Bruce Lundvall

You can stop defending Bruce Lundvall.  God, the testimonials flowing in exceed the plaudits at a retirement dinner.

And ain’t that just the point, retirement.

OF COURSE Bruce Lundvall has great ears and a legendary track record.  But the point is, that’s no longer enough!

Hell, MITCH MILLER was king, with a TV show, never mind gargantuan album sales, when he single-handedly held back rock as head of A&R at Columbia Records.

Point is, society, culture, technology, are MOVING TARGETS!  And if you slow up, if you let one go, you’re no longer taken seriously by those who provide your revenue, those you need to be in touch with to CONTINUE to rule.

There’s absolutely no excuse for Bruce Lundvall not to know what DRM is.  Hell, he’s head of the company, isn’t he?  Maybe if he sold his music sans DRM, it would sell MORE!  Really, are A&R and technology skills mutually exclusive?

I’ll give you an example.  At Microsoft they’re techies, but they’re design-challenged.

Steve Jobs knows tech AND design.  So, not only does he make beautiful computers, he designs the iPod which revolutionizes music not only because of its looks, but its USABILITY!

If distribution is king, and believe me it is, because no matter how fucking great a record is if you can’t buy it, if no one can hear it, it won’t be a success, shouldn’t someone in the business of selling music be FULLY INFORMED ABOUT DISTRIBUTION?

And how fucking stupid is Bruce Lundvall to attend this meeting at Berklee if he’s not up on all the shit the kids are into.  Isn’t this akin to execs telling me they don’t understand why kids would steal P2P when they can purchase CDs?  I mean the CD is good enough for them!

So compliment Bruce Lundvall all you want.  But know he’s a dinosaur.  Because he just didn’t see the train coming, because he didn’t LOOK!

I mean you can’t read the newspaper?  You can’t ask your grandkids?  You CHOOSE to be ignorant?  Isn’t this EXACTLY what’s holding the major labels back?  But we’re supposed to give Bruce Lundvall a pass because he was successful in the PAST??

Like the future is gonna look like the past.  Like there are going to be behemoth publicly owned corporations beholden to shareholders selling lowest common denominator crap when the tools of production AND distribution are in the hands of the CONSUMER!

Bruce Lundvall is used to cherry-picking from the morass and honing and marketing his proteges.  Is this really the paradigm of the future?  When the MORASS has ACCESS, DISTRIBUTION!  Like figuring out how to get the public to hear your creation is SUDDENLY UNIMPORTANT??

Oh, if you want to play to television and terrestrial radio, the major label is your bet.  But that’s just a sliver of the market, that’s network in a land of cable.  If it’s not THIS kid eating your market share, it’s some high school dropout in a basement who’s a tech genius with a guitar-playing best friend, doing it first for the love, THEN for the money!

Of the plethora of e-mail coming in, NONE of it is from anybody under thirty.  You see youngsters have got no fucking clue who Bruce Lundvall IS!  And don’t care.  NORAH JONES?  THAT’S FOR THEIR PARENTS!

And how fucking good is Norah anyway.  Shit, SHE’D say she’s not that great.  She’s not Laura Nyro, never will be.

But Laura Nyro’s already been forgotten, with about as much chance of coming back as W.C. Fields.

So spin those old records, make yourself feel happy, but you’re on the wrong side of a generation gap as wide as the one that existed in the SIXTIES!  But it’s worse now.  Because all the kids are communicating, on the Web, via cell phones, via TEXT!

Remember when David Geffen was under thirty and ruled the record business?  Irving Azoff too?  Why the fuck do you think TODAY’S twentysomethings can’t do the same thing?  Especially when they don’t have to kiss ANYBODY’S ass to get going.

Really, enough with the fucking respect.  As if Mr. Lundvall ain’t rich enough already, as if his legacy isn’t about the work he’s produced

Yes, it IS about the music.  And if this Berklee student doesn’t find a good act, he’ll be working at Daddy’s pharmacy.

Oh wait, there are no neighborhood pharmacies anymore.  They were all rolled up by CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid or were BANKRUPTED BY THEM!

Why don’t we hold a testimonial dinner for the corner pill filler.  Who gave us our overpriced medications with a smile.  We can’t let that go.

Or maybe we should respect George Bush because he’s President.

This Bruce Lundvall blowback resembles nothing so much as the post 9/11 patriotic blowback.  When Bill Maher lost his job for saying that terrorists who die in action are not cowards, when Ari Fleischer told the public they should watch what they say.

Yup, just roll over, protect institutions, follow your blind leaders.  Then you wake up to the Iraq debacle, which you have to admit you were COMPLICIT IN!

Those young punks the Beatles, should they be excoriated for pushing Frank Sinatra off the charts?  Hell, how can you fuck with the Chairman of the Board?

Well, the Beatles wrote their own material, and it RESONATED with listeners.  God, that ushered in the whole rock era.

But NO, since there were greats in the past, we’ve got to stop the future!

The future is already happening.

And if you don’t question authority and your elders, if you don’t risk disrespect, then you’re part of the problem, not the solution.

83 Responses to Bruce Lundvall »»


  1. Comment by Toby Mamis | 2007/02/23 at 23:02:25

    that doesn’t surprise me at all, nor you i am sure. My best guess is that most of the senior executives (President, CEO, Chairman, etc) of the major labels and music publishing companies have probably never downloaded a music file online and some of them probably don’t even know how to do their own email. I did see one guy, though this was several years ago, do his email by having his secretary print them out and then he would hand write his answers on them and the secretary would then send the answers via email in his name. Name withheld to protect the guilty.

  2. Comment by Michael Patterson | 2007/02/23 at 23:02:47

    It is a shame it is costing him upwards of $20,000 a year to figure this out.
    He could (and may be) managing a young band and taking the money he would spend on college to finance a release and learn more than he ever could at Berklee.
    The best choice I ever made was NOT going to Berklee.
    In the words of Samuel Clemens " I have never let schooling interfere with my education."

  3. Comment by Ed Shapiro | 2007/02/23 at 23:03:06

    I can’t wait to respond to this one. Youth, wasted on the young.

  4. Comment by Ted Cohen | 2007/02/23 at 23:03:23

    Bruce Lundvall is a God.

  5. Comment by Roy Lott | 2007/02/23 at 23:03:40

    I hope that you were being sarcastic when you selected the Berklee student’s e-mail as the e-mail of the day.

    In his role, Bruce Lundvall does not need to know the current or the future technological device, etc. He needs to know (and does know) MUSIC (as you spelled it in your on target Branding e-mail). EMI needs to have other people to know technology, etc. It’s a company of numerous employees.

    The success of a record company always has and always will start with the music. And it works best when it’s music that will last forever….like the music that Bruce and Michael were apparently discussing.

    Best, Roy

  6. Kip
    Comment by Kip | 2007/02/23 at 23:04:00

    The other problem is that this kid actually thinks a college that has made music management a major will make him a better manager…

  7. Comment by Chris Hower | 2007/02/23 at 23:04:22

    Good one!!

  8. Comment by Mark McKenna | 2007/02/23 at 23:04:44

    How much did Ahmet know about ringtones?? How much did Arif know?? Does comprehensive knowledge of digital recording technology trump ears, taste and the ability to read the public? Do you have to go to Berklee College to learn how to be an artist manager? Might it possibly obstruct your career/success?

    Instincts can’t be taught in school. You learn them on the street. If I had a choice of going to school at Berklee to BECOME A MANAGER (!!) or assisting Bruce Lundvall I’d take Bruce every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    I guess it was ‘the poor guy’s’ encroaching senility and lack of technical acumen that resulted in his signing Norah Jones. Which of course made him not so very poor after all.

  9. Comment by Michael Fremer | 2007/02/23 at 23:05:01

    Well that’s a very silly young man or woman. I’m sure you appreciate having acolytes, but big fucking deal with Lundvall wasn’t a technologist. There are other people to handle that part of it. Perhaps the blame lies with whomever at Berklee made the invitation or whatever. If this guy/gal want to be in management but not at a label, what the fuck is he/she doing at The Berklee College of Music. He/she should be at fucking Wharton.

  10. Comment by Benjamin Groff | 2007/02/23 at 23:05:22

    Dear Bob…always a big fan of your emails and insights. Never usually respond but at his defense need to say Bruce is a real music man. He might not know DRM but he knows the most important thing and the core of any great A&R / record man: songs and artists and music.

  11. Comment by Chuck Mitchell | 2007/02/23 at 23:05:42

    As an executive, Bruce Lundvall has contributed as much, if not more, to the culture of American recorded music than any suit still active.

    Spank that little Berklee brat and send him to his room without supper.

