Gary Ashley, Sr. VP of A&R for MCA, set aside some time for us to give our artists a taste of life from the other side of the demo.
BEHIND THE DEMOS, WITH GARY ASHLEY OF MCA
-interview by Jianda Johnson
MP3.com: So tell us what’s on the horizon for MCA.
GARY ASHLEY: It’s pretty straight ahead. Jimmy Iovine is the chairman—the head of MCA now, and he’s currently reviewing the roster. He’ll be appointed president within three months, and MCA will remain a standalone label. Will it be the same? Probably not quite.
MP3.com: What has this change involved for you?
GA: Sitting with Jimmy and playing music, and making him aware of the music that’s good. And that’s official. And there’s nothing really confidential about that.
MP3.com: How long have you been in the business?
GA: Far too many years! (LOL) Decades. I started with my own label in Australia in the 70s, called Mushroom Records. I did that until 1996, and then I was off at the position of Head of A&R at MCA Records, and started Mushroom in England.
MP3.com: What are some of your favorite success stories?
GA: Kylie Minogue, in her first run in the 80s. Also, we signed Garbage in the 80s, so we had a variety of successes.
MP3.com: What attracted you to the business?
GA: I started doing business not so much doing “deals,” but more on the marketing side of things. There came a time in our history where I decided, if someone doesn’t to A&R, we will be out of business. So, I started signing, and learning about A&R, and the process. From observing others, artists, people who made records, etc., I became aware of marketing and promo. It became second nature to me.
MP3.com: What makes a good A&R person?
GA: In the indie music world, you have to make records to survive. You have to have a musical opinion. You can’t just hire people. It’s more of a natural thing to me. I’m in the “A&R box,” so to speak, so I’m a little more restricted. I have an opinion and a sway, but it’s really up to me to deliver the records to feed the system.
MP3.com: What’s your take on file-sharing?
GA: The business is better. There are glimmers of hope. I feel more positive. The downloading businesses are finally starting to grow, and finally beginning. December was a good month.