By Casey Dunphy
It took a few tries for David Castagna to find his niche in the Music Industry world. "The Music Industry is so broad, there are so many ways to get involved…you can pretty much do whatever you want. I had to do so many different things to get to where I am now." David is a graduate of SUNY Oneonta's Music Industry program and came to Oneonta because he wanted to incorporate law with his interest in the industry.
"I played in a few bands when I was younger (guitar & bass). I wanted to get into the industry as a performer at first, but I was also a realist who knew how difficult it would be to do that. At first, I figured I would try audio engineering. I was very good at it, but again I found that this route was not the one for me. So after doing various other things I realized that I still had this love for music and I wanted to be involved in it somehow
David started his college career with Brooklyn College as a TV/Radio Major and only went there for one year. "I took my first couple of classes in the major, which were basically a history of Radio and the evolution of TV; and I did very well. When I started my second year, I realized that I hated it because of all the unnecessary classes that I had to take and the ones I did enjoy ended up being repeats of classes I had just taken the year before disguised under a different title. So I took about a year or so off from school, worked various jobs, and played in a few bands that never went anywhere. It was basically a lot of hanging out and getting into trouble," he said. "Then one day I realized that I had to get my real life started and the only way to do that was to finish my education." He then went onto The Institute of Audio Recording (IAR) in New York City. David finished a fourteen month program and received a certificate. The program required him to do internships with a couple companies. "The first was at Z-Music Studios, a rock music studio from 6 p.m. - 6a.m. and TV commercials jingle house during the day. My job was to clean up (including the bathroom) after the rock sessions, and make coffee and get lunch for the day sessions.
I w asn't happy there so I did my three months and left. I got another "job" at another studio... the name I can't seem to remember, or just don't want to remember. Within the first month I did the same things as the other studio, and after working there for some months I realized that this part of the industry didn't have anything to offer me. It wasn't what I wanted."
Soon after, David heard about the Music Industry program at Oneonta through a friend who was a student at Hartwick College (another college in Oneonta). When he was considering going to Oneonta that he remembered a job he had before while he was in High School. "I worked at a Real Estate Law Firm, at first as a messenger and then I did reception. During the summer before I was to go to Brooklyn College they offered me a position as a process server. A process server was basically the guy that would show up at people's apartments and serve them with notices to get the hell out of their apartments within 72 hours. Not a fun gig. They wanted to pay for me to go to school and get my license, but I declined to go to Brooklyn College instead," he said laughing. "I thought I could incorporate what I enjoyed doing at the law office into my love for music."
David went to look at the school and worked with Chairman of the program, Dr. Robert Barstow on transferring his credits from his other schools and start over at Oneonta. He said that his favorite classes were Legal Issues in the Music Industry and Music Marketing and Merchandising. "I was really impressed with the program, those classes especially, because they talked about all the things that interested me in the industry. Learning about contracts, Title 17 Copyright Law, and synchronization licensing was a huge help to me. One of the books required for another class was by Donald Passman, "All you need to know about the Music Industry" is a great book. It tells you everything you need to know but in English, so you really understand."
David started working with a professor in the program, Dr. Janet Nepkie on getting his required internship underway. "She was great. Without her I wouldn't be where I am today. She introduced me to her friend, Alan S. Bergman. He has an entertainment law firm, Alan S. Bergman and Associates, P.C. and he established 1630 Music Services, Inc., a company specializing in music clearance and music publisher administration. The company represents music publishers and other licensors of music as well as licensees of music like TV, motion picture, video and DVD producers. They handle all contract administration related to these uses of music and also prepare and distribute royalty and license fee accountings. David started his internship with Alan's company doing anything possible to gain experience. "I worked on anything from mechanical licenses, sub-publishing agreements and accounts to royalty accounts and office management. I learned so much during my internship. I soaked up everything like a sponge to get to where I am now." David got hired as an assistant as soon as he completed his internship. "I started out as a secretary. I typed letters, answered phones, a lot of accounting work, bill paying, and payroll... office manager type work. Through the years my pay would increase with the amount of responsibilities I took and the experience I gained. I started getting more involved with mechanicals, sub publishing deals, commercial and sync licensing deals." Five years ago, David got to be a part of one of the company's best deals. "Coca-Cola contacted Billy Taylor about his song "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free." Duane Music is Dr. Taylor's publishing company, which 1630 Music administers. They wanted to use it in a commercial that would air during American Idol. Alan and I worked for quite a few weeks negotiating this deal which just kept getting bigger and bigger. At first it was just in the UK, and then they wanted permission for the US, Australia, Africa, Central and South America. Each one of these territories had to be negotiated separately and for a separate fee due to the fact that Coca-Cola does not have a worldwide marketing budget, but rather each territory pays for its own. The end result was over a half a million dollars for Billy." When that deal was done David had the feeling that he couldn't move up any higher in the company and wasn't too sure of what was to come next for him. But it was just a few months after that a former employee of Mr. Bergman's contacted them. "He is a Vice President of ABC Music and he let us know of this new daytime talk show that was looking for someone to do their Music Clearance. It is the opposite of what I used to do because as publishing administrator, people like Coke would contact us and ask permission to use the music we control. But with the talk show I would have to contact other publishers and ask permission for us to use their music," he said. Alan got me involved from the start and what they needed was someone who would be onsite at the show. So, Mr. Bergman decided that person would be David.
Now David works everyday on Buena Vista Television's daily talk show, The Tony Danza Show. "I'm the onsite music clearance coordinator. The show comes to me when they have a song that they want to use on the show. I then contact the master rights owner and we create a deal," he said. Though Mr. Bergman still has his law practice, he does review the actual sync and master licenses and helps David with his contacts and years of experience.
"I love what I do, I never thought I would be doing music clearances for a television show but now that I am, it is making me realize how much the business needs people to do this job. My job is more common in California but I am hoping to make it more popular in New York and expand my business. It seems stupid that there aren't people clearing music for shows that are New York based. We are currently negotiating another show for our company and hope there are many more to come."
David said that his education has had everything to do with what he has been doing since he left Oneonta. "Dr. Nepkie helped give me a solid foundation of the legal side of the music business. She helped me understand the complexities of Title 17 Copyright Law and the crazy misunderstood world of record contacts and negotiations. Without her introducing me to this and encouraging my interest in this field I would not be where I am today. She is a responsible for introducing me to Alan. Alan has taught me everything I know and I owe more than you can ever imagine. He and Dr. Nepkie are the reasons for all my success."