Paul Fishkin calls many rock stars his dear friends and music moguls his mentors. He is a man who’s been at the very start of numerous artists’ music careers, oftentimes propelling them into stardom. For decades he signed, recorded, promoted, and managed successful musicians like Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame member Stevie Nicks, Rock Hall of Fame member Todd Rundgren, multi-platinum group Foghat, Natalie Cole, and Poe. Surprisingly, he was first trained as a pharmacist before settling into his music career.
Finding a footing in the music world with Bearsville Records
After his ‘internship by fire’ in his native Philadelphia as one of the first ‘underground’/FM DJ’s, and working with local bands such as Woody’s Truck Stop and The American Dream, Paul embarked on his professional music career at the legendary Bearsville Records, first as an intern/assistant to Albert Grossman, where he had a reputation for getting songs played on the radio, not always an easy task. Working with such a distinguished individual in the music industry as Mr. Grossman opened doors for Paul to meet many artists and music executives, some who would change his life and vice versa. Soon afterward, Paul was propelled into the spotlight & officially given a paying job with Mr. Grossman at Bearsville. Subsequently, he became the first President of Bearsville Records, eventually owning 44% of the company. While signed to Bearsville, ToddRundgren wrote, produced, and recorded the popular song “We Gotta Get You a Woman,” it was about Paul’s lack of a steady girlfriend! The song made it all the way to the Top 20 on Billboard.
“In those days of course we didn’t go to school for the music business, we didn’t do anything, we were right off the street. Our main asset, Iike myself, was that I was a peer to the musician, we were all friends, some of the friends became rock stars, the other friends of those rock stars got into the music business. They trusted us. That was my asset.”
Fifty years ago, during this period he met Ted Cohen, the host of MediaTech Ventures’ show connecTed. At the time, Ted and Paul bonded over their appreciation of Todd Rundgren.
In 1970, Albert Grossman founded Bearsville Records. Grossman was a music manager and entrepreneur who represented artists in the rock and roll and American folk music genres. He is especially known for managing Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Odetta, and the list goes on.
“Albert Grossman was one of the first to recognize the artist as a singer-songwriter versus the old days.”
After eight years at Bearsville Records, Paul then went on to start his own record label, Modern Records, with Danny Goldberg. Danny Goldberg was the former publicist for Led Zeppelin and the former manager of Nirvana and BonnieRaitt. The esteemed StevieNicks, Poe, NatalieCole, and Sandy Stewart were all part of the Modern Records artist roster.
Paul had already gained credibility in the music industry at Bearsville Records, but his expertise was solidified when he guided Stevie Nicks‘ solo career at Modern Records. She wrote and recorded another song about Paul, titled Sleeping Angel. Watch Paul talking about his memory of meeting Stevie Nicks and working together on her solo career apart from her band Fleetwood Mac.
“Her voice was the driving force…on the largest selling album in the history of the music business at that time.”
At the same time, while running Modern Records, Paul was a partner in Fishkin-Rogers Management. There he managed many comedians, like Rosie O’Donnell and Star Search winner, Mark McCollum. Additionally, Paul co-managed Twisted Sister and Kix with Mark Puma. Other notable collaborations include working with Jimmy Iovine, the co-founder of both Interscope Records and Beats by Dre. Together they worked on a project for a production deal through A & M Records. (Jimmy Iovine produced Stevie Nicks’ debut solo album, Bella Donna, for Paul Fishkin while at Modern Records.) Paul was also a consultant for Doug Morris, former Chairman of Universal Music Group and Sony Music Group, and Tom Shadyac, director of Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, Nutty Professor, and Bruce Almighty), for his record label 333 Music.
Endeavors into Tech
After much success in the music industry, Paul turned to technology. He was one of the co-founders of en2go, a tech, and media hybrid, with Tolga Katas and Christine Marie Katas. MediaTech Ventures’ Ted Cohen was also part of this music tech venture, as was Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Adapting to evolving technology is nothing new for Paul, who’s had lifelong experience working on records, radio, and every new technology development since the 1960s.
Paul Fishkin is an innovator and strategist who knows how to manage brilliant music and tech game-changers. Watch the full conversation between two respected music executives and lifelong friends Ted Cohen and Paul Fishkin to get an insider perspective of the music industry from the ’60s and ’70s.