The fun that was had interviewing Eric Martin and Mark Bego was so immense, we couldn’t resist hitting up their publicist for a quick profile! Veteran publicist David Salidor is the press man for the stars, and has handled highly successful publicity campaigns for some of the biggest celebrities in the world. His resumé boasts campaigns for Madonna, Mark Bego, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Al Green, and ZZ Top, just to name a few. David’s company, dis Company, was and is right on the cusp of today’s best pop music, and has been able to change with the times – Think Susan Blond with less outsourcing, and you’ve got David Salidor, a publicist with the charisma and business sense that New York is famous for. We caught up with David for a quick Q&A.
Victoria Hill: CWG has written about some of the artists you represent (Mark Bego and Eric Martin). How did you become a publicist?
David Salidor: I grew up in a music business household. My father worked for the legendary Decca Records, running their PR department; my mother owned a record store. Decca in the 50’s was one of the biggest labels around. Being a typical kid, I didn’t want to learn any of it and resisted the best I could, but when push came to shove, I kind of knew that end of the business intimately. I started off by doing concert reviews for Billboard, then some local papers in Long Island, NY, where I grew up. At one, Good Times, Kurt Loder was my editor, and David Fricke, my assistant editor. I also worked at the local progressive radio station, WLIR, and at a club called My Father’s Place … which was the premiere spot on the East Coast. I think once I realized what I wanted to do, I went out full tilt.
VH: You have worked with Madonna, Run-DMC, Phil Collins, Deborah Gibson, and,The Moody Blues. What stories can you share about working with such diverse artists?
DS: Each artist, each campaign was an amazing journey. The Moody Blues were always a favorite band, so to have my first job at their label, London Records was totally awesome. Truth be told, they couldn’t have been nicer, so my role was really continuing what they had already built up. Now that I think about it, I never, ever had an awkward moment with them. Total professionals. In fact, when I saw Justin Hayward years later, at Q104.3 of all places, he couldn’t have been any nicer. Great group, great guys!
Madonna was quite an adventure as well. I was actually first working with her producer/bf at the time, John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez. She always listened … always! So, I knew she was really taking to heart all the madness around her. I knew she was destined for success … no question in my mind of her abilities and talent. She was truly original, from start to finish. I’ll tell you a funny story: she’s apparently moved back to New York full time … and, bought herself a new apartment to boot. The new apartment is directly across the street from where I used to live! Maybe that’s a sign?
Run DMC were out-and-out brilliant. A little rough around the edges, but they were clearly on the precipice of something so brand new. It was such a rich, rewarding time. I was proud to be on board. A lot of that credit, for their success has got to go to Cory Robbins at Profile Records, who signed them. Cory’s always been one of the best out there … and, still is. Phil Collins and Genesis were great …. one of my favorite bands at the time. It was right after Peter Gabriel left, so it was something of a re-birth of the band. Tremendous talent there.
Debbie/Deborah Gibson was the one magical campaign for me I think. I was there right from the start … in fact, a good six months before the first single ever came out in 1986. And, let me tell you, the talent was there … from top to bottom. From the 12-track recording studio at the house in Long Island, to a vivacious personality. She’s a doll… we still consult her to this day. I saw her last month at Sardi’s in New York. Tremendous, singular talent. Definitely the real deal! We also work with Micky Dolenz from The Monkees and what a delight! Such a professional and such a talent. He’s been recording a tribute album to Carole King, and I predict that will be a major release in 2010.
Plus, Micky has a tremendous sense of humor … which always helps!
DS: I know for a fact that my background in writing, editing, and the like, has prepared me very well for being a publicist. I know what the writers want, what they don’t like and, how best to serve it up. I generally know what they’re looking for, and if I can deliver that, most likely it will get used. A good writer, doesn’t like his time wasted … but who does? So, if I can produce for them what they need … they will run with it. In these times of papers going under and staffs getting slashed, it is incumbent on me to work as efficiently as possible. The fact that I’m still here 26 years later, is proof. A client and I may not agree, but I can promise that client that I will deliver the most efficient pitch possible.
VH: You were the founding member of the New Music Seminar. What is the New Music Seminar?
DS: It’s interesting that you’re asking me what it was. Years back, it was the #1 music industry business function in the country. The CMJ event kind of mirrors what we started. Tom Silverman, Danny Heaps, Mark Josephson, Joel Webber, and I began it because at the time we had trouble getting into THE industry event of the time, conducted by Billboard Magazine. We couldn’t secure the proper accreditation that we felt we deserved … and, started the NMS. And, then we became the beast.
I stepped away after the first 4 or 5, and it continued to 1995. I found that as it/we grew … it was becoming harder and harder to be fully objective … which is why we started it in the first place. Silverman started it up again this year and I attended the NY-event. It was terrific to see it happen all over again, but this one was held at NYU in New York, where as we’d take over a major NY-hotel last time. The downtime really hurt, but, I’d be proud to be involved in it again. It really was started with the best of intentions and we really created a lot of good will the first time around. We held the first one at SIR Studios in NYC in June of 2008.
VH: What’s your advice for people wanting to get into the entertainment business?
DS: The entertainment business is alive and well … and, continuing to evolve. My advice is to do everything you can … read, listen, attend shows, and meet as many people as possible. The more input you can give yourself; it’s only going to help.
VH: You have done so much in your career, is there anything else you would like to do?
DS: It’s funny, I really think the one thing I’d like to do again is find the right artist; the right band … and, make it happen for them … all over again! Do I still have the thirst, the desire, to do it one more time? I sure do! I continue to be amazed by the quality of artists and the music out there. I’m still seeing as many shows as possible and even some of the so-called legacy artists. I started in this because of the music, and, I remain because of the music.
VH: Your company (dis Company) is about 25 years old, how did you start your own company?
DS: I was actually between jobs, and figured if I was going to invest so much energy in this, I’d do it for myself. When you work for someone else …. When something great happens, they get the credit. If something bad happens, you get the blame. Its one of those live-by-the-sword; die-by-the-sword propositions. I want to control my own destiny. Some people can, some can’t. It’s the only way I can work.
VH: You work with a lot of artists that span across all music genres. What is your favorite music genre?
DS: My tastes do go all over the board. I can put on Chick Corea in the morning and vintage Hall And Oates in the afternoon and Dave Mason at night. I like it all … always have.
VH: There’s an old saying that any press is good press. Do you agree?
DS: I used to back that adage 100%, although withal the Internet options available like never before, I think ‘good’ press has got to be ‘good’ press. My father used to say “as long as they spell your name right.” I still agree with that, but with all the crazy situations out there, I think you do have to keep an eye on it. I’m open to anything … but, anything positive and with a little class attached to it.
VH: What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
DS: When a campaign works, that’s lovely. But, in all honesty, they’ve all been my favorites. One of the perks of having your own shop is that you pick and choose.
I wouldn’t have chosen any of them if I didn’t serious believe we could hit a home run. I’m not in the business of failing, and can honestly say I’ve done my best job possible on each of them. You do what you think, what your experience tells you is the tried and tested way.