot playing indie music in between the active rock records. I approached the program director [E. Curtis Johnson] and asked, “Have you ever thought about doing an import indie show?” and he said, “No, but I’m willing to give you a shot – so I’ll give you the worst day part we have and see if you can bring in some numbers [ratings] for us.”
Within a year it became the highest rated day part on the entire station, in the entire Central California radio market.
From there, I moved to KKDJ-FM, as their ratings weren’t doing so well. The program director [Willobee], our colleague Shawn Knight and I had a conversation about putting together a proposal to the station owner about changing the entire station format to alternative. The owner agreed to switch the format to Central California’s first-ever, commercial alternative radio station, “The Edge,” and that’s how I got involved as music director full-time on commercial radio.
We broke a lot of new US and global acts on our radio station, many of whom ended up getting signed and breaking into the local and international markets. My old friend and new program director in 1992, Don Parker [now Sr. VP Programming – iHeartMedia, Inc.], became a great mentor to me and taught me the art and science of programming radio to the masses, whilst still being able to break new artists.
Then, in about 1990 when I went to KKDJ which was independently owned and operated. Radio consolidation was starting to happen – the US government was allowing station ownership groups to own more than just a handful of stations in each market. The owner of KKDJ sold the station in 1993, and I ended up leaving along with everybody else.
It so happened that a few years earlier, back in ’89, I had been writing some reviews for radio trade publications such as FMQB, Hits, The Hard Report and The Album Network, in which I tipped international records.
I knew the other trades were reading those tips because they all started saying to me, “Why don’t you write a weekly column for us instead?” I kept that up over the years, writing about new bands from around the world, as I was traveling extensively internationally, getting to understand the musical DNA of key global markets.
That sounds like an obvious precursor to an A&R consultancy career. How soon was it before you were involved in signing acts?
I moved to Los Angeles in 1995, working for a radio and music business trade publication group called the Network Magazine Group. They had a magazine called VIRTUALLYALTERNATIVE, for which I started writing a weekly editorial which covered the scope of what was happening in music, media and technology around the world, as well as interviewing artists, music business influencers and tastemakers.
One of the executives at Interscope Records was talking to his A&R department and mentioned, “Hey, do you know this guy Sat Bisla? It’s pretty interesting what he’s writing about. These artists he’s featuring in his editorial are getting signed and going on to do quite well.”
So that’s when I was formally approached by my friends Yigal Dakar and Xavier Ramos, who both worked at Interscope, who set up a meeting for me with the label President Tom Whalley and Stephen Levy, who was his right-hand guy, and they offered me an A&R consulting gig on the spot.
I was asked to basically bring in, once a month, a cassette of music I loved. The first cassette I made for them had four artists: Dido, Faithless, Fat Boy Slim and a band called Acacia.
“I was asked to basically bring in, once a month, a cassette of music I loved. The first cassette I made for them had four artists: Dido, Faithless, Fat Boy Slim and a band called Acacia.”
I thought Interscope would want to sign Dido as she had great songs, but they passed and wanted Acacia instead because Jimmy Iovine loved the band and their unique production style. I had world-premiered Dido’s very first demo on my import radio show in late ’94 after receiving her music from my now dear friend and mentor, Mel Medalie [Founder of Champion Records and co-Founder Cheeky Records with Dido’s brother Rollo Armstrong], and I remember the phone lines just lighting up like a Christmas tree, so I knew the audience felt the same way I did.
Acacia were available for the US market, but were actually signed to Warner Music UK by Rob Dickins, and one of the key creatives in the band was Guy Sigsworth, who went on to become a very well-known producer [Madonna, Bjork, Imogen Heap, Annie Lennox, etc].
A year later, Interscope was acquired by Universal and they got rid of all the consultants. That experience taught me, “Hey, there’s something to this A&R thing.”
Around that time, I began working with my late friend Safta Jaffrey and his then-unsigned band, Muse, driving key global A&R community awareness and radio support for the band and helping generate some pivotal outcomes.
A year later, I got involved with a Nashville, TN-based band called Sixpence None The Richer and worked with their managers, Lindsay Fellows and Stephen Prendergast, and helped create key US radio and international awareness and outcomes. The band had a worldwide hit with “Kiss Me” and went Platinum worldwide.
