An AAJ Interview with Issi Rozen
AAJ: Do you have any preparatory routines or rituals prior to performing live? If so, could you describe them?
IR: I would like to relax before each performance but it is hardly the case for me. Somehow there are always things to take care of before the performance. However, whenever I can I try to just hang out with the band and relax.
AAJ: What's the funniest or most embarrassing thing that's happened to you while performing or recording?
IR: At one gig and older man got up on stage and started walking around the musicians looking for something. He was searching the stage for a while oblivious to the fact that the entire audience was staring at him. I was told later that he attended a Harvard University event that took place there before our concert and I assume he forgot something on stage. I guess he had too much to drink during the Harvard event and didn't notice there was a jazz concert going on.
AAJ: What musicians would you most like to work with that you've never worked with before?
IR: I would love to play with Elvin Jones. He is my favorite jazz drummer and a great inspiration.
AAJ: What projects can AAJ readers expect from you in 2004-2005?
IR: I am beginning to write music for my next CD and will probably try to explore a little different direction this time. I am not sure what it is yet but it should be interesting.
Also, I am planning to continue to grow my new online record label New Step Music and add exciting new artists to the site.
POSTSCRIPT on New Step Music
All About Jazz: What motivated you to found this label?
Issi Rozen: The new technologies and distribution channels available today. I strongly believe that the Internet provides great opportunities for artists and I wanted to take advantage of these opportunities. Most labels choose to either ignore these new opportunities or fight them instead of benefiting from them. I was frustrated with this attitude and wanted to things differently.
AAJ: Do you envision establishing any underlying and/or unifying aesthetic policies or criteria for defining what is (or is not) a New Step release? If so, could you please explain these?
IR: There is no particular unifying aesthetic that I am looking for. The only criteria that I envision for a New Step Music release is that I really like the music. I especially enjoy artists that have a unique sound so I would probably tend to look for these types of releases.
AAJ: Are you accepting submissions for New Step? Should musicians contact you before submitting? What format should recordings be submitted on?
IR: I do accept submissions. The format of the recording doesn't matter but I highly recommend that musicians send me an email before submitting a recording.
AAJ: If you could change one aspect of the recording industry at large, what would it be?
IR: I would put in place A&R people who look for great music and not great monetary returns. Music is an art form but most major labels treat it as a product. I believe that many of the problems that the major labels are facing the result of turning music into a generic product. I strongly believe that if the major labels were focused on signing great artists they would reap the benefits over a long period. When they focus on the next big hit they always need to search for the next big star since their audience is no longer interested in yesterday's star.
AAJ: Do you think that digital recording technology has made it easier for independent recording labels to be founded and to continue to operate? Why or why not?
IR: Digital recording technology definitely helps independent labels and artists. The new recording technologies have helped to lower the costs of recording great sounding CDs. The easier it is to record CDs the better it is for independent labels and artists who can now afford to record more music.
AAJ: Do you feel that the continued growth of the Internet is making it easier for independent recording labels to be founded and to continue to operate? Why or why not?
IR: Definitely. Today you can reach music fans around the globe without the need for expensive distribution. You can sell downloads through the Internet. Also, the web provides many new opportunities to promote artists that in the past may have been overlooked. The global reach of the Internet and the new possibilities it provides are enormous help to small labels and independent artists that know how and are willing to use it.
AAJ: How do you anticipate that the availability of economical and widespread high speed Internet access is going to change the music industry? Is it evolution or revolution?
IR: I strongly believe that it will completely change the Industry's distribution channel. When consumers can download music at home it makes no sense to sell music at stores. You can save all the manufacturing and distribution costs and reach a much larger audience by selling the music as downloads. It should be an evolution since we are only changing the format from CDs to downloads but I believe that it will turn into a revolution. The reason I believe that it will have such a strong impact is because the profit margins will decrease and the major labels will have to completely reinvent themselves. The way music is marketed today will change and we will see more small artists and less big name stars.