Check out last year's incredible list of guests here in the HANDBOOK. Details for this year's event will be posted closer to the date.
Our 32nd Annual Music Conference September 7-9, 2012 Here's some of the information in no particular order:
DOUG JOHNSON: Whether it’s behind the pen as the writer of record-breaking hits like the recent Billboard “Song of the Year,” Love Like Crazy (Lee Brice) or the CMA and ACM “Song of the Year,” Three Wooden Crosses, (Randy Travis), at the console as the producer of artists like Lee Brice, Hank Jr., Clay Walker and Michael Montgomery, or behind the desk helming an A&R department, Doug Johnson knows his way around a hit. Throughout his 30-plus year career as a songwriter, Johnson has had over 100 cuts, including 7 Number One Hits and 10 Top 10’s by everyone from Bertie Higgins and Alicia Bridges to George Strait, Rascal Flatts, Trace Adkins, Wynonna and Kenny Rogers, among others. Johnson recently made history when he broke a country music record with new artist Lee Brice with the hit, Love Like Crazy, which spent an amazing 56 weeks on the charts.
His production credits are equally notable as well: as VP/A&R for Epic Records in the early 90’s, he oversaw the careers of Patty Loveless, Collin Raye, Doug Stone, Joe Diffie, Ty Herndon, the Sons of the Desert and many others. He later moved to Giant Records as President, where he guided the careers of Clay Walker, The Wilkinsons, Blake Shelton, Joe Nichols and Neal McCoy among others.
Following his time at Epic Records, Johnson lead the A&R department of Curb Records, whose roster included Tim McGraw, Leann Rimes, Wynonna, Rodney Atkins Lee Brice, Clay Walker and Heidi Newfield, among others. In 2011, Doug Johnson joined the team at Black River Entertainment as the V.P. of A&R and is currently working on the upcoming albums of Craig Morgan, Glen Templeton, Due West and Sarah Darling.
Over the past three decades Johnson has carved out impressive niches in all aspects of the business as an engineer, mixer, musician, producer and top executive, but it’s his passion for creating a well-crafted song that continues to inspire and motivate him with an energy and enthusiasm that is unparalleled in this business. “By far my greatest love is the song. Everything else is an attempt to powerfully capture and express the song in its truest sense to get it to the listener. I’ve been fortunate to be involved in several different aspects of the music business but if I could only do one, it would definitely be songwriting,” says Johnson, “Every other job I’ve had means absolutely nothing without a great song.”
SPENCER DAY: Born in Utah, raised in rural Arizona, currently living in New York City, Day has called many places home. Along the way, he has wandered amid the expansive and diverse landscape of American music, developing an artistic sensibility that borrows from numerous sources. Jazz, musical theater, cabaret, soul, folk, traditional pop and contemporary pop are just the tip of the iceberg. Day uses intuition and improvisation as his primary tools to craft a sound that is traditional and familiar, yet fresh and innovative at the same time, creating a blend too subtle to parse into neatly defined categories. Day has performed all over the world at venues as prestigious as the Hollywood Bowl as well as headlining a show in London’s West End for which he also wrote some of the music. Vagabond, his last release and his first on Concord Jazz, cements his reputation as a balladeer for the new century whose creative voice is distilled from the best elements of the previous one. The album’s single, “Till You Come To Me,” stayed in the top 10 of the Billboard Jazz Charts for 27 weeks and was the #2 Billboard jazz song of the year.
JEROME SPENCE: Jerome Spence started his music career in 1998 with an internship at RCA Records in the A&R department. While at RCA, he worked on albums for artists such as Tyrese, SWV, and Kevon Edmunds. Within 8 months Jerome was offered a position at Arista Records as a coordinator in the Soundtracks department. This is where his love for the licensing of music to Film & Television began. While there, he licensed the music of artists such as Santana, Sarah McLaughlin, TLC, Usher, Toni Braxton, Notorious BIG, Run DMC, Pink, and Outkast.
Over the last 10+ years, Jerome has licensed music to every major television network and film studio. His success spawned his creation of Grace Soul Music representing artists, producers and songwriters for Film & TV placements in Media. Under Grace Soul Music, Jerome also Executive Produced music for music libraries and oversaw the score of Film Trailers.
