I was reading Bob Lefsetz’ latest mail bag email, when an email from Robin Millar came in talking about Sade. He helped produce Sade on her breakout hit “Smooth Operator” in the 80′s and was dumbstruck when label after label turned them down when he knew this would do well.
“…every record company turned them down. every major. too long, too slow, too jazzy and not what was in the charts at the moment – 80′s electro pop. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve played these tracks to a hundred people and they all love them ‘ I said still they said no.
So we decided to play the fame game. We got Sade’s face on the cover of the first edition of a trendy new magazine ‘the face.’ We set up a gig in London – we weren’t very good – but we turned away 1,000 people from the door. The next day the phone went crazy. every major, including the same guys who had passed on the tracks, were on the phone to the manager offering crazy deals. They all said she needed to co-write, needed a top producer, re-mixer, and an image makeover. Virgin were so sure they had her that they organized a champagne reception…
What would have happened if they stopped after all the rejection? Some 50 million record sales never would have happened.
Sade is one of the biggest long-lasting artists around. Fans still anticipate her records (myself included) even though she puts them out every 10 years. If you really believe in what you got, don’t stop.
Take Control of Your Music