CO-FOUNDER / CHAIRMAN, SIRE RECORDS & VP , WARNER BROS. RECORDS
Seymour Stein is the cofounder and former chairman of Sire Records & Vice President, Warner Bros. Records, one of the music industry’s most influential record labels and home to some of the most iconic names in modern music. Through its focus on discovering and nurturing distinctive artists and groups, Sire has been a goldmine for cutting-edge music, from popular trailblazers like The Ramones ,Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, the Cure, Echo and The Bunnymen, Erasure, The Cult, The Undertones, Madness, The Replacements, Ice T, k.d. lang, Seal, Everything but The Girl, Aztec Camera, Dinosaur Jr., Wilco, My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, Aphex Twins, SpaceHog. Sire put Punk and New Wave on the map in the 1970s and 1980s, and Stein has been the label’s driving creative force since its origins as an independent label and through its tenure as one of the most important imprints within the Warner Bros. Records label family. Stein’s unique ability to anticipate musical trends, and to discover and sign the greatest artists within those movements, has left an indelible mark on pop culture and helped to launch and nurture the careers of some of music’s most memorable artists. “Seymour’s taste in music is always a couple years ahead of everybody else’s,” observed Gary Kurfirst, who managed Talking Heads, one of the bands Stein first saw – and signed – at New York’s legendary CBGB’s. Stein also saw merit in the Pretenders, By the early 1980s, Sire had hit its stride as an independent label and was one of the industry’s most influential creative homes. A major non-New Wave discovery during that fertile period was a rising young dance-music artist named Madonna. Sire released her first single (“Everybody”/”Burning Up”) in the fall of 1982, but at a meeting several months earlier sensing her long term staying power, famously held at a Lenox Hill hospital room where he was recuperating from a heart infection, Stein signed Madonna to a multi-album deal. Madonna remained with Sire and Warner Bros., until joining Live Nation in 2007. “[Seymour is] more interested in the music than whether he’s going to get platinum records out of it,” Madonna said. “Every time he signs somebody, he’s taking a chance. And there aren’t many people in the entertainment industry who do that anymore.” The ripples from Stein’s enthusiastic, music-first approach had a positive influence on the music business in general. Some of the many acts Stein has worked with in his career include: Flamin’ Groovies, The English Beat, Tom Tom Club, Erasure, Yazoo, Little Jimmy Scott, The Rezillos, Morcheeba, Primal Scream (enjoying strong UK comeback), My Bloody Valentine (enjoying strong UK comeback), Mighty Lemon Drops, Laidback, Ofra Haza, Ocean Blue, Tommy Page, Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Dinosaur Jr., Ministry, Barenaked Ladies, Aphex Twin, Throwing Muses, Belly, Space Hog, Book of Love, Deborah Harry and Lou Reed.