CURRENT ONLINE

Monica Mancini

PBS Records to deliver Monica Mancini CD and pledge show in December

Originally published in Current, Oct. 12, 1998

PBS Records will release its debut album Monica Mancini on Nov. 17 [1998]; a few weeks later, a complementary pledge special, "Monica Mancini ... On Record," will premiere on PBS stations.

[The label's second release will be the soundtrack album of the forthcoming multipart documentary An American Love Story, PBS said in January 1999.]

Mancini, whom PBS introduced as its first recording artist during the June public TV annual meeting, is the daughter of the late composer Henry Mancini. On the album, Mancini performs new arrangements of her father's music, including a duet with Johnny Mathis. Gregg Field, Mancini's husband, produced the record, which features arrangements by Patrick Williams.

The Dec. 7 fundraising special will mix songs performed in the recording studio and before an audience at UCLA's Royce Hall. In addition, celebrities close to the Mancini family--such as Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, and Andy Williams--appear in "touching interviews," according to a PBS release.

Mancini, a vocalist who has collaborated on various musical projects with the likes of Quincy Jones, Placido Domingo, Michael Jackson and Dolly Parton, came to be PBS Records' first artist after deciding with her producer/drummer husband to launch a solo career with the album, according to Outeda. A series of showbiz connections led Mancini to Warner Brothers, PBS's partner in its custom record label, and an executive there suggested that Outeda and Mancini talk.

Outeda attended a recording session, and "the minute I heard her sing, I thought, 'This is perfect.'" He describes Mancini as a "quintessential PBS" artist because of the "purity of the way she sings" and the "timeless" nature of her material.

Outeda gears up to begin PBS Records releases this fall

Originally published in Current, March 2, 1998

By Steve Behrens

"We hope the next Yanni, whoever he or she may be, is on PBS Records," says Tony Outeda, summing up the strategy behind the fledgling label he will run for PBS and its partner Warner Bros. Records.

Outeda, who has managed such acts as the blues rock band Foghat and the late folk singer Laura Nyro, was named president of PBS Records on Feb. 17.

Tony Outeda"The whole purpose of this is to keep some of the revenue that public television already has been generating for record companies for years now," he told Current.

Great Performances' musical documentary that paired violinist Itzhak Perlman with klezmer music led to the sale of 200,000 copies of an EMI Angel album, Outeda observes. "Riverdance," "Les Miserables in Concert" and concerts with Fleetwood Mac, John Tesh, Yanni and The Eagles also have done well for various labels.

At the same time, the partnership will inject new money into PBS's musical content. As part of its contribution, Warner Bros. will fund two performance specials a year during the five-year contract period.

And PBS Records will be able to put money into other national programs to upgrade their music, Outeda says. Music is often the part of a production that gets shortchanged when budgets are tight, he explains.

Within days after his appointment was announced, he had already contacted a number of producers. Outeda talked, for instance, with Beth Hager at WITF, Harrisburg, about the bio of composer Stephen Foster that she is co-producing with Randall MacLowery.

She was glad to hear that she might get help in hiring an arranger and possibly singers, Hager told Current. The PBS Records deal "is a perfect marriage for a project like this," she says.

Outeda, whose office will be located at Warner Bros. in Burbank, tried out the Stephen Foster idea on Warner Bros. execs, and it turns out they had always wanted to do an album of contemporary artists singing Foster songs. Indeed, singer Don Henley had wanted to do one, he learned.

He has also talked with producers of a barbershop harmony special, a Pablo Picasso portrait (accompanied on Spanish guitar) and a documentary on lighthouses.

"My view of this is we will have to be developing numerous projects, and out of that, 'X' amount of them will actually come to life," Outeda says.

Since companion albums should be issued when programs are on the air, he says, PBS Records will be "playing catch-up ball," trying to develop records to go with August pledge specials and fall 1998 series.

"At this point," comments Ann Blakey, PBS v.p. of licensing and distribution, "we maybe suffer from having too many possibilities instead of too few."

Releasing the disc near airdate helps pick up on the viewers' emotional connection with the TV program. "Isn't it interesting that the classical score for Titanic may become one of the biggest scores ever?" Outeda observes.

Of course, that phenomenon is well known to pubcasters, who boost their pledge revenues by dispensing related CDs and videotapes as pledge premiums during and after the broadcast. Indeed, many PBS Records releases will be available to serve as premiums, according to Blakey.

Outeda's initiative

Outeda came to PBS with the idea for PBS Records in 1996, Blakey says, and later helped bring in Creative Artists Agency, the big Hollywood agency that advised PBS in signing the deal with Warner Bros. Universal Records also had been a suitor for the PBS deal, Variety reported. PBS announced its exploratory deal with CAA in July 1997, the deal with Warner Bros. on Jan. 8 and Outeda's appointment on Feb. 17.

PBS already had a parallel home-video deal and a separate record deal with other branches of the Time Warner colossus, but those arrangements were coincidental, according to Blakey. Warner Home Video had taken over Turner Home Entertainment's role in PBS Home Video when Time Warner absorbed Turner. And five classical music CDs--each a two-disc compilation of a performer's stand-out selections--have been issued on the PBS label by Time-Life Music for direct-mail sales, Blakey says.

The PBS Home Video deal with Warner was structured quite differently, she notes: PBS gives Warner a license to use the PBS Home Video logo and assists in acquiring rights in exchange for royalties on videocassettes. Also, the video deal with Warner largely covers retail sales, letting PBS run its own video catalog.

In contrast, the record deal is "more of a joint venture," Blakey says. PBS and Warner split revenues 50-50 after Warner recoups its costs--"a pretty darn good deal," she comments. In a limited number of cases, Warner will put up all the cost of a program. In other cases, it will put money into a production budget to upgrade the soundtrack and acquire rights. PBS also can acquire rights without Warner's help and put out discs.

In the jargon of the recording industry, Outeda says, PBS Records will be a "custom label"--a joint venture between a major record company and an outside interest. And Warner is certainly major; it's part of the Warner/Elektra/Atlantic combine that is the largest record company on Earth. Sizeable labels like Geffen, Island and Chrysalis got their start as custom labels and later went independent when contracts expired.

The PBS Records staff will be small--just Outeda and a couple of assistants, he says--but he'll be able to tap the expertise of Warner's specialists in artist-and-repertoire, sales, manufacturing and so on. With his experience as an artist manager, he has learned something of all of these specialties.

"From his days as a top-notch artist manager, Tony's dedication and boundless enthusiasm have been hallmarks of his career," said Warner Bros. Records Vice Chairman David Altschul in a press release. "PBS Records is a venture with extraordinary possibilities, and Tony Outeda is a man of real vision. That's a perfect combination."

Outeda began managing bands in New York in the 1960s, and through connections at Columbia Records began repping British bands including the Cyrkle and then the Beatles, working with famed manager Brian Epstein. He booked big bands for a while and then had a 12-year run with Foghat. He was Laura Nyro's manager for her last album, in 1993.

He wants to protect the PBS brand that is now one of his greatest assets--and someday convince retailers to set up special sections for PBS discs.

"One of the things we believe is that the PBS brand is special, that it has a special value and people are drawn to it," he says. "What we don't want to do is to make the mistake of forcing anything. Doing it right is going to be a real priority."


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