A Note from George Tobin
Webmaster's Note: This note was submitted to this site by Tiffany's former manager and producer George Tobin to comment on his recent re-release of Dreams Never Die and other issues, and to respond to fan criticism. Opinions expressed here are those of Tobin himself and do not necessarily represent those of the webmaster.
Sept. 24, 2005
As many of you know, I have re-released Dreams Never Die. This is not a multi-million dollar venture for me. I'm not 'cashing in' at this late date, or trying to steal some success from Dust Off and Dance. I've had many inquiries through-out the years from fans who didn't get their copy of DND, or who could not afford one after they became scarce. I've actually been thinking about doing this since 1997, but when Could've Been was performed on American Idol I decided to go ahead and release DND again. In one short week I've been called everything from a scum bag to a thief, and the word 'Svengali' has reared its slimy head again, too. After having my nose bloodied by critics for 18 years, most of whom had their own agendas, there seems to be a new generation of fans who are carrying this torch of misinformation. The majority of these criticisms just roll off me, but with today's internet and blogging, much of this expanded dialogue is unresearched and unfounded gossip that gets blown all out of proportion. No one has ever allowed me to give an unedited account of the true facts regarding my history with Tiffany. After all these years I'm still amazed at how little the fans and the critics really understand about the music business, and the role of the manager, the record label, and the producer.
To rewind the clock from my perspective: When I first met Tiffany she was 12 years old and under contract to a manager whom she had met at a talent show. This man had no connection whatsoever to the music business, and I was later told that he turned out to be a con artist with a federal criminal record for selling guns and was under police surveillance for suspected drug dealing. He had persuaded Tiffany's mother to let him manage her. As a bonus for Janie (Tiffany's Mom), he started paying her bills and even had Tiffany living with him part time. He brought her to my recording studio in Los Angeles and was interested in having me produce songs for his non-existent production company. I turned him down because I felt he had no business being in this business, and I don't work for hire. However, when Tiffany sang for me I was really impressed.
The lady who drove her to my studio that day took me aside and asked me if the manager wasn't involved, would I be interested? I told her to keep in touch. She later called and said the manager had disappeared several months prior, and they didn't know what to do. At this point I agreed to produce Tiffany, and signed her to a recording agreement that was very standard at the time. It stated that she and I would each receive 50% of the profits on all sales of her records. Simply put, it was an even split.
This agreement was reviewed by the juvenile courts of Los Angeles. They review any and all contracts regarding minor actors and recording artists. Everything was approved. I never had a formal "management agreement" with Tiffany because I was trying to find a big-time manager to represent her, so I show-cased her to several well established managers. However with the amount of time it would take to invest in a 13 year old, as well as the many demographic negatives presented on the radio side, they all declined. Their primary reasoning being that she was a nobody, without a record deal, and financially there was no immediate up- side for them. Sadly, many didn't even recognize her talent.
Now, move ahead to John Duarte and I recording over 50 songs with Tiffany to try and get a handle on the right direction for her. We tried all sorts of ideas because we didn't know anything about her. It was obvious something was there, we just had to find it. The only way to do that was to dig in and record her on every tempo, key and style we could think of. Looking back on it, she sounded great on just about everything we tried, which made it even more difficult. Her Mom was confused by all this, but it can be a lengthy process searching for the right song. I wanted not only a deal maker, but a song that could launch a career. If Tiffany had been a songwriter like other hit acts of the time it might've gone quicker, but I had to come up with all the songs. Music publishers and writers do not give their best songs to unknown artists without record contracts. Those songs are generally shopped to hit acts only. We had several really good original songs as well as a few oldies she sounded good on, and that slowly became our direction and resulted in defining a sound and a clear image for her. Finally all of the pieces starting falling into place, and I thought we had a very solid product that could compete with anything on the radio.
During and after the project was completed, my then studio manager, Brad Schmidt (who eventually went on to manage her and is a very smart and capable businessman) and I shopped her to 13 record companies -- and not one company offered her a deal. We then changed tactics and invited the A&R people to the studio, where she sang live. I also took her to the Beverly Hills Hotel for a live audition with Clive Davis, a man responsible for the careers of some of the biggest names in recording history. She sang 3 of the same songs that were on her debut album, including Could've Been and I Think We're Alone Now. Clive smiled politely and told me he wasn't interested. MCA's then A&R man Steve Moir was a friend of mine, and agreed to a meeting which he actually tried to cancel before he got there, but I told my assistant (who btw later married him) to tell him Tiffany was already on the way and couldn't be reached, and that she had to drive 120 miles round trip. He relented, showed up, and then signed her -- possibly out of guilt, possibly out of friendship, but mostly out of belief. So we finally landed the deal with MCA.
Soon after the signing, and before anything was set in motion, Steve left MCA. I was stuck with a new A&R man who didn't like the album. For 6 months he not only wouldn't return my calls, but when he finally showed up to the studio to listen to the songs he turned to John with, "That song (ITWAN) has a good beat, could you have the writers work on the chorus?" -- on a song that had already been a hit! This was what we were up against. Exasperated by the endless runaround and the fact that he'd never return my calls, early one morning I just showed up at his house. That didn't work either, so it was at that point I called Irving Azoff (the head of MCA records) and offered to buy Tiffany's contract back. Irving finally agreed to let me direct the project. I met with their head of special projects, Larry Solters, and the 'mall tour' was born.