Around the same time, I had helped composer Rob Dougan get his song “Clubbed To Death” to key music supervisors in the US. Jason Bentley [Music Supervisor for The Matrix trilogy] ended up licensing the song and it became one of the most licensed songs for film, TV and ads worldwide.
Rob Dougan asked me to manage him, which I did for a number of years thereafter and also helped him secure his label deal with Warner Bros. Records in North America thanks to the support of then Sony BMG UK Chairman & CEO, Ged Doherty.
Also, a lot of artists that I was featuring in my weekly editorial were getting signed, so I was approached by numerous major and independent label Presidents in the US and around the world to do A&R for them. I declined, but agreed to consult for them instead, as I didn’t want to limit myself to doing just A&R.
How did you go from there to getting involved with Clear Channel?
The magazine I worked for at the time [VIRTUALLYALTERNATIVE] was acquired by SFX, led by Bob Sillerman. And then SFX was acquired about a year later by Clear Channel.
My old boss became the COO of Clear Channel Entertainment, and he really liked what I was doing. I was asked to join a weekly conference call with all of the Clear Channel entertainment agents, promoters and staff around the world, and I would tip them off to bands that I felt would break through from different markets that they weren’t aware of.
Then they would, in return, inform me of local acts that they were booking that they felt they had great promise internationally that weren’t signed or published or managed.
You launched A&R network under Clear Channel which became an influential online tool.
A few years earlier, I had created this online A&R platform called “Globally Challenged,” which was the first-of-its-kind worldwide A&R resource that I started out of my bedroom to help pay for the cost of raising a family.
I’d started collecting information during my international travels about what was happening in publishing, management, live–such as which agents had picked up what acts, what promoters were working on, music picks from tastemaker radio influencers, what new songwriters and producers from around the world were working on [signed and unsigned], music tips from music supervisors, as well as tipping-off music supervisors to some of the best new emerging talent including artists and composers alike.
I really believed in the idea and invested everything I had into it. I remember my wife [Dusty], who was pregnant with our first child, but extremely supportive, telling me, “This better work, or else”–I knew there was no option but to make it work, or we’d lose our home we’d just taken a mortgage out on!
“We came up with the name A&R Network, and within six months I’d helped a number of completely unknown acts get signed to multi-million dollar worldwide deals.”
A lot of people started subscribing to my online platform, mainly out of the many years of goodwill I’d extended to them without ever asking for anything in return.
I then approached my boss at the Album Network magazine, Tommy Nast, and said, “Hey, I’ve been working on this idea at home on the weekends. Would you be interested in being a part of it?” And he goes, “Well, explain it to me.”
So I did, and Tommy said, “Actually, would you be interested in selling this?” I was thinking, “Oh, I’m going to make a profit and pay off my debts!” And when he told me what they wanted to pay for it I was like, “That’s a lot less than what I’ve invested into it.”
Tommy told me, “Well, look, you at least have the leverage of all these other resources we have here. And guess what? You know, if we end up making money on this thing then we’ll give you a really high percentage of the net income you make.” I decided, okay, that sounds like a fair enough idea.
A few months later, the company sold to SFX and they loved the idea, but they said, “Look, we don’t like the name ‘Globally Challenged.’ Come up with a new name.”
We came up with the name A&R Network, and within six months I’d helped a number of completely unknown acts get signed to multi-million dollar worldwide deals.
In 2001, one of the biggest multi-million dollar deals at the time for an unsigned teenage artist: a 15-year-old singer/songwriter called Bonnie McKee [she’s since written hits for Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Kesha, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert].
My old assistant, Dylan, brought Bonnie to my attention as he didn’t know what to do with her and was loosely managing her at the time. I felt something very special about Bonnie’s voice and writing style and put together some mix notes for Dylan and suggested we do a new version of her demo “Somebody,” as I felt it was a hit.
Dylan and Bonnie didn’t have much of a budget, so I was able to ask my friend Kevin Held and his French/Canadian producer client Nicolas Jodoin to record a new mix. I sent the new mix of “Somebody” to DJ Nic Harcourt at KCRW Los Angeles, who immediately started to play it on his program “Morning Becomes Eclectic.”
“I was able to get a lot of the label presidents and heads of A&R, publishers, managers and booking agents in the States and worldwide to become members of A&R Network.”
I also sent it to many label heads, A&R executives and to my then attorneys Doug Mark and Brian Schall [they ended-up representing her], and additionally, featured Bonnie in our weekly A&R newsletter. Literally, within two weeks, she received multi-million dollar offers from almost every major label and ended up signing with Tom Whalley. She became his first ever signing as the new Chairman/CEO of Warner Bros. Records.
