Magazine article Variety

At 10 Years, Cherrytree Continues to Bear Fruit

Magazine article Variety

At 10 Years, Cherrytree Continues to Bear Fruit

Article excerpt

IF ANYONE CAN LAY CLAIM tO the notion that the music industry's premature death is highly exaggerated, it's Martin Kierszenbaum, CEO and president of Cherrytree Records.

"It's the shorthand message that is spinning around right now," he says. "I am a songwriter and a musician. That is how 1 grew up. I refuse to accept that the intellectual property (musicians) create is just going to be given up for free as some sort of loss leader."

As the label begins its 10-year celebration, Cherrytree can take credit for 31 Grammy nominations, 51 international No. 1 singles, an ongoing parade of placements in film, TV and advertising and a staggering 33 million albums sold worldwide. From mainstream superstars such as Sting and Lady Gaga, to more left-of-center hitmakers like Feist, Far East Movement, and LMFAO, Cherrytree has benefitted from the leadership of Kierszenbaum, who understands the creative process from the inside out.

Begun as an artist-haven boutique label, under the Interscope/Universal umbrella in 2005 with the blessing of Jimmy Iovine, Cherrytree has grown into one of the industry's premiere 360 operations. It includes a full-service record company, management firm and publishing house.

"Cherrytree is a convergence of a place in time and also my taste, shaped by my upbringing, which involved moving around the world a lot," says Kierszenbaum, the son of research scientists. He gravitated toward music, studying piano from age 8.

After college, he worked as a publicist, first for Warner Bros. Records, then with A&M, where he moved into A&R. It was there where he began his 25-year relationship with Sting. When Interscope took over A&M, Kierszenbaum began working with Eminem, Gwen Stefani, Nelly Furtado, Soundgarden and the Black Eyed Peas. Eventually he was encouraged by Iovine to start Cherrytree (the name is the German-Polish translation of his last name), where he brought Sting over in 2007.

Today, Kierszenbaum views Sting as "a mentor and a very good friend," and credits him with teaching to encourage the artists on Cherrytree to develop their creative urges, no matter how un-commercial they may appear at the onset. He points to "Songs From the Labyrinth," an album of 17th-century lute compositions Sting insisted on making that went to No. 1 on the classical charts and sold platinum.

"People will be listening to his music for the next 50 to 100 years, or more," Kierszenbaum says of Sting.

"In the end, if he wants to make a Kentucky clogging record, we're gonna make it. That's kind of the way I am with all the artists on my label. …

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