MSO Holiday Party 2011
Photo credit: Sorrell Schneider
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: Mitch Schneider
KIMBERLY KRAUTTER who writes for PRWeek
February 28, 2000
Mitch Schneider, who heads LA-based music publicity shop The Mitch Schneider Organization, gets right to the point. We commend him for being the first PRWeek Q&A subject to have answered each query in less than two sentences, and still have managed to be amusing. Of course, with clients like Aerosmith, a sense of humor probably comes in handy.
What is your philosophy?
Fame is a pair of stiletto heels looking for a seat.
What does your agency try to accomplish?
Put vibe into a bottle and spray the universe with it.
What do you do there?
I organize chaos. But I also know that chaos, before it is organized, is a thrill.
How do you make a difference?
I smile without irony.
Tell us something interesting about your agency.
I’ve been known to make key decisions based on astrology.
What was your proudest moment?
Landing Aerosmith on The Simpsons. They were the first band to be animated on the series.
How did you get into PR?
I scaled the wall that separates rock journalism from music publicity.
How did you get where you are today?
I listen carefully to what our artists tell us. It’s that simple – and that complex.
What would you do if you didn’t do what you do?
This question terrifies me. There is nothing else I would do.
Do you have a secret daily pleasure?
Stouffers’ Lean Cuisine French Bread Pizza.
What do you hate most?
What is your idea of perfect bliss?
To observe beauty without interruption.
What would you do on a desert island?
Plot my return to civilization.
What will you do when you retire?
Listen to angry rock bands – the new breed – and dance around in my room.
What is your favorite car?
My mack daddy Sedan de Ville.
What is the secret of your success?
I never underestimate the stimulation of tastelessness.
What would you like to change about the PR profession?
There should be a better exchange of respect between editors and publicists – especially when editors kill pieces, then don’t return your calls.
What will be the next big thing to hit PR?
A voice-mail system that has the capability to instantly delete voice mails from nasty people.
August 09, 2011
Mitch Schneider Founder of and President of The Mitch Schneider Organization Talks Rock ‘N’ Roll, Leather Jackets, and More
Rock ‘n’ roll has so many more moving parts than most people realize.
It’s an intricate, enigmatic machine that runs off the tireless efforts of not only the musicians playing it, but also of the blood, sweat, and tears of the people promoting it. In that respect, Mitch Schneider—president and founder of The Mitch Schneider Organization (MSO)—is one of the most crucial cogs in the music industry’s well-oiled machine.
During his extensive and remarkable career thus far, Schneider devised brilliant and groundbreaking PR campaigns for everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Korn to Alanis Morissette and The Black Crowes, always thinking of new ways to bring the public closer to the artists he worked with while preserving the mystique of the music. His current roster includes Aaron Lewis of Staind, Smashing Pumpkins, Slash, Jane’s Addiction, Deadmau5, David Lynch, Ozzy,Dolly Parton and Coachella, to name a few [See the full list here.]
Schneider is well-versed in another facet of rock ‘n’ roll—fashion. In addition to being a true PR guru, Schneider is also a leather jacket aficionado. For this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com, he told us the tales behind some of his coolest leather jackets. They each have a story, and you’ll have to read on for more…
Photos: Sorrell Schneider
In your opinion, does a leather jacket toe the line between elegance and attitude? Is that middle ground attractive to you?
Yeah! The thing about leather jackets that I happen to love is the attention to detail. If you look at the ’70s leather jackets, the stitching, the placement of zippers, the cut, and the longer collars all stand out. I always felt that to look badass was the essence of rock ‘n’ roll. Truth be told, a lot of those ’70s leather jackets were worn in Blaxploitation films such as Superfly or Across 110th Street. Even in that Diana Ross movie Mahogany, Billy Dee Williams is wearing a great leather jacket. I used to go to the movies just to see the jackets. I grew up in New York City, and my whole fascination with vintage clothing started when I was about 14 or 15. I would take the train from the Gun Hill Road stop in The Bronx down to Astor Place. I’d get off and walk around the East Village with my friends. I’d go in these stores and see these cowboy shirts with amazing stitching. I’d see Hawaiian shirts with great rayon material. They had so much style as opposed to some of the clothing of the day in the ’70s. Except for those amazing leather jackets, I wasn’t that inspired. My vintage fascination started back then.
What attracted you the most to the jackets?