This was followed by other artists getting signed to significant deals from the A&R Network platform that included Missy Higgins from Australia and the British band Keane. An artist called Cherie from France, who had been signed to Warner France, got dropped and then signed to Jason Flom – he discovered her on our website – while a band called Orson signed with Epic Records.
I was able to get a lot of the label presidents and heads of A&R, publishers, managers and booking agents in the States and worldwide to become members of A&R Network. We started doing this annual subscription and it became a very successful business, mainly offering intel on emerging artists, producers and writers.
What happened to A&R Network in the end?
Around that time, Clear Channel were being accused of anti-competitive practices against the music industry, so senior management came to me and said, “Hey, Sat. This thing, A&R Network, what is it, we’ve been hearing great things about it?”
We were helping these artists, and we’re not taking a penny of any equity or percentages for the deals we secured. They liked the goodwill we had extended towards so many artists.
During the US Senate hearings, Clear Channel were brought in before the Senators in Washington DC, and they presented A&R Network. They said, “Look, we’re not bad guys. We’re actually helping artists; look all these artists that A&R Network has helped, and we have not taken a penny.”
Right after the hearings I was approached by Clear Channel Radio, the Clear Channel Entertainment division, alongside my immediate boss, and they said, “Look, why don’t you take A&R Network and make it a consumer platform?”
“In 2002, I put together an idea of what was part of a streaming and download service for unsigned music.”
And I explained, “Well, I don’t think we should do that. Let’s keep it B2B [business to business]. However, I will create a blueprint for a consumer platform.”
In 2002, I put together an idea of what was part of a streaming and download service for unsigned music – a blog and e-commerce and social engagement platform for people to talk about new music. That became The New Music Network.
We had 100,000+ users within a year. But the problem was we couldn’t monetize it quickly enough.
My vision for it wasn’t so much ROI, it was ROO – return on opportunity. Unfortunately, because Clear Channel was a publicly traded company, they didn’t see it that way–so they pulled the plug!
The New Music Network eventually became what is now, iHeartMedia – one of the world’s most influential radio and multi-media companies.
Where did you go after that?
In 2003, I left and teamed up with the former COO of Clear Channel Entertainment worldwide [now known as Live Nation], Steve Smith [now Chairman, Concord Music Group].
A number of influential business people had approached me about working with them and investing in my idea, one of whom was Steve.
Steve, who was previously one of the owners of the magazine I had worked for said, “Sat–I love what you’re doing and think your idea has great potential, why don’t we become partners and I will invest in your idea.”
So, I came up with the new name and concept for A&R Worldwide and teamed up with Steve with support from Brian Becker, who was CEO of Clear Chanel Entertainment.
“I left in 2006 and purchased the A&R Worldwide and MUSEXPO names and began to work independently.”
We became partners in a new venture, funded largely by Steve, with my global new music business vision and blueprint.
I introduced Steve to the world of music publishing and copyrights, something he’d never been involved with prior, and how it worked, then introduced him to my friend Jake Wisely, a great guy who had just left Warner/Chappell and was looking for work, who I strongly suggested to Steve we hire to set-up our new publishing venture outside of A&R Worldwide.
Steve raised the financing for the publishing company, which has now evolved into Concord Music, and Jake has become worldwide Chief Publishing Executive.
I worked with Steve for about three years and then I left in 2006 and purchased the A&R Worldwide and MUSEXPO names and trademarks, which I had created, and began to work independently.
A&R Worldwide is very well known as a networking hub for the global industry. Is that idea of bringing people together important to you?
I always had a weird theory. Call me crazy, but back in the early ‘90s when I started working in radio and clubs and doing the journalism thing, I’d always told myself I wanted to get to know as many people as I could in the music business.
I would look at the back of the record sleeve or inside the CD booklet, and see who had produced, mixed, engineered, A&R’d, who the publisher was, who the manager was, who the agent was, and then try to build a relationship with each person involved in the project. I was so fascinated by how they got involved with the artist and how they all worked together.
“Each day, it was my mission to meet or talk to up to 10 of these people a day–either by phone or face-to-face.”
Each day, it was my mission to meet or talk to up to 10 of these people a day–either by phone or face-to-face.