I went to Salt Lake City to see a friend who was a program director at the local pop radio power house station, and he put ITWAN on the radio. I called another friend in Chicago at Z100 and he also added ITWAN into rotation. Within 3 weeks we had thousands of believers, and a record company that finally came around. I later tested Could've Been on a station in Santa Barbara and it got tremendous response. MCA didn't want me to release it. Once again another battle ensued and yes, we won, with another #1 record.
I did all this as a record producer, not Tiffany's manager. Those who think that I made too much money have a disconnect from business reality. I didn't just sprinkle fairy dust in her hair and she magically became an international star. There were countless hours logged trying to make all this happen.
As to management, I did it by default. I came to the realization that most managers don't really care about the artists they manage. They sometimes juggle 10 to 20 acts simultaneously, and most of the work gets done by secretaries and interns. The manager makes photo-op appearances and the money is actually generated by record sales and booking agencies. These managers collect 15 - 20% off of everything: touring, writing, record sales, public appearances, the whole pie. In reality, they rarely generate a dollar on their own.
I never took a commission on the dollars that I generated, that's known as double dipping. Therefore, on a typical deal at that time, if an artist in a production deal got 7% on record sales the manager would get a 1.4% free ride. In Tiffany's case, with about 10 million albums sold world wide, that would have been about 10 cents an album, or a million dollars she didn't have to pay to someone who did nothing on the recording.
Now let's examine the money I saved Tiffany by refusing to pay a lawyer who presented her with a bill for $250,000 for things like reviewing contracts on concerts that had already been performed. Here we all sat in a meeting that she and I never wanted in the first place, and also in attendance were two other lawyers (billing at a rate of $1400 an hour) just sitting there like potted plants. I pointed out that there weren't enough billable hours available to justify this charade. So he reduced it by $125,000. Every time a similar situation came up, I made sure Tiffany wasn't being taken advantage of, and I got her every dime that was due to her for anything and everything she did.
When Tiffany went through the process of emancipation from her mother, Janie hired lawyers and a 'forensic accountant' to see if I had cheated or misappropriated any monies due. Their team scoured though millions in revenue and couldn't find one dollar unaccounted for or missing. Had they found something, the contract could have been broken immediately. She continued under the agreement, what does that tell you?
After leaving me, Tiffany went with Dick Scott, the manager of New Kids On The Block. He hired Maurice Starr. Maurice also produced the NKOTB. As it turned out, the Dick Scott/Maurice Starr team spent $500,000 to produce her album (my 2 albums combined only cost $250,000 -- and sold about 10 million world wide, plus millions of singles.) If you recall, New Inside was a total stiff, but Dick Scott still received a commission on her advances from that album. After the Scott/Starr experiment, Tiffany left MCA -- and MCA was left holding about 2 million dollars in unpaid advances, so show me how she was taken advantage of, and by whom? The fact remains that because of work John Duarte and I did, Tiffany made millions of dollars. Tiffany, her former husband and friends through asinine spending habits, went through it all... every last dime. Who's taking advantage of who?
When Tiffany and I got back together in the early nineties radio taste had completely changed, and not one pop 'teen act' from the 80's survived though to the 90's. (I know this very well because I invested my money a little differently than Tiffany did, and at the time I owned a top rated Las Vegas pop/alternative radio station, which I sold 10 years later for more money than I ever made with Tiffany.)
Tiffany had just had a baby, and hadn't performed on stage for a while. We recorded her original DND CD, got together a band for her, and a contact I had in Las Vegas booked her at the Hilton. This was only temporary, I just wanted her to start singing again and get back up to speed. I tried to find a more adult direction for her with the DND CD. Some of the songs were previously recorded by John and I on another act. Tiffany absolutely was aware of this during the recording sessions. I gave her their album to learn the songs, and also played their vocals in her headphones during her master recording session to show her the melody. At no time did Tiffany have a problem with them being so called 'cover songs', as is now contended. Oh and btw, one song was "If Love is Blind", which was never even released as a single for that act.
Sure, ILIB, Can't You See and Almost In Love were recorded previously, but it didn't work out. They were never hits, and the act dissolved. And what about the writers who wrote great songs? Should I toss out the baby because the bath water went down the drain? As it turned out, ILIB was a hit song for Tiffany in Southeast Asia…remember? And as a producer, should I shelve great songs because someone else has previously sung them? If that's the case, ITWAN and ISHST would never have been recorded. No producer, manager, A&R rep, record company, you name it, would ever pass on an opportunity to release a great song just because someone else did it first and failed. This was a standard procedure at Motown where John and I were both producers for a time. If Berry Gordy had a good song every act on the label might record it, until HE liked it. Listen to 'I Heard It Though The Grapevine' by both Gladys Knight and Marvin Gaye, for starters. Or how about 'Don't Leave Me This Way'? Thelma Huston would never have had a Grammy because Teddy Pendergrass recorded it first. If you really want to go back, how about Pat Boone having cover hits of Little Richard's songs? It happens all the time - you try to find the right act for the right song.
