Kenny Meiselas, Celebrity Lawyer | Attorney for Whitney Houston, P-Diddy & Others

 

For More Episodes Visit: www.podcast.scottdclary.com

Kenny Meiselas is a named Partner and Head of the Music Department at Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, P.C., where he represents superstar recording artists, DJs, producers, songwriters, celebrities, designers, corporate clients, entrepreneurs and high level executives in media and entertainment related areas. 

His clients include some of the most influential stars in the music industry including Lady Gaga, Sean “Diddy” Combs, The Weeknd, Usher, Lil Wayne, Ella Mai, Future, Chris Brown, Carly Rae Jepsen, Rick Ross, Rae Sremmurd, Bebe Rexha, The Estate of Whitney Houston, Nas, Jhené Aiko, and Norah Jones; as well as DJs such as Avicii and Destructo; songwriter/producers including Timbaland, Ester Dean; designers such as Zac Posen; athletes including Carmelo Anthony, Mike Tyson and many more; all with an emphasis on multi-platform exploitation and diversification in all areas of entertainment. 

Transactions negotiated for his clients include not only customary music based deals for records, publishing, touring, and merchandise, but also media based transactions, sponsorships, endorsements, equity agreements and strategic partnerships in branding, apparel, fragrance, spirits, film and television.

Show Links

https://www.instagram.com/kmei2121/

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2932774/

SUCCESS STORY PODCAST

The Success Story podcast is focused on speaking to incredible people who have achieved success through trials, tribulations, wins and losses. In each episode we sit down with leaders and mentors. We document their life, career and stories to help pass those lessons onto others through insights, experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.

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Machine Generated Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

artists, people, business, deal, represented, entertainment, pursue, Kenny, lawyer, rock star, partners, record, day, podcast, music, important, dream, years, life, group

SPEAKERS

Kenny Meiselas, Scott D Clary

 

Scott D Clary  00:06

Welcome to the success story podcast. I’m your host, Scott Clary. On this podcast I have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, politicians and other notable figures, all who have achieved success through both wins and losses. To learn more about their life, their ideas and their insights, I sit down with leaders and mentors and unpack their story to help pass those lessons on to others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between. Without further ado, another episode of the success story podcast. Alright, thanks again for joining me. I’m with Kenny myself, who is a named partner and head of the music department at Grohmann. Shire, myself and sax, where he represents incredible superstar recording artists DJs, producers, songwriters celebrities. Let me start this off by just speaking through some of the names of people that he’s worked with just to sort of speak to the absolute impressive resume that Kenny has built up over his career so his clients include some of the most influential stars in the music industry. Lady Gaga, Sean Diddy Combs the weekend Usher Lil Wayne, LM Mayer, future Chris Brown, Carly Rae Jepsen, Rick Ross, the you know, the list goes on and on. He’s represented the estate of with Whitney Houston, and NAS, Norah Jones, deejays Avicii Destructo timberland Zac Posen, some athletes, Carmelo Anthony, Mike Tyson, these are a list names. Kenny has a transaction of negotiating deals for these a list celebrities, not only uncustomary music, bass deals for records, publishing, touring and merchandise, but media transactions, sponsorships, endorsements, equity agreements, strategic partnerships, everything under the sun. Kenny is the it seems like the go to guy for a lot of these celebrities. But you know, thank you for joining me, Kenny, I really appreciate the chance to chat today.

 

Kenny Meiselas  02:11

Thanks for having me, Scott. I look forward to our our chat on the podcast.

 

Scott D Clary  02:15

Yeah, no, this is very exciting. So Kenny, I love to just tell your story. I’m sure you have an interesting one. Not everybody ends up obviously dealing with these kinds of clients, and not even everybody ends up as a lawyer. So what was, you know, what was your raison d’etre that allowed you to go into law? Starting from you know, what did you What do you want to do as a kid? Is that is what you wanted to do,

 

