Randy Jackson Randy Jackson, one of entertainment’s most influential representatives, is back for American Idol 5. Randy has been casted one of the most predominant impacters on the industry due to his vast knowledge and experience. He is a Grammy Award winning producer with twenty-years music industry experience with a resume that includes working with Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, *NSYNC, Madonna, Elton John, Destiny’s Child and many more. He also contributed his talent by working on over one thousand gold and multi-platinum albums and has helped to sell over 200 million albums worldwide. For many years, Randy has worked as the VP of A&R at Columbia Records and Senior VP of A&R at MCA Records. Now, being part of history as a panelist on America’s favorite television program “American Idol”, Randy can help America fulfill their dreams with the correct guidance. Randy blesses WHO?MAG with an interview that is a sheds light for anyone trying to break into the music industry.
Interview by Gary Jackson
WHO?MAG: Randy, what’s life like outside of “American Idol?” Randy Jackson: I’m writing songs for an artist and a side project called Great Wide Mouth. We’ve got about ten or twelve songs for a cool, vibe-y project, like the Roots meets Portishead, but it still has choruses. It’s not for the money; it’s a fun offshoot project: If it makes money, great, if it doesn’t-whatever. I never got into music for the money; I got into music ’cause I love it and had the passion to become the best that I could be as a musician, a producer and as a writer. I really bought into the title of Donny Hathaway’s album “Extensions of A Man.” I took it literally, trying to expand my life and do other things; keep things moving.
WHO?MAG: How did you get into A&R? Randy Jackson: I knew David Kahane, a producer up in the Bay Area. He had a lot of success with Romeo Void, Translator and a whole bunch of bands in the Area. I’d worked on some records, and we became friends. He helped to form 415 Records, which had distribution through Columbia. Then David moved to L.A. and took a job as Columbia’s A&R guy. When I moved from San Francisco to L.A., I met with David and talked about things I was doing. He asked, “Hey man, have you ever thought about getting into A&R, because you seem to have a pretty good business sense, along with being a talented musician.” I said I didn’t want to get into A&R because I always hated A&R people. I always blamed them for the bad music that’s on the radio. I still kinda feel that way (laughs)! We need to make better records and sign more stars. I ain’t one to preach. It’s a very tough, serious job being an A&R person. To all my A&R brethren out there, I know your pain.
WHO?MAG: What’s your take on the state of record label morale? Randy Jackson: What surprises me is, you can walk into any label today, and there are very few people who are happy. It’s the most unharmonious place that’s supposed to have passion and creativity going on that I’ve ever seen. You could offer anybody in a label ten or 20 grand more than they’re making, and they’d walk out that day. That’s how much they love what they’re doing. That’s how crazy it is, and that’s how little creativity is going on also.
WHO?MAG: Isn’t that what the atmosphere in today’s music business feels like? Randy Jackson: I was talking with somebody the other day, who said, “This is a terrible time in the music business.” I said, “Listen, it’s a terrible time, but you know what? It’s also the best time for the real artist to come out. If you’re hot, and you’re saying something else, wave your hand and say, “Yo!” Now is the time for the real artist to emerge. I actually love this time. You may find some career artist that will help to see the next ten years.