The fact is, Tiffany was asked by a reporter if she realized her song had been recorded by another group already, and she was caught off guard. All she had to say was, "Yes, but now it's mine!" I don't know what the deal was, but if you think she wasn't aware she was singing songs already released by an act that I had previously produced, that's bull -- and you can quote me on it.
When I took her CD to MCA and made a deal to release DND in Southeast Asia, I needed a testing ground. ILIB charted real well (it was a cover song, remember?), and was accepted with great enthusiasm. My plan was to carry that momentum into a U.S. release. I was going to replace some of the songs on the CD with ones having more of an edge, gearing the new ones toward the U.S. market. We thought we were back in the saddle, but MCA had an option for the rest of the world, and they didn't think she was viable any longer. They decided not to pick up the option, and things with Tiffany and me unraveled again.
Since I paid for the production myself, I own it. I'm free to do with it whatever I choose. I spent my own money to pay musicians, engineers, studio time, tape costs, arrangers, lawyers, and miscellaneous things from meals to advances -- let alone my time and my contacts. Yes, I'm a business man, and Yes I work hard, and Yes I can be generous. According to some of you however, I'm not entitled to recoup my investment. Remember, I spent my money. Not yours. Not Tiffany's. I can only stay in business when I make money. Tiffany buys clothes, affords nice homes, and pays her bills, because she makes money. I find talented acts like Tiffany, and we both make money. I'm not running a homeless shelter where we all sit around and "sing cumbyeya". I run a business and I don't apologize for it.
Some of you fans are troubling to me though. You say you love Tiffany, and you're concerned about me stealing money from her. Yet when I reissued the 2005 CD for those of you that didn't get one the first time around, within hours of the release the new bonus songs and photos were uploaded and available on the internet. Out of all the managers, producers, A&R reps, record companies, friends, family members and hangers on who have passed through her 30 plus years, who has she earned the most money with, and had the most success with? I'm supposedly the scum bag who's stealing from her, but every file YOU share is income stolen from her, and from all of the writers and publishers who worked so hard for her, and on and on.
I get a sense from some of you fans, "Hey, I already got the DND CD, why is he putting this out again?" Some old fans (who never got one) and new fans (who may want one) now have a chance to get theirs too, plus 6 unreleased songs and some bonus photos. Why do you have a problem with that? For whatever reasons, I've been criticized for years by the media and it doesn't really bother me personally. You can like me or not, but your negativity over shadows Tiffany's body of work, and that's wrong.
If you fans are in love with her and her music, then put your money where your mouth is and support her yourself. You don't understand the power that you have as a fan base. If each of you got on the phone and jammed your local radio stations with Tiffany requests, or if you called your local Tower Records, Best Buy or whoever, and told them to get her on the shelves -- she would have a better chance to be on a major label. THAT'S how it happened the first time. Remember, she's not signed to me anymore, I can't profit from it. Sell out her shows, buy her merchandising, and buy the CD's so they'll get Sound Scanned. You can make a difference for Tiffany. She'll get her share of this little CD after expenses are paid, just like always. If DND 2005 only breaks even I'm fine with that too, or even better if Celine Dion wants to record a "COVER" of If Love Is Blind...
And to some of you: What part of DEMO don't you understand? As her fans and the general public too, you're rarely ever privy to how an act gets from A-Z. Tiffany generally meets and exceeds all expectations, but I thought it would be cool for you to hear some of the stuff that didn't make the first cut. Some of you hate the production on the bonus songs, but still like the singing and the song. We made rough cassette copies of 'Angel Baby' and I decided it wasn't right for her at that time, that's it. You're looking too deep -- IT'S A DEMO! That's the process a producer goes through to match a song with an artist. When you strip a production down to it's bare bones, only then do you know if you have something: John lays down a quick drum track, piano and bass part, we find a key, Tiff sings. You don't spend a lot of time and energy on something that's not right. You move on.
I didn't write this (for those of you who stuck with it this long) to pat myself on the back or make excuses. I'm just trying to provide you with some insight, and to clarify some notions that have taken on a life of their own through the years. I hope you continue to support Tiffany. Encourage her to sing and record more songs that really showcase the full range and depth of her voice. She has an incredible feeling for ballads. Doing pop music isn't such a bad thing when you're that good at it.
Two things I'm grateful for: the day I decided to manage Tiffany, because I knew she would be huge even though nobody else could hear it - and I'm glad I went ahead and recorded I Think We're Alone Now, even though she thought it was an awful idea.
I sincerely wish Tiffany well. Together, we actually realized a dream that some of you may have had yourselves, at one time or another. She's in the history books with back-to-back #1's and a #1 on the album charts, all at the same time. Not bad for a little redhead from Norwalk, CA.
Best to you all,
This page was first created 26 Sep 2005, and was last modified 26 Sep 2005.