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Reuters - Billboard (US, www)
October 18, 2003

This is a longer version of the October 9, 2003, Billboard.com article.

Singer-Songwriter Amos Builds a Bridge for Artists

By Melinda Newman

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - When Epic Records president Polly Anthony departed in September, Tori Amos felt she had to take matters into her own hands.

This month, she founded the Bridge Entertainment Group, an artist and project development company that will assist acts in all facets of their careers. The firm's first client is Amos, and its debut project will be her greatest-hits collection, "Tales of a Librarian," due out Nov. 18 on Atlantic.

"When Polly left, instead of reacting, I sat and thought about it for a couple of days, and I began to see that the reason I went was gone," Amos told Billboard. "I went to be a part of something that was no longer there, so I decided to design my own structure and bring in what I thought she brought to the table."

The Bridge is run by Los Angeles-based John Witherspoon, who has worked with Amos for more than a decade, and Chelsea Laird, who coordinated many marketing aspects of Amos' last album, "Scarlet's Walk."

The company will offer services on a per-fee basis, whether it be providing marketing on a specific project, tour setup and promotion, Web site coordination, artist management or nurturing U.S. releases by European acts. The fee will be based on the time and complexity of each project.

The formation of the company is not so much an indictment of the current label system as much as an acknowledgement that record company staffs have been trimmed and that artists ultimately are responsible for their own careers.

"I began looking at the fact that record companies are letting a lot of the ideas people go, and for a lot of artists that are dependent on these people, they don't know where to turn," Amos says. "The Bridge is really about people who have created something but don't know where to take it next."

She adds that the Bridge is also for managers who may need more support to promote their artists, as well as for labels of all sizes that may have had cutbacks and need to outsource projects.

"The reason we call it the Bridge is because it isn't about segregating an artist from the other team," Amos says. "It's about integrating all facets. It's about how you can come up with another way to get the attention of millions of people."

The Bridge is open to all artists, regardless of their label affiliation, but Amos stresses, "It's not a hocus-pocus shop. I don't deal in people's fantasies. They have to be able to deliver. It isn't about how big the project is -- it's 'Can the Bridge offer this person anything?"'

Amos says the new company has been flooded with e-mail from artists, labels and managers interested in its services. But she adds, "I think people are waiting to see how the launch of 'Librarian' goes."

Clients may even find themselves working directly with Amos. "Will I be making coffee as artists come in the door? Will I meet all of them? No. But I'm there as an idea person. This is about bringing in people who are passionate and can see that we're at a crossroads in the music industry and who can figure out how to carve themselves a path when there is no clear path."

Reuters/Billboard


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