In 2011 Jerome closed the doors to Grace Soul Music and joined the peermusic family as their Creative Director of Film & TV. He’s now responsible for pitching the music of iconic songwriters such as Buddy Holly, Hoagy Carmichael, Donovan, David Foster, Tricky Stewart, Esther Dean, Tyrese and most recently the band Dead Sara.
Founded by Ralph S. Peer in 1928, peermusic is the world’s largest global independent publishing company and operates 35 offices in 28 countries. With well over a quarter of a million titles in the company’s catalogue, and songs that vary from country, blues, jazz and pop to Latin, concert and rock ‘n’ roll, peermusic is the largest privately owned company of its kind in the world.
LISA JOHNSON - Vice President Creative (Nashville) Lisa Johnson joined Razor & Tie from her company Sweet Renegade Music, which she founded in 2006. From 2002 to 2006 Johnson was Vice President of Publishing at Create Real Music/Little House Music. She was also Vice President of Publishing at Still Working Music (Orbison Productions) from 2000 to 2002. Lisa began her career at Sony Records in 1992. From 1994-1997 she was coordinator for Columbia Records A&R and worked with such artists as the Dixie Chicks, Montgomery Gentry and Chet Atkins. She began her publishing career in 1997 becoming a song plugger at Sony ATV-Tree. Johnson has had songs recorded by a roster of artists including Reba McEntire, Hank Jr., George Strait, Jimmy Buffet, Jake Owen, Brooks and Dunn, Keith Urban, Rachel Procter, Ronnie Dunn, Trick Pony, Randy Travis, Julie Roberts, Rodney Atkins, Tracy Byrd, Clay Walker, Edens Edge, Lucy Evans, Jesse James and Carrie Underwood. Johnson was responsible for publishing and pitching "Before He Cheats," Underwood's most successful single to date and 2008 Grammy winning Country Song Of The Year.
Most recent successes at Razor and Tie include Jake Owen's two week #1 ALONE WITH YOU, the current top ten single on Jana Kramer, WHY YOU WANNA, and American Idol's Phillip Phillips first single HOME.
RYAN GAINES: Ryan has worked in music supervision for several years on over 30 films, ranging from major motion picture releases to independent art-house films and documentaries. Until mid 2012, Ryan worked for 5 years in the music department at Walt Disney Studios (Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, and formerly Miramax Films). He worked with such iconic artists as Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Daft Punk in addition to new and upcoming talent. He was also part of the creative team that earned a 2012 Academy Award for Best Original Song from the blockbuster film The Muppets.
Beginning his career with a film degree from California State University, Northridge, Ryan first gained a solid foundation in the production process at Miramax Film Corp. He then worked for several years at a boutique production company as the right hand to an accomplished film producer. It was at this point that Ryan decided to marry his two favorite interests (film and music) by transitioning to the Film & Television division of the legendary record label Island Def Jam, leading him to Disney a year later. Ryan is now Partner and Head of Film Music for the newly launched licensing and supervision company Platform Music Group.
GRAHAM HOWES: Professional videographer, social media manager, and web trend analyst – Graham Howes has crafted and executed online marketing campaigns for clients including Roberta Flack, Hiroshima, Maria Muldaur, KCSM Jazz 91, Jason Miles (Keyboardist for Miles Davis), Pamela Rose, Tina Malia and many more.Graham is incredibly active in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he has consulted numerous artists on social media best practices, digital content development, and audience engagement strategies."Graham is that unique talent that blends youth--a profound knowledge of Facebook and social media--with a real passion for music and art on all levels. Add to this his multi-media talents and amiable nature and you have an invaluable asset to any music or arts media pursuit. Trust me."- Dan Kuramoto, Hiroshima
ADAM LEVENSON: Talent Agent Adam Levenson launched Levenson Artists Agency in 2011, a boutique talent agency representing composers and sound designers working in visual media. Levenson has two decades of experience in video game development having contributed to dozens of hit games as a talent manager, audio director, music director, and sound designer. Prior to LAA, Mr. Levenson served as Senior Director of Audio and Talent at Activision and has held audio director roles at Atari, Electronic Arts, and Interplay Entertainment. Adam has a Bachelors of Music in Percussion Performance from Boston University and a Masters of Fine Arts in Music from the California Institute of the Arts. His credentials include certificates in Audio Engineering and C++ programming. Adam is currently a J.D. candidate at Loyola Law School.