Kenny Meiselas  02:39

or? Well, I think that, you know, I, you know, I was the kid just to date myself a little bit, I was the kid who saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. And at that moment, fell in love with music, entertainment, you know, rock and roll, and wanted to be, you know, a rock star myself. And so at a certain point, in life, you know, you kind of have to look in the mirror, and so even through, you know, law school, you know, the goal was, hey, if I’m a lawyer, I want to be a lawyer in the, you know, entertainment law space, and I want to be, you know, kind of a deal negotiator, and so forth. And I followed, you know, that path, you know, in law school, you know, taking courses that would, you know, kind of prepare me for, you know, for, you know, for that day, but you know, but while I went to law school, you know, I was secretly in my rock band trains and clubs in Manhattan, and was aided by the fact that, you know, kind of back then was, you know, kind of part of the, you know, kind of initial kind of new wave slash, you know, kind of New York kind of punk movement where three chords was really all you had to know, and where, you know, you didn’t have to be that great to, you know, kind of play as long as you are passionate, but then, you know, comes that moment, because when you do anything in life, you know, you really have to go hard. 24/7 So, as you know, so when I graduated law school, you know, yeah, you know, I had to take that, you know, look in the mirror, and really just, you know, kind of take, you know, that that kind of evaluation of self and I looked in the mirror and I just said, you know, Kenny, you really are not that talented. You know, this rock star dream of yours. And so, you know, the more realistic dream is for you to kind of pursue, you know, kind of the business side of, you know, that dream, which would be to pursue, you know, entertainment, you know, kind of lot now that I was you know, kind of graduating, you know, law school and, and, and so, you know, so just so that led me to a place that I wouldn’t say You know, it’s it’s hard as being a rock star, which is probably, you know, the dream that, you know, it probably is the hardest test to sell. But, you know, trying to break into entertainment law, especially when you really don’t have, you know, any relationships or connections in the field per se, is, you know, is probably one of the, you know, hardest fields to break into, if not the hardest, you know, kind of in the last face. So, that, you know, was, but that, you know, but that became the dream that, you know, that I wanted to pursue, and, you know, I lecture, you know, occasionally, you know, actually, you know, I went to Washington University in St. Louis, undergrad, and there’s a business course, in entertainment, and I kind of lecture there, usually virtually, you know, during once during each semester, and what I really kind of say to people is, you know, at a certain, you know, at a certain point, you have to kind of, you know, make that decision, you know, when you’re going to a college, sometimes the decision is, hey, where’s the nice weather, you know, or you know, what school has beautiful campus or the best city, but as you’re kind of approaching, you know, kind of really starting, you know, your life, you have to be careful, if you know, to kind of choose that fork in the road that will hopefully lead you to a place where you can, you know, pursue, you know, kind of your dreams and your goals and what you’re looking to do, even if you’re doing that, you know, in a way we earning less money, or, you know, whatever the case may be, so for me, when I got out of school, there, there were, you know, some jobs, which might have been, you know, a little better, you know, kind of financially in other fields of law. But it was very hard to break into entertainment at the time. And so I actually took a job and everyone’s story is different, there’s no automatic story of that, okay, there’s a formula to break into entertainment law, other than, you know, really being so passionate about it that, you know, you’re willing to do, you know, a couple of key things that are necessary, number one, you have to kind of go where the work is, right. So for entertainment lawyer, that means New York, that means Los Angeles, possibly Nashville, possibly Miami, but, you know, I wouldn’t say never, you could never be an entertainment lawyer, if I, you know, stayed, you know, in St. Louis, and was talking about bringing on, you know, when, you know, when, but that’s not where the entertainment work is. And, you know, you go to LA, for example, you know, you know, even the, your waiters in entertainment, the, you know, the Uber driver is trying to break in entertainment and the whole world is entertainment, your chances are much greater, and at the time I broke in New York, and La were kind of equal for that, and having grown up in New York, you know, my focus at that time, you know, was New York, so, you know, you have to make some of those choices, you’ve got to go where the work is, you have to probably, you know, take that job working for less, you know, look agents, you know, you could graduate law school, and if you’re going to be an agent, you literally start in the mailroom, and you know, WMD, and some of those other, you know, agencies and in other areas, you know, you start as assistants and you start, you know, low level. So, for me, you know, at the time I was breaking in the industry was kind of down a little bit, there weren’t really any jobs, especially for someone who didn’t have any experience. And so I took a job at a small firm, that really said, you know, we’ll give you you know, we’ll pay you this, you know, modest salary, and I still remember the salary now, it was $13,600. And even with, even with the difference in time, you know, it was certainly less than what they were paying the secretary at the time, and it was, you know, even by today’s standards, you know, you know, maybe today that will equate to maybe 35, or 40,000, or whatever the case might be. So for, you know, a lawyer, you know, kind of starting out, you’re really kind of working for less, but, but the opportunity for me was to, you know, kind of follow my path and follow, you know, my dreams. And so the concept was that, you know, they pay me that salary. And if I was able to bring in work, and I could pursue the entertainment thing, I would get a third of the revenue from that client. So you’re automatically starting out, you know, entrepreneurial, you know, in a certain way, which is different than a lot of other law jobs that start you’re paying much more money, but will give you, you know, you can keep a third of the fee, a third goes to overhead and the third go to us, you know, so that meant two thirds went to them, and a third went to me, and early on, you know, I didn’t really have, you know, kind of the relationships or the connections or anything for that to really be meaningful, but it was an opportunity for me to pursue the dream. And then came the opportunity and I always kind of You know, you never know what that opportunities gonna be. But when you get an opportunity in life, you know, it’s a little bit of luck. And then it’s a little bit of, you know, seizing the moment, and turning that opportunity into, you know, something that could be more, you know, significant whether you realize it or not, if you go hard 24/7 with an opportunity, I guess it has the potential to do that, looking back at it. So my big opportunity came with the film The big shell. And, and so, but Scott did it. Have you ever seen that movie? You’re aware of what that movie was? It might be a generational thing where you haven’t seen it yet?

 

Scott D Clary  10:38

No, no, I have I have. But

 

