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Article

Daniele Buccio

(Henry )

(b Canton, OH, Aug 18, 1905; d West Redding, CT, July 31, 1978). American composer, violinist, bandleader, recording engineer, and producer. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, he performed as a light classical violinist in the United States and Europe. During the 1930s he studied conducting with Maurice Frigara in Paris. After a near-fatal car accident in 1940, he organized his own dance band, the Light Brigade, which recorded for RCA and Columbia. After he disbanded it at the turn of the decade, Light devoted himself to management, working for several record companies before becoming president of Waldorf Music Hall Records in 1954. He founded his own label, Grand Award, in 1956 and had success with Dixieland and honky-tonk piano albums. In 1959, he founded Command Records on which he released Persuasive Percussion, the first in a successful series of high-fidelity albums that used stereo technology to great advantage. Over the next two decades, he continued to produce hit albums drawing on the latest technological savvy and packaged with covers usually designed by Josef Albers. Musicians who appeared on Light’s albums include the Free Design, Doc Severinsen, Dick Hyman, Bobby Byrne, and Bobby Hackett. In ...

Article

A lyricist writes the text for a song; the term is also applied to those who supply the text to certain other forms of vocal music. As part of the production and performance of a song, the lyricist participates as part of a larger process involving songwriters, arrangers, producers, publishers, and performers. Many notable lyrics worked in fruitful collaboration with a specific ...

Article

Albin Zak

A person who plans and oversees the execution of recording projects. Producers’ specific roles vary considerably, depending on musical idiom, historical era, and an individual’s qualifications. A useful breakdown of types is offered by Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler: “documentarian,” “servant of the project,” and “artist.” While Wexler addressed his analysis to the roles of pop producers, the general concept applies to other idioms as well. The documentarian seeks to capture musical events with as little apparent intrusion as possible. The servant of the project takes a more active role, suggesting repertory, pairing performers, and offering aesthetic opinions on performances, arrangements, tempo, balance, and so forth. The producer as artist describes a person whose creative vision and stylistic inclinations exert a decisive influence on the project, an ultimate authority not unlike a film director. However a producer approaches the role, he or she is responsible for overseeing and judging the work of performers and recording engineers, for managing a project’s budget and schedule, and for serving as a record company’s agent on a given project....

Article

Albin Zak

A person engaged primarily with the technological and acoustic aspects of sound recording. Engineers are charged with rendering musical events in an electronic form according with the event’s musical style and tradition. As such, they contribute a blend of technological and musical knowledge unique among a recording team’s members. As sound waves are converted into electricity and begin their journey along the electrical signal path, arriving finally at the listener’s ear, the engineer’s controlling hand and sensibility guide the way at nearly every step.

Historically speaking, engineers pursued an ideal of transparent representation, seeking to silence artifacts of the recording process and providing listeners with an impression of fidelity to the musical event. There was to be “no intrusion that is apparent on the part of the engineer,” averred Capitol Records engineer Carson Taylor. “He has to be a truly transparent entity.” On one hand, technological developments fed this aspiration to sonic realism with such inventions as the microphone and, later, magnetic tape. On the other, the tools of enhanced fidelity also offered greater potential for artifice and electronic intrusion into the acoustic musical moment, which postwar popular music engineers, in particular, took as a tacit mandate to develop techniques of electronic sound manipulation. As they manage the music-technology interface—whether disguising or displaying their skilled artifice—engineers are inevitably thrust into aesthetic roles, their technical craft tempered by subjective intuition....

Article

Mark Clague and Dan Archdeacon

Growing out of the Detroit Artists Workshop (founded 1964), Trans-Love Energies (TLE, formally, Trans-Love Energies Unlimited, Inc.) was an anti-establishment commune founded in Detroit in February 1967. Its mission was to “produce, promote, manage, and otherwise represent musical and other artists, in recordings, concerts, tours, media, and related fields of culture and entertainment, including films, books, posters, light and sound environments—all on a cooperative, non-profit basis, for the purpose of educating and informing the general public in terms of contemporary art forms and cultural patterns.”

An umbrella corporation, TLE included a production company, a light show and poster company, the Artists’ Workshop Press (distributor and publisher of underground newspapers, including the Warren-Forest Sun), and many side enterprises that helped fund commune operations. Inspired by rock music’s potential to catalyze social change, TLE managed musical acts including the Up, Iggy and the Stooges, and most notably the MC5. The activist leader John Sinclair (...