MASON COOPER: President of Songrunner Entertainment, brings a multifaceted background to his services as a Music Supervisor. With over two decades experience as a music publisher, music supervisor and songwriter/producer, he has represented the catalogues and talent of Bernie Taupin, John Lennon, Jim Croce, George Michael, Rick Wakeman, and Stevie Wonder, and has written and produced music for television and film, including the themes to CBS’s Major Dad, FOX’s Glory Days and NBC’s Sister Kate. As a Music Supervisor, Cooper brings his creativity and legal/business affairs training to his projects, which include: Warner’s DVD release of the series “Witchblade,” MGM’s feature films “All’s Faire in Love” (starring Christina Ricci, Cedric the Entertainer) and “Deal” (starring Burt Reynolds, Jennifer Tilley), Sony’s “The Prince and The Pauper” (starring Dylan and Cole Sprouse), Phase 4 Film’s “Lucky” (starring Colin Hanks, Ann-Margret), the Sean Faris action film “Freerunner” and the recently completed Dennis Quaid thriller “Beneath The Darkness.” Cooper’s current projects include “Raging Bull II,” a supernatural thriller “The Blessing” (starring Milo Ventigmila) and a prison/redemption drama “Jamesy Boy” (starring James Woods and Ving Rhames). In addition to music supervising his films, Cooper’s creativity also helps him directly fulfill his projects’ music needs, including writing or producing music with Dennis Quaid, Kay Panabaker, Christopher Massey, Bret Michaels and Weezer’s Brian Bell.
DEBBIE ZAVITSON: Her illustrious music career has taken her all over the world as a performer, writer, publisher, song-plugger, A&R Director, and Artist Manager. At Giant Records, Debbie signed and managed Multi-Platinum recording artist Blake Shelton. She was responsible for his 5-week #1 single “Austin”, and for securing lucrative endorsement ventures with Wrangler and Ford. Debbie also signed The Wilkinsons, who made chart history with the highest entry by a debut single.
At Sony Music, Debbie discovered and signed The Kinleys, whose historic debut single "Please" garnered a Grammy nomination and led to an ACM best group or duo award in 1998. She even co-wrote their top 10 single "Just Between You and Me". Also while at Sony, Debbie was responsible for finding hit songs for Patty Loveless ("You Don’t Even Know Who I Am", "She Drew A Broken Heart", "I Try To Think About Elvis"), and Collin Raye ("On The Verge", "That's My Story", "I Think About You", and "Corner Of The Heart").
As part-owner and operator of Zavitson Music Group, Debbie handled every aspect of the publishing company, and secured song placements for Reba McEntire, Chris Young, Josh Turner, Rodney Atkins, and Thompson Square. From entertaining our troops overseas, to running a business on Nashville’s Music Row, to working side by side with some of Country Music’s biggest stars, Debbie Zavitson has been a powerful force in the Entertainment world.
SCOTT MATHEWS: Multi Platinum selling music producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, performer, executive and entrepreneur. Has contributed to the sales of more than twenty million units sold worldwide. Thirty-five years of top 10 hits in Pop, Adult Contemporary, Alternative Rock, R & B, Country, AAA and Dance genres. First platinum success in 1977 with five million units sold (Barbra Streisand/Sony Music - songwriter, performer) and most recent hit in 2012 with the Billboard #1 Dance Chart for two weeks (Blush/Far West Ent. - Executive Producer). Artists (A-Z): The Beach Boys, Clint Black, Blush, Lamont Dozier, David Bowie, Zac Brown, Jimmy Buffett, Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, Ry Cooder, Robert Cray, David Crosby, Snoop Dogg, Chris Isaak, Michael Jackson, Jerry Garcia, Billy Gibbons, Sammy Hagar, George Harrison, John Hiatt, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Mick Jagger, Patti Labelle, Steve Miller, Van Morrison, Graham Nash, Aaron Neville, Roy Orbison, Steve Perry, Bonnie Raitt, Joey Ramone, Keith Richards, Todd Rundgren, Carlos Santana, Joe Satriani, Boz Scaggs, Ringo Starr, Barbra Streisand, Allen Toussaint, Joe Walsh, Bob Weir, Brian Wilson, Bobby Womack, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Neil Young.