Kenny Meiselas  10:44

yeah, we’re gonna say, Well, what were the were the big choke to this day, is my favorite movie. So what happened is, is that that movie, if people go back and find that which is good movie, by the way, that movie has a great soundtrack in it. And it was kind of a Motown soundtrack. And it had, it had temptations, and it had, you know, Gladys Knight and had it just was, you know, just uplifting, great kind of Motown music of the day, for the most part, and, and it and it had a song by this group called the exciters called Telem, which had been a hit record, you know, had been hit record for that group. But, but the at least out the gate, The Big Chill never paid any of the artists in connection with the use of their music, you know, from that soundtrack. And so So, so what happened is that, you know, when, when, when you’re, when you’re a group that has had success, the entertainment business is so exciting when you’re, you know, the exciters toured with The Beatles, and they have these hit records, and so forth, and so on, that even if it’s 20 years later, and you were, you know, you were an exploited group from the early 60s or whatever, you know, you’re still pursuing that dream, 20 years later, 25 years later, and you’re working on your album, and you’re hoping to tour and do dates, and so forth, even though, you know, you’re in other businesses, and you’re earning money, you know, other ways and so forth. So the group was still kind of pursuing, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s career, although they made money, you know, in different ways. I think it was a girl group, the lead singer, Brenda Reed, who has an incredible voice. Her husband, her Bruni, was the kind of producer songwriter arranger of the group. And I believe he was in the cosmetics field at the time. But, you know, the group was together, and they were still trying to make it. And they were being managed by somebody who happened to work, you know, in my building. And he too, because this was, you know, a group from many years ago that was trying to make it, my memory was that his primary revenue came from the food business, where he did well, but, but he was also as a fan of music, trying to be a music manager. And he was managing the exciters and some other artists and so forth. And so when they then get paid, he walked down the hall, he knocked on the door, he went into the partners office who I work for, and he basically said, hey, they didn’t pay the group, you know, and the movies ahead and the songs all over the movie. And so the partner, you know, who I work for, I’m 20, whatever, at the time, you know, Hey, Kenny, you know, you’d like to stop come on in here. And, you know, it’s the type of matter you know, it’s not really what I do. Now, I’m a, you know, kind of a, you know, what I do is, you know, deal maker, you know, kind of, you know, transaction, you know, kind of deal maker, and you know, this was more like, you know, recovering money that had not been, you know, kind of paid out, you know, to an artist, but for me, it was my personal entertainment matter. And since it was an entertainment matter, I was excited about it. And I was going to untorn every rock to find, you know, their money. And to make the long story short, there are a lot of parties involved. And it really feels like they were hiding the money. You know, it was Motown production. It was Johnny Carson productions, it was all these things. And they kept pointing me to another company. And then I finally found a company called Liberty records that had some money. And they were like, Oh, we were looking for them. And I said, Well, now you so so I we got that, you know, so we got them to pay the money, which were an exploitive group from the 60s was important money. And in the music, business royalty statements come twice a year usually, and including in the very important month of September when kids go back to school. So what would happen is, you know, so what happened is after, you know, kind of the first year, every year, I kind of get the call in September, and I get the call and was Hey, Kenny Kenny, it’s herb How you doing? And I heard, you know, I’m good. He goes, I’m coming into the check today. Could you let your bank know because we had a bank In our building, because I want to cash it, I want to take the kids shopping for their school supplies, clothes, etc. And I’d be like, I’d be like her, I don’t have the check yet. He goes, Oh, Ul, and sure enough, an hour later, the check would come. And the moral of the story is, you know, he needed one of that money pretty badly. And he, you know, he, he knew it was coming from LA and when it was gonna, you know, get delivered to my office, and sure enough, it was there and I’d be HERBIE, right, it’s here, come on, in, he come on in with the kids, he cashed the check. He go, you know, let’s say, you know, as, as it evolved, you know, the amounts reduced, you know, they was 7500, maybe it was 5000, you know, kind of in subsequent years, or whatever. And he would take the kids and he, you know, go to the mall and get them the supplies and what they, you know, what they needed to school, and then you know, approximately, you know, two years later, maybe a little more, his son who had been 12 and a half at the time. So by the name of Cory Rooney, who went on to write real love Mary J. Blige, and had a lot of hits with Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez and others, he came to the office with his partner, who was Prince Martin V. Marquis de, who was a, who was one of the Fat Boys, which was a big group at the time, and they came in together. And Cory said, my, you know, look, my mother and father said, that you’ve always been good to them, Mark, and I want to write and produce, and, you know, we’d like to get out of the Fat Boys. You know, can you, you know, can you help us. And so, I was able to kind of navigate, you know, his exit from the Fat Boys, and, you know, put them in position where they were able to, you know, produce and, you know, write, you know, with each other. And that was, you know, something that, you know, led them to, as I said, make the record real love, which was and others. I’m work with other artists, which was at Uptown records. And the, you know, the executive who I met at the time on that project was a 19 year old kid by the name of puffy, who was the executive producer and a&r for Mary J. Blige, and some of the other artists that they were working on. And so that, you know, kind of was the build, which kind of, you know, helped me break into the business.

 

Scott D Clary  17:21

I love the story. And, and thank you for laying that out. Because I think that it goes to show that, like you mentioned, there’s a little bit of a, there’s opportunity, there’s luck, there’s timing, there’s perseverance, there’s, you know, obviously working extremely hard, but it kind of unpacks how you are today, when you look at, you know, all the names, it’s very, very impressive, but it’s also nice to see where it came from. And like all these small, monumental, you know, what I mean, like, career progression has led to where you’re at right now.

 

