06 May The Guardian Profiles Jampol Artist Management
Read the whole article at The Guardian.
No one here gets out alive, as rock legend Jim Morrison once sang. But sadly for many of the rock greats it has become almost a cliche that successful musicians and groups are more valued in the grave than in life.
Few people understand that better than Jeffrey Jampol, an LA-based specialist whose JAM Inc manages the rock estates of Otis Redding, Kurt Cobain, the Doors, Rick James, Ramones and Muddy Waters among others, as well as advising the co-executors of Michael Jackson’s estate.
With the roll call of potential names Jampol could add to his stable increasing as the grim reaper goes about his harvest in rock’nroll hall of fame, Jampol says the heirs to these estates face two key challenges: how to prevent the kind of legal chaos that has paralysed many legends’ fortunes, like the mess that took over James Brown’s estate following his death in 2006, and how to protect and manage that legacy once freed of warring heirs and factions.
Jampol, who at one time helped manage New Order in the US, has become the go-to guy for this type of management. Getting it right can generate a fortune.
“This is not the music business. This is the pop culture legacy business. I tell clients, if you think it’s about the music, you’ve already failed,” Jampol told the Guardian. “By that logic, you’d think the magic of James Dean was his acting. It wasn’t.”
Merely re-issuing an artist’s work is not enough. Even in the case of Prince, who died intestate (without a will), the mysterious vault said to contain hundreds of unreleased tracks might be no more than a curiosity to collectors that does little to connect Prince to a new generation of fans – the lifeblood of any legacy act as established fans are lost to natural attrition.
Listed foremost on Jam Inc’sHippocratic Oath of Rock: Do no harm. Too often, the stewards of great legacy artists, in music and other artistic media, chase perceived opportunities without considering their impact upon the legacy they’re supposed to be looking after. Great performers’ works and images are priceless in the eyes of their fans, and every care must be taken to keep that connection intact.
What is needed, says Jampol, in a not uncommon moment of management-marketing speak, is to locate the “artist’s essence”. “Figure out what the magic is. There’s something that connects James Dean or Jim Morrison or Kurt Cobain or the Ramones to a 12-year-old whether that’s in 1957 or 2017. It could be a group of facets and then you have to find a way to be put that back into the pop culture in a way that’s credible to a teenager,” he said.
And now Jampol is about to get started on Otis Redding with a new biography and documentary. In September, there will be “an evening of respect” at the Big O ranch outside Memphis where Redding’s widow and sons still live.
But clearly, there are still big jobs to be done. James Brown’s estate remains tied up in litigation; Jimi Hendrix’s estate is notorious for saying no to every request. Jampol says the one thing you cannot do, is try to imagine what the artists would have thought. It’s not the issue and it’s an impossible question to answer.
Estates are not run for artist, or to imagine their wants, but to protect and advance their legacy, Jampol believes. But getting to that stage is seldom easy.
With claims from alleged illegitimate children already surfacing, Prince estate could turn into a quagmire of litigation. Prince’s only full sibling, Tyka Nelson, has requested management of his affairs be placed with a special administrator, Bremer Trust, until a representative is appointed – or a will is located. That could still happen. Six days after Michael Jackson died in 2009, his longtime lawyer John Branca filed a will, ending efforts by Jackson’s mother to become his estate’s executor.
When a star dies, those left behind often think first of the cash they are losing. They need to think more about posterity, said Jampol. “Can we make any money is the last question you want to ask. I like to animate and lift up the body. Once the artist is back in the cultural conversation, the revenue follows.”