by Robert Campchero
Vinny Tabone graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 1991. Since then, his hard work and ability to network have paid off. Vinny has been working at SONY Music Entertainment for fourteen years, making him a seasoned veteran of the music industry. He credits his education at SUNY Oneonta as the catalyst for his success saying, "It all started with Oneonta. It was really the springboard to everything else that has happened for me." Vinny also cites music industry expert Ann Ruckert as a major influence on his success in the music industry. While he was a student at SUNY Oneonta, Ann was a guest speaker at the college. She told students that they could arrange a consultation with her after graduation, and Vinny took that opportunity. He recalled, "So when I graduated, I didn't have a job. I wanted to get into the music industry as quickly as possible. I set up an appointment with Ann in Manhattan and she put me in contact with Diamond Time Music and Media, where I eventually got my first job."
Diamond Time handles rights and clearances services. Vinny wasn't sure this was an area of high interest for himself, but he stuck it out and eventually got settled in. He said, "I was a musician most of my life. I was still in that mindset. I was torn, but I gave it a year and it introduced me to a lot of people." He stressed the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity, even if it doesn't seem like the right fit, because it could lead to something you really love. Vinny explained, "Even though it wasn't too exciting, I was surrounded by people who love music. Rap and Hip Hop were just starting to get big in the 90's and I would be clearing the rights for these artists to include samples in their music. I thought that was pretty interesting. That got me going off on other tangents and learning more about licensing." While working at Diamond Time, Vinny learned about rights and clearances working in Contract Administration. He said, "While I was there, I did everything from contract administration to sample clearances. It was a great experience. I worked there for about three years." Contacts that he made while at Diamond Time would ultimately lead him to SONY Music.
Vinny started out as the Associate Director for Business Affairs, but has been the Director for eight years, now. He works with the Custom Marketing Group, which handles custom compilations, artist re-issues, and he works with major companies like The Gap, Target, Time-Life Music, and Wal Mart. He explained more in depth what he does. "If we're doing a compilation for The Gap and they want to use SONY artists, I'll research the contracts to see what we can and can't do with the repertoire. If they want to use a track that belongs to EMI or Universal, then I will contact those companies and I'll license in the rights to use their masters and negotiate the rates and fees."
Vinny had some other advice to give about succeeding in the music industry. He stressed the importance of rights and clearances to a record label's success, "The department of business affairs and rights and clearances is one area of any business that is absolutely integral and necessary to tie up all the deals, legal issues and licensing that are involved to get all the rights secured so that projects can happen. This could be a segment of the business that students may want to look into. I wouldn't say it's as glamorous, or high profile as other areas of the industry, but it's an essential and much needed part of the industry that contributes a significant revenue stream to a company." Vinny also had some advice for aspiring musicians. He suggested that bands looking for a record contract should educate themselves about every aspect of the music business. They should know about artist recording contracts, managers, publishing, lawyers, marketing and promotion, not to mention the history of music and the players involved who can make a difference in an artist's career. He added, "Bands that want to get signed have to be patient, very serious, dedicated, informed, educated, and have a good sense of all the working parts of the area of the music business that they want to get into."
Vinny Tabone has experienced a lot of success in the music industry. He's been able to secure and hold a job at SONY Music for fourteen years, even with the current re-structuring of the music industry. Despite his success and busy schedule, Vinny had no problem making time for our interview. He stands as a great role model for students looking for a future in the music industry.