I have 30 years experience in the music business encompassing nearly every aspect, from retail, A&R, publishing, booking, licensing, artist management, product & intellectual property management, promotion and distribution.
My award-winning history includes more than I5 years as a senior executive at Rykodisc (one of the largest independent record labels in the USA, with its own publishing and distribution arms, eventually sold to Warner Music Group).
I've also worked at EMl, specifically their indie division, Caroline, where I was not only involved in distribution decisions but was label head of their in-house imprint, Caroline Records, as well as their digital initiative, World Service.
In addition, I've provided research & advice to major labels, including A&M, Arista, Capitol, Polygram, Rhino, and Sony (including Columbia & Epic). The list of indie labels and bands I've worked with is too long to include here.
This eventually led me to Expert Witness work related to the music business, which I not only enjoy, but have discovered I'm quite good at.
If you want to know more about me, my bio (written for Wikipedia by an anonymous fan, but apparently never submitted or accepted)
Jeff Rougvie is an American music producer, music consultant, DVD producer, record label founder, artist, writer, publisher, collectibles expert, DJ, music historian, and partner in Supermegabot, a company that produces & sells limited edition CDs, Art Toys, Novelties & other collectibles.
Born in Quincy, MA in 1963, Rougvie spent his formative years in Weymouth, Massachusetts before moving to Hartford, Connecticut in the late 70’s. He graduated Bulkeley High School and attended Hartford Art School from 1981-1983, where he was taught by artist Jack Goldstein and photographer Cindy Sherman.
In Hartford, Rougvie became more interested in and involved with music; so much so that he sold/donated blood for money to buy records. He wrote, designed, and published 20 issues of Decadus, a music fanzine. He managed local bands, hosted a popular Saturday Night radio show on Trinity College’s WRTC and worked at Capitol Record Shop, which specialized in import and independent music.
Capitol was the first store in the country to aggressively stock the (then new) compact disc format and was the focal point of the small Hartford alternative music scene.
Rougvie was lead vocalist in two punk rock bands, Crawling Smash and the Gumby Brothers. Crawling Smash played regularly throughout the State, opening for a number of national acts, including Black Flag, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, Miracle Legion, Mission of Burma, and many more. Crawling Smash recorded a number of original songs for an EP, but the band broke up and the recordings were never released. Rougvie provided artwork for local bands, including record covers and advertisements, including a series of distinctive ads for the well-regarded, but short-lived Lit Club music venue.
In 1984 Rougvie joined the specialist CD-only distribution company, East Side Digital, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He oversaw opening the first CD-only retail stores in the USA, CD Establishment in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and an offshoot chain, BCD, in Boston and San Francisco.
During this period, the owner of East Side, Robert Simonds, was preparing to launch the CD-only label Rykodisc with his partners, Doug Lexa, Arthur Mann and Don Rose. They did so in late 1984 with the release of Jim Pepper's "Comin' and Goin'" album, including his hit "Witchi Tai To".
In 1988, Rougvie left the distribution world and oversaw the launch of the Simonds-owned ESD label, releasing CDs by Bruce Cockburn, the Pandoras, the Barracudas, Plan 9, the Residents, They Might Be Giants and others. The label went on to release other great records by the Bottle Rockets, Bruce Cockburn, the Blood Oranges, the Young Fresh Fellows, Happy The Man, Henry Cow, Fred Frith, Wendy Carlos, the Morells, Jane Siberry, Speed The Plow, Sneakers, John Gionrno, Laurie Anderson, William S Burroughs, the Minus 5, Chris Stamey, Bill Lloyd, the Liquor Giants, National Health, Peter Blegvad, Cheri Knight and many more great acts. East Side eventually became NorthSide, a label that focuses on Nordic Folk Music, the rhythm of which was once (quite accurately) described as having the "pattern of an egg rolling off a table."
During 1987 and 1988, Rougvie became a part-time consultant to Rykodisc and within a year was hired full-time as the companies’ first (and for many years, only) A&R + Special Projects employee.
Rougvie’s first task at Ryko was to secure the rights to David Bowie’s 1969-1980 catalog. The proposal Rougvie co-created won Rykodisc the deal, making them the lead company in the Bowie reissue program, with EMI releasing the titles outside of North America, using masters and artwork executive-produced by Rougvie.
After producing the multi-media career-overview “Sound + Vision” box set (which gave Ryko their first Grammy Award), Rougvie produced the rest of the Bowie re-releases (19 titles in all). In addition to working with Bowie to select audio and visual material for inclusion, he helped design the packages. Rougvie wrote a detailed history of Ziggy Stardust published as a 72 page book included in the deluxe version of The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.
In mid-late 1991 Ryko President Don Rose and Rougvie flew to NYC to meet a newly-label-free Bob Mould in his Brooklyn apartment. Bob played demos of a few songs, including "Hoover Dam." Very excited by what they heard, they made it a priority to close the deal, which they did. In the meantime, the record went from "Bob Mould Solo Album Number 3" to "Copper Blue" the debut album from Sugar, Mould's first new band since Husker Du. The album was a massive hit for Ryko and Mould (his best-selling of all time). Alan McGee's Creation Records released the album in the UK and Europe, while Ryko had the rest of the world.