Kenny Meiselas  17:54

Right? And so the so the interesting thing was that, you know, there’s a part there’s a part two to the story, because the first project that Cory Rooney and Mark Morales did was for a successful, you know, artists on the Uptown label, this is pre Mary J. Blige. And there was a point where that artist, you know, kind of hired me, and this is before, you know, I started representing puppy, but he hired me because he wanted control over his project. And he was looking to kind of, you know, kind of move, you know, puppy out of his project, even though, you know, his first project had been very successful, had been a gold record, he was really talented artists, he was on his way to stardom, you retain me, and it’s like, you know, good, I’m getting some more clients here. And the goal, and the, the job was to, you know, get, you know, was to get this puppy thrown on his project, so that he could, you know, kind of control, you know, his own project. And, you know, that was one of those where, you know, you know, I, I did what I was hired to do, I probably would handle it differently today, because I’d probably realized that this puppy guy was pretty important, you know, for the, for the project, but back then, you know, I was being hired by, you know, a new developing star, and he wanted to control his own project. And so we went in there and I actually got puppy thrown off the project. And, you know, the artists career, you know, didn’t, you know, continue at the same peak, that it was going when Puppy was on the project, notwithstanding, you know, the fact that that artist was really, really talented. And then, you know, I, you know, it was six months or a year later, whatever it was, you know, you know, you know, powerful at that point, become, you know, very successful for his work with as a young a&r guy with Mary J. Blige and Jonah C and Heavy D and others. He basically came to me and said, you know, you know, remember what, you know, you did how you got me fired from that project. And, you know, beginning to wonder, Should I document I’m about to be. But he but but he basically was, I liked how you did that, well, you represent me. And, you know, 25 plus years later, you know, I still, you know, represent Him. So the part two of the story is now, whether it’s, you know, Lady Gaga, whether it’s litho, or whether it’s the weekend, or whether it’s, you know, no matter who it is, you know, it all kind of, you know, stems from, you know, from the big shell, into, you know, kind of the meeting and the beginning of the record, you know, the representation, you know, a puppy who then, you know, we moved on, and we, you know, did you know, his bad boy deal. And then, of course, he became, you know, a superstar, you know, artists, you know, himself. And so, you know, so there’s always, you know, because because I frequently get asked that I, I lecture both at my law school and at WashU, and I’ve done panels and so forth, there is no one way, you know, there’s no, you know, one one way to kind of break into a field, but you have to, you know, kind of have, you know, certainly a little bit, if not a lot of luck, you certainly have to have the passion, you have to, you know, kind of the ability and the willingness to kind of, you know, work for less, and to kind of, really kind of take advantage of, of the break, make your own breaks, and, you know, and turn it into something, you know, that, you know, that’s bigger and better. I love it.

 

Scott D Clary  21:29

A lot of a lot of really good lessons, you can learn out from this, either, you know, these are things that you’ve just done. Purposefully, in terms of, you know, you went to like all these roles and whatnot, not expecting a lot of money. I think a lot of it was purposely but I think that a lot of people now, don’t have the patience to put in the effort, and they just want the end result, they want the 30 years of work, and not the 30 years leading up to the end result. Right. And I think that’s probably an issue of generational in some cases, I find where it’s immediate gratification for for work done. And I think that it just goes to show like, look at the things you can accomplish when you do

 

Kenny Meiselas  22:05

take your time. Yeah, look, I also think it’s important because, you know, look, at the end of the day people spend, you know, most of their waking hours, you know, kind of doing, what it is that, you know, they’re employed, you know, you know, where they’re employed. And, you know, so I, you know, I think that, you know, it’s important to pursue something that you are going to, you know, really enjoy doing. And, you know, given how much of your time that you do that you do it. And, you know, I think it’s you know, a balance, because you know, people say, follow your dreams, follow your dreams. And within the law, space, entertainment was a hard, you know, space to pursue. And I did follow it, and I did follow the path. But I also had a fallback, and that I was a lawyer, and if it didn’t work out, you know, I had another way to kind of work, you know, to, you know, to earn an income. But, you know, I, you know, I also find you have to be a little realistic, you have to be able to look in the mirror and realize when you’re not a rock star that you’re not there. You know, sometimes people say, you know, follow your dream, follow your dream, follow your dream, and, you know, they’re, you know, at a certain point, you know, you see somebody and they’re, you know, they’re well past the age of the likelihood that they’re always acceptance, but the likelihood that they’re going to be, you know, a rock star, or a pop star, or whatever it is, and it’s like, you know, where’s Plan B? Where, where, you know, you know, you have plan A, but you know, what’s, what’s kind of the other side of Plan A, because, you know, you, you know, you have a family, and obviously, you know, you pursued this for a minute, and it doesn’t really seem to be happening. But you do see that also, I do think you have to, you know, pursue your dreams, but you have to pursue your dreams with, you know, backup plans, and, you know, a sense of, you know, you know, self evaluation and reality and so forth, as well,

 

Scott D Clary  23:57

very well. Yeah, very well said. Now, as you as you grown out, I guess you once you start taking on some of these clients, I guess you brand yourself as somebody who deals in this in this type of in this type of law and these types of transactions. What’s it like working with, you know, your repeated client or your target clientele? is a is a is a internationally known name? What does that what type of, I guess nuances is that put on you as an attorney as a representative? To make job harder, easier? Like I’m assuming harder, but I’m curious to know.

 

