He was semi-established. He had a Japanese manager at one point, and recorded a CD there. He had been doing things on a local level at some of the clubs and performing at weddings. I took it from there, and got him into the Cotton Club in Tokyo. He was the premier foreign performer at that venue; he actually helped open it up.
When I was able to get that for him, it made me feel like, “Oh, maybe this is something I can do!” Then I got him a couple of tours with Japanese artists Anri and Ai. As a manager, you want to be able to take your clients a level up, and not make them stagnant. Once I felt I could do that, I suggested to K.D. that we get out of Japan and get to America. So, we moved here in 2007 to prepare to launch his CD.
Has the stateside experience been very different than the Japanese one?
Yes. Life is different; but the money is not. We haven’t really made any money. I hate to announce that, but people need to know the reality of it. In Los Angeles, which is a very difficult place to launch a singing career, there’s a lot of competition. People are fickle all over. Musicians are hard to get and keep together. You’ve gotta have cash. K.D. is an artist who requires a band; he’s not self-contained. So, that part is a challenge.
With the venues here, it’s pay-to-play. Any time I want to expose my artist to an audience, I have to pay the venue. I have to sell a set amount of tickets at a certain price. Sometimes, I have to make a deposit in order to get him in the venue, so that they can make money off of him. For example, I might have to pay them $300, then take the 30 tickets which are $10 apiece, and bring in that many people.
There may be one club out of a thousand that doesn’t ask that. This really frustrated me, so much that. not too long ago, I established a show called “Ambrosia Be-bop,” which we did in Little Tokyo. We had a monthly concert spotlighting artists that we felt truly represented the music industry well, in performance and vocal technique. We didn’t charge them anything to do it. They just would come in, and I was handling the business side. Because of the cost to myself, I wasn’t able to keep it going longer than six months. But I hope to start it again at some point in the fall.