Jay Gilbert's Musical Journey, From Motown to Vintage Trouble

Plus, his three favorite new artists today

Jay Gilbert is co-founder, digital strategy, analytics, creative, at Label Logic, which provides a full suite of label services via a menu of product management, marketing, campaign management and executive label functions. 

Gilbert has been on the cutting edge of digital sales and marketing throughout his career, holding positions at companies including Universal Music, Fox Home Entertainment and Warner Music Group. He has created and executed unique online marketing plans for Nirvana, the Police, KISS, Motley Crue, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Styx, Rob Zombie, Johnny Cash, Guns 'N Roses, Smokey Robinson, Tears for Fears, Rick Springfield, Lisa Loeb, Ringo Starr, Ron White, Peter Frampton, the Temptations, Amy Grant, Melissa Etheridge and many more.

An accomplished music photographer, Gilbert also curates Your Morning Coffee, a weekly newsletter for the music industry, and is co-host of the Music Biz Weekly Podcast. We caught up with Gilbert for our Liner Notes Q&A series to learn more about his musical journey, as well as recent work he's proud of and admired.


Jay, tell us ...

Your earliest musical memory.

My mom was a classically trained pianist, and my grandfather played saxophone in big bands. So I was always surrounded by music. I remember one summer when my older brother came home from camp. They had taught him a few chords on the guitar. I thought that was so cool. My sister had a Motown box set compilation that I would sneak out of her room when she was away, scrambling to get it back before she got home. As I grew up, I spent many nights with my radio hidden under my blankets, listening to music until I fell asleep.

Your first concert.

Cheap Trick opening for KISS on Aug. 13, 1977. We didn't have MTV or the internet. All we had was Cream, Circus and Hit Parader magazines. We had never seen either band before they took to the stage. That concert set the bar pretty high.

Your favorite bands/musicians.

I grew up on the Beatles, Elton John, Motown, Queen, etc. The classics! But I love discovering new music. My top three new artists are:

The Accidentals.

Female-fronted multi-instrumentalists. I once flew from Los Angeles to Travers City, Michigan, to see them play. Beautifully crafted songs that reveal more with repeated listens. Their melodies lift me up, and their lyrics pierce my armor.

The Lickerish Quartet.

A supergroup of sought-after songwriters and musicians, former members of the legendary band Jellyfish. If you're a fan of bands like XTC, Queen and ELO, you'll enjoy this comfort food.

Brett James.

Brett is truly a superstar songwriter. He's had over 500 of his songs recorded by some of the biggest artists on the planet, including 25 No. 1 hits. This year he stepped out from behind the scenes to release his own music in his own voice. "True Believer" will bring you to your knees. "Tell the People" is a song of hope for this heartbreaking year. He's in heavy rotation in my car.

How you get your music these days.

For my work, I subscribe to Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Tidal, Deezer, Pandora, YouTube Music, Qobuz, etc. They all have their strengths. It would be hard for me to choose just one. I'm also a big fan of Music Aficionado. So easy to fall into their rabbit holes. I still like to have physical copies of my favorite records, on vinyl when I can. I used to work at Tower Records. I love that tactile experience.

Your favorite place to see a concert.

There are so many great venues here in Los Angeles. It's a tie between The Hollywood Bowl and The Whisky a Go Go. So much musical history at these two venues. I witnessed so many memorable performances at both. 

Your favorite music video.

I love discovering videos of young talented artists and street musicians on YouTube. Have you seen the video of Moriah Formica and Brooke Colucci performing Heart's "Barracuda"? 

Your favorite music-focused TV show and/or podcast.

The Song Exploder podcast by Hrishikesh Hirway. So many great episodes that take you inside the creative process in a deep and genuine way. 

A recent project you're proud of.

Vintage Trouble. Doc McGhee brought us in to reenergize the the band and get them back in the game. They're the best live band on the planet, and they'd played some amazing shows, opening for the Rolling Stones, (Dixie) Chicks, AC/DC. They had built a solid base, X-US, but hadn't cultivated the United States. In partnership with Doc, Ty, Nalle, Rick and Richard, we created a plan, partnered with Ingrooves and executed it. It was very rewarding.

Someone else's project that you admired recently.

Billie Eilish's "Me & Dad Radio" on Apple Beats1. Oddly compelling. Frequently sounds like me and my daughters talking music.

How musicians should approach working with brands.

With integrity. I encourage partnerships with brands where it's mutually beneficial from a branding perspective. Partnerships need to be genuine IMHO.

How brands should approach working with musicians.

With fairness. Music has value. Artist endorsements have value. Music and brands have can be a powerful combination. Respect that.

What music can do that nothing else can.

Music is played at weddings AND funerals. It can communicate the human experience in a deeper way than anything I know. It can pull you up off of the mat or simply bring you to your knees.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music world.

Photography. It's my weekend passion. I turn off the phone, lock the studio door and get to work. It's therapy. 

Liner Notes is our interview series where we chat with folks in the music industry about their creative inspirations, their favorite bands and musicians, and generally what music means to them. For more about Liner Notes, and our Clio Music program, please contact Michael Kauffman.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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