Country, Pop, Rock Publisher
Born: Birmingham, AL
Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Charlie Feldman is Vice President of BMI, one of the United States’ two largest performing rights societies, handling licensing for more then 6.5 million compositions by 300,000 artists.
Source: http://www.artistshousemusic.org/node/5369/228 (Has video of interview with Charlie)
As Vice President, Writer Publisher Relations, Charlie Feldman directs all writer/publisher relations activities in BMI’s New York office, including the company’s Pop, Urban/Hip Hop, Rock, Classical, Theater and Jazz departments.
Feldman, who joined BMI in 1988, was promoted to Vice President in 1992. He began his career in music publishing in 1974 when he joined EMI Music Publishing Nashville. He was general manager from 1978 until 1988 and was named Vice President in 1986. He has worked closely with such songwriters as The Neville Brothers, Tony Joe White, Carole King, R. Kelly, Toni Wine and Full Force, to name a few. Feldman was also the music supervisor and executive soundtrack producer of the motion picture, Tender Mercies. He has also placed songs in other films, most notably Crimes of the Heart and At Close Range. Prior to joining EMI Music Publishing, Feldman was a songwriter signed to Muscle Shoals Music Publishing Company where he had songs recorded by such artists as Van Morrison, Sea Level, Mel and Tim and Wilson Pickett.
In addition to his duties at BMI, Feldman has served as a Trustee of The Recording Academy (NARAS) and is a New York Chapter past president. He also serves as a Vice Chairman of the Entertainment Media Division of UJA-Federation and is a board member of The Music For Youth Foundation and The National Academy of Popular Music (NAPM). He is a member of the Country Music Association (CMA), Nashville Songwriter’s Association International (NSAI), the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM). Feldman received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alabama in 1971. He lives in Edgemont, New York, with his wife Janice.
Industry Profile: Charlie Feldman
— By Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen
As vice president Writer-Publisher Relations, Charlie Feldman directs all writer/publisher relations activities in BMI's New York office, including the company's pop, urban/hip-hop, rock, classical, theater and jazz departments. "We bring in songs," he says. "Our mission is to keep BMI's repertoire as strong as possible by signing the R. Kellys, Gavin DeGraws, Norah Joneses, Neptunes, etc."
Charlie represents songwriters including: Rihanna, R. Kelly, Full Force, Hall and Oates, Holland Dozier Holland, Jeannie, Gary Nichols, J Status.
Charlie joined BMI in 1988 and was promoted to vice president in 1992. He began his career in music publishing in 1974 when he joined EMI Music Publishing Nashville. He was general manager from 1978-1988 and was named vice president in 1986. Charlie has worked closely with such songwriters as The Neville Brothers, Tony Joe White, Carole King, R. Kelly, Toni Wine and Full Force, to name a few.
Charlie was also the music supervisor and soundtrack album producer of two Robert Duvall motion pictures, Tender Mercies (1983) and Assassination Tango (2003), the latter produced by Francis Ford Coppola. He also consulted producer Roger Friedman of the D.A. Pennebaker Miramax documentary, Only the Strong Survive (2003/04), which celebrated rhythm and blues music.
Prior to joining EMI Music Publishing, Charlie was a songwriter signed to Muscle Shoals Music Publishing Company and Screen Gems-Columbia Music Inc. He has had songs recorded by Van Morrison, Sea Level, Mavis Staples, Mel and Tim, Little Milton, Percy Sledge and Wilson Pickett.
In addition to his duties at BMI, Charlie has served two four-year terms as a trustee of The Recording Academy (NARAS) and is a New York Chapter past president. He also serves as a vice chairman of the Entertainment Media Division of UJA-Federation and is executive vice president of The Music For Youth Foundation as well as a board member of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and The Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is a member of the Country Music Association, too.
Charlie received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alabama in 1971. He and his wife live in Scarsdale, N.Y.
How did you get to the Muscle Shoals Publishing Company?
I used to know Eddie Hinton when I was a singer in a high school band that played all over the southeast. We were The Bassmen, and we traveled by my junior year in high school to Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and all through Alabama, including the University of Alabama and Auburn University. We used to bump into Hinton and his band as well as Johnny Wyker and the Rubber Band. Johnny Townsend of the Sanford Townsend Band was the lead singer of Wyker's band. Anyway, Hinton and I got to be friendly, and by the time I started college at Alabama, he was making his way in Muscle Shoals. I brought my band up to the studio, and Eddie and Donnie Fritts cut some sides on us that went nowhere, but it was the entree for my moving up to Muscle Shoals in my junior year of college with Steve Smith and Tim Smith.
We wrote a lot of songs together, got signed to a production deal and began to make some headway. That's where the Mel and Tim cut on the B side of "Starting All Over Again" came from. Steve, Tim and I wrote "It Hurts To Want It So Bad," although it was really Tim's baby --he really created that song -- which was not only the B-side of that record, but it was covered by Van Morrison and Arthur Alexander. Sea Level also put the same song out on Capricorn as a single and on the album Cats on the Coast.