There’s something ridiculous about those ’70s jackets with the long collars, but there’s also something so badass. In those Blaxploitation movies, a lot of the pivotal characters were pimps. Like rock ‘n’ roll, they were anti-authoritarian. That was my leather jacket fascination in terms of the ’70s stuff. Going back to what you were saying about the elegance, wearing a leather jacket is like putting armor on before you go out. If you look at some of the modern leather jackets being made by rock ‘n’ roll companies now, it’s almost as if they looked at those ’70s leather jackets and refined them. It’s a combination of having the vintage jackets and the new styles as well. That’s what really galvanized me. One of the great things about living in Los Angeles is you can wear these jackets virtually eleven months out of the year. We’re known for our cool summer nights here so you can wear a thin leather jacket during that time as well. When I put on something vintage, I think about who wore it before, who they were, what they did, and what they were like. It will take on another dimension and life. I get really into this. I’m a collector so that stuff really stands out in my head.
What’s the correlation between leather jackets and rock ‘n’ roll?
There’s that outlaw iconic image that runs in America, whether it’s Marlon Brando or James Dean. They’re people who are viewed and celebrated as outlaw heroes. I think it starts there. Obviously, motorcycle jackets carry that perception as well. There will always be a fascination with people living on the fringe of society. There’s something about a leather jacket that connects to the outlaw image. You think of Steve McQueen in a leather jacket. You can look at a photo of Brando in a leather jacket, and that’s rock ‘n’ roll right there.
Mitch Gives Us Peek at His Own Collection
That jacket came from Wasteland on Melrose, Ave. in Los Angeles. There’s something about white leather that’s almost far-fetched and ridiculous. When you walk into these stores and pick something up, you start to pray rabidly that it’s going to fit. Then when you see it fits, it’s like winning the lottery. It means a lot. That’s a funny jacket. The leather is not very high quality, and that’s the case for many of those ’70s leather jackets. However, the style is so great. It’s such a noisy jacket to wear. Whenever you move, it makes a sound. The jacket carries a bit of its own drama that way. I also dug the pockets on there. It’s almost like a leather shirt. You have to be in a certain headspace to put that on because the collar is bigger. If you go out in a crowd, you instantly look different than everyone else because it’s a fashioned look that comes from another time. I personally think, “How can I make this look current at the same time?” That jacket was a real find.
The interesting about this jacket is I purchased it in New York City at the Hugo Boss store. I loved it instantly. That’s just a fantastic shade of red, and it holds its own alongside what I consider the great ’70s leather jackets. The jacket actually almost had a death. I was at the Sunset Strip Music Festival when Ozzy Osbourne headlined. My associate Marcee Rondan and I were in the photo pit with the photographers. She looks at me and goes, “Come on, Ozzy is not going to foam the crowd during the first couple songs.” He usually does that after the photographers are gone. However, because his set was shorter that night, he began to foam the crowd and the pit where I was standing during the second song. The jacket was completely covered in that wet foam. When I got home, I thought that was the end of the jacket. Marcee told me to get this Nivea moisturizing cream and put it all over the jacket. A couple of days later, it was like the jacket came back to life. I told Ozzy, “You knew we were in the pit. You aimed for us.” He just laughed because he loves to play pranks. I will not be wearing that jacket to future Ozzy shows [Laughs].
I just got that a few months ago at Squaresville on Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz. When I picked it up, I thought, “If this fits, that would be incredible!” I love ’70s country rock, and this is similar to the style that the bands would wear whether it’s Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Poco, or The Flying Burrito Brothers. I love that music and I really cut my teeth on it. When I saw the jacket, I couldn’t believe it. It’s a remarkable piece. I actually wore it to the Buffalo Springfield reunion show at The Wiltern. I ran into Clem Burke, Blondie‘s drummer, in the lobby and he said, “Mitch, that is a great Neil jacket.” He was referring to Neil Young, and that’s all I needed to hear. It was the perfect compliment for me.
I got that jacket at American Rag. I think it was like $65 or $70. There were no rips in it or anything. That was one of my ultimate scores. I loved the collars–they were big but not overly big—and the braided stitching over the pockets. That’s a pièce de résistance of the collection for me.
It’s great. The tag says something interesting. It reads, “The man from California.” When you’re a collector, the tag is part of the charm. I had to have it. This one is interesting because it’s not leather; it’s pleather. There’s piping that runs down the front of it, and I was captivated when I saw it.
This is another favorite. It’s from Sorum Noce, and it had that distressed leather. They made a few of them. The inside was rough suede. I loved the quality of the leather and all of the different buttons. It gives that jacket a military feel but not quite. It’s got that beautiful brown color. The jacket always proves to be a real showstopper. When I wear it out, people come up to me and ask where I got it. I say, “Well, there used to be this great store on Melrose called Sorum Noce that Matt Sorum [Guns N’ Roses, The Cult, Velvet Revolver] owned and then the recession came and took it away.” That jacket is historic for me because it points to the beginning of the recession.
