Kevin Harewood Interview

Kevin Harewood been in the entertainment industry for over 25 years. Starting as New York Market College Promotion Rep of A&M Records while in college, he quickly made his way at A&M records Sales and Marketing Department.  From his hard work he found promotions to Executive positions at Arista Records, Hush Productions/Orpheus Records, William Morris Agency and Correct Records/Grindstone Entertainment. He worked during this time with such artists like Freddie Jackson, Najee, Force MD's, Chris Rock, Vanessa Williams, Kashif and Martin Lawrence.

His company Edclectic Entertainment is a multi-tiered company that focuses on Distribution, Marketing, Management, Film Production. The Distribution arm of his company has assisted many artists in the Indie Soul community like Marlon Saunders, Gordon Chambers, Rhonda Thomas, Ola Onabule, and others. The Marketing arm of his company works with labels and artists such as Virgin, Three Keys, A440, Giant Step, Donnie, Les Nubians, Alyson Williams, Dome and Hil St. Soul, to name a few. The Management arm currently manages Jimmy Sommers, Steve Wallace and advises Gordon Chambers among other artists. The Film Production arm produced with Lock and Roll Productions the documentary "25 Strong - A Film about Basketball" and currently in production with the film "Am I Black Enough 4 You," which will feature comedian AJ Jamal. Kevin Harewood is the author of the book "Make Your Move" a guide to releasing your music independently which was released November of 2006.

TP: What was your first job/break in the Music Business?

KH:   For me I think it is important to talk about two situations.  First I worked as a rock Music DJ then music director at progressive rock DJ at then highly respected college radio station WBCR at Brooklyn College City University of New York.  While in school I got a position at The New York area market College Promotion Representative for A&M Records.

TP: How did that first job help you prepare for the other Music Industry positions you've held?                                                                  

KH:  WBCR though a college station remains one of the most effectively run radio stations I have ever been in.  Among the folks who were their when I was there were Daniel Glass who later became President of EMI Records, David Levine who now is The Producer of CNN's Showbiz tonight, Scott Herman who is Vice President of CBS Radio Lloyd Jassin who is a one of the most prominent book publishing attorneys in the nation and others.  It wasn't your normal college radio country club we took it very seriously.  I became the first African American to hold a management position there in programming and/or music.  At A&M I helped promote everything from Supertramp, Peter Frampton, Cat Stevens, Garland Jeffreys, Herb Alpert, Hugh Masakela, Ornette Coleman, LTD,Brothers Johnson and others.  Those experiences helped me be able to implement campaigns in a variety of niches.  It also helped me to be able to see how to move from those niches to a more mainstream success area.

TP: When did you start feeling the downfall or downsizing of the Major Record Labels?

KH: For me it wasn't so much feeling the downfall or downsizing of Major Record Labels it was more seeing that smaller leaner operations were really the places where things were happening in the music business.  From the mid to late eighties through the early nineties I began seeing smaller boutique labels, management companies and production companies like Rush Productions, Sub Pop, Uptown, Big Beat, Roadrunner as well as the Hush Productions company of which I was VP/GM as the places where the music and artist developing was really happening.  Artists such as Nirvana, Freddie Jackson, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Heavy D and The Boys, Poison and others.  These smaller places did the work and then the major labels became like banks that rolled in and swooped them up.  It showed me that the major labels had a lot of fat and much of what was happening there was not about the development of artists or music.

TP: How does the downsizing of the Major Labels now help Indie Artists get their music out to the masses?

KH:  I am not sure if the downsizing of Major Labels helps Indie artist get there music to the masses.  If the artists and their teams don't do the due diligence and the work it won't help them at all.  I do however know that today's technological advances help indie artists.  Digital technology has made it easier and cheaper to make recordings and it has made it easier on some levels to reach people to tell them about it.  The Indies still have to do much work though

TP: Of course this leads to the Indie Artists doing all the leg work?

KH:  Indie artists and their teams.  Many Indie artists spend all their time and resources making their records. They often start out with limited knowledge and resources needed to get their music out there.  It is important for the artists to put together teams that can help them in their outreach.

TP: How do the services that you provide, help Indie Artists in getting their sound out there?

 KH: We provide services that help artists and Indie labels reach the marketplace via campaigns that can include retail distribution, non traditional radio, commercial radio, budgeting, operations and publicity. We can essentially perform all of the services of a record label except art design and we can out source that component for you also.

TP: When did the idea come about for the book you put out last year "Make Your Move"? I thank you for this book, because it opens the eyes to a lot of  artist responsibility, broken down and explained thoroughly. Do you have any other books in the works?