Participated in numerous Oscar and GRAMMY winning and nominated projects from 1975 - 2009
MARCUS BARONE: Motion Picture Executive in Charge of Music and Music Supervision in Los Angeles, California. In 1992, he became Director of Music and Supervisor at Motion Picture Corp. of America(Columbia / Tristar) in Los Angeles, working on over 35 feature films within seven years. Besides his creative input and a full worldwide knowledge of music catalogs and artists, his duties included licensing, publishing, legal contracts and soundtracks. He was appointed Executive in Charge of Music at Orion Pictures in 1998.
Today Marcus operates Film Music Group /First International Pictures and just finished supervising Decoding Annie Parker starring Samantha Morton and Helen Hunt and directed by Academy Award winner Steven Bernstein ("Monster" "Like Water Like Chocolate"). The subject is breast cancer and how two women, one a victim the other a genetic research scientist, battle for answers. Bay area musicians Larry Potts, Ian Crombie and Robert Berry contributed to the soundtrack.
He is also a BMI composer and songwriter as well as a studio musician. (Keyboards, digital Pro Tools and Logic technologies). His music publishers are MGM Pictures Music, Sony Pictures Entertainment Music and Famous Music (Paramount). Recently he performed and won 4 Gold and Platinum Awards for the band "Lifehouse". He also performed on the "Matt Nathanson" album. Both artists are on Universal Records.
CLIFF GOLDMACHER: In the music business for over twenty years, Cliff Goldmacher is a songwriter, producer, engineer, author and owner of recording studios in Nashville, Tennessee and Sonoma, California. A multi-instrumentalist, Cliff has recorded, played on and produced thousands of demos for major and independent publishers, brand new songwriters and Grammy winners. .
Cliff has worked as a staff songwriter for a major Nashville publisher and his songwriting collaborators include multi-platinum selling artists Chris Barron (Lead singer of the Spin Doctors), Grateful Dead drummer, Mickey Hart, Lisa Loeb and Ke$ha. Cliff’s songs have been cut by major label artists in genres ranging from country, pop and jazz to classical crossover. His music has also been used on NPR’s “This American Life” and in national advertising campaigns. In 2010, Cliff's song "Till You Come To Me" spent 27 weeks in the top ten on Billboard Magazine's jazz chart and finished as the Mediabase #1 and Billboard #2 jazz song of the year. In 2011, Cliff contributed a song on the #3 Billboard jazz album and another song as the opening number for a musical on London’s famous West End..
As an educator, Cliff teaches workshops for BMI, ASCAP, The Songwriter’s Guild of America and the Nashville Songwriter’s Association International, Taxi and The Durango Songwriter’s Expo. Cliff is also a freelance journalist contributing articles to EQ, Recording and ProSound News magazines along with numerous music websites and blogs. Cliff’s eBook “The Songwriter’s Guide To Recording Professional Demos,” has sold over 5,000 copies
BONITA ALLEN: began her career in the music business in the early 1980’s as an assistant in the writer/publisher relations department at BMI in her hometown of Los Angeles. She moved on from there to manage the recording studios at MCA Music publishing where Robbie Nevil, Glen Ballard, and Sturken and Rogers recorded demos of some of their biggest hits.
In 1989, she moved to Nashville and became a song plugger eventually landing as Director of Creative Services for Bluewater Music Publishing. Bonita is now Director of Creative for Flying Island Entertainment/Open Road Music in Nashville – home to Gwen Sebastian and Ty Herndon.
