If you’re planning on asking music legend Danny Goldberg a question at Thursday’s ACM@UCO Master Class, he’d prefer it if you refer to what he does as working in the music “business” and not the music “industry.”
“‘Music industry’ is not a phrase I can relate to. It’s a business. It’s music businesses, plural,” he said, adding that while the record business itself is permanently damaged thanks to illegal downloads, other endeavors — such as touring, merchandising and, to a lesser extent, songwriting — continue to flourish.
As for the Master Class itself, Goldberg has no idea what he’ll say, but believes its free-form format will definitely give listeners a deeper understanding of the music business.
“I’m sure it’ll be some kind of combination of talking about what I’ve done in the music business over the last view decades and what I think is the playing field going forward. I’ll try to answer without making a fool out of myself,” he said. “I’m just glad I have anything to talk about that people are interested in. I’m 62 now — I started in the music business when I was 18 — so I like sharing my knowledge to people who want to hear it.”
Now president of the GoldVE music management firm, his current client roster includes The Hives, Old 97’s, The Cranberries, Tom Morello and Steve Earle. In addition, Goldberg also has managed the careers of the Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth and, most famously, Nirvana.
“Nirvana was in a category all their own, one of the most iconic rock bands of all time,” he said. “I was lucky enough to work with them at the moment of their breakthrough. I am eternally grateful I got to work with Kurt Cobain for a few years, and I miss him every day.”
Way before Nirvana, Goldberg carved a niche for himself in the 1970s as vice president of Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song vanity label.
“They were the first big name artist I worked with,” he said. “I was their publicist, worked for their label and I still find that gives me a certain caché with Zeppelin fans, and I’m just so grateful for that.”
As for the future of the industry — er, business — and Oklahoma’s role in it, Goldberg said that nothing has changed the face of finding new talent and artists more than technology.
“It’s certainly a time when, because of the digital world, that geographical clustering — which was so dominant for decades in places like Los Angeles, Nashville and New York — is less hegemonic,” he said. “There’s more chances for people who are brilliant and talented and hardworking to do well living in other places like Oklahoma. Incredibly successful people can come from anywhere now, including Oklahoma.”
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