What do Pink, Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews, Dido, Puff Daddy and Foo Fighters have in common?
Not much, you might think. But all have had their international success overseen by one man ? Stuart Rubin. Hardly a household name but the former Senior Vice President International ? Commercial Marketing Group for Sony BMG has helped push the careers of more artists than even his long job title may suggest. From Guns N' Roses and Nirvana to Cher and Kenny G, during 30 years in the music industry, he's helped build their global careers.
Now working as an independent consultant to various entertainment companies in Australia, Rubin is keynote speaker at Music Exchange ? billed as South Africa?s first independent music conference. From contract discussions to the age of digital delivery and beyond, the conference aims to give budding musicians, singers, songwriters, promoters and anyone else involved in the industry an insight into the workings of the business.
Before heading to South Africa, Rubin answered a few questions:
Which internationally acclaimed bands have you worked with?
Dire Straits, Neil Diamond, Annie Lennox and Eurythmics, Kiss, Santana, Christina Aguilera, TLC, Whitney Houston, Nirvana, Teenage Fan Club, Take That, Westlife, Kenny G, Yanni, Dave Matthews, Toni Braxton, P Diddy, Snap, Dido, Sarah McLachlan, Roxy Music, Pink, Foo Fighters, John Denver? basically every major band or artist with Polygram from 1975 to 1982 and BMG/Sony/BMG from 1988 to 2006, including artists with Geffen and MCA.
In what capacity did you work with these bands?
As Head of Marketing/Managing Director in New Zealand and Australia for Polygram/BMG and then as BMG VP Marketing Asia Pacific (seven years) and BMG/Sony BMG SVP International (five years).
Regarding your work in the music industry, what is the biggest mistake you have ever made and what did you learn from it?
It is impossible not to make mistakes. You are working in a qualitative business. You are dealing with people first and foremost and having the ability to be honest with your artists and their managers and work together is the most important thing I learned.
Of which achievement are you most proud?
Selling over one million units of Yanni in Asia Pacific; 1.5 million units of TLC in Japan; and 10 million units of Elvis Presley's 'No 1's' album worldwide, excluding the USA. Also breaking Westlife in the Asia Pacific region before they were a hit anywhere else outside of the UK.
In a nutshell, what are the primary requirements needed by a young band who want to enjoy a successful music career?
Courage, balanced ambition, creativity, and perseverance in a very competitive world.
Who is your favourite SA band at the moment and why?
I am not that familiar with SA current bands but in principle the talent pool of the rainbow nation is very exciting and must have potential.
In your opinion, what is the significance of something like Music Exchange to the South African music industry?
It's all about the exchange of ideas and the opening up of opportunities and contacts to any persons that are interested in pursuing a role in the music industry as a career whether they be musicians, managers, marketers or involved in any associated businesses.
Overall, what needs to happen to the South African music industry in order for it to make more inroads into the international market?
There is not any one answer. They key to international markets in my opinion is to leverage contacts in appropriate markets and work the act with local support. The act must be prepared to do the ground work at the bottom level in an overseas market to build a following.
Which specific area of the music industry will you be discussing at Music Exchange and what benefits do you expect to be gained by your audience?
I have been asked to do a keynote speech and chose 'Its all about the Music' ? the world of music is a complete mass of facts, figures, and a fair bit of doom and gloom from a financial sense. All the experts have yet to find any one answer. My role is to try and give the attendees an overview of the business and some food for thought and reason to be positive.
> For more info on Music Exchange, happening in Cape Town on 19 and 20 March, visit the official website.