From Intern to President of Geffen and Interscope Music: The Story of Ronny Vance
Ronny Vance is the former president of Geffen Music and Interscope Music. Vance has over 40 years of experience in the music industry. The artists and writers he has signed in that time have had cumulative sales of over 200 million records. Vance has been responsible for the signings of Tupac, New Edition, Stephen Sondheim, Bruce Hornsby, Gwen Stefani, and for the placement of notable songs such as: "Maniac,” “New Attitude,” and Eric Clapton’s two-time 1998 Grammy winning song "Change the World”.
Vance has two-hit writers, Paul Gordon and DK Benjamin. Paul Gordon composed the music and lyrics for the stage musical Jane Eyre which ran on Broadway in 2000–2001, for which he received a nomination for Tony Award for Best Original Score. He also penned the Peter Cetera and Amy Grant #1 hit "Next Time I Fall" and the #1 Pop and Country hit "Friends and Lovers." DK has written and/or produced for Australia's Pop star Vanessa Amorosi, England’s #1 hit teen act JLS, as well as 90s R&B legend Jon B, and Rebecca Stella whose song “Give Me That O” earned a #2 position on Sweden’s Overall Music Chart.
What is the the biggest change you see today in the music industry that most people wouldn’t deem as obvious?
The music of today is brilliant. It’s on a whole other level than the records we used to make in the 70s, 80’s, and 90’s. If you take a minute and look deeply into what’s going on and listen to the soul of the song...you’ll be blown away.
What was the most challenging day you have faced in your career and why?
The first thing that comes to mind is when I had to call Quincy Jones and tell him to basically back off. Quincy Jones was easily the most powerful producer in the world. Quincy produced Thriller, and Off The Wall; some of the most incredible and successful records ever made. In any case, I sent an artist over to Quincy, but my deal with this individual wasn’t formally signed and finalized. Later, I found out from my lawyers that Quincy was interested but he also wanted the publishing rights. That’s where it crossed the line, and Quincy was understanding and claimed it was his lawyers and he had nothing to do with it. Eventually I did get the publishing, and signed the artist to a record company…but gathering courage to make that call was not an easy thing to do.
What wisdom would you give to artists in the 21st Century landscape in order for them to succeed?
Well I’m definitely not going to say the typical things people say like “hang in there”, and “don’t give up”. I have always believed that when something is really brilliant, people will find it. But in the internet era, there are wonderful ways to connect with fans that you could never have reached just a decade ago. If you didn’t have the support of a major record company or major music publishing company, you were out of luck. But there’s a Catch 22. There are millions of other kids putting their materials on the internet so you still have to be brilliant, or brilliant at making yourself seen.
What was the moment where it clicked, and you knew that your place is with MyPart?
The first roadshow we did in the States. We went to California and New York and we saw all these high level executives, that instantly got how the concept of our AI can be a game changer. What I had in mind was that when the guys first came to me saying that “this AI is going to serve as an extension of your ears, and help you find relevant songs”, I was like “No, no, no, you don’t tell me what a relevant song is, I tell YOU!” That’s what I was paid for all these years... And all of a sudden we meet such a willingness to take that leap of faith with us. I was thrilled.