How does an up and coming independent record company take on the major labels in the all important battle for radio airplay while still finding its own niche in the ever more competitive markets of contemporary and mainstream jazz? This was one of the burning questions that I put to recording artist and President and CEO of Newport Pacific Records Larry White when I talked to him recently.
Newport Pacific Records was previously the vehicle for Larry’s own releases, the most recent of which, ‘Unsolicited Material’, was one of the triumphs of 2004. With a wealth of original material to draw from he is already working on his next release. It’s due out in June yet, in addition to the time that recording and performing takes up, he still finds the capacity to develop new artists. He cites the satisfaction he gains from getting recognition for talented hard working musicians as one of his main motivations for cultivating Newport Pacific Records.
When asked what has been the biggest single challenge to getting the label off the ground Larry does not have to think too long. “With three or four major labels seeming to monopolize the airwaves getting airplay has been an issue, but”, he continues, “we are making inroads. There is also a growing segment of independent radio and its here where we are competing and winning. In fact we are making up ground every day and there certainly appears to be strength in numbers. As we expand our catalog of artists, we seem to make more headway.”
In fact he sees the ability to attract and develop talented artists who have polished their craft as the key element in the ultimate success of Newport Pacific Records. “It's difficult,” Larry explains, “but we are finding artists by word of mouth, ‘artist to artist’, and its happening. We are also working with the music schools, such as Berklee, as well as the studios where a lot of great projects have been recorded. It helps,” he adds, “that we are appealing to talented performers of all ages.”
In developing artists that are categororized by their perseverance as well as their talent Newport Pacific Records is making a conscious attempt to ‘bring back the music’ and redress the balance of what Larry sees as the legacy of MTV. “Everything became about the look of the artist,” Larry explains. “The vocals could be ‘fixed’ in the studio. Many of the truly talented people didn't have the right look and were shut out. By today's standards, we would not have room for an Aretha Franklin or an Ella Fitzgerald.”
Looking forward three years Larry White would like Newport Pacific Records to be synonymous with quality recordings and quality artists. With an ever increasing roster that focuses on performers from the various complexions of the jazz genre, chances are that time is on his side.