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Michael Sigman
Michael Sigman is a writer/ editor, media consultant and the president of Major Songs, a music publishing company.

Prior to his current activities, Sigman was the president and publisher of LA Weekly, the nation’s largest alternative newsweekly, from 1990-2002. He joined LA Weekly in 1983 as general manager and was named publisher the following year.

Sigman was also the founding publisher of OC Weekly, sister paper to LA Weekly, when it was launched in 1995.

Prior to joining LA Weekly, Sigman was a music journalist, and served as a reporter, then managing editor, then editor-in-chief of Record World Magazine, a leading music industry weekly, from 1971 to 1982.

Michael Sigman graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude, with a BA in Philosophy, from Bucknell University in 1971. He currently serves on several Boards, including InsightLA and Society for Singers, and is Chairman of the Board of the Wright Institute, a non-profit psychoanalytic institute which provides inexpensive long-term psychotherapy to the poor.

Entries by Michael Sigman

Field Notes From a Music Biz Life (Part 3)

(0) Comments | Posted August 27, 2014 | 1:27 PM

In the beginning, the old guard hated the rock but loved the bankroll.

In 1955, Jerry Wexler was producing Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner, and Lavern Baker. At the same time, MGM Records a&r (artists and repertoire) chief Harry Meyerson -- a dapper gentleman with...

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Field Notes From a Music Biz Life (Part 2)

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2014 | 11:29 AM

"Carl never forgave me for rock'n'roll" -- Jerry Wexler

You could count on Wex to cut through the bullshit.

I was in a rotten mood, hunched over my desk at LA Weekly on a broiling late September afternoon in 2000, one of those oppressive...

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Field Notes from a Music Biz Life (Part 1)

(2) Comments | Posted August 13, 2014 | 1:06 AM

Let's start before the beginning: No Brill Building, no me.

At the Brill, Manhattan's mid-20th Century citadel of music biz hustle, the elevator man was a bookie, music publishers reigned supreme and songwriters, song-pluggers and Runyonesque hangers-on filled the offices and spilled into the streets, swapping stories, making demos, pitching...

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How Close Are You to Genetic Happiness?

(0) Comments | Posted August 2, 2014 | 1:17 PM

Did you know that the closer you live to the homeland of the world's most famous suicidal prince, the more likely it is that your genes -- and therefore you -- are happy?

Most scientists agree that genes are responsible for about half...

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Home Staging for the Digital Age

(0) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 1:46 PM

When my real estate agent told me that my house needed "a staging," I pictured a tough love AA-type intervention, with close friends gathering round to insist that only significant changes could prevent the heartbreak of lowball offers and shattered escrows.

I thought my rustic Laurel Canyon treehouse house looked...

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How Elaine Stritch Got Her Big Broadway Break

(1) Comments | Posted July 17, 2014 | 10:00 PM

The multi-talented Broadway icon Elaine Stritch died Thursday at her Birmingham, Michigan, home at age 89.

Non-theatergoers will know her from her comic turn as Alec Baldwin's imperious mother in 30 Rock. I remember her from a sweeter moment, after a performance of her Tony-winning one-woman show, Elaine Stritch...

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For Savvy Real Estate Advice, Look to The Bard

(0) Comments | Posted July 15, 2014 | 5:24 PM

If, like me, you find that you must sell a beloved home, who better to turn to for advice than the Renaissance real estate mogul William Shakespeare, whose cornering of the 17th-century Stratford-upon-Avon housing market is as impressive to realty buffs as his genius as a wordsmith is...

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Musical Ambassador Gabriel Kahane Tells LA Stories

(0) Comments | Posted July 10, 2014 | 2:39 PM

The first time I heard Gabriel Kahane make music, he was a college junior noodling tunefully and effortlessly at the piano as guests took their seats for a performance of Straight Man, a musical he wrote with his Brown University roomie Thomas Beatty.

The musical wasn't too shabby either. It...

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Breaking Up (With an Old House) Is Hard to Do

(2) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 1:59 PM

Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you and your loved one have been together for a quarter century. That the object of your affection is a house doesn't make it any easier.

Though the circumstances of my decision to sell are happy ones, I hate to leave my...

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Are You Ready for the Meditation Revolution?

(2) Comments | Posted June 24, 2014 | 5:04 PM

I strolled into the sauna this morning to find a man sitting peacefully in a cross-legged position, his eyes gazing slightly downward. Feeling the good vibes, I sat down nearby and joined him in noble silence.

Just as I was settling in, a light tapping sound intruded. My sauna-mate...

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Unusual Life Lessons From an Unusual Father

(1) Comments | Posted June 13, 2014 | 1:23 PM

My parents liked to think of our family as "bent," more "Fractured Fairy Tales" than Disney. We couldn't bear to do things the way normal people -- or at least people who seemed normal -- did.

To celebrate Father's Day in that spirit, I offer nine --...

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Super-Rich Indian Guru: Dead or Just Resting?

(0) Comments | Posted June 6, 2014 | 2:17 PM

Has mega-rich Hindu guru Shri Ashutosh Maharaj been dead for the past four months, as attested by doctors, his family and the police? Or has he been meditating the whole time, as his disciples in the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan sect claim?


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Turning 65 with 'Crazy'

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2014 | 12:49 PM

With only a few weeks left before I hit 65, I'm taking a break from filling out my Medicare application to count my blessings.