KH:  Thank you for your good words about my book.  In my consulting business I would often come across artists who had made great music but were frustrated in their efforts to get their music into the marketplace.  I wrote the book in hopes it could help trigger proactive ideas to aid them in their outreach and organization.  I wanted to demystify the process and show that they can succeed even though they are independent. I am also a former journalist so writing is in my blood. I contributed an essay to a book called "Family Affair" that is coming out in January on Agate Press. I am working on other books but at present none involve the music business.

TP: How do you juggle so many hats within your company umbrella?

KH:  I have been fortunate that I have had good mentors and developed a strong entertainment industry foundation.  I have had the experience of being a part helping to build a company such as Hush Productions/Orpheus Records (as VP/GM) from a small management based beginning with two artists and five people working to a multi tiered company that included a record company, a management company, a top rated music publishing company, and a Film Production Company that was the biggest African American owned management based company of the period.  That experience gave me the opportunity to be active in a a lot of different but related disciplines.  I also had that while I worked at The William Morris Agency.  Those experiences prepared me for what I am doing today

TP: I love the documentary "25 Strong - A Basketball Film - A Film about Life", how did that piece of work come to fruition? Are you working on any new films?

KH:  I am finishing up shooting and getting ready to go to post production on a comedic documentary "Am I Black Enough 4 You? That features comedian AJ Jamal as well as comedian Buddy Lewis and Atlanta based newcomer Denise Meck.  We also have the rights to shoot a film based on the book "Not in My Family".  This book is put together by acclaimed journalist Gil Robertson and takes a look at the HIV/AIDS epidemic effect here in black communities of The United States.

TP: You work with so many artists in many capacities, do you feel you are helping these artists and meeting their needs? Do you educate these artists as to what they need to bring to the table to help you open doors for them?

KH:  I like to believe that I am helping artists meet their needs.  The hope that the fact that I have been involved with multiple projects with artists such as Marlon Saunders, Julie Dexter, Conya Doss, Jimmy Sommers and a few others shows that at least some feel I am helping them.  I do try to make it clear as possible as to what we have to do and where we are trying to go.

TP: You've heard the sound of music industry start off with live instruments to being dependant upon electronic technology for quite some time. We are starting to hear many artists mixing both live and electronic together with success. Do you hear more live music coming back to the forefront on recording going forward?

KH:  I try not to be a musical snob like that.  I like creativity in all forms.  If someone makes great music with computers I am cool with that and if someone make great music with live instruments I am down with that also

TP: How does your company assist artists in the Distribution of their music?

KH: We have a network of wholesalers and distributors we work with to get product into the marketplace.  We also have a small but tight network of retail accounts we deal with directly.

TP: How does the Marketing arm of your company assist artists? Do you often link up with other Marketing and PR people in different parts of the World to assist with artists?

KH:  We always look at the individuality of the particular project and tailor a program for that project.  We write out a plan and a budget. If needed we do subcontract other consultants.   If the Indie or artists goes for it we move forward.  In terms of other parts of the world we do reach out for other territories if contracted to do so.

TP: Where would you like to see the growth of EDclectic Entertainment in the next 5 years?

KH:  The main thing I would like to see with EDclectic Entertainment is the further development of intellectual projects that are both financially successful and have socio- political importance.  Music is very important by itself and is very important to our film projects.  We do contracted film and video work.  We have done work in that regards for organizations such as The American Lung Association, The Links of Greater New York, The Upsouth International Book Festival and recently got our first work with The NAACP.  I would like to do much more of this type of work.  It means being creative and having fun with work that can really help folks enhance their lives.

TP: Name some artists that you've worked with over the last few years that have made an impact on you?

KH:  I like winning personalities.  When I worked with Chris Rock early in his career you could see he was a winning personality.  Freddie Jackson is a winning personality.  Recently I've worked with Gordon Chambers, Marlon Saunders and Jimmy Sommers all  have different but winning personalities.  Even more recently I have worked with newcomer April Hill and acclaimed background singer Vivian Sessoms (who is moving into the front ground with her group Albright).  They both have winning personalities

TP: Name the last 3 artists that you either downloaded their music or purchased their CD's?

KH: Only three?  Being that so many artists are friends of mine I get some of my favorite music for freeJ.  I bought Lupe Fiasco though.  I think folks slept on Vikter Duplaix's Bold and Beautiful.  I love Angela Johnson's A Woman's Touch.  Being that you have asked questions about my work in other disciplines I will mention two titles in other areas.  Kevin Powell's new book "The Black Male Handbook" is a very powerful book and should be read by men and women.  I also recently bought the DVD for Caveh Zahadi's film "I Am a Sex Addict".  It is a low budget new age "Annie Hall" and it is hilarious.

By Tom Paul