  12. Comment by John Van Nest | 2007/02/23 at 23:05:57


    There’s no denying that we, as an industry, have slept far too long when it comes to embracing technology. Here’s another such example.

    I recall years ago, when Christina Aguilera released singles off of her first album, the label would often rework the songs (sometimes greatly) to make them more "radio friendly". Yes, these radio versions were often really good. One problem, however. YOU COULDN’T BUY THOSE VERSIONS ANYWHERE. Now, my daughter was and still remains the consummate Christina fan. She wants EVERYTHING that Christina does…so she comes to Dad and asks, "Why can’t I buy that version somewhere?". Stupid me, thinking that SURELY BMG would have the presence of mind to offer said version for sale online, I head over to the BMG website (if one even existed back then), only to find that NO, YOU CAN’T BUY THAT VERSION ON ANY FORMAT. WTF? And I think you know that this was no isolated incident. What other industry would advertise one product, yet sell you another in the store? Was there NO ONE asking whether this "bait and switch" practice would harm the fan/label relationship? Why on earth wouldn’t BMG SEIZE THE MOMENT and charge $1.99 for an online download of these versions? Can you see where this is headed, Bob? Well, as a result, my daughter came to know Napster VERY WELL and once she discovered that, she got all the Christina she wanted. I could only watch a fan obtaining THAT WHICH SHE MUST HAVE. Her love for the artist was that strong. And I couldn’t actually find any fault with her actions, given that BMG GAVE HER NO CHOICE. Frustrating, frustrating, frustrating to watch our industry be SO COMPLETELY non-proactive in bringing the music to the people. Wow.

    OK. I’m sufficiently bummed about the industry again.

  13. Comment by Michael McCarty | 2007/02/23 at 23:06:12


    This may be unfair. Maybe he is just all about making great music, and wants to leave the technology up to those who supposedly "know more about it". As in your recent comment " What the FUCK is wrong with a TRADITIONAL record label? A traditional record label finds great music and sells it. It’s a FILTER! That’s its primary role. A seal of approval. Bringing great shit to the masses."

    On that note, the most brilliant, future-proof comment on the digital music revolution that I ever heard from a top music industry executive, came from ….. Clive Davis!

    In the late ’90s, just before Napster, Clive was the keynote speaker at Canadian Music Week. Flush with excitement about the Internet, MP3s, and the like, the crowd peppered him, sometimes hostilely, with techno questions about file formats, download speeds, distribution models, etc.

    At first he was able to deflect most of them, ducking and weaving ike Mohamed Ali at his peak. As the onslaught continued, he became a little disoriented, but then willed himself off the ropes, snapped to alert, and with an imperial wave, dismissed the rest of the questioners with a comment that pretty much sums up what the music industry’s response SHOULD have been:

    "I don’t CARE how music will be distributed in the future. Whoever is doing it, with whatever technology, they will still need Whitney Houston. And I’ve got her."

  14. Comment by Dan Millen | 2007/02/23 at 23:06:28

    they’ve come a long way Bob
    When I graduated from Berklee as one of the first Music Biz grads in 96 the whole curriculum was designed to crank out Major Label yes men…

  15. Comment by Sky Daniels | 2007/02/23 at 23:06:46


    I usually like to read your passionate missives and refrain from responding… You get a lot of industry peers that opt in with their reaction, so who needs another?

    But I elected to respond to this so-called "Email Of The Day" while I was still hot.

    I appreciated the apparent desire to learn from the Berklee College of Music student (let’s face it–someone is spending ENORMOUS bucks to have them go there–they better want to learn). But I have to take REAL exception to debasing Bruce Lundvall.

    When I was beginning my career, Mr. Lundvall epitomized grace and dignity amongst the feral wolves that populated the world of "record execs". Once, he took me to a lunch and spent two hours earnestly discussing the noble cause of trying to maintain respect for our ‘art’ while being battered by commercial demands. His passion was realistically tempered by the realities of having to monetize efforts, but he clearly was dedicated to nurturing artistry in every possible way.

    That meeting remains one of a handle of encounters in my career that I felt graced by true love for music.

    So Bruce Lundvall, by his own self-admission, isn’t ‘new school". I assume the point of your publishing the email was to contrast his genteel veteran perspective with the haughty demands of the next generation of world-beaters.

    I don’t expect Bruce Lundvall to articulate his vision of a digital marketplace. I count on him to illuminate the spiritual essence of music. They ain’t handing out degrees in THAT at Business school…

  16. Comment by Seth Jacobs | 2007/02/23 at 23:07:09


    I am a young person fortunate enough to manage two special acts with a partner much older than myself. Truth is, I have learned THE MOST from industry veterans similar to those disrespected by that ungrateful berklee kid. He should look a little deeper than ‘signing stories’ and try to absorb the lessons embedded within them. I wouldn’t be who i am without respect for those who came before me. Especially for those who open up their past to benefit my experience.

    Not anonymous.

    Seth Jacobs

  17. Comment by Olie Kornelsen | 2007/02/23 at 23:07:30

    Bruce Lundvall, God Bless Him, Is A Music Man.

    Bruce Is One Of The Most Revered People In Jazz Circles.

    Bruce Is Without A Doubt One Of The Nicest Human Beings You
    Could Ever Have The Pleasure Of Meeting.

    Bruce Is All About Jazz, And Eats, Breathes, Sleeps and Speaks Jazz.

    Bruce Signs Artists. Bruce Digs Jazz. Bruce Knows Sound.

    Bruce Has The Best Jazz Ears Of Anyone Living.

    Bruce Is Music Savvy, Not Tech Savvy.

    Bruce is Human. Bruce is Humane. Bruce Is Not Machine.

    Bruce Is Not Some Poor Old Guy.

    You Can Only Hope To Accomplish 1/10 Of What This Man Has For Music, And If You Do, You Will Have Achieved Greatness

    I Hope You Shook His Hand, Because If You Did, You Shook The Hand Of Greatness That Has Shaken The Hands Of Many Musical Greats.

    And I Agree With You On One Point, You Don’t Want To Work At A Label.

    And Some More Advice…You Would Be Wise To Think Twice About A Career In Artist Management; You Obviously Have A Problem Recognizing Greatness When It’s Staring You In The Face.

    Good Luck With Your Career In The Tech World.

  18. Comment by jpabramson | 2007/02/23 at 23:07:50

    hi bob-

    this kid, who supposedly attends berklee, is a friggin’ twit. if, one believes in the melding of art/music and passion, then Blue Note is a piece of recording history to be cherished. christ, bruce lundvall is 71 years old. he came not to speak of technology, duh,but, perhaps to impart some sense of musical mission. mike cuscuna has done an amazing piece of preservation and getting jazz out to the public via high quality pressings and cds at mosaic records – a high quality boutique operation. neither of these guys has anything to prove. this little punky asshole kid needs to wipe his snot nose, do some growing up and ‘make his bones’ before spewing anymore bullshit. who the fuck does he think he is?

    bob, you have continually hammered away at the current crisis in the music business; that has become merely a business and has forsaken its historic mission, to the detriment of the business itself and the public . you come from a real different developmental and experiential place than fhe boy from berklee; damn, you have along history in the business and at least you know of what you write. this kid doesnt know his ass from a hole in the wall.

    someone has to call out this kid.

    boston john

  19. Comment by Julie Farman | 2007/02/23 at 23:08:06

    You hold him down, I’ll kick him.

  20. Comment by Geooff Bywater | 2007/02/23 at 23:08:22

    Ok we need to stop ….. Bruce is a one of a kind human being . He feels people , he loves them . The music that they may make is secondary to who they are …. We forget as we dismiss those that have been the forebearers that passion starts with acceptance and love for the human spirit . The best poets . Best songwriters . Best at any profession starts with spirit . Bruce should and is admired for his love of the human spirit .

  21. Comment by Neil Lasher | 2007/02/23 at 23:08:37

    This punk should have 1/10 the respect and love that musicians and industry folks have for Bruce._What self rightious drivle._Ah,,,, to be a student again and_Think I know everything..

  22. Comment by Al Kooper | 2007/02/24 at 16:07:36

    To whom it may concern –

    In all fairness to Bruce Lundvall, he runs a label that, untill he signed Norah Jones and Amos Lee, primarily exists on catalogue as the premier jazz label in America. I don’t think Norah Jones was an easy break either. They promoted that to a degree so everyone heard it and liked it; not unlike Alanis Morrisette recently mentioned.

    As far as I can see, unlike Morrissette, her second album is already number one. Chances are it will not sell as well as the first for a plethora of reasons Lefsetz viewers are conversant with already.

