Yamaha’s Nashville Headquarters Launches Label

Chris Gero, Founder of Yamaha Entertainment Group.

Yamaha Corporation of America has been securing strategic branding partnerships with talent for the past 10 years from its headquarters on Main Street in Franklin, Tenn. This year, Chris Gero’s artist relations offices founded a new division called Yamaha Entertainment Group (YEG).

Traditionally, Gero maintains additional offices in New York, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles, which oversees marketing partnerships with over 3,500 North American acts including Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood, Michael W. Smith, and Michael McDonald. It now offers recording and video production studios to help artists record, produce, and market their original content.

MusicRow spoke exclusively with Gero about founding the new initiative.

“The current state of the music industry is evolving,” said Gero. “As a method of delivering our brand, we started producing videos, concerts, and promotional campaigns including websites for artists. As a result, a shift took place where talent was approaching us to provide these services and partnerships and we were turning away too many opportunities.

“YEG is a significant step forward for us. Our aim is to release five titles a year to have small successes. We have the leverage to keep the costs down and a much higher equity return to the artist. Every deal is different and right now, A&R is under my lead along with the artist services, marketing, film and record production.”

Yamaha’s 18-year partnership with Elton John not only led to the department overseeing the production and direction of John’s Million Dollar Piano Live DVD from Las Vegas, but also led YEG to its first signing of Leogun, a 3-piece rock band associated with the musical icon’s management company.

“We recorded Leogun in Nashville,” said Gero. “We have already released an EP, with a full-length album expected in the spring of 2013.” Following that will be a release by jazz bass player Nathan East, a founding member of Fourplay and collaborator with Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock.

“One end of the spectrum is searching for emerging artists or established artists without a record deal. Another part is a for-hire service, placing product for strategic partnerships and branding opportunities. I’m looking at every possible partnering opportunity that upholds what Yamaha represents.

“Warner’s [Alternative Distribution Alliance] will be our distribution partner for the next three years,” continued Gero. “I outsource publishing and marketing and promotion, indicative of that genre, to work each specific record.

“We have one of the most recognizable brand names on the planet,” he added. “We have an international reach because we’re a global corporation. Yamaha is a very patient company. We’re a big company and we’re not afraid to take these chances. We’re strong enough to be isolated, but we’re in an age where we have to partner with a bunch of other people and help support each other.”

For more information on the company, click here.

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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] | @EricTParker

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