We had the good fortune of connecting with Al Sgro and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Al, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
Surviving in music and entertainment has taught me to embrace my own strengths and explore every avenue that presents itself. When I was young and living in Hollywood, I was making it as a performer and touring musician. But as time went on, I was drawn to producing, mainly because I liked the idea of having a bit more agency over how projects were executed. So, I opened a small studio with a partner that ended up thriving for more than 15 years. Writing music for film and television showed me first hand the value of copyright, which I hadn’t really been exposed to while playing music in the small, Pennsylvania bars of my youth.  A budding fascination led me to grad school studying entertainment law. I figured I could use some formalized footing on rights issues and perhaps help fight the battle against waning artist royalties and devaluations of their work. Then, with 2020’s pandemic upending all sorts of business plans, I thought producing live-streams could be a good way of combining my music rights experience with years of making records and directing video content. It took a lot of work not only on the production side, but also research and meetings to find a platform partner that could provide the functionality we desired but also leave enough meat on the bone for artists, venues, managers, and producers alike. This kind of work has kept me busy through the pandemic, but I mention all these different avenues because they share something in common. Each path required that I be open to new things. You may have heard that, in business, it’s better to stick to one lane and build goodwill. But my experience is that the entertainment world is a small place, and it’s possible to build a reputation as someone who is well-rounded, nimble, hard working, and an asset in many different areas of the business. That can be enough to hang your hat on.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I jump all over the place. I’m currently working on music for two national campaigns but also managing a producing team. I’m helping musicians and venues create new revenue streams by producing ticketed live, online concerts. I’ve always kept busy and found success by letting myself be pulled in different directions, but there’s been a though-line of music and art. I like being known as someone who can help make a project better, whether I’m writing music or helping clients stretch out into new territory. I’ve learned that developing trust with your peers is paramount and that, more often than not, trust leads to new things and new projects.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Assuming we’re imagining a post-pandemic world, I’d start on Monday with some jazz at ETA on Figueroa, a perfectly dark little spot with my favorite east-side night put together by guitarist Jeff Parker. You’re likely to catch Anna Butterss on bass at one of these, and if so, you’re in luck. During the week, we’d head up to Scholl Canyon to hit some golf balls at dusk, and take a quick hike up to the top of what the Occidental students refer to as “Mount Fuji”, which is really just a nice hill just East of campus. A trip to the Norton Simon Museum is a must, after which we’d grab some pork tacos at Hermosillo and hopefully catch another night of music at The York, where luminaries like Jay Bellerorse, Adam Levy, Rich Hinman, Jerry Borgé, Fil Krohnengold, and Jon Flaugher are likely to turn up. At some point, the out-of-town friends are gonna want to see the Pacific, so I’d recommend we get up early on Sunday and head out to Malibu Kitchen. This is a famed gathering spot for Porsche aficionados, and the recent home of a COVID-induced cars & coffee event championed by LA car culture phenoms Spike Feresten, Paul Zuckerman, and Matt Farah.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d shout out to the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood. Back in 2001, a whole bunch of us got together to start doing live music there. The venue was tiny at the time, and people would sit on the floor or on couches and listen. The “listening room” vibe caught on like wildfire, and suddenly all sorts of new and established artists were showing up. What resulted was the most organic community made up of people from all areas of the industry– artists, players, managers, labels, lawyers, and more.  Much of my network today is built on relationships that began all those many years ago. The Hotel Cafe is coming up on its 20th anniversary, and they manage to remain relevant despite a year that has been so crushing. So, if you’re able, head to their website and support them! It’ll help ensure that the place continues well into the future.

Website: http://www.answerproductions.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alsgro/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/al-sgro-music/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alsgro
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/al.sgron
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2bDJ2kWKrbY1Ym8vlQyJsQ

Image Credits
Photo by Al Sgro

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