    Lundvall is doing a great job in terms of getting the best sound/technology of his catalogue out there AND introducing decent new artists, NOT primarily jazz, who are breaking into Top 40. I worked with him at SONY when he was in marketing. He named the "Super Session" album and it became a descriptive phrase from that point on used by most rock writers and critics.

    Bruce is an amiable, well-liked guy who has lived through many years in the biz and always done well for himself and those that hired him. His label is a subsidiary of one of the "fucked-up four" and the decisions about DRM and other technolgy are not even offered to him for his input. That’s why he does not have that knowledge or answers for you. He sells a lot of jazz and Norah Jones however, and is trying to break artists that are comparatively unique. If you categorize him as a label head, you miss the point of what he specifically does and has done.

    Al Kooper

  23. Comment by Brian Brinkerhoff | 2007/02/24 at 16:07:58

    When Henry Droz retired a couple of years ago after essentially building the so-called modern record distribution business, he was asked what he was going to do in his retirement- his response?- "Play with my grandkids and learn to ue a computer."

    That says it all.

  24. Comment by Dan Millen | 2007/02/24 at 16:08:13

    Rock on Snot nosed Berklee kid! But be advised – you can learn something from EVERYONE…

    When I was at Berklee Neil Lasher came to speak about artists, publishing and good songs… I didnllt give a crap about publishing but I sure as hell learned a lot about interacting smoothly with people from listening to Neil speak… What an honor it is to have been a snot nosed punk myself 10 years into this crazy biz and my comments in the same email as his!

    Only in Lefsetz’s America!

  25. Comment by Larry LeBlanc | 2007/02/24 at 16:08:33

    You very obviously don’t know Bruce Lundvall. I have known him for over 30 years and he’s one of the most perceptive music men I’ve ever met along with the late John Hammond , Ahmet Ertegun, and Jerry Moss. You worshipped Ahmet Ertegun as a music man as your spate of column recently showed. Bruce is in a similar lane.

    Bob, you are making a generalization here based on some comments by a student and centering on Bruce’s age and, perhaps, lack of knowledge of manufacturing technology. It’s easy to make anyone a stereotype. In this case your stereotype is wrong. Basic Journalism 101: Research and get your facts right. You are dead wrong on this. I am also very pissed you’d slight someone like him without meeting him or reading up about him. You generally aren’t as sloppy as that.

  26. Comment by Josh Cole | 2007/02/24 at 16:08:50

    As a musician and former graduate student in Philosophy, I would like to point out that those Berklee kids should be trying to ask questions about and listen to what a guy like that knows. They can learn all they want about digital distro from some other dude. When you get to talk to somebody who worked with and helped great musicians succeed, you learn what you can about that and save your other questions for the next lecture at Berklee by Bob Lefsetz or somebody like him. But in my experience in Boston, I have never found that Berklee kids learn to listen all that well, they learn to play notes, a lot of them. Listening comes from living, which it seems Bruce has done quite a bit of. Those 530+ kids may all change the future of music, for all I know, but there is always something of the past and any education that does not instill that is a meaningless slip of paper.

  27. Comment by Stephen-Craig Aristei | 2007/02/24 at 16:09:09

    Ouch ! ! !

    I have never agreed with Bruce Lundvall’s taste. But I respect it….even though I have just, never agreed with it….. I do know that he is a real gentleman and a "classey guy", of which there seems to be fewer and fewer in this music biz (not that this has anything to do with anything, especially if you never have to deal with him). I have the greatest respect for him for his longevity. Although, I have often thought of his rise in executive status in terms, akin to the "Peter Principle" (I doubt anyone under the age of 45 knows what I am talking about now!), as his true talents always seemed to be founded somewhere else!

    But Bob…..OUCH, OUCh, Ouch!

    ….Bob, please do me a favor…….When I die, remind me to take a few critics with me.

    Respectfully yours,
    Stephen-Craig Aristei

  28. Comment by Jim Charne | 2007/02/24 at 16:09:27

    I know I am late to this ballgame — but the Berklee student is wrong — understanding technology is not what is holding back this industry. Signing crappy talent and releasing cruddy uninventive me-too music by "brands" instead of bands is what is holding back the industry.

    Bruce Lundvall is a record man, respectful of talent, who understands artist development.

    We need more Bruces. The media is not the message — the music is.

  29. Comment by Jeff Weber | 2007/02/24 at 16:09:50

    I usually read, smile and nod in agreement, but you may have missed the big one here. Bruce honors the music. We don’t have many of those types left in executive label positions. Actually, he may be one of five. Or three. When he leaves, as he surely will, sooner rather than later, then what? The technology of which you speak caters to the distribution of the medium. Not the creation thereof. Bruce speaks to that muse. Bruce has great ears, a legendary track record, and a passion that is rooted in respect, dignity, and a fired improvisational imagination. The point is, Bob, that IS enough. Most of us are simply too blinded by the technology climb and by our overwhelming greed to see clearly.

  30. Comment by James Eason | 2007/02/24 at 16:10:05

    I was at Berklee in the mid- to late-’80s and it was bad enought that the MPE (Music Production & Engineering) major seemed to dominate (along with the overly melismatic soul divas — although, that wasn’t an official major). Now, the most popular major is Music Business/Management Major??? Wow. No one wants to go to Berklee to learn about music anymore. Makes sense I suppose. We all figured out pretty quickly that you learned more from late night jam sessions, listening to and studying the solos of the masters, seeing live shows, and the occasional great teacher.

  31. Comment by Bruce Dickinson | 2007/02/24 at 16:10:22

    I don’t offer this as a defense of Bruce Lundvall. I have no doubt that dozens of others will do that. He has made a contribution that is second to none and our business KNOWS it. The most pathetic thing about this "email of the day" is that a young "student" can sit in a room with Bruce Lundvall and not take the unique opportunity to learn SOMETHING; walking away not having learned ANYTHING inspite of what that "student" thinks of the person before them. The BEST students are the ones that ask the BEST questions and the RIGHT questions. Sure the times they are a changin’. They always are, but, we can always learn from history and its lessons, especially when it’s STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. Among other skills, a good manager needs to know what questions to ask and when to ask them. I guess they don’t teach that at Berklee. Gee, maybe you can’t TEACH that. This anonymous jerk doesn’t see all he, she, or it thinks they see. A degree in music business management is one thing; an intelligent inquisitive mind is another. I wouldn’t have this person manage me if I was an artist. Ok, Bruce Lundvall didn’t know what DRM is. Now ask him what he DOES know; whether you think he’s to blame for holding the industry back or not. THAT wasn’t why Bruce Lundvall was there. He wasn’t there to be an object of scorn. It also wasn’t why he was put on Earth. An opportunity presented itself and some smug little twit who’s all wrapped up in being an MBM major was too dumb to see it and, apparently too gutless to sign an email. Things have changed and they will change again. Write off the past and it just might come back and bite your fat ass someday.

    Bruce Lundvall is a great man. His life story is a rich one. He has made the lives of so many, including mine, BETTER. I wonder what this "student" will contribute. I think we already know. I’d flunk the punk right out of the program. Save mummsie and daddsie some money. Jeez, colleges will admit anybody these days.

    God bless Bruce Lundvall. Thank you Bruce.

  32. Comment by Christian T. Martin | 2007/02/24 at 16:10:44

    Sadly, accept it or deny it . . . in the immortal words of Pete Towshend, "The Music Must Change". Old school thinking has no more place, not even as a novelty or best intention. Not even as a place holder, and hell, I am old school. It is a different game and a consumer’s myriad of entertainment choices forever bar a revisit to the past. When the culture of American Idol fades and the majors have ground to sand, a vibrant music community will still exist but it will be one that is dramatically different, more fragmented and more diverse than what we now know or ever knew. That is where my faith lies. Bruce L., Norah Jones, please. . . The good old boys still left in "the club" may slap backs on a job well done with bank accounts fulll enough for their children’s children, but that train someone else mentioned, they don’t even see it coming.

  33. Comment by Paul Kramer | 2007/02/24 at 16:11:06

    I have just returned from the Grammy’s. The highlight for me wasn’t any of the award winners…, no the highlight for me was meeting the legend that is Bruce Lundvall… a fellow Ike Quebec fan. you are seriously losing the plot. How very dare you.

  34. Comment by Henry Gross | 2007/02/24 at 16:11:29

    You know what? Technology does indeed move on…who cares? I’m sick of technology! It’s so often just an affirmative action program for no playing, no grooving, no singing actors.

    People are moved to defend Bruce Lundvall because he’s the last of the real deal music men. We’ve got to stop expecting people who’ve achieved what he has to be all knowing. If this young man thought he had nothing worthwhile to absorb from Bruce Lundvall he hadn’t done his homework and wasted a golden opportunity to learn about things he will someday have no one to ask!

