The direction I received for this blog article was “anything goes” and “keep it fun,” so my background story will knock off 2 birds with 1 stone: a blog post that hopefully will not bore readers to death, and a therapeutic time-lapse review for me… 😉 Sorry it’s a bit long, but I am 105 years old…
My weird music industry story:
My name is Jimmy Landry and I am a functioning work-aholic, wait, wait… I mean I am Head of Artist and Public Relations for Cakewalk. I have thankfully been working for Cakewalk for almost 6 years now (hard to believe). I have had an interesting career up to this point where I have toggled back in forth from being an artist (signing with EMI back in 2000) to actually working for Major Labels in Radio Promotion, Marketing, A&R and Staff Production (Elektra, Virgin and Capitol Records). I have been a musician since the age of 5 when I picked up my sister’s purple-flowered acoustic guitar she left behind while attending college (– thankfully there are no pictures I know of playing THAT thing 😉
I’m originally from Concord, NH but then moved to Maine when I was 12, so technically I am a Mainer at heart (please ask me to do my Maine accent for you which I gladly will do anytime 😉 In Maine, besides playing in a rock band, I did what most Maine kids do – PLAYED A LOT OF HOCKEY. I went to a great school in Maine called Yarmouth and was fortunate enough to have a coach that guided me onto the Maine All-State Hockey player list, but also got us a Championship in my senior year. That coach taught me a lot of things on the ice, but the things he taught our team off the ice about respect and aspiring to be a class-act went farther. I still play in a beer-league here outside of NYC once a week, but I am finding the older you get the later the games are, because no one cares about you any more… haaaa
Starting in the business working for Elektra Records:
During the tail end of college in Maine, I received a life changing call from a band I knew in New York City that quickly needed a guitar player for a European tour opening for Korn and Primus. I was on a bus the next morning and basically never looked back. After the tour I joined the band and never returned to Maine. While playing in this band, I was lucky enough to land a temporary position at the front desk of Elektra Records at 75 Rockefeller Plaza for 2 weeks, and after that I was hooked on the business side of the music-coin. I’ll never forget seeing Busta-Rhymes, Moby, Third Eye Blind, Tracy Chapman and others walking through the front door after I hit the buzzer to let them in. I saw all the busy executives conversing and meeting with managers and such and at that point I realized that the folks behind the scenes where the master puppeteers.
After the two week stint at the front desk, I was offered a 2-month position as an assistant in Radio Promotion which put me into the action. That job turned into a permanent job where I then climbed the ladder through the Marketing department and finally ended up in A&R with an office overlooking St. Patrick’s Cathedral somehow – and at still a pretty young age. At that point, my time was becoming an issue and I had to make the choice between artistry and a real career, so I parted with the band (I think I was actually thrown out – haa). Of course as fate would have it, that band ended up getting a record deal with Columbia Records and touring the world (Splender), so watching that progression gave me the itch again to still write and record which is what I did.
At that time I had started making a bit of money, so I was able to pick up something brand new and totally cutting edge at the time – a DIGITAL 8 track. I bought the Fostex DMT – 8, learned it, and started writing new songs and recording in my office on off-hours on the 17th floor of Rockefeller Plaza with another friend and musician I knew from Maine Shawn Tooley. This eventually ended up in full blown tracking sessions in the conference room (including drums) between the hours of 10pm to 5am to make a demo (I would actually pay the night security guys in Elektra Records CD’s to let me make noise through the night). Back then, a good demo was a good demo and this one landed in the hands of David Ehrlich who eventually offered us a Major Label deal with an EMI label.
Another hard decision to make:
How often are you going to be offered a Major Label deal in your life? So I left Elektra and the business world to give it another whirl on the artist side where I toured extensively all over the US and even back to Europe. I specifically remember sometimes going to sleep on hotel floors thinking of my office in Rockefeller Plaza saying to myself “what the #@$% were you thinking” 😉 When working at the label I was in meetings dealing with bands who were battling it out on the road, now I was right there in that frame of mind. But looking back now I would not trade-in any of those memories of the days when we were signed. We made a great record at Long View Farm and The Bath House in Canada with Producer Dale Penner, but as fate would have it one more time, we were dropped faster than we were signed a year and half after the ink had dried due to Presidential musical chairs at the label.
The good news for me was that I was able to soak up all the knowledge like a sponge from being signed and making that record in real-deal studios. I analyzed and watched every single progression of the recording and mixing process and by the end of the cycle; I knew I could make records. The next logical progression after being dropped was to start working with some up-and-coming bands which I did – and one of the first artists I worked with had a Major Label deal on the table within 2 months of me mixing it; so I knew I had a skill that I could cultivate. That band and recording caught the eye and ear the president of Capitol/Virgin Records at the time who then offered me a position of A&R/Staff Producer which I gladly accepted. In that period of time I was fortunate to collaborate with some amazing producers, mixers and songwriters which enabled me to get a taste of how things on that level should sound.
Cakewalk – an easy decision to make:
After working for Virgin and Capitol Records for about 4 years, the problems in the Major Label system were very evident to me, and things were not the same as my last run at Elektra (don’t get me going on this or if you do, prepare your ear to fall off). I knew it was just a matter of time before the parent company EMI was either going to be sold off or shut down, so I got my resume together and got it out there. Oddly enough I got a call from a head-hunter who had a very specific set of questions for me which eventually ended in many phone interviews and a visit to Boston with Cakewalk. With a baby on the way, and after meeting some ridiculously smart and friendly people at Cakewalk, this decision was not as difficult as the ones noted above, and I accept the role of Artist Relations for Cakewalk in December of 2009.
Some (not that anyone cares) random info:
- I have an amazing family life with my beautiful wife and 5 year old little guy Mack (who is aspiring to be president of Cakewalk as shown here in Michael Hoover’s office.
- The best thing that ever happened to me was becoming a dad.
- I am a hack at a bunch of different instruments and am thankful for SONAR so I can make myself sound good.
- I sometimes still moonlight making music for Film and TV, Mixing and anything else that does not take time away from Cakewalk and my family. (This is from a movie I scored recently that comes out in the spring. After I wrote the title song (played/wrote/mixed everything in SONAR X3) they asked to shoot me as the specimen, I agreed so that my little dude could see his old man making music in a studio… haaa)
- My band “back in the day” opened up for Van Halen in Philadelphia in 1996 and I got to meet Eddie finally. We played to about 350 people since we were the first band out of 4 – THAT’S the way it goes 😉
- My cell phone # got published somehow a few years back on an A&R list for Capitol Records, so I get about 8 calls a month still from people thinking there are actually still record deals to be had.
- While working at Elektra in the marketing dept., I was fortunate enough to work very closely with some great artists such as Motley Crue, Tracy Chapman, Moby, Natalie Cole and Phish among others.
- Favorite time on stage: 1.) Brussels Belgium opening for Primus, 2.) Going back to Concord NH opening for LFO, 3.) Montana State University with an outdoor stage facing the mountains
- Best musical purchase: Yamaha PM-1000 racked preamps out of Nashville (from the 70’s) The PM-1000 board was Yamaha’s attempt at a Neve 1073. If you see one buy it!
- This is my favorite photo of my son because it never fails to make me laugh.
- I am very thankful every day to be working here with great people at Cakewalk and still have the opportunity to work in music – I don’t know anything else, and I don’t think I will be called up by the Bruins anytime soon;)
Thanks for reading