In a week, that would be about 50 people; in a month, that was 200; in a year, that was 2,400 people.
So, over that course of time, I literally got to know thousands of people around the world.
You’ve mentioned people you’ve worked with including David Holmes and Sarah Stennett by name. So I take it these were two of those 2,400 people?
I met Dave through one of my magazine colleagues – Buzz Fitzgerald. Dave had moved from Canada to America, and he was running Nettwerk Records; he had helped set up the independent arm for Terry McBride in Los Angeles.
Dave and I just hit it off right away; he was Canadian, I was British, and we were not part of the Los Angeles music clique and got along really well, so we became very close friends and Dave had hired me as an A&R advisor and consultant.
When Capitol Records in the US passed on Coldplay, Nettwerk had the first option in the States.
Dave had called me and said, “Hey, Sat–have you heard of this band called Coldplay?” I said, “Funnily enough, last week when I was talking to the folks at BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2 and XFM, they all mentioned them.”
Dave said, “I think there’s something here, and Capitol Records has just passed on the band.” I said, “I think the song [‘Yellow’] is a hit, as well.”
So, Dave asked, “Would you mind sending out ‘Yellow’ to your friends at radio?”
Dave sent me about 20 copies of the import version of “Yellow.” I sent the music out to a bunch of radio stations and almost everyone started spot playing it immediately, and some program directors added the song into full-time daily rotation.
As a result of the radio reaction, Capitol Records wanted the band back, and I guess Dave and Terry worked out some kind of deal with the label.
Dave went on to become the worldwide manager of Coldplay and has done an incredible job with the band.
When Dave and I had become friends back in 1997, before he started managing Coldplay, he and I started doing these dinners where it was me and him first, and then every other month, we would invite a different friend.
That dinner, over the course of several years, became a 100 person-plus dinner, where people from around the world would fly in, just for the dinner. And that eventually became MUSEXPO, thanks to the recommendation of then BBC Radio 1 Head of Music, Alex-Jones Donelly, who suggested I do a global music conference, but retain the spirit of the dinner – hence why MUSEXPO, still, to this day provides the networking meals as part of its event.
How did you start your business relationship with Sarah Stennett?
That was actually because of Acacia. Interscope wanted to sign them but the deal didn’t happen. However, I became good friends with Guy Sigsworth, who was one of the key brains behind the band. As I mentioned earlier, he went on to produce records for Madonna, Bjork, Imogen Heap, and became a really hot producer.
I was helping Island Records UK President, Nick Gatfield, and assisting Mark Wood, Imogen Heap and Guy’s manager at the time, with their new joint music project called Frou Frou, and they asked if I could get Frou Frou’s music out to key people in America to build momentum, which I did.
US labels started getting interested, and Frou Frou had flown out to Los Angeles with Mark [Wood] for dinner meetings with labels. And at one of those dinners, I was sitting next to this lady [Sarah Stennett] with a Scouse accent, who I could barely understand!
She ordered the appetizers and I was eating what I thought was chicken–and I said to her, “I don’t like this chicken, there are a lot of bones in it.” And she goes, “Hey, love–that’s not chicken, those are frog’s legs.” I went to the restroom and threw-up!
After that intriguing dinner, Sarah and I just hit it off. We talked about our respective relationships with Guy and the numerous British acts I’d helped get signed to US label and publishing deals, as well as placed in film and TV shows, and she said, “The next time you come to London, stop by my office, and I would love for you to meet the other lawyers in my firm and hear some of the artists I’m working with.”
A few weeks later, I met with Sarah in London, and I remember during our meeting, this young guy came in with a demo for her – that was Darcus Beese. He left, and then Sarah started playing this band, a trio called Sugababes.
I said, “Wow, this is really good.” And Sarah said, “Do you think it would work in America?” I said, “Yes, it would.”
And so, Sarah goes, “Okay, what if you put together a plan and see how we can maybe work on this project together?”
So we did, and I introduced her to pretty much every major label head in the US that she didn’t know and suggested they look at signing Sugababes, but also get to know Sarah as I respected and trusted her.
I also helped Sarah with an act she had called Jem.
[Years later] Sarah, myself, and a few other friends including Adam Clough [365 Artists], who manages some of the UK’s top producers, along with an amazing businessman and philanthropist, Damian Aspinall, and a talented young Australian girl, Cassandra Gracey – who was our office manager at the time and is now at Sony UK – eventually set-up a global management and artist development firm called Bond Mist with two very influential global radio programmers from the UK and Australia. The concept was way ahead of its time in 2001, but it shaped a lot of what many of us do today.
