American Voices Symposium: The Business and Technology of Popular Singing Today
Q Prime Inc. is a music management company owned and operated by Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch.
The current Q Prime management roster consists of the following acts: Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Josh Groban, Snow Patrol, Muse (for North America), Three Days Grace, Foals, Baroness, Dawes, Cage The Elephant, Gillian Welch, Silversun Pickups, and a new act named Animal Kingdom.
We have four offices around the world, including our headquarters in New York, which houses 13 additional staffers. Our other three offices consist of a four-person promotion office in Los Angeles; a three-person office in London; and a partnership in Nashville where John Peets co-manages Nickel Creek (who, for the time being, have morphed into 3 very promising solo projects), The Black Keys, and Eric Church.
ANCIENT HISTORY Cliff Burnstein (BA, MA from Penn) jumped ship on his doctoral dissertation to get a job in the finance department of Mercury Records in Chicago. Within months, he was promoted to National Album Promotion Director, during which time he met Peter Mensch who was then Music Director at the college radio station at Brandeis University (fall of 1977). Cliff was then promoted to a Polygram A+R man, serving both Mercury and Polydor record labels. During his time as an A+R man, Cliff signed Rush and The Scorpions.
Peter Mensch (BA from Brandeis, MA from U of Chicago) worked for Cliff for six months before going to work at Leber-Krebs management as Aerosmith's tour accountant. While on tour with Aerosmith, Peter met and befriended AC/DC who asked him to manage them in 1979 in conjunction with Leber/Krebs. Mensch then added The Scorpions and Def Leppard and promptly moved to the UK to service all three acts better. Peter then persuaded Cliff to come work with him at Leber/Krebs (based in NY). After a falling out with Leber/Krebs, Mensch and Burnstein started Q Prime on April 1, 1982 with Def Leppard as their sole client.
NOT SO-ANCIENT HISTORY Q Prime managed Def Leppard from 1982 to 2005 selling more than 50 million albums worldwide. During the 1980s and into the early 1990s, they also managed Dokken, Tesla, and Queensryche, who between them garnered 2 multi-platinum RIAA certifications, 7 platinum certifications, and 1 gold certification. In 1984, Q Prime started managing Metallica who have remained our client for 24 years and counting! Metallica has sold 100 million records worldwide equally split between North America and the rest of the world, as well as millions of concert tickets, t-shirts, and even a 3+ hour warts-and-all documentary film that redefined the boundaries of what bands are willing to share with their fans.
In the mid-1990s, Q Prime managed the Smashing Pumpkins for their 7+ million-selling double CD, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and Hole/Courtney Love, who went platinum with both their Live Through This and Celebrity Skin albums. Toward the end of the 1990s, Q Prime began managing the Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP), who have since gone on to achieve new heights of success, both critically and commercially. Their three studio albums during our management tenure (Californication, By the Way, and Stadium Arcadium) have sold 30 million albums worldwide (there was also a Greatest Hits record, which is more than 5 million worldwide).
In addition to our long term clients, Q Prime also managed two "single cycle" album projects: In 1989, Q Prime served as the album manager/tour consultant to the Rolling Stones on the SteelWheels album and tour. The album sold 4million records worldwide. The tour was the first tour that Michael Cohl did as a worldwide tour director. In 1998, Madonna hired Q Prime to manage her music career on the Ray of Light record. At last check, that album was at 15 million sales worldwide and is the 2nd biggest album of her career (only Like a Virgin has sold more).
NOT SO CURRENT HISTORY Besides the continuing relationship with Metallica, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we managed Shania Twain in 2002 on her UP! album, which has clocked in at 10 million sales.
In 2007, we began managing Jimmy Page, and his interest in Led Zeppelin. We worked on the Led Zeppelin renegotiation with Warner Music Group, as well as putting the package together and the marketing of their current greatest hits album, Mothership which is at 2 million worldwide. The piece de resistance of our management business might very well have been the Led Zeppelin reunion concert, which took place at London's O2 Arena in December 2007. Q Prime was responsible for a generous share of the heavy lifting/logistics on this event, which was considered a success on EVERY level imaginable (save for the fact that there was no reunion tour to follow!). Led Zeppelin in 2012 released a compilation entitled Celebration Day, which included the DVD of the O2 Arena Event and it correlated perfectly with their Kennedy Center Honors induction which provides national recognition to individuals who throughout their lifetimes have made significant contributions to American culture through the performing arts. Led Zeppelin being awarded this Honor by President Obama is truly a feat to which Q Prime is distinguished to have been involved with. In terms of some of the other current clients: We built Muse into being a North American headline act (they have 2 gold albums), We continue to launch successful Snow Patrol records and worldwide tours, We have developed The Black Keys into one of the biggest rock bands in the world with their multiple Gram my Awards in 2013 and 2011 along with their continuing industry recognition. We are especially proud of the fact our acoustic bluegrass band Nickel Creek sold almost 2 million copies of three albums.
Where applicable, I have mentioned worldwide sales. I think if you talk to anyone involved in the overseas record/touring business, you will be told that of all the US-based management companies, we have taken the most time and care to both sell records and promote our band's long term careers outside of North America.
NEWLY LAUNCHED RECORD LABEL VENTURE We rekindled our interest in record labels by acquiring the best A&R man that we know in the business, Michael Goldstone, former president of Sire Records, whose major credits include Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine. He now runs Mom and Pop Music, a joint venture with Q Prime and Jive Records. Currently on the roster is Josh Radin, with his debut record selling 200K in the US and counting, An Horse, a small developing artist plugging their way to indie success as well as the newly established Sleigh Bells, Andrew Bird, Freelance Whales, and Metric.
FINAL BITS OF HISTORY We had a true joint venture (contributing equal amounts of funds) with Clive Calder and Jive Records called Volcano Records. Volcano was formed by purchasing three record catalogues and has three currently active acts: Tool, 311, and Weird Al Yankovic. We cashed out our 50% share when Clive cashed out his entire company several years ago.
Finally, starting in the late 1980s, we acquired 14 radio stations (mostly in Central California) which we later sold to Clear Channel in the early part of this decade when the FCC changed the ownership rules. We are no longer in the radio station business.
RECAP /THE FUTURE While all other aspects of the music industry are downsizing, Q Prime is launching record labels, opening worldwide new offices, signing more new and established bands than ever and hiring more personnel to keep up with our demand of knowledgeable, honest, and loyal music management. Not to mention that since we started 25+ years ago we have very high name recognition within the business which gives us the advantage of a high level of respect, opening more doors to us and being able to advise on how to remain current, successful, and more important than ever in this business.