Recording Industry

Warner Bros. Records: Such artists as George Harrison, Bonnie Raitt, the Sex Pistols and Van Halen were launched – and their careers kept on commercial course – in a variety of media. The label’s powerhouse Creative Services department marketed their music and images through extensive consumer and trade print ads, radio spots, direct-mail materials, video, sampler albums and the monthly publication Waxpaper, which promoted WB’s roster of acts within the context of a general-interest music magazine.

Following their 1960s run of hits, the Beach Boys suffered image problems and had difficulty interesting consumers in their contemporary recordings. To reestablish their reputation, an extensive ad campaign in music magazines used critics’ quotes to identify them as pop’s most innovative vocal group. This was supported by a reissue program that repackaged their catalog in a series of double-albums that used subtle graphics to recall and update the band’s legacy as California’s premier export.

To promote Warners’ joint-venture marketing agreement with Las Vegas’ New York New York casino, a special Frank Sinatra CD was compiled as a premium gift for hotel guests. Comprised of gaming and good-times repertoire and designed and annotated in vintage Rat Pack style, Lucky Numbers used the Vegas experience to reacquaint consumers with the vast Sinatra catalog.

The label needed to tell the industry about young singer-writer Carlene Carter (daughter of June Carter and Johnny Cash), but wanted to break her music pop as well as country. The cover of Waxpaper was designed to resemble Harper’s Bazaar and featured a fashion photograph emphasizing Carter’s natural beauty; interior editorial honored her country-music pedigree but also stressed her links to contemporary rock. To launch Steve Martin’s Wild and Crazy Guy album, a humor-themed Waxpaper was produced, designed as a parody of Mad (with Mad illustrator Frank Kelly Freas commissioned to paint the cover).

Sire Records: The label needed a way to introduce radio and music retailers to its then new and controversial roster of punk-rock artists (the Ramones, Talking Heads, Richard Hell). A campaign was organized, using trade-magazine ads, promotional attire and a custom-produced sampler album to inform the industry in a novel, humorous way that overcame resistance and generated airplay and sales… While her popularity was at an international peak, Madonna lacked credibility as an artist, which could, in the long run, undermine support and record sales. In compiling her first greatest-hits package, The Immaculate Collection, an extended essay was included that examined her work musicologically and placed it within the tradition of classic Top 40 recordings.

A & M Records. When company founders Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss decided to donate their business archives to UCLA’s Music Library, they needed someone with a through knowledge of the music industry to perform an inventory of their materials. The massive stock of papers and artifacts was reviewed and prioritized, with documentation forwarded to UCLA. Rare photos and artwork were forwarded to Shout! Factory Music, which used them in packaging CD reissues of the Tijuana Brass catalog.

Rhino Records: To assemble the definitive anthology of mid-’60s girl-group records, the label needed expert advice on what repertoire to include on the multiple-disc boxed set. Programming selections were determined, and a major essay written for the package, which established the cultural relevance of the historically undervalued genre. Similar work was done in the preparation of CD releases in the label’s Nuggets and Frat Rock series, which covered garage-rock.

Time-Life Music: In order to distinguish a series of music compilations from conventional television-marketed packages, an approach was developed that pushed a more upscale, serious-collector image; program booklets for each volume contained extensive artist histories combined with informed analysis of each musical track.

Tom Petty: To enhance the arrangement of Tom Petty’s single “The Last DJ,” record producer George Drakoulas wanted to create a mid-song audio montage. A search was made of radio-archive airchecks featuring Top 40 disc jockeys; several were selected and submitted and were included in the final recording.