Kenny Meiselas  24:35

You know, what, it’s really I don’t think it’s harder when it’s what you love to do. I think that you know, for me, you know, I think that you know, the story of the, you know, the pursuit of the rock star career, whatever, you know, however you define that. I think it’s an important thing to understand because it what is really what it’s really kind of saying is that You know, I kind of come from a place where I am a creative person and would have liked to have been a creative person and I just, you know, I just kind of naturally relate kind of much better and enjoy relating with other creative people, you know, you know, artists and athletes and their representatives than, you know, than I do, you know, kind of, you know, relating to other people, you know, in the, you know, in the corporate world. And so, because of that, I just think, you know, naturally, you know, easier, you know, for, you know, for me, and you know, look, you know, you know, ultimately, you know, I, you know, when when I became you know, successful, which was partially, you know, due to, you know, growing clientele and you know, when puff became Puff Daddy and became the biggest kind of star, you know, in the world, you’re doing bigger deals, you’re meeting other people, people are coming to you, Hey, do for me what you did for coffee, and so forth and so on. And so I ultimately, you know, had, you know, an opportunity and joined, you know, in partnership with Alan, you know, Alan Groopman, and his firm, where I’ve now been since, you know, kind of, I think the beginning of 1998, I guess it is, and it really kind of leads me to say that within that firm, we have incredible lawyers, who are like real technicians, you know, really, really smart lawyers, from, you know, from the best schools from the best background, and they really can dot every I crossed every T and agreement and answering your question, a lot of those people kind of come to me and they go, I don’t know, how you, you know, kind of appeal, you know, the artist and this and that, and, you know, with full appreciation for what they do. I said, Well, I don’t know how you got that eye on, you know, page 27 Paragraph 23. A, you know, because I can’t do that, nor do I think it’s really important, but I can’t do that, nor do I have the patience, you know, to do that. So I mean, I’m just kind of naturally, you know, kind of more, you know, kind of affiliate and uncomfortable with, with, with, with artists and creative people and their managers and people who are, you know, in business, you know, with them. And so, you know, so for me, you know, it’s really, you know, just, you know, what I you know what I love doing, and it’s not to say that some artists are more difficult than others, and some issues are more difficult, you know, of course they are, but you know, I’m kind of in my world and in that environment, when I’m, you know, when I’m, you know, with, you know, kind of artists in that world, more than if I was, you know, sitting at, you know, some, you know, some corporate function, or whatever the case might be, I guess,

 

Scott D Clary  27:54

I guess the difficulties that I would assume, would occur is just because every, every life is so public, right? So you’re always, and maybe this is, maybe this is not correct assumption, but I guess, really, I was just thinking through, like, if every action that all of your clients do is always under scrutiny, as a lawyer, that would make me very stressed all the time. But I guess it’s part of the, it’s part of what you know how to do. It’s part of what you know, how to deal with, it’s just, you’ve done it for your whole career, and it’s probably natural now, to deal in these, like, in these types of very public, open lives and environments.

 

Kenny Meiselas  28:29

Yeah, I don’t really, you know, I haven’t really known anything else for a very long time. So it’s kind of, you know, it’s kind of, you know, it’s kind of the world, you know, that, you know, it’s the world I chose, but you know, it’s really, you know, it’s really that, you know, kind of the other end of the more important, you know, part because, you know, every artist, you know, kind of starts with a dream and when you’re able to, you know, help somebody, you know, kind of achieve that dream, and then you know, kind of take, you know, next steps, you know, for them and with them and help, you know, kind of their dreams come true, and, and so forth. You know, if, if it’s rewarding and fulfilling, and that’s, you know, really, you know, what it’s about, you know, when you you know, sometimes when you you know, you kind of remember when you, you know, you started with an artist, and that’s pre deal, and then you, you know, you’ve done the deal. And then, you know, something connects and it’s, you know, a huge investment. Next thing, you know, you’re at, you know, you’re at an arena or a stadium, you know, one day and the place just filled and everyone’s going crazy, you know, it’s a really, you know, it’s a really, it’s, it’s really, you know, you really feel like you, you know, help somebody kind of achieve their dreams and, you know, you’ve also done something which is getting so many people, you know, pleasure by giving them the opportunity to, you know, kind of, you know, hear these great, you know, hear these great artists and so forth. And so let’s agree that most important thing or that the artist and the talent, you know, it’s like, you know, what I found is that it starts with artists and, you know, and there incredible talent, but But what I found is, is that, you know, you could, you know, for me, if someone’s not, you know, a great artist and doing great work, they can have, you know, they can have, you know, the greatest lawyer in the world, and, you know, they’re, they’re unlikely to, you know, achieve, you know, the success level that they might be hoping to achieve. But on the other hand, you can have artists who are incredibly successful, and if they don’t kind of have the, you know, kind of the transactional lawyer, business partner, as well as, you know, the right management and so forth, that, you know, they can be incredible artists, but, you know, not achieved what they need to achieve as big as they could, you know, or be, you know, as successful, you know, financially and from a business perspective. So, so, you know, first and foremost comes the incredible talent, but, you know, the talent, you know, desperately, you know, kind of needs to partner with great people on the business side, and with what I do, you know, it’s really a team because, you know, you know, because because, you know, in the music business, you know, the transactional lawyer, what I do, tends to be out front being, you know, the deal maker, but the managers are incredibly important than the artists who I represent, you know, some of them just have, you know, great management, you know, great agents, great record company, partners, great tour promoting partners, and that’s, you know, so so it’s really, it really becomes a family, you know, of relationships, and when you have the right relationships, that’s a very kind of key and important, you know, important thing.

 

Scott D Clary  31:36

Agree, Agree. Now, in terms of, where, you know, normally, I just wanted to sort of figure out, like, where you want to take, you know, your career in the future, but I would also be curious to get your insight as to the current pandemic that we’re living through, how do you think that’s going to change the entertainment industry, and how’s it gonna impact your job and the people that you work with?

