Hit makers

By Andrew Lee

Although they never played in the high school orchestra or in jazz bands, their love of another genre of music led a handful of alumna to professionally pursue the executive side of music industry.

Four have Artist and Repertoire positions at record labels. A&Rs are recognized as the gatekeepers between the record label and artists. The job of the A&R position is to scout and develop artists and producers. They also handle production deals, find songwriters, develop new talent and schedule recording sessions.

Gary Ashley, former vice president of MCA Records and head of A&R, signed and developed a long list of legendary acts including Kylie Minogue, Blink-182, New Found Glory and Sublime. His advice to those who want executive jobs at record labels is to study business in college.

“For all these young talents getting into the A&R and executive side of the industry, it’s important to learn the trades of business instead of music particularly first,” said Ashley. “You need 100 percent dedication when making connections, doing internships  and getting immersed in the music trade.” Ashley said that picking and developing a specialty in music is the best window for success.

Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen Records, is the head honcho above the labels that Joe Weinberger ’00 and Harley Wertheimer ’03 work at.

“The key is to be near the thing you love or the thing you’re most passionate about,” Iovine said. “So take a job anywhere that’s related to music, whether it be for a local promoter or a booking agent or a record company, dig in, and work harder than the next guy.”

Joe Weinberger ’00

Joe Weinberger ’00, commonly known by his nickname “3H”, is the music man credited with finding some of the current biggest rap artists: 50 Cent, Kanye West, Daddy Yankee and Soulja Boy.

“I was just in contact with all the right people,” Weinberger said. He produced Eminem’s first shows in 1998, and in the proximity of all these successful shows, Weinberger gained credibility and an early reputation. In 1999, an executive at Capitol Records offered Weinberger a job after one of his Eminem shows.

He accepted the deal and was an A&R at Capitol while still attending high school.

At 19, he was the first to propose signing Kanye West to Capitol Records. In the 11th hour, the capitol executive was skeptical of young Weinberger’s decision and dropped Kanye West’s deal.
Despite the rejection, Weinberger was able to orgaznize a deal with Roc-A-Fella Records. Kanye West went on to selling millions of albums and became one of the biggest names in hip-hop music.

“It made me feel good about my instincts and I was deemed the credibility of a young kid with a golden ear,” said Weinberger.

He left Capitol and went to Interscope,  where he signed Daddy Yankee, Soulja Boy and Charles Hamilton. He helped sign and develop rap artist 50 Cent in 2003. Soulja Boy’s smash hit single “Crank Dat” spent six weeks at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. He is now CEO and the primary A&R source of his own record label HHH Records, distributed under Interscope Geffen Records.

“If you have an opportunity, a second chance isn’t always promised, keep your mouth shut, because too may people put their hands up before they have the right answer,” Weinberger said. “If you’re wrong, you’re fired.”

Rob Inadomi ’03

Rob Inadomi ’03 works in the A&R Administration Department at RCA Music Group, a division of Sony BMG.  He oversees the studio recording process for their artists.

“I played in bands while at Harvard-Westlake and knew that a job in the music industry matched my skill set,” Inadomi said.  He graduated from the inaugural class of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at NYU where he honed skills in production and music business practice.  

Juba Lee ’03

Juba Lee ’03 left his post as an A&R at Capitol Records a year ago and now runs his own full music production label JUB Records. Lee develops artists, producers and songwriters and breaks them into the mainstream marketplace, while consulting various major label imprints and entertainment companies both in the U.S. and Asia.

On a production level Lee has assisted in producing and placing songs for Lloyd, Usher, Danity Kane and Jaheim among many others.

Lee was initially drawn to the industry while pursuing endeavors in dance during high school. He was signed as a recording artist at JYP Entertainment, a major record label in Korea.

While Lee was training to release as an artist he felt that he wanted to shift gears and focus on the executive side of entertainment.

“My talent in predicting trends and taking the helm of creative projects outweighed my talent as a performer,” Lee said.

Ben Lambert ’03

Ben Lambert works at Stones Throw Records, where he finds and develops new artists.
Lambert worked as an artist scout at Interscope for the past four years. At Interscope, he worked under Weinberger as an intern. 

 “I didn’t play instruments or anything,” Lambert said. “I was in chorus for a minute, but not really by choice.” He found that were no classes at high school that helped nurture and progress his love for producing hip-hop and pop music.

He was still able to find other creative outlets for his passion in music. He created mix CDs for his friends, rapped at assemblies and beat boxed at one-act festivals. At Stones Throw Records, Lambert is currently digitizing retro music libraries by mastering and storing them into computer databases.

Lambert was credited to setting up a record deal with rap artist Freddie Gibbs at Interscope Records in 2004. An important aspect to his job is “nurtureing and maintaining long relationships with his artists.” He was able to find Freddie Gibbs by surfing the internet.

Harley Wertheimer ’05

Harley Wertheimer ’05 works at Allido records, a small independent label under Interscope Records. Living in New York and attending NYU has made all of the difference in his music career for the past three years, Wertheimer said.

Wertheimer plays the role of a traditional A&R and also works as an assistant for Mark Ronson, the president of Allido Records.