CHRIS AUSTRIA: Chris Austria is the Director of Music Licensing for Independent Distribution Collective (IDC), a music distribution and licensing company in San Francisco. Austria is responsible for developing the music catalogue, composing tracks, and placing music in TV, Film, and video games. Austria has licensed music to Universal Pictures, Dreamworks Animation, Sony Pictures TV, Electronic Arts, and TV episodes on NBC Universal’s Oxygen network, E! Entertainment, and the USA network. Austria also works with the Atrium Music Group, pitching their catalogue for TV & Film. Aside from music, he has been a tiger and lion trainer for many years and has conducted numerous filmings with the big cats on National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and he has been featured on NightLine and The Early Show on CBS.
DAN HODGES: Dan Hodges Music, LLC is a music publishing and consulting firm operating on Music Row in Nashville. DHM seeks to build music careers, in conjunction with its clients, through the development and networking of its songwriters and the music publishers and catalogs it represents. Since inception in April of 2008, DHM has had the 2008 ASCAP Country Song of the Year ("Good Directions" recorded by Billy Currington) and also had songs recorded by Brad Paisley (Sony), Chris Young (Sony), Clay Walker(Curb), Josh Kelley(Universal), Craig Campbell (Atlantic), Lee Brice (Curb), Michael Sarver(Dream), Christy McDonald (Curb), Blake Wise (Broken Bow), Tracy Byrd, Marie Osmond, Jason Jones (Warner), The Harters (Bigger Picture) and 3 cuts internationally with Dianna Corcoran's 4 week #1 Country Single of the Year for 2010 in Australia "Thank You For Cheatin' On Me", a single on Swedish pop artists The Gentlemen ("When We Danced") and the single by International singer, Bec Lavelle in Australia and Europe ("Breakthrough Away"). Most recent singles in the United States Country market that DHM either publishes or is responsible for helping place for their clients are; Josh Kelley's Top 15 "Georgia Clay", The Harter's "If I Run", Lee Brice's Top 30 "Beautiful Every Time", Blake Wise's "I've Got This Feeling", Josh Kelley's "Gone Like That" and Jason Jones "Ferris Wheel". So far in 2012, DHM secured 2 cuts for it's plugging clients Lisa Hentrich and Anchor Down (Drew Smith) on Broken Bow Records artist Randy Houser for his upcoming release. Faith Hill has also recorded DHM/Magic Mustang Co-published song "Boy" for her upcoming Warner Brothers release.
MICHAEL & PATTY SILVERSHER: Three-time Emmy nominated and Grammy-winning team Michael & Patty Silversher began West Coast Songwriters in their living room in 1978, when it was called the South Bay Songwriters Association (SBSA), then Northern California Songwriters (NCSA). They've had a successful career in alternative music markets with an emphasis on children's music during the past thirty years, most notably with Disney (at least a hundred songs, including the TV themes for "Disney's Gummi Bears and Tale Spin and park parades, such as Donald Duck's 50th Birthday in 1984), and the Jim Henson, Company. They currently have two series on the air-Dinosaur Trainon PBS, for which they create the background score; and Pajanimalson both NBC and Sprout, where they act as music supervisors as well as writing the songs and the score. In addition, Michael's show, Knuffle Bunny:A Cautionary Musical, just completed two successful American tours after a sold-out opening at the Kennedy Center in 2009concluding this last March with three performances in Bahrain!
STEVE SESKIN is a successful songwriter who has written seven number one songs, including Grammy-nominated “Grown Men Don’t Cry,” recorded by Tim McGraw, and “Don’t Laugh at Me,” winner of NSAI Song of the Year and Music Row Magazine Song of the Year in 1999 as recorded by Mark Wills. His other #1 hits are “No Doubt About It” and “For a Change,” both recorded by Neal McCoy, “No Man’s Land” and “If You’ve Got Love,” both recorded by John Michael Montgomery, and “Daddy’s Money,” recorded by Ricochet. Other chart toppers include “I Think About You,” recorded by Collin Raye, and “All I Need To Know,” recorded by Kenny Chesney. The video for Raye’s “I Think About You” single was named the Academy of Country Music’s Video of the Year in 1997, and the song and video were also given an award by the Tennessee Task Force Against Domestic Violence. Recent recordings of his songs include “Pictures,” by John Michael Montgomery, “We Shook Hands,” by Tebey, and “I’ll Always Be There For You,” by Brian McComas.