How did you get Musexpo off the ground?
As I mentioned earlier, in 2004 I was in New York City hosting one of my A&R Worldwide dinners with executives from various disciplines from the music, media and technology sectors.
Alex Jones-Donelly, who was Head of Music at BBC Radio 1 in the UK at the time, had flown over for the dinner. I was sitting with Alex, Craig Kallman, Jason Flom and a few others–one of them asked had asked Alex, What brought you to New York?
Alex mentioned he came out for the dinner because it was a great way to meet new people and get business done. After the dinner, Alex said, “Sat you know so many people around the world, why don’t you do a music business conference, but keep the spirit of your dinners and I’ll recommend to it to everyone I know in the UK.” I mentioned to Alex that I’d never done a conference, but I would think about it.
Later on that year, I started working on a plan to put together the concept for a music business and artist showcase conference that was focused, intimate and would bring together many in the worldwide music business that had never crossed paths before together.
“I literally had to build the blueprint for MUSEXPO from scratch.”
Honestly, I had a vision for what it should be, but no experience actually putting on a multi-day event, nor did I realize it was extremely hard work and very time consuming. I literally had to build the blueprint for MUSEXPO from scratch, with no budget and initially no one but myself and my assistant at the time (Brandon Fuller) working 16-17 hours a day for about eight months straight, seven days a week, putting together the panel programming aspects, reaching out to every key person I knew around the world and locking in the musical talent, as well as the bulk of the sponsors.
Thankfully, a number of my friends at the time came to the table to help support the event as sponsors.
We ended up having a very successful MUSEXPO 2005 launch with an at-capacity event, as well as numerous artists getting signed to worldwide deals, and were able to bring together the global music business in a meaningful way in Los Angeles.
I’ve found out over the years, that unless you’re bringing together new ideas, education, opportunities, access to great networking and perspectives that can help individuals and companies prosper and grow, the conference business is not for the faint-hearted.
You’ve come a long way from Wolverhampton, and you’ve come a long way from your wife saying, “We’ve got a baby on the way, we need to make some money.” But from your stories it seems you’ve made people millions of dollars, with the things that you brought their way. I don’t know, how do you feel about your role in doing that, in making a lot of people a lot of money?
My personal philosophy is, I came in the world with nothing, I’m going to leave with nothing. I think what’s more priceless, is a good and honourable legacy that defines your life on earth. I also strongly believe that good people define success!
Others change and are defined by their success. In essence, they’ve lost their way and a true good part of themselves and were not true to themselves to begin with.
I see a lot of people that make a lot of money, screw people over, and when they’re dead, they’re forgotten about.
“I’ve seen people miss out on multi-million dollar, and in some cases, multi-hundred million dollar business opportunities, and I’ve seen others miss out on being a part of a few billion dollar business opportunities.”
In addition, I’ve met a lot of people who are a penny smart, but a dollar dumb! In essence, if they don’t do right by the person who brings them opportunity they lose out on many bigger and more lucrative situations.
I’ve seen people miss out on multi-million dollar, and in some cases, multi-hundred million dollar business opportunities, and I’ve seen others miss out on being a part of a few billion dollar business opportunities, because they didn’t compensate those who brought them incredible opportunities, ideas and fruitful relationships the right way.
However, there are those that do the right thing and they continue to benefit in priceless ways.
We all need to pay our bills and be able to take care of our families. We also need to remember that it’s very important to teach our kids good values, and to also live a life that has purpose. Because if we live a life where there’s no purpose but you make a lot of money, have you truly lived, or just existed?
You’ve suffered from personal tragedy. How did that affect you?
Sadly, my father was brutally murdered in ‘98, and it was life-changing and shattered my world. It was the first time I’d ever experienced such a sudden, painful and direct loss like that.
To be honest, it was a very dark period in my life, where I became extremely depressed and questioned life and its purpose. However, music was always my salvation and light at the end of the tunnel and helped save me from a very dark time and place in my life.
My mum lost her husband, life partner, home and peace of mind. It screwed up the whole family, because my dad was a key foundation to our entire household. That was a very challenging time and put an enormous amount of pressure on me and my family.
“I couldn’t change the past – What I could change was the future.”
