I was born in a lower middle-class household where my musical education consisted of reading Cream, Rolling Stone, Circus, Hit Parader, and a variety of rock and skateboard magazines in the drugstore while my mom went shopping. We didn’t even have enough money to buy the magazines, let alone actually attend a concert, so I would just imagine the artists performing live in my head. I would listen to the radio and make tapes of my favorite songs. Setting my goals as a twenty year old consisted of changing the world either through film or music. I went to UCLA to become a doctor, ended up taking an acting class, and was cast in several big national commercials. At the same time, I interned for Harvey Levin (of TMZ) who convinced me to go to law school. During law school, I was in a rock band, and as a total coincidence I discovered there was a job titled A&R which involved getting paid to go see artists and signing them to record and publishing companies. A music career became my new goal. I started my own music magazine and after being rejected by every single music company, management, publicity, publishing, and promo company in the United States, landed a job in music publishing at Zomba Music where I flourished. I discovered, developed, and signed artists such as ‘Linkin Park’, ‘Macy Gray’, and signed ‘Korn', ‘Limp Bizkit’, and more. I found myself interested in artists that the major labels felt had no talent. My self-taught experience as a writer allowed me to develop and nurture talent, and many of my artists went on to be nominated for and win Grammys. I eventually became Senior Vice President of 7 major record labels and have now written a book titled “One Step Closer, From Xero to #1, Becoming Linkin Park”, I am producing a music docu-series, and in discussions with major film companies about the psychological thriller/horror screenplay I wrote in 2020.
What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?
Everyone has dreams but few set out to achieve them, and even more give up after a dozen rejections. I was rejected in literally everything I tried to do in setting my career course. Personally, I received over 100 rejections in regard to trying to acquire a job in music. Once I got a job at Zomba Music Publishing and signed ‘Linkin Park’, the band and I encountered another 44 rejections. Imagine going through 144 rejections about something you’re so passionate that you’d bet your life on it. By being authentic and listening to your gut, and with talent and drive, you can achieve anything. You never know when life is going to line up just perfectly enough so you can walk right into your future. In my book I discuss how to recognize those moments and how to be prepared and take advantage of them. I took on every job I could as a manager, musician, attorney, journalist, publicist, anything and everything that if a door opened, I’d be ready with something to say that would walk me right into a career.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I was told that I was a failure, a dreamer, and a loser who would never be happy by pursuing a “pipe dream” by family. It was my grandmother who told me to follow my dreams. In hindsight I’m actually pretty proud of myself that I kept aggressive in my pursuit for what I felt my true talent is. Music and creativity.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your success?
Passion. I wanted to do A&R so much that I absorbed the job by doing anything I could do to surround myself with the tools to teach me how to do it subconsciously. I was relentless in my passion.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?
As in any industry, the only true friends are the ones you develop who need nothing from you.
What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?
You should find your own voice. Pay attention to what makes your favorite artists iconic to you. Focus on your strengths and don’t rely on others to do the work for you. The only way to truly be authentic is to put the effort and creativity in yourself in order to discover your unique vision. This is what builds your identity as a person an artist that can connect with your audience in a genuine way.