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Kogod Alumnus Shares Insights into Record Biz

Visit draws crowd

 

“I’ll never forget the spring concert that we had to cancel,” recalls Andy Gershon, KSB/BSBA ’86, former executive VP at Sony BMG’s Epic Records. It still seems to bother him that the event did not go on as planned.

"Stevie Ray Vaughn, the Pretenders, and the Alarm were booked to play the old amphitheatre. We literally had to cancel it the day before the show because the campus would have been overrun by 20,000 people.”

This was one of Gershon’s earliest experiences with an industry that has no known playbook on how one breaks into it. What he did know, though, was that he loved music, and he really listened to it. So, organizing concerts on campus while serving as chair of the student union committee made sense. He also managed local bands while completing his degree at Kogod, never thinking for a moment that one day he would be overseeing the development of platinum-selling acts such as the Smashing Pumpkins, the White Stripes, Moby, and Ryan Adams.

“I never in a million years thought I could make a career out of it,” says Gershon. During a stop at AU’s Kogod School of Business for the panel presentation, "Sound Investments: How Music Shapes Our Lives," Gershon presented insight into popular music and the recording industry while sitting alongside National Symphony Orchestra music director Leonard Slatkin.

Making a career out of his passion for music is exactly what Gershon has achieved. “It’s true, it loses some of its mysticism and magic when you’re working in the industry, behind the scenes,” says Gershon. “But it’s what has made [life] more interesting…seeing where our culture is headed.”

After trying his hand at - and hating - investment banking following graduation, Gershon decided to go for it in the music industry by moving to L.A. and paying his dues. “My first job was sitting inside Capitol Records, photocopying all of the Beatles’ royalty statements that I could find on microfiche.”

It paid off. Gershon would go on to eventually discover the Smashing Pumpkins and form Outpost Recordings (a joint venture with Geffen) with Mark Williams and Scott Litt. After an 18-month sabbatical in Europe, he returned as president of V2 Records, making it the home of Josh Ritter, Moby, and others. He moved on to his current post at Epic during winter 2007, and today, he and his staff work toward a goal of finding great, well-rounded music and musicians.

“Music is so subjective, which is why I have a staff of people around me,” says Gershon.