Celebrating its first
anniversary as part of the Universal Music
family, Deston Entertainment has already
contributed a gold-certified
debut album, a top-40 single and new
product ready to hit the street
after the New Year. It even feels like a
"real" record company.
"We're a full-service label, with
promotion, marketing, distribution
and financial backing from Universal,"
says Winston Simone, Desmond
Child's longtime manager and partner in
Deston. "But really we're a
specialty label, and our specialty is what
Desmond does best: pop
The Deston story goes back to 1980, when
Child and Simone first crossed
paths. "We owe it all to [former Eagle]
Randy Meisner," Simone recalls.
"We were part of the crowd that came to
see [Meisner] at the Bottom
Line, but he got mad and walked offstage.
So we ended up at a bar
around the corner, where Desmond's
publisher introduced me to him. I
was a [Desmond Child And] Rouge fan, and
Desmond was very much a
recording artist then."
A year earlier, Desmond had joined the
ranks of hit songwriters by
giving Kiss its best-selling single, "I
Was Made For Lovin' You." It
was an experience that was changing his
focus. He was finding the
process of creating music even more
electrifying than performing it.
And the idea of creating music for a
stable of hand-picked talent was
positively seductive. In 1992, Deston
Entertainment was formed as an
TRIAL BY FIRE
After five years of "what-iffing," Desmond
and Winston were ready to
transform it into a record label. In 1997,
Child approached Universal
Music Group chairman/CEO Doug Morris, who
handed him a trial by fire.
Could he tailor something to Billie Myers,
a recent British discovery
signed to Universal?
The result was a gold-certified success.
The songs Child produced and
co-wrote for Myers included the single,
"Kiss The Rain," her top-30 hit
which launched an album, "Growing Pains,"
that has sold over 500,000
Doug Morris wanted more. "I decided I
wanted to get this guy
exclusively," he told Billboard. With
Morris' blessings, Child set up
shop in Miami. "Location doesn't matter,"
said Morris. "It's all about
where he feels most comfortable." But, as
business head of the company,
Simone couldn't afford to be cut off from
the main arteries of the
music community; he decided to keep the
company's headquarters in New
With a core staff of a dozen, Deston
relies on Universal to kick in
enough money to sign artists and cover
operating expenses. Universal
also handles the marketing, although Child
inspects every nook and
cranny of the process.
DIRECTION BY DESMOND
"Besides being the best A&R person
I've ever met, Desmond is also
the best art director I know," says
Simone. "He enjoys everything in
the whole process. We speak to each other
no less than four times a
day, seven days a week. Every morning, I
get to hear what was recorded
the night before. He'll sing it to me over
the phone. I'm fortunate to
spend a lot of time with very creative
people who are kind enough not
to roll their eyes when I make
Child feels that Deston's emphasis on
making music will attract talent.
"The appeal of our label to an artist is
that [Simone and I] come from
an artist and management background," he
explains, "so we have this
sensitivity to an artist's needs."
After the New Year, Deston will release
the debut CD of Jason Raize,
who plays the title role in the Broadway
production of "The Lion King."
Raize, who juggled his schedule to record
the album during "Lion King,"
describes the music as "very pop with an
R&B flavor. I'll be
promoting the album, but I haven't made
plans for a tour yet."
Another first-quarter release is Gyan, a
female Australian singer/
songwriter who caught Child's attention on
the strength of a song
title: "Love Is An Army."
Will Child be writing and producing for
other Universal family acts?
"I'd love to-I hope they ask me," he
answers with gusto. He recently
served as executive producer for an
Interscope project by Valeria,
which is set for release after the first
of the year and will bear the
Deston label imprint.
How far past pop music will Child stretch
the Deston roster? "We're
never going to do rap or grunge," says
Simone. "We like pop music and
songs with melodies. And that will be our
role at Universal: developing
artists with hit singles."