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Top artist manager Danny Goldberg gives master class at ACM@UCO
Goldberg's first client was New York punk/R&B band Mink Deville.
“(They) were really a terrific band. The lead singer, Willy DeVille, passed away a few years ago. He had a widely publicized drug problem at the time that undercut his ability to be as successful as his talent would've predicted. But they were still a cool band. They toured with Elvis Costello and they came up … He was just really a great singer and had a love a certain aspect of rock culture and was able to fuse kind of his love for the Drifters with a punk-rock sensibility, and so they were the first people I actually managed. But it took me a while to get any good at it.”
However, Goldberg eventually became very good at managing talent, to which his resume plainly attests. But don't ask him to pick his favorite clients.
“I try to be enthusiastic about anybody I manage. It's kind of almost like a code,” he said. “I hate to, it's almost like choosing among family members who you love the most.
“Historically there was no question that the artist that I managed that had the greatest impact was Nirvana. You know, there's just no question about the unique talent, commercial success and cultural impact of that band.
“I was very proud that I managed Bonnie Raitt when she did her sort of comeback and won all the Grammys including Album of the year. And among my current clients, I just love all of them. The one I started the company with, the first client I had at this company, GoldVE, was Steve Earle, who I'd previously worked with at Artemus Records. He and I have worked together now between those two roles for more than a dozen years, so that's the longest I've ever worked with anybody. So those are three that I could justify singling out.”
As for keeping up with the trends in the music industry, Goldberg said it's all a matter of staying aware and flexible.
“The biggest change that I've had to weather is, personally, getting older. That is the biggest challenge is to stay connected with the musical culture and to stay motivated, alive, energetic, respectful, contemporary. That's the single biggest problem I have, and that would be true no matter what era it was.
“The decline of the record business, financially, obviously has effected everybody in it and we all have learned the new math, and you have to do things cheaper and you have to focus more on touring and you've got to understand the fragmentation of the media in general, of not only record companies, even things like MTV and radio stations don't have the same impact they used to have, because it's become dozens of different things. You know, blogs and social networks as well as the old media, in order to reach an audience.
“And those are challenging, but I'm sure it was really challenging for people who grew up in the big band era to deal with the rock 'n' roll era and so on and so forth. I find that if you're in touch with the music that audiences like, you can make a good living and if you get lucky you can make a very, very, very good living. The hardest thing for me is to stay culturally aware as the years go by. The external changes, you just have to learn, be open, adjust based on conditions.”