Q: You’re a devoted vinyl collector and an audiophile, with more than 1,500,000 records. Is there an album you have been trying to find for years that you still haven’t found?
A: mint copy of Tone Float, the only album by the German group Organisation, released in 1970. Two members of the band went on to found Kraftwerk – including Florian Schneider, who passed away just a few weeks ago.
Q: What has collecting vinyls and studying the hi-res medium taught you about the art and craft of A&R?
A: started collecting vinyl when it was still the dominant music format, and I’ve continued to be drawn to it for its superior sound quality. Listening to something on vinyl or hi-res can be a real revelation, because you’re hearing everything that’s actually on the original recording and everything that the artist and producer really intended. The enjoyment I get from vinyl or hi-res recordings led naturally to my pursuit of striving for sonic excellence in all our artists’ recordings.
Q: What key principles did you learn from starting your own label (In case you didn’t know, Craig started Big Beat records directly out of his bedroom) and being mentored by both Ahmet Ertegun and Doug Morris, that have allowed you to become a visionary executive?
A: Persistence and fearlessness were the keys to starting my own label. And, of course, hard work. I think my tens of thousands of listening hours provided me insight into what to look for when signing an artist and what to try to achieve when making a record. Ahmet and Doug were first and foremost passionate music fans who trusted their instincts and taste, and believed in the artists they signed and the music they recorded. What I learned from them is immeasurable.
Q: You’ve been at Atlantic for 29 years. What is it about Atlantic that keeps you here?
A: Atlantic is unlike any other label today. We can trace our lineage in an unbroken line right back to the beginning. Through all that time and all the changes in the business, the company has survived because we’ve never stopped evolving, adapting, and staying ahead of the curve. We have the most incredible staff in the business, the most amazing artists, and I honestly believe that the same independent, entrepreneurial spirit that drove Ahmet to start this company almost 75 years ago is hardwired into our DNA.
Q. Who was the artist that “got away” and you wished you had signed?
A: Drake. Not just because we knew he’d sell a lot of records, but because he’s the kind of visionary, game-changing artist that’s always been part of our culture. We offered a lot, but it wasn’t enough to close it. But that’s the way it’s always been in the business – you win some, you lose some – but the important thing is to stay in the game.