    What Bruce Lundvall does know is "The stuff dreams are made of." He has the remarkable ability to make any artist privileged enough to have the pleasure of his time and attention feel like running out to write, play or perform better than they ever have before. I know first hand. After playing songs for him last year I couldn’t stop writing for months. As a writer, when he smiles at a line you wrote it doesn’t get any better! Because the record proves he knows what he’s talking about.

    I don’t care if Bruce Lundvall knows what an I pod is or the capitol of North Dakota. That’s not his gift. He can hire techies to make those decisions and I’m sure he will. He’s busy encouraging artists to do the best work of their lives. There are millions of techno experts around but only one Bruce Lundvall. He’s the last of the great ones.

    Love him for who he is and what he’s done! Let’s see if the technologically obsessed can get people to sit up at 1:30 in the morning to write letters like this one in years to come.

    If Beethoven is in the room don’t get on your high horse because he doesn’t know the chords to "Louie, Louie!" -Even if it’s number one on the charts that day!

    Yo! Berkley boy! Ask yourself why what he had to say wasn’t interesting enough to pull you off your own agenda for an hour.

    Bruce Lundvall is not causing the demise of the music business. He’s probably the last guy with the ability to save it! I hope he never retires! Maybe he’s not a jack of all trades but he’s sure a master of the most important one if you’re gonna run a label.

    Incredibly sincerely, Henry Gross

  35. Comment by Anon | 2007/02/24 at 16:11:54


    I used to work in the EMI/Blue Note building. 3 years ago I left work and was about to cross 18th St. when Bruce almost hit me with his car while I was crossing the street. I had the right of way.

    Next day in the elevator he (I thought) pretended not to recognize me. Now I realize maybe he really didn’t recognize me!

    Anon, please.

  36. Comment by Adam Blake | 2007/02/24 at 16:12:14

    A 71 year old jazz lover is not your problem. The problem are the little pricks in suits who don’t care about music. I’m surprised at you, Bob. This smartass isn’t e-mail of the day, he’s just having a moan.

  37. Comment by Will Page | 2007/02/24 at 16:12:34

    Yesterdays People, that’s what your man below is referring to – I think.

    And it is a problem, not just with music – too.I recall before coming down to London to work in the music industry, I met a relation of a similar age to Bruce Lundvall who had made his career in book publishing – and a profitable career too. So, I mentioned to him that I was keen to learn about music publishing, and wondered if there was any overlap with his area that I could take something from. He replied, in a long drawn out posh English accent: "As you know, I’ve sold my business – I decided the market is becoming a little uncertain due to technology, its these damn things called PFD files that I cant quite understand".

    Forget getting the initials the wrong way round, the PDF file is the opportunity, not the threat – and he left the market because of it. Spot the parallel?

  38. Comment by Al Cafaro | 2007/02/24 at 16:12:49

    We all have a responsibility to the artists and music that we sign and market. This responsibility includes understanding all of the issues impacting the contemporary landscape. We may not know all the answers but we should know all of the questions.

  39. Comment by George Silva | 2007/02/24 at 16:13:05


    I send very few responses because I think some people use it as a forum to pat themselves on the back, and you also must get way too many e mails. But I do have something to say about this e mail. I love the changes that have taken place in the industry, and while I share the student’s appreciation for technology, the wonderful magic that brings music to the masses, in other forms also enhances voices, musical skills of the talent less and spreads mindless crap that unfortunately sticks to the young and tasteless.

    I worked for Bruce Lundvall when he headed EMI/Manhattan. What I remember of Bruce is he did not use the word "product" for music. I also do not think he had his own PR person as many did and still do. He cared about the bottom line, but also about the artist, especially the ones that loved putting it out there live. You could see the excitement in his eyes when he heard something that was a little different. He was also attentive at every acts performance, even if it was not his first love, jazz. I heard Bob Krasnow once say to his A & R staff. "Don’t listen to the fucking radio, I don’t need a clone of something that is already out there, get me something exciting" Although Lundvall is very different from Krasnow, he pretty much subscribed to that same theory. Age is a number, no one stays young forever, and eventually the world may pass you by. But there are some things school cannot teach you. You must have soul. All the tech knowledge in the world cannot makes up for the passion, feeling and guts of a true music man.

    All the best,
    George Silva

  40. Comment by Hugo Burnham | 2007/02/24 at 16:13:22

    My college is about a mile down the road from Berklee, and we have many of the same students. I see and hear this attitude all the time – and while the immediate response is to think ‘disrespect’, I realize it’s a frightened response of the past-it old guys (like me). So I just channel my 19 year-old self that was full of punk spit-and-razors: "fuck off Rick Wakeman, you tosser!"…while I still loved the Who and Elton John’s records, to get through to my students. It’s a balance – isn’t everything?

    When I’m teaching ‘Survey of the Music Industry’, I’m faced with a mix of kids who have a passion for their stuff, for their generation, ,who don’t care about the business as-was, who think quiz questions about The Beatles or about who invented the phonograph are fucking irrelevant or a waste of their time and money. Fuck the past – we’re the future; that’s what my Dad listens to…hell, what my GRANDPARENTS listen to. SO I’ve come to focusing on a mix of fueling their fires of dissent and disrespect with showing them that there is value in learning something about the past and some of the people who made it. It’s their choice whether they have to respect it or not. In one class – I show the documentary ‘Standing In The Shadows’ (just to straighten out all the black kids who answer the quiz question ‘where was Motown based?’ with NASHVILLE or NEW YORK!!, and send them away to confess to their parents…)
    In another, I show the documentary about Tom Dowd (they’re amazed by a guy who worked so much with both black AND white artists!) – then I reference Hank Bordowitz’s ‘Dirty Little Secrets’ quite liberally to let them know what a bunch of thieves and idiots the business has been peopled by. The I tell them about the fucking horrendous management I’ve experienced and seen over the years (past and only-just-past), and then about some of the great ones – for BALANCE. I tell them about the idiocy of "I just have to keep believing in my music, and once I’ve got a manager/lawyer, I’m in" – that sort of faith goes nowhere…but anyone who’s successful tells that same old shibboleth again and again. Christ, I’ve been arguing the downloading issue with a couple of other professors here for five years – being told I’m disrespectful or cutting myself off at the knees. Bollocks to that.

    Jesus – if we can’t recognize that criticizing or dismissing the past is part of growing up and developing your own thing…then we need to stand aside and let them through even more quickly. Absolutely Bruce L. is a great guy, did amazing things – but what’s he doing in front of these kids without knowing what they know? There’s no BALANCE there. THAT’s disrespectful. Better the professor talk about Bruce to show what great things can be done…but then bring someone in who speaks their language, someone who used to be able to program their VCR, who HAS an iPod AND knows how to load the damn thing themselves. Get Mark Cuban in – he’s got more to share with them that’s relevant to their lives and attitudes.



  41. Comment by Name withheld by request | 2007/02/24 at 16:13:42

    Every problem this country has could be summed up with the conclusion that too many old men run stuff they do NOT get.

  42. Comment by Easton Pell | 2007/02/24 at 16:14:00

    Now your being silly……….It is now, was at the beginning and always will be about "the ear" at places that sign musician’s… are way too caught up in the tech thing…it does not matter MP3-78 rpm….Victoria…it is what you hear, not how you hear it.

    Many on your list are block and tackle record guys that never signed anything…in fact some on here I know and they would not know a good song if it fell on them…..You can hire folks from any generation to "work" the music….and these folks are a dime a dozen…but the one’s w/the ear…they never need know about silly crap like the method of the week for delivery…

  43. Comment by David Tockman | 2007/02/24 at 16:14:16

    I don’t think we do need to stop defending Bruce Lundvall…since your email below still seems to fault him for not being up to speed on the technology. That’s like faulting me (an ex-business affairs guy) for not knowing which radio station is most important in a given market or faulting the promo guy for not understanding when the option was supposed to have been exercised! Everyone on the team plays a part. And I worked for Bruce — surely the best music exec I have ever known – and I can attest to his amazing ability to rally all those various team members and empower them with trust and support so they could each tackle their particular task. You’ve made some wonderful points over the years but in my opinion you missed the mark here.

  44. Comment by Name withheld by request | 2007/02/24 at 16:14:35


    I do believe this is your best post in YEARS!

    I can’t begin to tell you how much I agree with everything here. Oh, and I’m 43.

    PS: I (still) work for an EMI label so would rather not be mentioned by name.

