USA Today: 5 Questions For Music Label Icon Clive Davis
June 1, 2009 at 6:45 AM (PT)
TODAY's (6/1) USA TODAY gives great ink to industry icon CLIVE DAVIS, writing "Don't tell SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT Chief Creative Officer CLIVE DAVIS that pop music is a young person's game. At 77, the executive who became a member of THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME after signing legendary hitmakers including JANIS JOPLIN, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, CARLOS SANTANA, BILLY JOEL, AEROSMITH and WHITNEY HOUSTON is still hitting high notes. He scored recently with albums from AMERICAN IDOL veterans JENNIFER HUDSON and KELLY CLARKSON. Now he's gearing up for this year's widely anticipated comeback albums from HOUSTON and HARRY CONNICK JR."
Radio is still the leading force of determining what songs and artists break through.
Q: You've handled some of the biggest hit albums from AMERICAN IDOL. How well will new winner KRIS ALLEN and runner-up ADAM LAMBERT do?
A: I'm not doing either of the two albums because my plate is full right now. The show creates a tremendous opportunity for the artist. A winner might sell 500,000 or maybe 700,000 albums as a souvenir. But it takes hit songs to reach the multimillions (in sales) that a CARRIE UNDERWOOD, KELLY CLARKSON or CHRIS DAUGHTRY have reached.
Q: Music sales have been falling for years as CDs fade faster than digital downloads have grown. Has the industry hit bottom?
A: It is a tough period. Sometimes you've got a product that's no longer of interest to the public. That's not true of music. Music is as vital a part of one's life today as it ever was. I would not say that this year or next will be up years (for sales). It will be a gradual turnaround.
Q: Has your view of what makes a star changed over the last 10 years?
A: I look for the same qualities as I looked for at the beginning of my career. If it's an interpretive performer like a WHITNEY HOUSTON, you're looking for the star quality, for the unusual nature of that voice. If you look (at a singer/songwriter) you are also looking at whether they can write hits.
Q: We've seen a decline in radio listening. Has the Internet taken its place to introduce an artist or song?
A: No. Radio is still the leading force of determining what songs and artists break through.
Q: Is popular music today as good as it was 10 or 20 years ago?
A: In music, similar to film, television and theater, there were golden eras. There was a revolution when my career began. It was a rock revolution. The 1960s, '70s and '80s -- that is our golden era. It's tougher now. We've got to get over the limitations of radio. They're programming to (age) 12 to 17, and it's very difficult to get around that. It's pretty well dominated by the continuing hip-hop revolution. So it is more difficult today. I'm always looking for the great song. That has been the criterion.