This is another Sorum Noce jacket. The leather is so butter soft. I could wear that on a July night. It has a bit of a gothic look to it. It’s like a second skin when you wear it. You feel regal while wearing it. Whenever I see a leather hood, it has the feel of an executioner’s uniform.
I was coming up on my 25th anniversary with my wife, and we had a big party at the El Rey. I’ve always wanted a custom leather jacket, and I told her my friend—designer and stylist Karen Dusenbery– I wanted something a bit mod. She came up with these Edwardian-styled collars. There are lots of buttons that go up and down the side. That jacket is paper thin leather. I’ve worn that in August. There’s something very British about it. It’s amazing.
I love that photo because my daughter Sorrell and I went downtown one day. Her interest in photography really started to flourish. She stopped me and said, “Your jacket matches where it says Union Station.” She got that shot, and it really captures my love for Los Angeles. I love the city, and I could work for the Chamber of Commerce. In fact, one of our accounts is The Sunset Strip Business Association. They’re the whole collection of clubs, restaurants and businesses on the Strip. As a kid growing up in New York, I always dreamed of the Strip. To have a chance to do PR for that is a true honor. I mean, I lost some of my hearing at so many great gigs at the Roxy and Whisky over the years!
What’s the most rock ‘n’ roll piece of clothing you have?
7 QUESTIONS WITH MARCEE
You’ve heard of the seven wonders of the world, the seven deadly sins, seven minutes in heaven, there are seven days in a week and seven seas…well, here are seven questions with Marcee:
What’s your typical day?
Is there a typical day? The one thing I’m certain of is that a day can change with one phone call or email. Generally, I start everyday with email–it’s the first thing I do when I wake up. Once I’m in the office I read multiple newspapers (Los Angeles, New York and hometown papers of my clients) and various columns, websites. The majority of the day–when I’m in the office–is spent on the phone, sending and responding to emails or IMs and spreading the word about my clients.
What’s in your handbag?
Well, the answer must begin with which handbag I’m using today, since I’m known to change them almost daily. Essential items: cell phone; blackberry (with additional back-up cell phone); lanyard with at least one band laminate and flashlight; earplugs; black and/or silver sharpie (someone may need to sign an autograph); passport–if I’m on the road (because you just never know); gum, candy, mints; way too many lip glosses; and last, but not least, my bag of good luck charms.
What was your first job in the industry?
While I was in college I worked at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. This was really just my way of seeing live music all summer long. It truly was a remarkable experience and I believe that in the three years I worked there my life career choice was made. I saw so many great performances and met many amazing artists–everyone from REM and INXS to Neil Diamond and Placido Domingo. That was it, the music business was in my blood and the rest, as they say, is history.
What would your friends be most surprised to learn about you?
I think some people would be surprised by my affinity for football. I sometimes wake up on Sunday mornings and watch football for a few hours before doing all the things I’m supposed to be doing. I think this goes back to high school and the fact that the first writing I really did was covering football for the school paper and I had to learn all about it.
Who’s your career role model?
In my career I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the most talented people in this business, and not only the artists–but so many people behind the scenes. I feel like each and every person I’ve come in contact with has somehow influenced me and all have contributed to making me the publicist I am today. Yes, I’ve had some difficult experiences, but the truth is, the hardest situations have somehow made me stronger and taught me more than I would have ever guessed.
What’s the best thing about your job?
There really are so many aspects of my job that I love. Early exposure to new music is obviously at the top of the list. But then there are the wonderful opportunities that I’m given that change people’s lives, certainly being on hand for a few of the post 9-11 shows, working with the Musicians Assistance Program, and going to New Orleans two months after the storm are some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had through my work.
Best song ever written?
It’s really impossible for me to pick one song. I love, love, love old REM–the southern melancholy the band captured early on is reminiscent of good literature, especially on songs like “South Central Rain” and “Don’t Go Back To Rockville.” But then there’s a great song like Ani DiFranco’s “32 Flavors” that hits me every time I hear it. Add Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” and “Elderly Woman…” to the list. But wait, what about “Moon River” and “Wonderful World”? This is too hard, I could go on and on…
NIGHTCLUB & BAR INTERVIEWS ALEXANDRA GREENBERG
When DJs Compete, Publicists Win
April 11, 2012
By: Steve Lewis
The days of young DJs hustling mixed tapes to club operators are over. In the decade of the DJ, management groups, agents and PR representatives are more likely to get the pitch. The modern DJ has a business team behind him; high-paying gigs demand layers of operatives making sure that the money, equipment, venue, marketing and overall image is on point. On some level, image is as just important as skill. These electronic-music warriors need every edge to move up in the pecking order.