  45. Comment by Boston John | 2007/02/24 at 16:14:53

    bob- no doubt, lundvall is the past. who can argue about that? yup, he should take his bow and bow out. blue note, in its day – yes that day is past – was about artistry, passion, music, a trinity to which you ascribe, yes? who broke dylan? gee, remember john hammond and where did the folkies come from? an old german emigre, moe asch at folkways. but i digress. the music business aka the music industry – no different than any other advanced industrial industry – is a laboring behemoth, which cannot move forward, for all the reasons that you offer. some other smaller and locally based model will emerge over time; after the system collapses entirely from its own weight ( fat, not muscle). so let’s somehow focus on getting REAL passionate music, music that is worth listening to out to the public. instead of lumbering giant music factories, let’s support and grow our own musicians locally and support them as they move outward to larger audiences. the mechanism for that is your domain. cause that’s what you know about. so, it’s not about promoting lundvall as the avatar of the future, it’s about giving him his due, and sending him on his way. how many wonderful jazzmen would have been condemned to journeying from club to to club ( happened anyway), without a larger audience if Blue Note, and the smaller boutique labels hadn’t been around? no doubt there is an analog that will emerge.

    so the time is now, not then, but give props where props are due. kids that came into music and politics in the early ’60s knew from whence they came and moved past it; this kid from berklee seems to have no sense of history.— ah yes, historical amnesia – so how the fuck does he know what to move past? at least the punks has real good sense of class issues and could articulate their rage of alienation. i guess that is your job, your struggle.

  46. Comment by Arma Andon | 2007/02/24 at 16:15:18

    For a time in the early eighties I was Bruce’s assistant when he was president of what was then CBS Records, unquestionably the biggest group of labels in the industry. During a typical day in the life of Bruce Lundvall he would:

    1. Meet with Neil Diamond
    2. Choose the first single off of the new Earth, Wind and Fire album
    3. Meet with Barry White and his lovely wife Glowdine
    4. Speak with the Minister of Culture of the Cuban government to discuss releasing old Cuban masters through our Dutch company
    5. Meet with Jerry Massucci to put together Carlos Santana and Steve Winwood with the Fania All Stars the biggest Latin group of the day. The collaboration yielded an album that to this day stands out as one of the great Latin/rock fusion records.
    6. Choose the first Journey single after conversations with all key marketing and promotion people.
    7. Meet with Steve O’Rourke to torture him about not delivering "The Wall" on time.
    8. Take calls from Irving, Howard, Tony Smith, Herbie Herbert, Ahmet, Dexter, Joe Zawinul, Robert Palmer (the music critic), Leon Huff, Joe Rufalo and Bob Cavalo ( they always called at the same time so you had to deal with both of them at once, it was a brilliant strategy because after the conversation you were so confused that you had agreed to everything they wanted).
    9. Short meeting with the managers of Judas Priest

    Oh, by the way all this happened before 2 pm. He and I would then get into his car ( his driver always smelled of Scotch and pepperoni) and go up to Miles’ house on the upper west side for a quick bite that turned into an eight hour marathon. I remember this because Miles was always sending me out to get cigarettes.

    Basically what I’m driving at here is that Bruce was and is perhaps, other than Ahmet, the most versatile music executive there ever was and we continue to hear his legacy today. Would all of the great music that was discussed that day have become successful if we were bogged down on this endless debate about how to deliver product ? I think not.

    Also, Bruce is one of the finest, fairest, and funniest men we have in our business and also quite generous. If we start to turn on men like Bruce then we maybe should find a different line of work. I’m sorry I ran on so long but Bruce is in league by himself.


  47. Comment by Michael j Klenfner | 2007/02/24 at 16:15:41

    First of all you didn’t have the balls to sign your name. Are you afraid mommy and daddy won’t like seeing what an ungrateful
    son of a gun they have. Bruce has more musical knowledge in one ear than most people get their entire carereer, tech terms are not what makes the person actions do. His track record is flawless and people who worked for him have only benefited, me being one. He taught me so many things that have been so valuable to me even today. But most of all he taught me to be a mensch.

    Michael j Klenfner

  48. Comment by Richard A. Burkhart | 2007/02/24 at 16:16:02

    Bruce is one of the really "Good Guys" in our biz. He screwed up, but to attack him the way you have is un fare.

  49. Comment by Marty Thau | 2007/02/24 at 16:16:20

    A quick Lundvall comment — he has had an impressive career and should not be judged by any shortcomings he may have in the new world of technology.

    The man is a walking / talking Jazz encyclopedia and there are very few experts out there with his knowledge, history of accomplishment and the respect afforded him by the most important artists in Jazz.

    Let’s not be too hard on him. The man is a Jazz great if there ever was one. And, to boot, he is one of the finest people you’ll ever meet.

  50. Comment by Michael Fremer | 2007/02/24 at 16:16:38

    Bruce lives down the block from me but that’s not why I wrote what I did….basically Bob, I love your passion, agree or not, but you’re too digital, man! You’re "on" or "off." The electric guitar didn’t kill the acoustic. Fender/Rhodes didn’t kill the Steinway, nor did synthesizers. They’re all just part of the mix. The music biz will change, music will change, the proportions will change but it will not be "on/off" or "either/or." Hell Elvis was still #2 in licensing revenues after Cobain last year and the demographics of Graceland visitors (filtering out kids with parents) was still incredibly young.

    Predicting the future based on kids’ tastes and buying habits is notoriously wrong because tastes change!!!! Based on kids’ tastes and behaviors we can predict: an end to fine wine consumption because kids drink cheap suds and cheap Gallo. We can predict a future of meatball subs and Dominoes pizza because that’s how kids get through college. But a funny thing happens once they get out and start making a living….they change… perhaps the future of an 8 year old is MP3, meatball subs, and suds. And perhaps the "mainstream" will be fast food, MP3, shitty music and clothes from Aeropostal BUT the great thing about today is that whatever you want: good music, good food, good sound, etc. is available because of the very same technology that’s dragging the mainstream down to the lowest (lower than ever) common denominator! It’s a GREAT time to be alive because even if most people eat shit, I can still eat well. There’s cilantro in the supermarket!!! I used to have to drive to Clifton where the South American illegals congregate to get it.

    Go back to the music charts from the ’60s: BALLAD OF THE GREEN BERETS was #1. So what?

    Love ya!

  51. Comment by steve popovich | 2007/02/24 at 16:17:26

    dear bob…….wow…..i worked with bruce lundvall……gentleman and human being extrodinaire in the 1960’s when he was not only bruce but also smoothe lundvall with his version of a song called winchester cathedral!!!! in 1969 i went to new york and was blessed to receive my ojt berklee degree working with the greats…….,asher,davis,teller, leiberson,yetnikoff, hammond,segelstein, alexenburg, lundvall,and hundreds of music people. we called ourselves the family of music…….. not technology………even though cbs labs invented the vinyl record it wasnt our responsibility to know the details… people loved songs hit records and appreciated artistry whether it was johnny cash,ray coniff b,s,t,joplin ,santana, miles chicago,simon&garfunkel,sly, earth,wind and fire etc……hundreds of execs,promomen salesmen and women by the way broke their asses at radio to establish careers…..perhaps berklee should offer classes on the history of this business and the folks that built it……keep doing what you do….steve popovich

  52. Comment by Kevin Sutter | 2007/02/24 at 16:17:45

    Boy is this kid lost . Bruce is a great man with plenty of music experience. This kid is wasting his time if he can’t learn from them that have walked the walk. Call his parents and try to get their money back.

  53. Comment by Liz Brooks | 2007/02/24 at 16:18:06

    OK, both these perspectives are seriously off. Yeah, both.

    It’s shocking to run an influential label and not know what DRM is, have no idea how your songs get on a phone; not understand how your music actually reaches people today.

    It’s also dumb to get a degree in the music business, want to "be a manager" and "not go near a label" without actually knowing what that means, and to turn a deaf ear to the "old school" because they don’tunderstand mobile and don’t talk about DRM.

    One guy dismisses technology; the other dismisses music. It’s a symbiotic relationship today.

    By the way, I worked for one of the guys who used to print his emails out, write on them ,and have his assistant bring them to your desk. I have the sneaking suspicion there may have been more than one….

  54. Comment by Brice Turner | 2007/02/24 at 16:18:25

    I graduated from Belmont University largest school, the Mike Curb School of Music Business, this last December. I faced similar probelms all throughout my program of having industry heads come and speak to my classes without having any knowledge on what they were even talking about.

    I was bombarded with individuals like Sid Bernstein. Don’t get me wrong, being the Beatles to America to play at Shea Stadium is a big deal, but what does that have to do with preparing students for an industry that is constantly in a state of uncertainty and change.

    Since graduating I have been employed by a tour management/fan club/ticketing hybrid that reinforced the fact that the lables are dying. The majority of young people in the industry are well aware of this and all want to deal with the nuts and bolts of artist management.