How did you wind up in Nashville?
I left Muscle Shoals and went back to college at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, graduated and then went up to Nashville where I wrote songs, got a job at Screen Gems-Columbia Music and got the Wilson Pickett cut by Rick Hall in Muscle Shoals in 1978. Then Jon Tiven cut Taxi Love a few years ago on Wilson, which Jon and I wrote, so two on Pickett, got one on Percy Sledge back in Muscle Shoals and also got some country chart records in Nashville back in the 70's, one on an older artist Jeannie Seely and Sarah Johns on MCA and RCA respectively.
How did you and Tony Joe White meet and become associated?
As for Tony Joe White, I knew him from hanging around Chips Moman's American Studio in Nashville and always loved Tony Joe's sound and his integrity. So I did a deal with him in the 80's at Screen Gems. The company had morphed into EMI Music Publishing. Right after I signed Tony Joe, he went to L.A. and met Roger Davies and Tina Turner and ended up with three songs on the follow up album to the album with "What's Love Got To Do With It?" called Foreign Affairs.
What do you look for in a songwriter you sign to BMI?
We accept any and all songwriters and composers who are getting their works performed on radio, television and in concerts. Personally, I love to work with songwriters who are honest musically and know who they are; those who are confident and are driven to figure out how to make a living in music. And, of course, when I love what someone creates and it moves me, then I want to work with them.
What makes a good song?
Any song that when performed touches one's deepest emotions whether happy, funny or sad and just sounds great.
What differentiates BMI from ASCAP and SESAC?
BMI's strongest asset is its people. We have incredibly bright, knowledgeable talented music lovers working at BMI. Innovations come from people's ideas and their implementation of those ideas. BMI has always been a service driven company. That's why we have grown steadily and successfully over the last 20 or so years. We've been first in many areas including the first to distribute royalties for performances on college radio, the first to initiate a company website, the first to provide direct deposit of royalties, the first to enter into a billion dollar licensing agreement with the radio industry, the only U.S. performing rights society founding member of the international alliance, FastTrack, which represents over 70% of the worlds works and on and on.
How does BMI promote its writers?
In many ways. We utilize our website with podcasting, articles, pictures, etc., which gets over 500,000 unique visitors a month and over 3 million page views a month. We've created many effective alliances/partnerships/sponsorships to help our writers such as our partnership with NACA (National Association of Campus Activities) whereby we showcase up and coming writers/artists at the NACA National Convention each year. Extensive college bookings come from this. We're a sponsor at conferences and festivals like SXSW, Austin City Limits Festival, NEMO in Boston, ongoing showcases partnering with Vibe Magazine, etc.
And our creative team is incredibly effective at networking and promoting such new signings, past and present as: Norah Jones, Brendan James, Rihanna, Melissa Jimenez, J Status, The Click 5, Kate Nauta, Vanessa Carlton, Gavin DeGraw, Mark Batson, Trey Songz and Lanz, just to name a few. Of course, you've heard of some of these and some you haven't. The ones you have heard of were with us before they became known. We are great at talking out in the community about these writers before they proliferate.
Does BMI try to get songs placed?
There isn't enough time in the day to help everyone who asks for it. However, we've been known to help pitch songs on a very selective basis, and we've had success at it. Some of our employees come from the publishing world and have always been familiar with the art of pitching songs.
First concert attended
James Brown and the Famous Flames at the Rickwood Stadium, Birmingham, Ala., in the summer of '63.
First industry job
Signed as a songwriter to Muscle Shoals Music Publishing Co.
Music supervisor for two Robert Duvall movies: Tender Mercies and Assassination Tango, the latter produced by Francis Ford Coppola.
Finding the next R. Kelly.
Best business decision
Moving to NYC to go to work at BMI.
Best advice you receive
Give someone enough rope, and they will hang themselves.
Best advice to offer
Follow your own dream and vision and don't compromise your talents.
Most memorable industry experience
Sitting on the arm of a couch at Robert Duvall's house in Malibu next to Waylon Jennings, Duvall and Steve Goodman while Steve sang and played a few months before he passed. It was obvious that he was dying, and his performance was inspiring. Lots of actors and a few great film directors were in the audience.
Now it is the Yankees. Used to be the Chicago Bulls -- great teamwork. Five guys working as one player. Muhammad Ali -- indescribably the greatest -- skill and courage and personality.
What friends would be surprised to learn about you
I love to paint pictures. I work in watercolors and acrylics.
Industry pet peeve
Following the buzz and not the great music.
On the wall: one of my paintings and not much else; On the desk: CDs of great new artists/writers and some messages to call folks.
If I wasn't doing this, I would be...
...an artist in Paris with my easel set up painting.
Lester Sill, Frances Preston, Robert Duvall. And, Paul Tannen -- gave me my first real music job at Screen Gems-Columbia Music.
Charlie can be reached 212-830-2507; e-mail at
More info at: http://www.starpolish.com/about/industry.asp
(PDF Download) http://www.musicforyouth.org/downloads/charliefeldman070501.pdf