I remember one evening sitting on my mum and dad’s bed. I was crying, and my mum came up to me and put her arms around me and said, “Your dad would be so disappointed in you.” I was taken by surprise and looked at her and said, “Why?”
She said, “Never forget what your dad sacrificed; what we sacrificed to get you kids to America from Wolverhampton. And for you to be sitting here, crying and sad, would make him really upset. You need to go out there and make your dad proud, make me proud, and make yourself proud and don’t let his death destroy your hopes and dreams.”
She was absolutely right. And literally, that conversation changed my entire life. I realized I couldn’t be sitting there feeling sad and depressed about a situation I couldn’t change. What I could change was the future. I couldn’t change the past.
That led me to be motivated to start Globally Challenged, and taking A&R Network to Clear Channel and eventually creating The New Music Network, A&R Worldwide, MUSEXPO, the Worldwide Radio Summit, Passport Approved and everything I’ve done since.
I knew that if I couldn’t follow my passion and vision, or at least try, then I’d have failed. And I could not fail and let my father’s sacrifices for me and my family be in vain.
When you look back on the past 30 years of your career and your life what are the best experiences you’ve had?
Honestly, I have to admit, the best experience is when I had my son and my daughter, because they both gave me [and still do] a greater purpose in life than my own. Your children teach you unconditional love and unconditional giving and both my daughter, Jenna, and my son, Daniel, are special souls that have made my amazing wife, Dusty, and I better human beings.
Professionally, I’ve been blessed to meet so many amazing people around the world, who have become close friends and mentors. I’ve been able to travel around the globe and see, hear and experience so much of life and its wonders on this amazing planet.
In addition, to be able to play a part in helping contribute to a part of the story and journey for an artist, executive, company or idea that can inspire, change and contribute to one person–or millions around the world, is a fulfilling part of living life.
Are you optimistic, commercially speaking, about what’s going to happen to music and music rights holders in the coming years?
Absolutely. I think we are yet to see some of the brightest days for the music business, globally, not only from a creative standpoint, but also from a commercial standpoint. Especially, when you look at the fact that we have yet to see the full fruition of Facebook’s global plan when it comes to music and content, as well as with Amazon, YouTube, Microsoft, Instagram, Twitter, the automotive industry and other platforms.
For instance, people talk about Tesla’s vision for the car-dash, and there are other auto manufacturers like Ford, BMW, General Motors, etc., that have been talking about self-driving cars and content access and engagement within their vehicles. Will they [car manufacturers] create their own portals and streaming services where they control the content? If so, where does that leave the established streaming services if they don’t have access to the consumer in the self-driving cars, trains, trucks, planes, etc.
“there will be a lot more opportunities because there are going to be many more players in the game in each mature market.”
We haven’t even talked about the telcos who control the content pipelines to mobile devices and beyond. What if the telcos acquire some of the major broadcast groups–how does that change the equation?
We’ve only scratched the surface of how all these platforms are going to evolve, and I think there will be a lot more opportunities because there are going to be many more players in the game in each mature market. However, ensuring that the rights creators and holders are fairly compensated will be key to longevity for all platforms. You’ll always win if everyone wins to a fair degree!
Also, when you start amplifying what I’ve said with emerging markets, worldwide, including Asia, SE Asia, Africa and South America, you’re going to see unprecedented growth in future years with constant evolution, revolution and change–and that’s a good thing for the music business and the business of music!
We must never forget that supporting and developing new talent is pivotal and fundamental for the future, and that great worldwide A&R will ensure that music, the lifeblood of our business, continues to flow in a healthy way.
MUSEXPO returns to the W Hotel in Hollywood, California for its 2018 edition between April 29 and May 3. Speakers this year include the likes of superstar songwriter Diane Warren, in addition to Aton Ben-Horin – Global VP, A&R, Warner Music Group; Craig Kallman – Chairman & CEO, Atlantic Records Group; Dom Rodriguez – Managing Director, EKKO Music Rights, USA; Emi Horikawa – Director, Creative, BMG (US); Alex Luke – Global Head of Programming & Content Strategy, Amazon Music; Jake Wisely – Chief Publishing Executive, Concord Music; Kathy Spanberger – President & COO, peermusic; Laurent Hubert – President & Chief Revenue Officer, Kobalt Music; and Mandar Thakur – COO, Times Music Group India. Limited tickets are still available through the MUSEXPO site here.Music Business Worldwide