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Q&A with Saxophonist Eric Person

By Published: December 11, 2003

AAJ: Give me a glimpse into the bottom line on having your own record company? How does Distinction Records handle its distribution?

EP: The bottom line is control, happiness, and peace of mind. I own and make money off every CD sold, whether in a store, or on the internet. And, my CD's will stay in print! Most importantly, I will always know the status of every release. It's a winning situation. I have two on-line distributors, a larger distributor (North Country) and one in St. Louis. There will be more to come. Someone can go to my website, and get them. My CD's are not in every store, but it's available and every store can get them.

AAJ: Did your experiences with alternative pop artist, Ben Harper, help you with any ideas for your own music, business or creativity wise?

EP: I took away a lot of things from working with Ben, but I find it strange that a lot of people in the states don't know who he is. He makes good music and is well known in Europe. But here, it's just college kids who know him. Anyway, I took away some things I learned from him and his management dealing with self-promotion. Ben is a tireless self-promoter. He's doing interviews on his days off, doing them on or after sound checks. He also records every performance. And I record every gig now, because there may be a gem that can make an upcoming release. Being in that state of readiness brought Live at Big Sur into being. Another thing I dug was playing the big halls before thousands of screaming fans. The crowds enthusiasm is so unlike anything in jazz, it's a very fresh vibe. In Paris at Le Zenith, we played before 7,000 fans. Not 7,000 people there to hear some music, but 7,000 fans there to see us! They have the CD's, they know the lyrics, they are going to the website putting messages up on how much they dug the gig. They are trading tapes. It's something that is very special and real for them, because it's touched them in some way. That's what I want for my music. Multitudes digging my music.

See, the vibe around jazz can be depressing. Little clubs, no dressing rooms, that hand-to-mouth vibe, elitist snobs, lack of money and opportunities. It's a different scene. With Ben Harper I learned how important the visual element is. Whether its the look of the CD cover, or the clothes an artist wears on the gig. It sets up an atmosphere to bring people in. And that's the point.

Visit Eric Person on the web at .

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