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It’s got to be more fun to work in the music industry than in other businesses, right? That was the assumption when Corporate Counsel decided to talk to top in-housers at the four major U.S.-based recording conglomerates. Though they laughed when asked if the music biz was glamorous, all admitted that they’re pretty satisfied with their jobs. Corporate Counsel also wanted to know what they thought about the product they help sell — are they fans themselves? The answer is a resounding yes. But given that these lawyers are all in their forties, their tastes showed some definite Big Chill generational preferences, ranging from The Beatles to Bruce Springsteen. And considering the fandom of two of the in-housers, Elvis Costello will probably never lack for a recording contract. LAVERNE EVANS Senior vice president-legal and business affairs and general counsel, BMG The New York-based music division of Bertelsmann AG includes the RCA and Arista labels. BMG also distributes Jive Records and is a partner in J Records with former Arista chief Clive Davis. How many attorneys are in your department? Ten in the corporate office, 50 in subsidiary labels and other divisions. Favorite song? “Get Here,” by Oleta Adams. Favorite musicians who are still recording? Elton John, Carlos Santana, and Van Morrison. First album that you bought? My grandfather owned a jukebox business, so for a while I got all his 45 singles for free. But the first album that I bought and really liked was Carole King’s “Tapestry.” I grew up in a house where music played a big part. My mom liked classical music. My dad was a big jazz fan and a talented vocalist — he had a great voice. My brother, when he grew up, sang with the Detroit Metropolitan Opera. I started playing piano when I was 6. Did you ever want to be a musician? [Laughs.] Had I more talent, I would have loved to have been a vocalist. I have three small children, so I sing at home a lot. What’s your most memorable encounter with a musician? It was with a woman named Linda Hopkins, a blues, jazz, and gospel singer. When I was in college [at Harvard University in 1982], I produced a live show for her in Boston that ran for several weeks. She had a really big following there. She was so nice to me — I was 20 years old and so green. [Hopkins, now 76, never became a big name, but she's had a long and critically acclaimed career. She won a Tony Award in 1972, and last appeared on Broadway in "Black and Blue," in 1989.] What’s your favorite part of the job? The music — that makes it all worthwhile. You sit at Clive Davis’s pre-Grammys party and listen to Alicia Keys sing “Fallin’,” and that’s what it’s all about. Plus, these days there are so many more legal issues. From the intellectual standpoint, the work has gotten even more interesting. The business and legal issues have converged. How did you end up at a record label? After law school I worked at Shearman & Sterling in New York for a few years. In 1991 a friend who was at Sony Music Entertainment suggested that I try them out. I did, and then came to BMG in 1993. Favorite recent albums: “Supernatural” by Santana, and “Songs In A Minor” by Alicia Keys MICHAEL OSTROFF Executive vice president-business and legal affairs, Universal Music Group The Los Angeles-based unit of Vivendi Universal is the largest recording company in the world, with four subsidiary labels: MCA, Interscope Geffen A&M, Island Def Jam, and Universal Motown. How many attorneys are in your department? Ten in the corporate office; 80 in subsidiary labels and other divisions. Favorite musicians who aren’t recording anymore? The Beatles and The Clash. Favorite musician who’s still recording? Elvis Costello. First album that you bought? “Meet The Beatles,” when I was 9. Did you ever want to be a musician? Sure. No talent, but I had rock vocalist fantasies. What’s your most memorable encounter with a musician? At my wedding. I was in law school at the University of Michigan in 1981 when some friends and I went to see Jonathan Richman perform in Detroit. [A cult hero at the time, Richman later gained mainstream attention in 1998 as the wandering troubadour in "There's Something About Mary."] After the show, my friends suggested that I get him to perform at my wedding. My fianc� thought that was a great idea. She called the club and the manager. Jonathan was going to be touring through Boston, where we were getting married, so we booked him. What’s your favorite part of the job? Going to shows and seeing live music. Is a record label a glamorous place to work? More so than I suspect an insurance company would be. Less so than actually being a musician. Is the legal work satisfying? The job has been a constant battle over the past few years — the challenges of the Internet, the challenges of piracy, dealing with the artists’ empowerment movement, pressure from Washington. But when I get to sit back and reflect, it’s been pretty satisfying. How did you end up at a record label? It was 1984, and I was at a small firm in Beverly Hills. I was complaining about the firm to a junior partner. She said that a friend in the MCA in-house department was looking for someone. Favorite recent album: “When I Was Cruel” by Elvis Costello LISA WEISS Senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary, Sony Music Entertainment Inc. The New York-based division of Sony Corporation is the successor to Columbia Records, one of the most prolific and storied labels in American musical history. How many attorneys are in your department? 19. Favorite musician who’s not recording anymore? The Grateful Dead. Favorite musician who’s still recording? Bruce Springsteen. First album that you bought? “Beatles ’65,” when I was 6 or 7. Did you ever want to be a musician? Oh, no. [Laughs.] They asked me not to sing when we had little concerts in grade school. They asked me to mouth the words. What’s your most memorable experience with a musician? When Paul McCartney married [first wife] Linda Eastman [in 1969]. I was 10 at the time. I locked myself in my room and cried for days, because I was convinced he was going to wait for me. What’s your favorite part of the job? The variety. Every day it’s something different. You just never know what’s going to happen. Is a record label a glamorous place to work? No. [Laughs.] How did you end up at a record label? In 1988 I was a fifth-year associate at Rosenman & Colin [now KMZ Rosenman] when one of our clients, Sony, was buying CBS Records. I was the lead corporate associate on the transaction. After the purchase, CBS Records became Sony Music, and they also became a client of the firm. I’ve worked for them ever since. Favorite recent album: “The Rising” by Bruce Springsteen PAUL ROBINSON Senior vice president and deputy general counsel, Warner Music Group Inc. The New York-based unit of AOL Time Warner Inc. includes the Warner Brothers, Elektra, and Atlantic labels. How many attorneys are in your department? Seven. Favorite song? “Kiss,” by Prince. Favorite musician who’s not recording anymore? Squeeze. Favorite musician who’s still recording? Elvis Costello. First album that you bought? “Tea for the Tillerman” by Cat Stevens, when I was 12 or 13. Did you ever want to be a musician? I was a second tenor in the male a cappella group at Williams College, and for the last 20 years I’ve been singing a cappella music with a group of diehard Williams alums known as “The Lemmings.” Also in college, I was a vocalist in a New Age cover band called “The Doctors” that performed at school parties. Another cover band at Williams, “The Vans,” was fronted by Steve Case, now the chairman of AOL Time Warner. What’s your most memorable encounter with a musician? Meeting Elvis Costello backstage after a concert at Madison Square Garden. As an associate in private practice, I got the opportunity to do legal work for Elvis. I had admired him for so long that when I finally met him, I had no idea what to say. How did you end up at a record label? In 1988, after initial stints at MTV Networks, United Satellite Communications, Inc., and Young & Rubicam, I became an associate at Mayer, Katz, Baker, Leibowitz & Roberts. The New York boutique acted as in-house counsel for several Warner Music Group companies. I became a partner at the firm in 1993, and in 1995 I left to become associate general counsel at Warner’s. Favorite recent album: “Veni Vidi Vicious” by The Hives

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