Sarah Hudson is a singer/songwriter who will release her first record, Naked Truth, in July 2004. In this interview, she talks about the making of her album and how she is trying to distinguish herself from other female singer/songwriters. She also recounts the lessons she learned from watching her father, record producer and songwriter Mark Hudson, navigate the business. "My gut, since I've been like three years old, has always said I'm going to be successful in something that I do," she tells FRONTLINE. "Hopefully it's going to be this."
Sarah Hudson's first single was released to radio stations on May 3. Here, journalists Melinda Newman, Dave Marsh, Leonard J. Beer, and Jeff Leeds, plus Nic Harcourt, music director of KCRW and host of "Morning Becomes Eclectic" and Michael Guido, Sarah's attorney, analyze the challenges ahead and handicap Sarah's chances.
Joanna Ifrah is the vice president of A&R (artists and repertoire) for S-Curve Records. She explains to FRONTLINE what makes Sarah Hudson unique in a way that will allow her to break through. "There was something so inviting about Sarah to me," she says. "[She] was, I thought, the everygirl." Ifrah explains the importance of getting radio exposure for a new artist and how her team worked to develop a radio-friendly single for Sarah. She also argues that in the current environment of the music industry, developing artist loyalty is critical and describes why she believes Sarah's image will set her apart from other female singer/songwriters. "She's up against a lot and the odds are very slim," Ifrah admits. "But you know, I believe that she's got it. This is what I do, and I truly believe that she's got a hit song, I think she's got an unbelievable look, I think she's got crazy star quality."
David Simoné is Sarah Hudson's manager. He has also worked with Barry Manilow, Dionne Warwick, Ray Parker, Elton John, Bon Jovi, the Beastie Boys and Def Leppard. In this interview, he talks about Sarah's record deal and the importance of developing a hit single in the context of the music industry's current financial difficulties. "Seven or eight years ago, had a company wanted to sign a Sarah, she would probably have had a much bigger financial cushion than in this deal," he says. "The deal she has is a deal where she got a little bit of money to live on. But as I said earlier, the record took much longer to make, will take much longer to be successful than anyone thinks at the beginning, and she'll run out of money." SimonÈ admits that it will be hard for Sarah to break through. "The odds are against her in pure odds terms, statistical terms. But I have absolute belief that she will make it. Absolute belief. She's a star."
Here, you can read Sarah's bio and online journal, find out where she'll be making appearances and listen to four of the songs off Naked Truth on the "Sarah Hudson Player."
Duff McKagen (center) and Matt Sorum (second from right) are, respectively, the bassist and drummer for Velvet Revolver. They are also former members of Guns N' Roses. In this interview, they reflect on what it was like to be part of a successful rock 'n' roll band during the 1980s, and they comment on Velvet Revolver's prospects in a changed landscape. "I think there's a lot of groups right now, being put together by record companies, [with] songs written by other people for an artist," Duff tells FRONTLINE. "... They're just a product. They sell, they sell, they sell. They don't care about musical integrity, any of that kind of stuff. Well, we're a band. We write our own songs, we do our own thing."
RCA Records is betting heavily on the potential of Velvet Revolver -- a new rock band formed by former members of two hugely successful bands of the 1980s and 1990s -- Guns N' Roses and Stone Temple Pilots. But can this new "super group," whose first album is being released in June 2004, achieve the same level of success in a changed music industry? Discussing their prospects are journalists Melinda Newman, Leonard J. Beer, Jeff Leeds, and Dave Marsh, along with Nic Harcourt, the music director of KCRW and host of "Morning Becomes Eclectic."
David Codikow is the manager of Velvet Revolver. Here, he explains how the band got a record deal and discusses the buzz surrounding its launch. He says that Velvet Revolver will likely make most of its money through touring. " The global marketing excitement for this band is fantastic," he says. "They could probably sell out 3,000-seat venues across the United States, just on who they are without even hearing the music."
David Gottlieb was a senior vice president of marketing and artist development at RCA Music Group (Velvet Revolver's label) until late March 2003. He says Velvet Revolver will be RCA's "single most important release" in the first half of 2004 and "probably one of our two or three most important releases" for the entire year. In this interview, he describes how the music industry has grown since he entered it in the 1980s. "I think the year or two after I started working at the record label, as an industry, we put out 6,000 releases," he recalls. "I think last year it was about 35,000. So in 12, 14 years, it expanded 600 percent. The marketplace didn't expand 600 percent, just what we threw out into the marketplace." Gottlieb explains the challenges of trying to market Velvet Revolver in this changed landscape and the lengths to which RCA is going to keep Velvet Revolver's music from being illegally put on the Internet.
The band's official Web site features news, tour dates, and personal messages from lead singer Scott Weiland. The "Video Revolver" is updated with teaser videos from the band's first single, "Slither," and a download section offers audio and video clips in addition to photos, desktop wallpaper, e-cards and instant messenger buddy icons.