Sure, I have my share of aches, pains and scares. But I feel beyond lucky to have my health after all that time on this planet;...

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Things You Should Know About New Indie Film The Big Ask

(1) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 2:11 PM

The new indie film The Big Ask has dog timelines, desert skylines, dick growers, rock throwers, pissing rocks, kissing shocks, feuds flying, dudes crying, deep hugs, no drugs, teddy bears, hot affairs, forsaking friends, making amends. Also, love.

It's writer-director Thomas Beatty's first feature (his wife Rebecca Fishman...

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Andy Kaufman, Summer Camp and Rock & Roll

(4) Comments | Posted May 18, 2014 | 11:59 AM

The 30th anniversary of performance artist Andy Kaufman's premature death has inspired moving reminiscences from friends and admirers. I didn't know Andy well, but his voice changed my life before his voice changed.

Andy and I were born in the same year (1949) and grew...

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Defender of Texting and Driving Can't Be Serious

(0) Comments | Posted May 11, 2014 | 11:44 AM

While driving down the 405 the other day, I read a dumb article on my smart phone. An LA Weekly blogger boasted that even though it's illegal, he texts and drives and isn't sorry about it. The piece was accompanied by a photo of a very cool-looking dude...

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Close Encounters With John Lennon/Winter, 1974

(3) Comments | Posted May 3, 2014 | 4:53 PM

As editor of the music trade Record World during the 1970s, I met the greatest music-makers in the world just by showing up for work. Sooner or later, it seemed, just about everyone who had a hit record, or wanted one, stopped by for a chat and a photo op.

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Record Biz Photo Ops, 1970s-Style

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2014 | 11:28 AM

During the 1970s, when I toiled for the weekly music trade magazine Record World, there existed something called the "record industry." Scores of entities known as "record labels" signed "recording artists" to long-term "development deals" where "marketing campaigns" and "tour support" helped build loyal audiences that could sustain "recording careers."

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Business Meets Mindfulness at enso/InsightLA Program

(0) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 2:26 PM

Here's a case study you won't find at Wharton or the Harvard Business School.

Sid, the wealthy CEO of a highly profitable multi-national corporation, notices that even his best employees have trouble focusing for extended periods of time. Needing to devise a plan to maximize productivity,...

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Billy Valentine's Brit Eyed Soul

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 3:51 PM

Brit Eyed Soul, Billy Valentine's forthcoming album of songs by British rockers inspired by the American soul music of the '50s and '60s, hearkens back to the Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show a half century ago.

By that time, the Fab Four had already covered Isley Brothers' "Twist and Shout" and the Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman." Scores of other British Invasion bands -- such as the Stones (Marvin Gaye's "Can I Get a Witness," Solomon Burke's "Cry to Me"), the Moody Blues (Bessie Banks' "Go Now," James Brown's "I'll Go Crazy") and Small Faces (Sam Cooke's "Shake") -- were similarly inspired.

In turn, soul masters from Ray Charles ("Eleanor Rigby") to Otis Redding ("Satisfaction") to Tina Turner ("Jumpin' Jack Flash") to Al Green ("How Can You Mend a Broken Heart") mined the Britrock songbook.

Valentine, 64, came of age during the heart of that transatlantic cross-pollination, giving him a DNA-like connection with the music on Brit Eyed Soul. (I, like him, was 14 when the Beatles hit, a chronological sweet spot for maximum pop music awe.)

Industry vet Tom Vickers, also 64, dreamed of producing a Brit-soul record for years, but could never find the right singer -- until he heard Valentine sing at a gig a couple of years ago at the exclusive Bohemian Club in San Francisco. "Blues was the first American roots art form to be discovered by the various British bands and it didn't take much of a stretch for them to move on to Soul," Vickers says. "It seems every British act's first stop when they hit New York City was the Apollo Theater in Harlem."

Vickers and Valentine clicked, and brought in arranger/producer T.C. Campbell (former member of Cameo) to choose the 13 songs for the album, including "Here, There and Everywhere" (Beatles), "Beast of Burden" (Stones), "More Than a Woman" (Bee Gees)," "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" (Culture Club), "First Cut Is the Deepest" (Cat Stevens/popularized by Rod Stewart) and "Train In Vain (Stand By Me)" (The Clash).

Valentine has enjoyed a long career as a singer, songwriter and performer. He began as a solo artist and then, with his brother John, formed the Valentine Brothers, touring and producing four albums from 1975-1989. He's also been a frequent presence singing in films (The Five Heartbeats) and on TV (regular gigs with Boston Legal and Sons of Anarchy).

He's written and produced hundreds of songs and performed throughout the world. Valentine is especially revered among LA-area songwriters, who describe him as a "songwriter's singer" for the demos he's sung over the years, some of which were better than the hit records they spawned.

Rhino Records and Shout Factory! co-founder Richard Foos -- you'll never guess how old he is! -- agrees that Valentine is a major talent, and is acting as a kind of bodhisattva for the project, lending financial support and wisdom about surviving/thriving in the music biz trenches.

With the album in the can, Vickers has launched an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to defray the costs of marketing, radio promotion and touring (with an eye on some dates in England, where Valentine has a following) -- you know, what record labels used to do when there was something called the "record business."

If all goes well, Vickers and Foos hope to shoot a documentary about Valentine's life. Perhaps it will begin with that magical moment in 1964 when the Beatles changed our world.

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