Don’t you love it when things come full circle?
Sitting atop the same stage that members of Music Dealers’ independent artist community have performed on, the A&R legend Seymour Stein shared his experiences of signing artists like the Ramones and Madonna when they were emerging, indie artists themselves. Interviewed by host of Dynasty Podcasts Jaime Black, Seymour discussed the rich details of his illustrious life, and even spoke one-on-one with our A&R interns after his interview.
Talk about full circle.
“Music is like a river: it’s good to know where it’s flowed before,” explained Seymour, cofounder of Sire Records and VP of Warner Bros. Records. “I came up to Billboard when I was 13 and did a lot of research on what was going on in the ‘40s and in the ‘50s. Then I realized by just looking out the window that it’s great that I’m doing this [research], but it’s what’s going on right there in front of me, out there in the streets, that matters. Rock ‘n’ roll was exploding.”
Being “out there in the streets” has been a strong influence in Seymour’s history as a music man, according to a 2013 press statement that announced he would be aiding in identifying emerging independent labels and artists for WMG’s Alternative Distribution Alliance.
“Technically, I’ve not been an indie since Sire joined Warner back in the late ‘70s, but that indie spirit has always been very much in my heart, soul and mind,” Stein said in the statement. “To me, being an indie is being out there in the streets.”
“Not to brag, but I’ve had to be ahead of my time, too. I almost had to be, because I never was working with a whole lot of money. I had to sign artists with a very small amount of money,” said Seymour during the MD office interview. “So I sought out the indies and started working with them. You don’t know where you’re going to find things. So I started hanging out with the indies.”
With our roots dug firmly in the hustle of the up-and-comer, the MD staff agreed wholeheartedly with Seymour’s indie dogma. In fact, following the interview, Music Dealers founder/president Eric Sheinkop and creative director Jessie LaBelle listened with Seymour to some of the emerging artists of the MD community, some of whom are becoming local legends in Chicago because of their indie talent.
“I love Chicago. It’s vibrant, and it’s always been about music,” said Seymour. “Chicago is the repository of blues. It’s almost like a sacred thing. This is a great music city. It’s ****ing amazing. It still is, and always will be.”
The day after his visit to our office, Chicago’s Lake FX Summit + Expo highlighted Seymour as the conference’s music keynote of the weekend, during which the legend addressed an eager crowd of creative up-and-comers and independent artists. Once again, bringing it full circle.
By: Zach Miller, Music Dealers