The bread and butter of the club culture, mash-up or mixed-format DJs often are underrated, but they increasingly are demanding higher fees. Alexandra Greenberg, vice president of the Mitch Schneider Organization, a publicity firm specializing in music, culture and lifestyle, is one of a new variety of publicists who handle this breed of DJs. I asked about her job and the emergence of this new exciting era:
Nightclub Confidential (NCC): Bands have always had PR firm to get the word out and create and protect an image. With DJs being the new rock stars, how has your job description changed and developed?
Alexandra Greenberg: Longer hours! With Blackberries/email/Facebook, people’s access to you is non-stop. The typical 9-to-5 does not exist anymore. As far as dealing with DJ talent vs. rock bands, things are still even. Electronic artists want to be pitched to newspapers and magazines, the same as any other type of musician. There is something to be said about seeing your client on the cover of a magazine. It’s cachet.
NCC: How do you sell a DJ and separate him from the growing pack — make a good one seem super?
Greenberg: At the end of the day, it comes down to the music. DJs all make their own music nowadays. The definition of someone playing two records one after another is not so common anymore. Programs allow DJs to remix and re-edit on the fly. If you can’t put something listenable together, you are going to have a tough time. It’s my job to make sure the music gets in front of the right people. This is done by phone calls, emails, packages and invitations to your shows, etc. You have to have a good package — a proper bio, press photos, website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. The first thing someone does if they are interested in you is Google you or search you out on iTunes. You need to make sure that presentation is impressive.
NCC: Does image, dress and grooming play an important role? How do you get your talent to adjust to this new world of media attention?
Greenberg: I think the majority of successful talents out there realize that they are the focal point when they play out, so their dress is important. They always have the best sneakers! Many of them have their own fashion lines and/or are extremely interested in fashion and collaborate with designers.
NCC: Who are your clients? Who was your first, and when did you realize that electronic music was shaping the world?
Greenberg: My EDM clients range from icons, like Paul van Dyk and The Crystal Method, and trailblazers, like deadmau5 and Steve Aoki, to on-the-rise artists, like Felix Cartal, Datsik and Audrey Napoleon. I’ve always loved electronic music. When I was in high school, I used to sneak out of my house to go to the Limelight in NYC because I loved to dance. The crowd was so crazy back then with Keoki, Richie Rich and all that gang. The music has always been there. Just now it’s more in the mainstream in the United States. With the digital age, you can be a huge success with millions of views on YouTube and chart on Beatport and iTunes without ever getting a mention in magazines like Rolling Stone and SPIN.
NCC: DJs are international commodities, often with worldwide tours. How do you advance them and how do you interface with foreign press and foreign venue/festival PR representatives?
Greenberg: There is such a press demand worldwide for DJ talent; most of my clients have publicists in each international territory. There are just too many press outlets worldwide — especially now with all of the digital outlets — to be effective if you did everything everywhere. My focus is North America.
NCC: Where is all of this heading? Is the word “DJ” becoming obsolete?
Greenberg: I don’t think the word “DJ” is becoming obsolete, just its definition is changing. People like David Guetta and Calvin Harris are DJs first but are now considered pop stars. More dance music is getting played on the radio
NCC: There are hordes enjoying these DJs in all corners of the world. Why do you think there is such universal appeal for this music?
Greenberg: At the end of the day, people want to go out and have a good time. Nightclubs and music festivals are a place of celebration, a destination for those looking for escape and a place to connect with people. They want to share and say, “I was there.”
With Such Popularity, DJs Command Higher-Paying Gigs
New York-based dGi Management, a talent management and corporate consulting service, has found great success handling the affairs of DJs who offer mixed-format or mash-up music. In years past, electronic DJs appealed mostly to moneyed Euros, but now electronic dance music has broken big in the United States. DJs compete for dance floors, even in places where there is no longer any dance space — just large bottle-service booths where patrons sway and pump their fists in the air.
Yoni Goldberg, a partner at dGi Management, can’t complain. The DJ revolution has his performers commanding increasingly larger fees as music is doing more to unite the world than all of the horses and kings’ men who ever tried. His 10 DJs each are a unique brand, more often than not holding center stage at the most fabulous parties and events worldwide.
“PR has long been a critical part of our DJs’ careers,” Goldberg says. “In particular, open-format/celebrity DJs distinguish themselves by their image rather than the music they produce, like dance DJs. The way their image is crafted in the media is essential to public perception and differentiation. Ten years ago, (electronic dance music) festivals existed on the margins and were at least perceived to be part of a drug sub-culture. As they become more mainstream — and the mainstream appeal is undeniable as (the Electric Daisy Carnival) has eclipsed Coachella as America’s most popular festival — so too will the performers. Rev Run and DJ Ruckus, whom I manage, have performed together at festivals around the world and will appear at another dozen this summer. I expect more and more commercial acts to have a presence at them in the future.”
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