    While we all have a similar career path in mind, none of us will have the same "jobs"…

  55. Jed
    Comment by Jed | 2007/02/24 at 16:19:12

    This college kid sure makes some good points but it seems he is just trying to get on your good side. But that aside, the funny thing is that colleges especially Berklee are guilty of the same mistakes as the record industry. Colleges are rarely on the cutting edge of anything. I know MIT is a few others are exceptions but the 100’s of mainstream colleges and universities are just as disrespectful to their customers as the labels are. Been on a campus lately? Seen the
    American Express table set up in the lunch room. Cashing in on all those children who have no idea how a credit card works. I guess what I am saying here is that this kid for some strange reason thinks Berklee has his best interest in mind. All Berklee or any other school for that matter wants is your money, if you think differently then you are a fool. Eventually their model may collapse too.

    Maybe one day he will become one of the great artist managers, but it won’t happen until he can see through the lies. Especially the ones he is living in. The fact that he is in school to learn how to be a manager is INSANE! Completely fucking insane. Hopefully he is at least getting laid.



  56. Comment by John Ingham | 2007/02/24 at 16:19:27

    I’m with you. If you don’t know what the distribution channels are, don’t know how your audience interacts, then go sit on the porch and reminisce with your firends about how it used to be.

    It’s not just the music business either. From my own experience running music content at a major UK mobile phone network I can tell you that the mobile networks are holding back mobile distribution by several years. Because none of them understand their own business except that it’s to make voice calls.

  57. Comment by Randy Ezratty | 2007/02/24 at 16:19:47

    This is not about defending Bruce Lundvall.

    I’m questioning your decision to choose that kid’s letter as e-mail of the day.

    Geez, this kid seems to take your writings Seriously. Not like the vast majority of your readers who take you as you hopefully intend to be taken.

    At best, you write like a good rocker plays. You write with passion and abandon. Gravity, predictability and consistency be damned. Just this week, you used "Bryan Adams" and "still vital" in the same sentence. Obviously you don’t expect your words to be etched in stone.

    Bob, with rock star fame comes responsibility! You should have handled this fan like any true rocker would. You should have told him to fuck off, lighten up and enjoy a couple of entertaining hours from a legend who has earned the right to tell a few war stories.

    And if you really wanted to complete the rocker analogy, you could have driven your point home by fucking his girlfriend.

    He would have thanked you in the years to come.

    Maybe Berklee or Bruce didn’t teach your disciple anything yesterday but YOU could have given him the invaluable lesson that if he treats his artists right and loves the music, he too might be able to look forward to enjoying the occasional, harmless perks that come with "Legendary" status.

    It’s like going to a Bryan Adams/George Thorogood concert.

    Randy Ezratty

  58. Comment by ricky schultz | 2007/02/24 at 16:20:03

    bob: are you speaking about the last week or two (didn’t bruce just have the #1 & #4 albums on billboard ? whether you dig norah or celtic woman or not…)

    bruce lundvall doesnt need a pass from anyone. one of the problems facing the industry is that the real music men are no longer appreciated for what they bring to the table. the kind of passion, instincts and knowledge that cross genres and meld with enough busy savvy to deliver.

    time was being viewed as a music man was among the highest honors one could hope to achieve in our industry. and such an accolade had to be earned the old fashioned way. bruce has been a hero of mine and we share a passion for jazz. in a way a little like him, i’ve been able to concentrate on the music i love the most: jazz.

    but i love many other types of music and am comfortable working with them as well. to be called a music man by the likes of mo ostin is about all i could have dreamed to accomplish in this business.

    btw, while i appreciate many of your insights, i wouldn’t be too quick to plan the industry’s funeral. yes, the challenge remains to monetize a healthy portion of online activity. keep an eye open for the next generation of e-commerce, its coming: there will be greatly enhanced security and protection on both ends. shrinkage due to fraud will be eliminated. consumers private information will remain on their hard drive.

    with a greatly expanded consumer comfort level doing business on the web and an enhanced ability for content providers to deal directly with the end users, middle men will be eliminated, driving prices down to a more attractive and reasonable area.

    and God knows, in these days and times, people need music more than ever. if we’re lucky bruce lundvall will keep hitting the clubs, listening to demos and putting out quality music for many years to come.

    ricky schultz

  59. Comment by Paul Rappaport | 2007/02/24 at 16:20:22

    The music business has always been about expertise in both areas. First (and I do mean FIRST!), one has to have the "ears" to discover real talent–the kind that will last. Sometimes that doesn’t show itself so clearly with an immediate, commercial hit song–one must look deeper and see a diamond in the rough that might just develop into a Bruce Springsteen,etc., and that takes a special kind of person. I know that the recent business has become more about being adept at both the music and marketing/distribution skills, and Bob you are 100% right when you say it ain’t gonna matter one hill of beans if someone makes a brilliant record and no one hears it. But I must tell you that, like others, I was witness to when the "music" business became more the "record" business, and the lines started to blur with even the artists themselves beginning to spend way too much of their time on clever marketing schemes. The music was much better when people like Bruce Lunvall were able to do their job and then hand to music over to a great promotion, marketing, and distribution team, which, in kind, had their expertise.

    I liked it better when the music guys and gals (artists and A&R folks)concentrated solely on their art form and the marketing types concentrated on theirs. When you mix the two up the music part seems to suffer, become less important, sometimes even secondary.
    One of the ancient writings says, "What comes from the heart, goes to the heart." The real messages that can come from songs and music that live inside us and help mold the way we feel and think are the basis of a true "music" business as opposed to the record or entertainment business that we are now crashing from. All hail for great distribution, but we must start at the beginning and get back to distributing music that really matters. The point is that we are broken on both fronts and we need both kinds of expertise. And, I agree with Sky–What Bruce Lundvall knows can’t be taught at business school, it’s a gift.

  60. Comment by Jim Swindel | 2007/02/24 at 16:20:43

    Bob, I thought you were a class act?

    This poor old guy is in fact stumped for an answer as to why this showed up in my inbox???

  61. Comment by Anon | 2007/02/24 at 16:20:58

    Most of the people that I know that have had real careers in the real record business, including under 30’somethings, were not in a classroom dreaming about it at 19. They were in it for real already………. When I was 19 I wasn’t sitting in a classroom at Berklee as an MP&E major………..I was relentlessly chasing down Richard Branson, showing up at Virgin Headquarters in London (in a foriegn country for me) for 30 days in a row in order to meet Richard, and get hooked into the then Virgin Studios Group (Townhouse, Oympic)…an effort that has paid off to this day.

    A young female graduate of Berklee in MBM, went to LA recently, and I set her up with a big time music lawyer so she wouldn’t get burned. She ended up not taking my advise and got burned for $5000 bucks in a production mill scam………..What the fck did she learn at Berklee?????

    One can’t learn any of this in a classroom. Most of the kids from Berklee I’ve worked with have had to unlearn false notions of how this business really works.

  62. Comment by Bob Welch | 2007/02/24 at 16:21:37

    Bob…The attached rejection letter sent to me from Clive Davis a few years ago may help to illustrate some of the thinking that goes on at the "dinosaur" top-levels . Clive appreciates good music, like
    Bruce Lundvall. He dug the hipness and slant of what I had sent him. He just didn’t think there was a big enough market for it , which by the way…neither did I. Clive’s estimation of the "number of sophisticated music consumers out there" has only grown exponentially since he wrote to me in ’03 . Our culture is more and more "Anna Nicole" and less and less "Anita O’day"

    But he knew cool when he heard it..(pardon my ego !)

    Bob Welch

    _ _ _ _ _

    Re: "Bob Welch Looks At Bob"

    Dear Bob:

    Since I left for my holiday in the Caribbean on December 18th and then went to California after the new year, I didn’t get your CD until this week. I did listen and I want you to know that I personally enjoyed the experience. It is edgy and a little left of center but I didn’t mind that at all. I should add, however, that when I put my commercial hat on, I just can’t be optimistic about the prospects. I think the number of sophisticated consumers is so few that this would be a tough bet for a meaningful target audience.

    In any event, I do very much appreciate you thinking of me and I am very grateful for your kind words about the Rod Stewart album.

    Warm personal regards,


  63. Comment by John Brodey | 2007/02/24 at 16:22:08

    Of course, Bruce is a legendary ‘music’ guy, but the point is clouded by the fact that if there was no Norah Jones, Bruce would be referred to in past tense alone. No question that even in the world of jazz etc. being aware of today’s technology and how it impacts distribution and listening habits is essential to doing right by your artists. Sure he can have a bunch of tech guys around him to do that stuff. But while you can leave it up to them to devise a strategic plan, you are still well advised to be familiar enough with the issues to evaluate that plan and make the appropriate decisions. The stakes are too high, NOT to be involved in this process at some point.