 

Kenny Meiselas  32:02

So, um, you know, that’s, that’s something that, you know, you, you kind of talk about and evaluate, you know, every day, you know, right now, first, you know, the most important thing is for everyone, obviously, to, you know, stay healthy and safe and to, you know, kind of, you know, protect themselves and, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s hard for everyone to do. But it’s certainly, you know, kind of hard in a, in a, you know, kind of a business and a medium where, you know, people are always getting together, whether it is to, you know, create the music or perform a concert or to really do anything, you know, it’s such social, you know, interaction there, you know, look at the the immediate future, you know, is is, you know, is unknown. Obviously, I think, you know, people need to do, you know, what, what’s smart, and what stays and need to give it the appropriate time, you know, that it, it really requires, so that when people go back to work, and we have public events and so forth, that, you know, that it really is over, and that, you know, we get past it, we get past this pandemic, but, you know, I look, I do think, you know, ultimately, the hope is that, you know, things will, you know, return to the way it was, you know, it’s interesting, I’ve had some theoretical, you know, kind of conversations with folks, and you take things and you kind of go, Okay, let’s look at ticket movies, you know, let’s look at, let’s look at movies, let’s look at, you know, going out to dinner, let’s look at concerts, and so forth. And so it’s like, you know, when I think of the movie theater, and it’s like, and I love going to a movie theater, but when you think of the movie theater, it’s like, okay, so I’m going to go to the nine o’clock show, that means no one’s going to have been sitting, I’m not only going to sitting in a theater full of people, but somebody is going to have statments, those chairs from one o’clock to three o’clock, you know, the one o’clock show, the three o’clock show, the five o’clock, so, seven o’clock show, and then I’m going to come after the nine o’clock show, they’ve been sitting there, they’ve been eating, they’ve been, you know, and, you know, you almost do and I hope not, but you almost feel like the movie theater thing, you know, may, you know, change, you know, or that change or, and be a little slower coming back, especially because you have alternatives and you see that movies are being released on demand, and you have Netflix options and other things. So that’s an interesting kind of, okay, okay, then you look at, you know, going out to dinner and so forth. And the concept especially, you know, in New York City, being at those restaurants where, you know, everyone’s packed on top of each other, you know, there’s always been fun, you know, kind of great, you know, social experiences. But, you know, I have a couple, a couple of I kind of three couples at the house and, you know, we can get the you know, that we can get the foods you know, brought in or made without kind of exposing myself to see, you know, you wonder a little bit like, you know, how quickly are people going to want to learn and thrust themselves into that and environment, you know, to me, on the concert side, we’re building houses in town, the kids are gonna want to see Billy is when Post Malone when the weekend when those artists that come into town, like, you know, I know how it was for me, you know, when Bowie came to town or when, you know, had an opportunity to see one of my favorite groups, and, you know, I was a teenager in my 20s, or whatever the case may be. So I actually think that as soon as it states, I actually think the concept business, you know, should, you know, is gonna come back and, you know, and come back, you know, kind of quickly, because there’s no replacement, there’s no alternative, there’s no like Netflix for, like going to Billy Eilish in person, they’re going to see the weekend, you know, in person or anything like that, you know, so So, so I think that, you know, so I think that those, I actually think the concert business should come back, you know, stronger than ever, you know, as soon as it’s, you know, kind of faith, maybe, you know, kind of those acts that appeal to older people, you know, such as, you know, Rolling Stones and things like that, and maybe, you know, those people don’t, I don’t need to see him for the 10th time, you know, you don’t need to go and maybe maybe those are a little slower, but I think the kids are gonna want to see, you know, those artists when they come to town, and, you know, when an artist, you know, when those artists come to certain towns, I mean, they that’s so almost a once in a lifetime experience, you know, it’s, you know, especially in some of those parents that are in New York or LA I remember, I remember when I was at Wash U in St. Louis, when artists came to count, that was a big moment, because not every artist came to see. And, you know, you want to say you wanted to go see their shows. So, you know, look, you really don’t know, but, look, the hope is, is that when, when, when, when when the pandemic passes, you know, the hope is that, you know, that the business is, is is back to normal, not just for the sake of the business. But because, you know, I think it’s, I think it’s really important that people’s lives to have, you know, the, you know, the opportunity to, you know, enjoy, you know, music and public gatherings and, you know, and film and movie theaters, and, you know, things of that nature. So I think, the golden The hope is that we’ll come back and and I’m confident that it will as well. But you know, listen, it’s obvious to believe in science, believe in medicine, important gravit, to believe in science, to believe in medicine, to listen to experts, and to you know, do you know, the right thing to deal with the problem, and I really, you know, not getting political, but I never really thought that would be a political thing. I never really thought that that would be, like up for debate. So that surprises and concerns me a little bit. But you know, hopefully, you know, medicine and science and intelligence will, you know, kind of win the day and, you know, we’ll do the right thing. And we’ll be able to get through this, you know, sooner rather than later.

 

Scott D Clary  37:55

Yeah, agreed. And, you know, you deal with such incredible people, where do you want to take your career next, like your repertoire is, is amazing. Is there anything that you would like to accomplish? Or is it like, for now, it’s just like, you’re happy with the way things are going, I would love to just like pick your brain, when you’ve done all this stuff in your life. What’s next?

 

