Jason Raize Resource

"Deston artist Raize says that the success of the Tony-winning 'The Lion King' and his exposure on 'The Rosie O'Donnell Show' helped him land a record deal."


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Desmond Pacts with Universal
by Carla Hay
October 24, 1998

NEW YORK-In a move designed to add to its A&R resources, Universal Records has signed a deal with Deston Entertainment, a label coowned by songwriter/producer Desmond Child and his manager, Winston Simone (Billboard Oct. 14).

Under the pact, Universal will provide marketing, promotion, and distribution support for the New York based Deston.

The move follows close on the heels of Mercury Records' pact with famed producer/songwriter Jim Steinman (see story, page 97).

"Deston is a boutique label working basically from pop music," Child tells Billboard. The label's first release, due in the first quarter of 1999, will be the still-untitled debut album from Jason Raize, who is currently playing the title role in Broadway's "The Lion King." Deston also has a development deal with rock band Eve To Adam.

Universal Music Group chairman/ CEO Doug Morris says that the deal with Deston was in large part a result of "being impressed with Desmond's work with [Universal artist] Billie Myers. We're very excited about working with Desmond and Winston, who are very talented people."

Universal Music Group vice chairman/COO Mel Lewinter adds, "Desmond has a proven track record, and we have great expectations for this label."

Child's track record as a songwriter and/or producer encompasses a slew of hit singles, including Ricky Martin's "The Cup Of Life," Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer," Aerosmith's "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)," and Trisha Yearwood & Garth Brooks"' "Where Your Road Leads."

Although Deston will have satellite offices in Miami and Nashville, the label will be sparsely staffed because it will be a boutique imprint, say Child and Simone.

"We're a lean, mean, fighting machine," says Simone.

According to Morris, Child and Simone will be handling all A&R responsibilities for Deston. "We won't be taking unsolicited material," says Child. "We find a lot of new talent through attorney referrals."

Simone adds, "We're always on the lookout for talent, but it's not like we go out to a lot of nightclubs. We're looking for unique voices. Our background is having hits, and we want hit records."

Deston artist Raize says that the success of the Tony-winning "The Lion King" and his exposure on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" helped him land a record deal.

"It makes a difference working with people who can understand things from an artist's perspective," he says.

Raize, who is currently juggling his "Lion King" work and recording his album, describes his debut set as "very pop with an R&B flavor. I'll be staying in 'The Lion King' for a short time after the release of the album. I'll be promoting the album, but I haven't made plans for a tour yet."

Child says that Deston is one of the music enterprises he and Simone run; they also work with music production (including the Miami-based Gentlemen's Club recording studio) and music publishing.

"The appeal of our label to an artist," says Child, "is that [Simone and I] come from an artist and management background, so we have this sensitivity to an artist's needs. We can relate to them more on a one-to-one basis."

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