    P.S. What are they going to learn from him? How to have good taste and spot rough talent? It’s a music BUSINESS course. I’m sure he has great stories, however.

  64. Comment by Marcia Burnett | 2007/02/24 at 16:22:33

    Hi Bob,

    DRM is a fucking acronym. You’re actually going to "brand" someone as a dinosaur and claim he is irrelevant because he doesn’t know what the latest acronym stands for????? I find that CFI. Completely fucking ignorant.

    Kindest regards,
    A young EMI executive.

  65. Comment by William Eib | 2007/02/24 at 16:22:50

    Hey Bob,

    To Mr. Berklee

    Point missed. Lundvall is a music man. He re-built Blue Note Records. you may think his stories are boring, but think about the fact he worked with the greats who are in those stories. He helped to preserve their music for generations to come. So he is a techno-peasant. AND, what the hell are you doing in a music business class. You want to manage. Go grab an act and get to it. Lundvall has forgotten more than you will ever learn in school. Respect your elders, particular when they are one of the good guys who strove to keep the "Biz" out of the music business. He is still discovering great musical artists at the age of 71. Cross your fingers you last that long in the buisness. You You should have done your home work and thought of some questions in advance, because there aren’t many of his stature left. You missed a great opportunity.

  66. Comment by Ed Shapiro | 2007/02/24 at 16:23:08

    I can only feel pity and sadness for this uninformed student. (If I were his/her professor, I’d banish the writer to the library until the complete history of jazz was read.) Berklee should require music business majors to take a "history of the music business" course before they speak in a public forum. No really, I find the ignorance shocking. A brief review of jazz history of the last 20+ years would give your writer a quick lesson in how truly talented these 2 guys are. Their contributions can’t be overstated.

    Cuscuna is a jazz producer extraordinaire. Not only for his work with Bluenote, but that of the Mosaic, GRP, Impulse, Verve and Decca Catalogs (and many others). True reissue work is an art. When done right, it requires a depth and understanding of the music, the artists and the times in which the music was created, in order to capture the essence of the reissue. More than just the music, it’s encompasses the track sequence, liner notes, photos, interviews, etc., creating an experience for the listener/reader. I’ve learned so much about some of the "greats" and more obscure characters of jazz and blues from Cuscuna’s work. You would be surprised at how much of the jazz we’ve listened to is a direct result of Michael’s work.

    As for Bruce, where do you start? Bruce has been at the helm of one of the greatest jazz labels for sometime now, having been responsible for so much that providing a list here would do him an injustice. (Note to the technically savvy writer of the last email- ever hear of Google? Try it sometime.) No, I’ve never worked for Bruce, but working for a competing jazz label in the early 90’s gave me my first glimpse at Bruce’s ability to recognize talent. The artist always loved him b/c he spoke their language. Yea, times have changed. But Bruce and Co. have consistently "beat the spread"- doing so longer than most any other label head I can think of. How you ask? By signing artists based on their talent. Put the spreadsheets away and just sign good music. Keep the advances and funds small, excitement level high, and DEVELOP the act. Guess what…..the model works. Sure he’s in his early 70’s, yes, his hearing might be fading, and he doesn’t know what DRM is…..what’s the point? He can still out pick ’em better than anyone I know. The irony of the writer’s email is that for all of Bruce’s deficiencies (I’m not sure not knowing what DRM is qualifies), he’s still doing it the way we wish every label head would. If you don’t think that’s how it still works at Bluenote, here’s a quick story:

    A client of mine was showcasing for Bruce and the label a couple of months ago at the Living Room. A super talented singer from the South, she wanted to know what she could expect if things went well. I told her to keep the expectations small and not to be surprised if we didn’t hear from the label until several days later. After the 30 minute showcase, Bruce walked up to her and said "congratulations and welcome to Bluenote". There was no running the numbers to see what he could sell, no fully mixed and polished demos. It was all instinct.

    The writer should understand that "shooting from the hip" is effective only when you’ve got knowledge of history behind you. You can’t speak intelligently about the future unless you’re a student of the past. (Some might blame you Bob for dwelling too much in the past.) Regardless, your readers give you a "pass" for some of your opinions b/c you’ve got history.

    Unfortunately, your writer draws conclusions about Bruce and Michael as if life was a series of snapshots (I paraphrase): Snapshot 1: "Bruce can’t hear". Snapshot 2: He doesn’t know what DRM is". Snapshot 3: "He calls it a ring tune"…. Fortunately, life, like history, isn’t a series of snapshots, but rather a motion picture. Ever try to guess what’s really going one in photograph? Almost impossible. To view any person or event in this industry’s history without knowing the whole story is missing the point.

    Bruce and Michael are the problems of this industry? I think not. What has this guy/gal been reading? Bob. We need more Bruce Lundvalls in this business who focus solely on the qualities that sustain an industry. In this business, longevity and sustainability will ALWAYS be about the music first.

    Mr./Ms. writer: You didn’t want to stump the poor guy? What’s the test, technical terms? Wow, you got him. Want a real test about how you spot talent, how you develop talent? How you break talent? How you succeed when your contemporaries pressure you to "just take a hit"? You’d fail that Q&A miserably. You want to go head to head with Bruce? I’ll put my money on Bruce any day of the week even if he starts referring to the songs on his cellphone as groovy tunes.

    Please stop, listen and learn before you embarrass yourself. There’s still hope for you.

  67. Comment by Tommy LiPuma | 2007/02/26 at 13:41:46

    Dear Bob,

    Oh, those crazy students. They know it all, don’t they?

    I really can’t understand why you would have made this young man’s letter "Email of the Day", unless you wanted to start a needless argument about Bruce, who is probably one of the only "true" music people left in the industry today. He has something that is in rare supply, and that is called "Ears", and also something called "Going with your gut instinct".

    The first thing I would tell this young whipper-snapper to do when he receives his diploma is put it in a drawer somewhere, get a job at the bottom of the totem pole as most the old codgers like Bruce and my generation did, keep his mouth shut, and listen to what’s going on, period. Then, maybe if he actually does have any talent, he’ll survive the competition.

    Excuse me, but I must take my nap now.

    Tommy LiPuma

  68. Comment by Nat Esten | 2007/02/26 at 13:42:02

    Hi Bob,

    I am a MBM and MP&E dual major at Berklee, and I, too, was in that room for Bruce’s visit. While I agree that we should have been better prepared with more pertinent questions, I found that his prepared speech was, indeed, little more than a walk down memory lane. Charming, sweet, and extremely funny, Bruce nonetheless left us all feeling a bit unfulfilled as he and Michael brought to light very little practical knowledge that we students might take to heart to make the future of the business FULL of true music-lovers like Bruce.

    It was an exciting privilege to be so near a man who has worked so hard to keep the music in the music business, but that’s all it was.

    Also, after reading all responses to the e-mail of the day, I feel that I must defend the institution of Berklee. As the business becomes increasingly controlled by accountants and other forms of number-feeders, fledgling managers of talent must bring to the table much more (read: a college degree) as well as grand experience. Spare me the gross generalizations of college students; many of us are absorbing knowledge and plowing through potent experience every available hour. Berklee is also one of the only colleges of it’s kind, requiring ALL students, no matter how business- or studio-savvy, to study an instrument. Music-lovers everywhere should laud Berklee’s contribution to the future of the business, as all graduates have a vested interest in their PASSION for REAL MUSIC.


    Nat Esten

  69. Comment by Shelly Schultz | 2007/02/26 at 13:42:18

    Bob, Bruce is a major league music man and more important has always been a standup, decent human being…..not a bad track record for a man who has lived his life in this music business. Lets not forget, we’re first human beings and then music people…..not visa versa!

    Shelly Schultz

  70. Comment by Jason Miles | 2007/02/26 at 13:42:37

    I can say-Bruce Lundvall is one of the really good guys-When my friend Bob Berg (great saxophonist) died tragically in a car crash 4 years ago there was a memorial service at St peters in NY for Bob-after it was over I looked and saw many people I knew and in the back by himself was Bruce Lundvall-he cares about music and musicians.

    I once asked a very famous music producer what his secret was behind his concepts to making great records-he said it very simply-"Youth meets experience" if we could truly merge that-The music and the business would be in great shape.

  71. Comment by Armand Sadlier | 2007/02/26 at 13:42:56

    Could there be anymore of a GLARING example of Darwinism? Remember Father Guido Sarducci’s ‘5 Minute College’?

    Economics?: Supply/Demand. Economics.
    Evolution?: Adapt or die. Evolution.