Kenny Meiselas  38:17

So good, right, so the good thing is that this is what I really dreamed of doing. And so, um, you know, so I’m really, you know, kind of happy and content doing it, and I’m not, you know, that I’m not really like, you know, kind of, you know, thinking, you know, what’s next or what’s different. Yeah, one of the things that kind of keeps it, you know, exciting and new is that, you know, new artists, you know, come their way. Yeah, you know, so in 2012. You know, I, you know, I heard of this artist weekend, who was, you know, who was creating a sensation in Toronto, where I think you’re from, yeah, and I took my, you know, and I was approached by, by, you know, the manager and some other folks who was in the weekend’s camp, and I took my trip to Toronto, and I saw something an artist who was just really, really special. And so, you know, we’ve been working together ever since. And so, you know, just kind of working, you know, kind of with, you know, the new artists at the same time, while, you know, maintaining, you know, your long relationships with the artists who, you know, you’ve represented, you know, for the prior years, you know, the past the ushers, you know, etc. You know, that that, that really makes it feel that really makes it feel Do you know, in special, you know, you know, in different now, I will say that in 2002 1016 So it was a couple years back already. I actually helped them develop a TV show that had really nothing to do with what I do, but I’m I had partnered with a with a friend, Jeff continent’s and, and his team, and we got a show called notorious on Thursday nights at ABC at, at 9pm. And that was, you know, fun for me, the Japanese had a lot of shows them on TV already, but it was, you know, it’s great having, you know, a concept that, you know, I developed with some other people that, you know, literally, you know, started from a concept, and then kind of made its way, all the way through the process of development. And then, you know, getting no bids from both ABC and NBC to do the show. And we went with, with ABC and our partners with Sony studios on the deal, to then go through the pilot stage have the, as the, as the pilot picked up and the show go on, and then get the coveted nine o’clock spot on Thursday night. And, and it was written this this show is called notorious. And so, you know, some folks can, you know, find it, I think Amazon, you know, has it and we got 10 shows, but, but I, it was so funny, I got a very kind of funny lesson, you know, in the TV business, because, you know, it’s a very difficult business. And this went very smoothly. So as the show, kind of get picked up, which is, you know, not an easy thing to happen, especially at a network and especially, you know, where, you know, Primetime Thursday night, etc, I kind of joke to, you know, my friends and partners, I was like, why don’t you tell me this business was so easy. I would have been doing it, I would have been doing it for years. And so, so we had the, you know, they had this kind of big party for us the night before the show is premiering. And it was, you know, it’s exciting, and everyone’s patting your back. And that that night, we did, I think we did like a 1.1 which today is like incredible, and even then wasn’t so bad. But they acted like someone died. So all of a sudden, would have gone so smoothly. And seem you know, so, so easy. And when the next week, you know, I think the one point where I neither stayed the same or became a 1.0 Whatever the case might be, it was it was very clear, that that, that that that the show did not have a long life. And so it ran for the you know, kind of initial, you know, 10 episodes, and, and then it wasn’t, you know, picked up. And it’s interesting, because it was kind of right on the borderline there where where you would pick up the show or not. And now these days, you know, if the show’s doing over one that that shows a hit, you know, and it’s just interesting, a couple years later, but so that’s a fun thing that, you know, I have a couple of other, you know, things that I that, that I have been in development that I you know, love to see, you know, kind of get picked up and either, you know, Amazon and Netflix or you know, where I’m just kind of, you know, being being a little creative and having fun on top of the day job, but I’m not quitting my day job.

 

Scott D Clary  43:03

Do you do you have? Um, do you have any like, maybe I don’t know, if you’re, if you’re able, like a really interesting story, and you can redact the names of I don’t even, you know, even not even a story like I’m just imagining if you’re helping manage, for example, the one I see is like managing the state of Whitney Houston. Like how, how incredible or how difficult or how, like, what are the things that

 

Kenny Meiselas  43:26

that show that? Okay, so that so yeah, so that first, that’s not out the words that I would use, kind of, to kind of describe it. So the Whitney situation was, so Whitney came to me at the height of her career, when he was, you know, literally the biggest star of the world. And my firm represented, and still does. Mariah, and I, Madonna. And so we represented all the biggest female stars in the world. And we they represent Whitney, and Whitney was, you know, the biggest star in the world, certainly, you know, her and Mariah Carey were, you know, equally the biggest stars in the world at that time. And, and she did not have the deal, let’s say that any of these other, you know, female stars had to somebody, you know, kind of whispered in her ear. And she came to me. And so, I started, you know, and the firm started representing, you know, her at that time, you know, literally, you know, at the, you know, at the height of her career, and I represented her, you know, through, you know, you know, through her death. And so, you know, once again, I know what I do great, and I’m not an estate lawyer or anything of that nature, and so I really don’t, you know, work with the estate in that way. But my continued representation of Whitney has led me, you know, after she passed away, to, you know, to, you know, work with the family and kind of make sure that you know, our deals and our music that are come from, you know, our record label, you know, RCA, you know, continue to come out. And so they’re, you know, there’s been various projects that, you know, I’ve worked on with, you know, the executor of her estate, you know, and so forth and deals that I’ve done, you know, for the estate of Whitney Houston, but they’re all music based, and they’re kind of transactional, and they all stem from my 11 and a half, 12 years, you know, you know, representing they’re

 

Scott D Clary  45:26

very impressive. Um, I don’t really have a ton more, I think that was, you know, your, your story is very interesting, I find, just just to unpack how you got to where you are. I wanted to, I wanted to ask just like a few more questions, just like, sort of like life lesson type questions that I’d like to tee off at the end. But is there anything that you wanted to, you know, chat about, that we didn’t talk about? Are you happy with that?

 

Kenny Meiselas  45:49

No, go for it. Go for it. I’m happy to answer anything you have. For me,

 

Scott D Clary  45:54

I appreciate one thing I like to ask because we speak about, like success and your origin story. And there’s also you know, like, there’s things that you’ve learned along the way, what would be one lesson that you would tell yourself at a younger age, I know, you kind of touched on it, but just to really put it clearly and distinctly for people listening.

