I Fell In Love With The Music Business

How A Passion Will Transform An Industry

My earliest music memory was circa 1961, being nine years old at our home on Long Island, New York, with our Dad regularly bringing home Pat Boone, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett LPs, compilation albums of artists of the day, the “The Music Man” and other soundtracks, and the comedy albums of Allan Sherman. Other than some early Four Seasons records I heard during school recreation sessions, I was oblivious to the breadth of new experimentation in pop music being evidenced by then. Then there was the evening on February 9th, 1964. An otherwise routine Sunday night, except that my younger brother and I were watching The Beatles first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show at the foot of our parents’ bed as they readied themselves for a dinner appointment. Of course we had heard “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on the radio by then, but that appearance on the Sullivan Show was a game changer for so many of us. The ensuing deluge of brilliant music by The Beatles and many others was life changing.

By 1971 I was employed in New York City in the music business working for Neil Diamond’s music publisher, David Rosner and his wife Margo, having been introduced to him by Elton John. I had met Elton after writing a freelance story for a music magazine owned by Warner Brothers. By then I had realized that I possessed an inherent ability to both recognize the ethereal elements of a hit song and the ability to communicate that to songwriters to enable the most commercially viable copyrights possible. Suffice it to say that I was completely awed by Elton’s first US album and blown away by the live at LA’s Troubador Club radio broadcast and “11-17-70" live album which followed. I had compared Elton favorably to Leon Russell in my piece, not realizing that Leon was one of Elton’s heroes. Long story short, Elton had transcended the dozens of artists whose albums I was being sent from all the record companies daily. There was some remarkable stuff I was hearing, no doubt. But Elton is a masterful artist/musician/vocalist who, with his imaginative lyricist Bernie Taupin, surpassed them all with a consistent flow of creativity (“Tumbleweed Connection” had continued to amaze). I talked my way into a show and backstage at a college in Glasboro, New Jersey, whereupon Elton (thankful for my article) introduced me to the Rosners.

Skip to 1973 and I was on my way to becoming the Beatles’ American music publisher, having been hired as the creative manager of ATV Music’s New York office. I would soon after move to Los Angeles and work my way through the ranks to becoming Executive Vice President, Worldwide, of ATV Music, which we built into the most successful independent music publishing company in the world at that time. I will forever be proud of my work with John and Yoko Lennon, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, Dan Hill, John Lewis Parker and so many other fantastic songwriters and artists. The company is now ATV Sony, having been bought and merged with Sony by Michael Jackson. It has since acquired several large competitors, including EMI Music.

My career continued in music publishing and into music supervision with involvement with motion picture and television soundtracks and/or music rights from productions as diverse as “Rambo III,” “Total Recall” and “Mountains on the Moon,” to “Baywatch,” among so many others (http://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenclove).

The next chapter of my music journey is about to launch. It will seek to answer the industry conundrums that I suggested be addressed ten years ago while foreseeing the digital revolution. Our new company will forge the inevitable relationship and equitable monetization of music with social media and will draw upon my deliberatley bifurcated creative and administrative career in concert with several other music business luminaries and a handful of complementary startups. As always, we will cultivate, present and market the cream of the new crop, while helping to re-establish some amazing artists who are still as viable as ever. We have already begun reaching out to industry colleagues who we’ll want to involve in our discovery and cultivation of new talent. Contact me to discuss.

Meanwhile, just for fun, what songs do I think are among the best? The list is too long to enumerate, but for me is always first comprised of a melody that pulls me in and tears one’s heart out, whether ballad or hard rock. The complementary lyric must simply be salient to life experiences in a way that is conversational and which speaks to each of us so personally that we forget that it was intended for others too.

So, without any forethought, some of the best examples of great songs from my era and now, right off the top, IMHO, are: “Imagine,” “God Only Knows,” “Sacrifice,” “American Tune, “Still Crazy,” “Heart of the Matter,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “My Girl,” “Have I Told You Lately,” “Just Once,” “Sometimes When We Touch,” “Everyday People,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “All Things Must Pass,” “Man In the Mirror,” “People Get Ready,” “I Can’t Stand The Rain,” “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today,” “I Wish It Would Rain,” I Can’t Make You Love Me,” “Breakeven,” The Heart Wants What It Wants,” “If I Ain’t Got You,” “Love The Way You Lie,” “I Choose You,” “Someone Like You,” “Nothing Compares To You,”….I could go on and on and on!!

What are your favorite artists and songs…and why?

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Elton John interview with Stephen Love in NYC 1971

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