Remember when there was music on MTV? Not only were videos new and cool, but the music that accompanied them was new and cool. As a 12-year-old, I thought it was about the coolest thing that had ever been invented. Now I check in occasionally to see if Real Worlder Ruthie’s finally been put in rehab. If I had digital cable, I’d get MTV2, which is a little bit like what MTV was 20 years ago. But I don’t.
I do get some 90 channels, though. I’m surprised not one of them does a decent job of introducing me to new music (Channel 4 does a great job of showing live local music, but as the local music writer, it’s not introducing me to much).
Dan Crewe feels my pain. A long-time producer and agent in the music biz, and ex-husband to roots-rocker Cindy Bullens, Crewe knows what the industry once was, what it is today, and what it stands to become. He got in somewhere in “1961 or so,” building a production company with brother Bob, who wrote songs for and produced the Four Seasons and is himself in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Dan Crewe’s the first one ever to get a royalty from managing a mixing engineer, and he moved here to Maine about 15 years ago to build Gateway Mastering. That’s right, he sold it to Bob Ludwig, the man who routinely brings the Boss and other music luminaries to town.
“I was in the business when it was fun and predictable,” says Crewe from his new High Street office. “But I haven’t enjoyed it for a while. ... The companies don’t do what they used to do for artists.” He remembers when mastering meant making sure the music could make it onto the limited grooves of an LP. Before lawyers ran labels. Back when label heads listened to A&R guys more and accountants less.
Now the tightly cropped and youthful industry veteran is looking to get back to working with, and staying with, artists for the long haul. His newest venture is Publik Music, an on-demand television service that would be accessed through your digital cable box. Just like you can call up the latest Sopranos episode any time you’d like, you’d be able to call up (for free) intimate video bios and music videos for independent career musicians.
Like Cindy Bullens, for instance. Crewe’s business partner Patrick Tourville shot a video once with Bullens, and essentially came up with the idea for teaming with Time Warner on a new-music video service. Time Warner isn’t a partner with Publik Music, and doesn’t even require exclusivity, but has supplied the distribution method for Crewe and company (daughter Reid is also on board).
At the end of each “program,” a www.publikmusic.com message comes up, telling you where to download the songs for 99 cents, download the album for $14.99, or have a hard-copy sent to you. There’ll be a toll-free number, too, for you Luddites.