 

Kenny Meiselas  46:13

Yeah, I, you know, I’m, I’m really, you know, so happy that I, you know, that I pursued the dream, but I pursued the right dream, I didn’t pursue the dream of being a rock star that I wouldn’t have been successful with. You know, and I think that’s an important lesson, I remember, you know, one great conversation, you know, that, you know, I have with my father, you know, kind of early, you know, on and, you know, both parents, of course, were, you know, great, you know, kind of influences, you know, in, you know, in, in my youth and growing up and so forth. And when I was kind of talking about, you know, kind of going to college and careers and all that sort of stuff, you know, you know, my father who like work, you know, six days a week, Monday nights, all day, Saturday, you know, really, really showed what hard work and, you know, kind of dedication, and supporting, you know, kind of a family was all about, you know, I, you know, he said, you know, something like, Well, you know, you know accountings a good field to go into, you know, and I was like, I can’t, I can never do that and all respect to people who can buy, you know, math is not my strong suit, nor does it, you know, kind of interests me or whatever. And I said, you know, to me that, you know, I feel that’s boring. And he and my father was, well, you know, sometimes the things that you think are boring, as a kid are the things that, you know, help you go on vacations and help you, you know, buy a car and help you support a family. So, you know, from that perspective, it’s not that boring, it’s kind of like a means, you know, kind of to an end. And I think, for someone coming out of a depression era, that appropriate, you know, kind of, you know, kind of thinking, and I think that it just wasn’t, you know, for me and my way of thinking, but I think there’s kind of that side of responsibility, and self evaluation that led me to be able to say, Well, look, I’m not going to account for it, I want to do something I love. And I think that’s important for people to do. But I think there was enough concern, you know, kind of enough of the conservative side, and enough of that voice still in my head that made me say, Hey, you had fun, you know, playing around at some clubs and pretending, you know, you’re a rock star. But that’s, that’s, that’s not the road, you know, you should go. So even though it appeared to be kind of rejected, advice, it really wasn’t fully rejected advice, because that, you know, led to, you know, the approach that I made. And so, so I, I think that, you know, as I said, you know, I think you got to be smart and balanced. But I but I do feel that since you spent so much time, it wouldn’t be enough for me that, okay, this is what gives me my two week vacation. You really need to go to work really enjoying what you’re doing every day.

 

Scott D Clary  48:54

That’s great. That’s great advice. And the last question is, you know, people that have achieved some levels of success, I find that they always have, like a go to resource to continually try and improve any aspect of their life. And I was curious, what would you recommend? It could be like a book, it could be a person, it could be a podcast, it could be an audible? Is there anything that you enjoy, like consuming that really can help someone else? Maybe it doesn’t have to be long, obviously, it’s not something you can really pass on, on a podcast, but you learn bits of it, but not all of it. But is there anything that you’d like to dive into?

 

Kenny Meiselas  49:33

You know, for, you know, for me, um, you know, it’s really music and the actual music, you know, changes, you know, kind of, you know, over time, I mean, it doesn’t, you know, fully, you know, fully change because the kid who saw, you know, the Beatles on Ed Sullivan still, you know, it listens and is inspired, you know, kind of by the, you know, by the Beatles all the time, but when you discover kind of new artists and new art and new kind of great music or whatever. I mean, I think During this, you know, Coronavirus period, I think you know, and it was, it was, you know, arguably a difficult and risky decision but you know, the weekend put out his album, and it’s just such a great inspiring album that, you know, I think, you know, I’ve been number number one for like a month now. And number one single number one albums number one, you know, you know, hot 100 artists on Billboard, you know, kind of all of the above. And I think that, you know, that, that, you know, can inspire people and help people and, you know, get through, you know, kind of, you know, kind of difficult times, and, you know, and, you know, for me, you know, a lot of the times, it’s great when it’s your own artists, you know, the weekend Lady Gaga, you know, et cetera, you know, you know, assurance and so forth, but it’s, but it’s, but it’s, you know, it doesn’t have to be your own artists. It’s just, you know, it’s the artists you grew up on. And, you know, you got, you know, you go back and you listen to that, you know, great Beatles album, I mean, the the Rolling Stones put out a single yesterday that was kind of based on, you know, kind of everyone being alone during this Coronavirus, period. And it was, it was great to hear him, you know, kind of new music from the stones that kind of, you know, touched on what everybody was kind of, you know, going through, you know, today so, you know, so I think, you know, you know, kind of, you know, new music and all that sort of stuff keeps me inspired and, you know, as well as, you know, kind of, you know, your films and, you know, you know, for me, I

 

Scott D Clary  51:29

love really creative artists. Yeah, yeah. And,

 

Kenny Meiselas  51:32

you know, you know, it’s good to have, you know, the Netflix shows and homelands final season and, you know, all that kind of good stuff to, you know, to go to, because the last thing I mean, I love you know, I love sports, and, you know, they had to draft yesterday in the NFL, but there are no sports and that’s, that’s probably one of the hardest things is, you know, is is kind of having, like literally zero sports, you know, kind of entertainment, you know, kind of suited up hopefully, by that. I mean, it was great. It was great speaking with you. I enjoyed our time together. And likewise, thank you, again.

 

Scott D Clary  52:13

Yes, hopefully well done that. It was great to hear and I appreciate it by now.

 

Kenny Meiselas  52:18

Please be safe, be healthy to everyone out there, and your family.

 

Scott D Clary  52:22

That’s all for today. Thanks again for joining me on another episode of the success story podcast. You can download or stream this podcast wherever podcasts are available, including iTunes, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, I heart, radio, and many others. You can also watch this podcast on YouTube. If you haven’t already. Please subscribe and share this podcast with your friends, family, coworkers and peers. Please leave us a rating on iTunes takes about 30 seconds as it allows other people to find our podcast and lets our amazing guests reach even more people with their message. And remember any rating is fine as long as it contains five stars. I’m Scott Clary from the success story podcast, signing off

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