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To a chorus of skeptics who insisted they would soon be back, Cliff Chenfeld and Craig Balsam left big firm practice in 1989 with the unlikeliest of future plans: to begin a direct mail business selling nostalgic compilations of ’70s pop music through television commercials. Ten years later, they are still at it. Building on the success of their “’70s Preservation Society,” the pair’s company, christened Razor & Tie Music to commemorate the two things they would no longer need, has expanded into ’80s and even ’90s hit collections and reissues from a wide range of artists. And their initial success has allowed them to start a highly regarded independent record label. Chenfeld and Balsam met in the mid-’80s during law school at New York University. Discovering a common passion for music, the pair became fast friends. After graduation, a clerkship and a year at Sullivan & Cromwell, Chenfeld had misgivings. Balsam, at Robinson Silverman Pearce Aronsohn & Berman, was becoming restless. In 1989, they quit their firms. “I don’t think either of us liked the law enough, and to make a change was sort of liberating,” Chenfeld explained. With about $25,000 each in savings, the two men set up shop in the living room of Chenfeld’s second-floor apartment above a New York City laundromat. Eventually their hard work paid off. The 1990 album, called “Those Fabulous ’70s,” sold more than 100,000 copies and grossed $2.25 million.

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