  72. Comment by Danny Seraphine | 2007/02/26 at 13:43:14

    Bob….you seem to be getting allot of flack for your comments about Bruce (deservedly so). I’ve known him for 37 years (since the release of our first album Chicago Transit Authority). He was a class act then and to this day is a standard in a otherwise shallow record industry. Bob we need more guys like him not less, the bar is so low these days it is scary. I can’t tell you how many times A&R people have said I’d like to sign your artist but he/she is too good. The record industry deserves everything it is getting…the ship will right itself if we all get out of the way of the music and let it happen and stop signing all these all pretty people with mediocre to no talent. But the dialogue here is good, hopefully it will reach the right people and make difference.

    Best regards,

    Danny Seraphine

  73. Comment by Chet Flippo | 2007/02/26 at 13:43:30

    One of my enduring memories of Bruce Lundvall is an event he pulled off against great odds. I’m referring to the Havana Jam, the historic Cuban-American musical jam held at the Karl Marx Theatre in Havana over three days in 1979. Bruce finessed both the American and Cuban governments to get this pulled together. He chartered a plane that flew from New York to Havana with a full complement of musicans and a few journalists, including, I’m happy to say, me. As I recall, the artists included Kris Kristofferson, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Jimmy Heath, Billy Joel, Tony Williams, Willie Bobo, the Fania All-Stars, Jaco Pastorius, John McLaughlin, Stephen Stills, and I’m sure others. We savored three exquisite nights of the Americans playing with the Cuban all-stars, and then going out on the town and meeting the Cuban people. And drinking Mojitos and smoking fine cigars. I can’t see a techie/branding executive having the cojones or the brains to envision something like that and then be
    ing able to make it happen.

    Chet Flippo

  74. Comment by Tom Werman | 2007/02/26 at 13:43:46

    Bruce Lundvall pulled me aside one morning when I was in NY for Elektra meetings with Bob Krasnow. Bruce was #2 at Elektra under that administration, post Joe Smith. He said he wanted me to come with him that afternoon to a showcase downtown. Later I was introduced to a number of musicians and a manager, who were all apparently quite friendly with Bruce. Then the two of us were treated to a 30-minute drop-dead private concert from a very young and beautiful Whitney Houston and band. When it was over, I turned to look at Bruce, and he was just grinning at me from ear to ear. Rather than say anything, he simply started to laugh. Of course the rest is history, but as the new head of A&R, I was pretty happy having a "suit" with Bruce’s ears and integrity watching my back.

    Tom Werman

  75. Comment by Mike Bone | 2007/02/26 at 13:44:09

    Bruce Lundvall has forgotten more about the record business than you will ever know, Bob.

    Mike Bone

  76. Comment by Dale Robertson | 2007/02/26 at 13:44:27

    My initial response was – who the fuck is Bruce Lundvall?!?!?! The benchmark is and was Ahmet (yeah yeah Clive blah blah blah). Anything before or after – doesn’t matter.

  77. Comment by bud prager | 2007/02/26 at 13:44:47

    Your "issues"are usually terrific, or at least fun. Would you have printed that jerk’s letter if the guest speaker was ahmet ertegun or mo ostin ? i think NOT !! Just for fun, here’s some history. Way back when, i made one of the biggest deals, with clive at columbia. (see clive’s book "clive") Shortly after clive was fired. He was replaced by a total misfit-incompetent, irwn segelstein (from tv i believe) We had a total collision. I wrote a scathing letter to the president of cbs, the parent company of columbia records, denouncing segelstein, and saying there was a QUALIFIED person to run the company…bruce lundvall. (at that time a v.p.)

    Subsequently, segelstein called me in and said "the good news is you gave it your best shot…the bad news is…you lose..they are sticking with me " My huge deal was dead… Bruce called to tell me the president of cbs had called him in for a meeting re my letter…he had never met him…and bruce said "thank you…you’ve put me on the corporate map" At least something good came from my letter…Bruce subsequently became president of columbia records… He was/is a wonderful record man and person ..//// Not one person has said the obvious. You don’t learn artist management in school. That’s absurd… You can only learn it by experience… How many managers are real managers??? Very few… It’s way too tough for the faint-hearted or misguided like your berklee fool.

    bud prager

  78. Comment by Name withheld | 2007/02/26 at 13:45:05

    I noticed several of Mr. Lundvall’s old associates from EMI felt the need to respond and defend him. Please note most of them were all fired and complicit in bringing that company to its knees. Keep up the great discussion.

  79. Comment by Tim White | 2007/02/26 at 13:45:23


    I would go even further than the Bruce Lundvall problem – I would go with our whole educational system (this coming from a BS in Communications and a Masters degree myself). The post secondary educational system has gotten it wrong. Like getting a Bachelors in music business management etc etc is the key to getting into the industry. Come on! It’s funny how even education becomes commoditized and even funnier that people believe that it’s going to help them in their careers – to the point of many thinking it’s an entitlement. Nothing’s wrong with these programs – other than they don’t work very well.

    I consult at a career school for broadcasting now – Illinois Center for Broadcasting – it’s great because in the 10 month program, it just deals with the hands-on stuff that radio and tv broadcasters need to know – it’s a portal for the student’s own creativity. They were the first school to have worldwide internet streaming radio stations – now they have over 750,000 listeners! All from grass-roots work and love for being in the industry.

    I tell the potential students when they’re coming in – "this better be a passion of yours first and foremost, because that’s what motivates you here and in your career." Even with the changes in technology, your basic passion for the music or whatever should be what drives you to adapt.

    Change stands in front of us all. We can either ride the wave of change, or get buried by it. But you already know that.

    Tim White
    Fundamental Records

  80. Comment by Tom Cartwright | 2007/02/26 at 13:45:42

    Bruce Lundvall was never part of the problem at EMI. He’s one of the last true "music" guys left at the majors and I’m sure he’s proud of that fact.

    So here we have this young turk firing a barb at Bruce Lundvall. A student who most likely has never worked at any label, never managed an act, never signed an act, and who sure as hell has never navigated the political waters of a corporation. And he’s taking Bruce Lundvall to task for being ignorant of DRM? That’s like criticizing the head of Ferrari not knowing how Hydrogen technology can be applied to its products.

    One could argue that of all labels, Blue Note is about artistry, not technology (we’ll leave out Norah here). Just like Ferrari. Bruce Lundvall is like Ferrari-designer Sergio Pininfarina. They are both responsible for the soul of their products. They have to first recognize art. Wanna discuss technology? Too bad Ted Cohen left EMI.

    The music industry is full of young turks, the so-called "best and the brightest", who come out of college and instantly focus on technology – merely for technology’s sake. But they all forget one important lesson. You gotta start with talent… with the music. That’s why so many of them fail. Technology is a tool, not the product.

    Bruce may be 72, but I’d rather sit down and listen to him than this wanna-be artist manager any day of the week.

    Tom Cartwright

  81. Comment by Patrick Turgeon | 2007/02/26 at 13:46:05

    Hey Bob,

    Good stuff as usual.
    Ask Lundval what his biggest non-signing mistake was…he will tell you the story of Eva Cassidy…it’s a doozy!

    Patrick Turgeon

  82. Comment by Allan Steckler | 2007/02/26 at 13:46:25

    Bruce Lundvall is and always has been a man of intelligence and taste. Despite the many sleazy, mean and stupid contemporaries of his he has always remained above it all. He also knows music. Don’t forget that – HE KNOWS MUSIC – He Knows it and loves it. Keep in mind that there are all too many in this business who don’t know and don’t care who knows it. But that’s what we are all about – bottom line. Technology always takes second place. There are always those who can teach us what we need to know about downloading, mp3’s, streaming, whatever, but who can teach us musical knowledge, musical taste. I am not defending his lack of technical expertise, just reminding you that people like Bruce Lundvall, Goddard Lieberson, John Hammond and the like created our business – but without the help of the Lennon’s, McCartneys, Springsteens, Dylans we would have nothing to download.

  83. Comment by Dylan Fulmer | 2007/02/26 at 13:46:42


    Say what you want about Bruce, but of the higher-ups in the record business I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, he was at the top in the "being a person" category. Sure, I didn’t have many opportunities to interact with Bruce, being the low man on the totem pole when I worked for Blue Note/Angel in the late 90’s doing their websites, but Bruce did go out of his way first to introduce himself to me at MMW’s studios in Brooklyn with "Hi, I’m Bruce. We don’t know each other yet, but we will." For a 25 year old dork like I was at the time, this was very cool. Also, during my going away party, and again, he did have the occasion to speak with me say 5 or 6 times while I was under his employ, he made a point to thank me and let me know that even I after I left the company, I could go see any Blue Note act playing in NY by just making a phone call. Classy guy, one of the few that never felt the need to check his soul at the door, and I feel honored to have met him.

    Dylan Fulmer

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