ANDRE PESSIS - Hit songwriter Andre Pessis has written sixteen worldwide hit songs with over 100 songs recorded on over twenty million records. He started out as the lead singer in The Flying Circus. Since then, his songs have been recorded by Journey, Huey Lewis and the News, Bonnie Raitt (for which she received three Grammys), Mr. Big, Tim McGraw, Waylon Jennings, Southern Pacific, the Dead, RatDog, Pieces of a Dream, Clint Eastwood, Glenn Medeiros, and Eric Martin and the Stylistics. Among his TV and film credits, Andre has songs featured on “Grey Gardens,” which received six Emmys and two Golden Globes and on Jim Carrey’s new movie I Love You Phillip Morris. He also wrote the theme song on Sony Japan’s new movie Napoli In Love and the theme song for the CBS primetime show “There Goes the Neighborhood,” and has eight songs on Sony Japan’s “Mr. Vocalist 3.” Producer, studio owner and engineer Andre Pessis also teaches songwriting at the university level, as well as for WCS. He served as president of the San Francisco Chapter of NARAS and as a board governor for eleven years.
STEVEN MEMEL - Memel is an internationally acclaimed voice, speech and vocal performance coach and lecturer. He maintains a private practice in Los Angeles where he works with clients from all areas of the arts. Speaking voices he has trained include celebrated professionals from film, television, voice-overs and Broadway. Singing clients include artists who have recorded and performed for labels such as Sony, BMG, Jive, J Records, DreamWorks, Atlantic and Epic and E.A.R. Music. Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5 says of Memel: “I worked with him long before anyone had heard of Maroon 5. But I didn’t even know how good he was until recently. Since we’ve had a number one hit, we’ve been touring nonstop, And anyone that knows our music knows the extremes of range I have to deal with, so my voice must be in top condition to make it through. He gave me the tools I need to keep it together in a high-stakes environment.”
NED HEARN - Attorney, author and president emeritus of WCS. Edward (Ned) R. Hearn has an intellectual property business law practice concentrating on the entertainment, Internet, and computer software businesses. Clients include: record labels, music publishers, recording artists, writers, authors, producers, production companies, managers, software designers, multimedia product and website developers, and music and content digital delivery companies. A partial listing of past and present clients include: Wyndham Hill Records/BMG, Concord Jazz, Music For Little People, Monarch Records/Sugo Music and Design, Gourd Music, Maggie’s Music, Ubiquity Recordings, Starbucks/Hear Music, Kanematsu/Xringer, Hudson Entertainment, Wells Fargo Creative Services, Ray Lynch, Will Ackerman, Tim Weisberg, Joe Satriani, and Green Day. In addition Hearn is a member and serves on the board of directors of California Lawyers for the Arts and is co-author of Musician’s Guide to Copyright and The Musician’s Business and Legal Guide.
TODD BRABEC is co-author of MUSIC, MONEY, AND SUCCESS: The Insider’s Guide To Making Money In The Music Industry (Schirmer Trade Books/Music Sales) and is an adjunct associate professor at the USC Thornton School of Music where he teaches a course on music publishing, licensing of music and film, television and videogame song contracts. Formerly executive vice president for the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) where he was in charge of all of the Society’s membership operations throughout the world, Brabec is the current budget chair, as well as former division chair for the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries. A graduate of New York University School of Law, he lectures extensively on all aspects of the business, legal and financial sides of music in the US and abroad.
JEFF BRABEC - An entertainment law attorney and former recording artist, Brabec is vice president of business affairs for the Chrysalis Music Group. He has negotiated over 1,000 movie, television, video and commercial agreements and hundreds of publishing agreements for chart writers and writer/recording artists. Brabec is the co-author with his brother Todd of the book MUSIC, MONEY, AND SUCCESS: The Insider’s Guide To Making Money In The Music Industry (Schirmer Trade Books/Music Sales) and has been awarded the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music journalism. Brabec is an adjunct professor at USC Thornton School of Music/Business Division and contributing editor to the Entertainment Law & Finance Magazine. He has written numerous articles about the music industry, which have appeared in major publications