Article

Terence J. O’Grady

revised by Bryan Proksch

(b Los Angeles, CA, March 31, 1935). American trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and record company executive. He studied trumpet as a child and left college to play in the army for a two-year period. After three years of producing records on his own, he launched A&M Records with Jerry Moss in 1962. A&M’s first issue was also Alpert’s first recording as a trumpeter and bandleader, The Lonely Bull (A&M, 1962). The title track included sounds from the bullring in Tijuana, Mexico, so Alpert dubbed his band the Tijuana Brass. His music exploited a distinctive combination of Mexican mariachi-style brass with jazz rhythms, which was dubbed Ameriachi. A string of hits including “Mexican Shuffle” (A&M, 1964) and “Tijuana Taxi” (A&M, 1965) followed. In 1966 Alpert had five recordings simultaneously listed on the Billboard Top 20. His cover of “This guy’s in love with you” reached no.1 in ...

Article

Jesse Jarnow

(b New Orleans, LA, April 13, 1926). American label owner, producer, and engineer. The owner of Cosimo Recording Studios and Rex Records, he was one of the most important recording producers in the fertile New Orleans scene between 1945 and 1972. Matassa’s family, Sicilian immigrants, owned grocery and appliance stores in New Orleans, the latter of which sold radios as well as jukeboxes. As a teenager, Matassa was a field service representative for the family business, J & M Amusement Services. After Matassa began making money selling used records from the jukeboxes, he purchased a Duo Press disc cutter, installed it in the rear of the family store, hired out the space to outside producers, and began recording exclusive sides for the company to distribute. One such artist was Fats Domino, who cut his first single there in 1949. Relocating to a larger space in the French Quarter in ...

Article

Marisol Negrón

(b Brooklyn, NY, Sept 29, 1941; d Hackensack, NJ, March 10, 2009). American promoter, manager, and record label owner. The premiere promoter of “tropical” Latin music, Mercado was a teenager when he began organizing “waistline parties” that admitted women free of charge while men paid according to the size of their date’s waist. These parties soon led to the 3 & 1 club in Brooklyn, where he featured established and up-and-coming Latin music musicians. Mercado established himself in the Manhattan music scene by promoting live performances, such as the Latin jazz series at the Red Garter; dances at the Cheetah Lounge, including the legendary Fania All-Stars concert in 1971; and, in the early 1980s, the Salsa Meets Jazz series at the Village Gate with promoter Jack Hooke.

Mercado created RMM Management in 1972, eventually signing most of the artists under Fania Records. In 1987 he launched RMM Records, filling the void left by the demise of Fania in the early 1980s. Mercado quickly emerged as a leader in the industry and the shift toward ...

Article

MTV  

Nick Rubin

[Music Television]

Cable TV channel launched on 1 August 1981 as a joint venture between Warner Bros and American Express. It was originally conceived as a television analog to mainstream rock radio. However, a limited supply of video clips from mainstream rock artists led the channel to include new wave artists, who had been producing videos for urban “rock discos” as well as for British television. Often these bands were particularly telegenic, displaying dramatic fashion sensibilities and sleek, modern instruments like synthesizers and electronic drums. Although mainstream artists still constituted the majority of MTV programming, the channel became strongly identified with this so-called new music, partially because it had hitherto received scant radio airplay in the United States. When such artists as the Human League, Soft Cell, and Duran Duran exploded in popularity after receiving MTV airplay, the channel pushed commercial radio into the same territory, helping to drive a mainstream New British Invasion in the United States from ...

Article

Miles White

[Antonio ]

(b Cincinnati, OH, June 7, 1956). American songwriter, producer, and recording industry executive. One of the most influential African American music executives of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Reid shared songwriting or production credits on a string of major crossover albums in the 1980s and 1990s, among them Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel (1988), Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl (1988), Whitney Houston’s I’m Your Baby Tonight (1990), The Bodyguard soundtrack album (1992), and TLC’s CrazySexyCool (1994). His first professional success came as a drummer for the R&B group the Deele, which featured singer Babyface Edmonds. In 1989 Reid and Edmonds began producing hits together in Los Angeles before starting LaFace Records in Atlanta under a joint partnership with Arista Records. LaFace mentored a new generation of artists including Usher, Outkast, Toni Braxton, and TLC, making Atlanta an important hub in the popular music industry. Reid and Edmonds collaborated on writing or producing 33 number one singles during their partnership, and in ...