In the early 90’s Rougvie beat out Sub-Pop to sign a deal to release three Big Star & related CDs, Big Star Third, Big Star Live and Chris Bell’s “I Am The Cosmos.” Despite reluctance on the part of some at the label, the releases were assembled with great care and proved extremely successful. Rougvie wrote an elaborate Pete Frame-inspired Big Star family tree, reproduced as a poster, which he hand-lettered. This led to an ongoing relationship with the band and ultimately Rougvie’s signing of the reconstituted Big Star for their first new studio album in 30 years, 2006’s “In Space”.
In the summer of 1993 Rougvie was contacted by a Demon Records employee who tipped him to the upcoming rights reversion of the Elvis Costello catalog. Costello was a fan of the label. Rougvie and Ryko President Rose were both huge Costello fans. The label quickly reached a deal to re-release "universal editions" of the albums, reconciling different international track listings, and offering bonus material. Like the Bowie series, the first release was a box set, “2 ½ Years” including Costello's first three studio albums, and the first CD release of his classic “Live At El Mocambo”.
In addition to signing acts, Rougvie spearheaded development of the 3” CD single at Ryko (including designing a unique gatefold package and blisterpack for it), as well as the (formerly) CD-only label’s initial forays into vinyl, cassette, minidisc, DAT and ultimately DVD.
An early and constant member of Rykodisc’s Executive Committee, he was heavily involved in steering the label direction, creating sales materials and marketing plans, and coordinating Rykodisc industry events, such as SXSW showcases and sales presentations.
In an unusual move for an A&R Executive, Rougvie served as Product Manager for most of his signings until the late 90’s, maintaining unique personal relationships with many of the artists.
While working for Rykodisc, Rougvie simultaneously owned and ran another company, Atomik Industries, which sold collectibles and eventually became a record, publishing and apparel company, releasing 4 7” singles, a number of T-shirts and the arguably the first magazine published on the subject of collectable toys, Toy Geek. In 1995 Rougvie took a break from this business after moving from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Rykodisc Headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts at the request of label President, Don Rose.
That year he met his future wife, Maria Garza. They married in 1996.
In the mid 90’s, Rougvie discovered the rights to comedian Bill Hicks' recordings were available. Hicks had died of cancer at a young age, and Rougvie had been a fan, although he had been unable to see Hicks perform. Rykodisc released four Hicks albums in 1995, two that had been released previously, and two new albums that Bill had been trying to complete at the time of his death. In early 2006, after overseeing 10 Hicks releases, Rougvie expressed his ongoing admiration of Hicks and promised more releases, but only one has materialized since.
In 1998, Chris Blackwell’s Palm Pictures purchased Rykodisc and Ryko Distribution. Rougvie segued to DVD development, proposing a number of projects that Blackwell and his team did not understand. In 1999, Blackwell closed Ryko’s Salem, MA office and most of the staff was let go. Much of the operation relocated to New York City. Skeptical of the business plan and unhappy with the direction of the larger company, Rougvie left Ryko. His last signing was Kelly Willis, whose breakthrough album “What I Deserve” was the best-selling new Ryko release for the next four years.
From 1989 until mid-1999, Rougvie was responsible for signing, A&R and/or catalog work with the following (highlights only): King Sunny Ade, Badfinger & Pete Ham, Big Star/Chris Bell, Andrew Bird, David Bowie, members of the Church, Bruce Cockburn, Cocteau Twins, Lloyd Cole, Bootsy Collins, Elvis Costello, Dead Can Dance, Devo, Alejandro Escovedo, Galaxie 500, Golden Smog (key members of Wilco, Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, etc), Jimi Hendrix, Bill Hicks, Nils Lofgren, Material Issue, MGM/United Artists Soundtrack Catalog (including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Great Escape, 200 Motels, Last Tango In Paris, Octopussy & many more), Mission Of Burma, Morphine, Mouth Music, NRBQ, Yoko Ono, Kelly Joe Phelps, the Residents, The Roches, Josh Rouse (via the acquisition of Slow River), Robyn Hitchcock & the Soft Boys, Soundtracks to Crumb and Spawn: The Animated Series, Ringo Starr, Sugar & Bob Mould, Sweet Honey In The Rock, That Petrol Emotion, Throwing Muses & Kristen Hersh, Pete Townshend, John Trudell, the Undertones, Tom Verlaine, Jerry Jeff Walker, Chuck E. Weiss, Kelly Willis, and Frank Zappa.
Turning his attention to other entrepreneurial ventures, Rougvie managed the Rhode Island band Violin Road, starting a new label for their debut album. His collectibles business resumed as well. During this period he produced three Bill Hicks vault releases for Ryko; Philosophy: The Best Of Bill Hicks, Love Laughter & Truth, and Flying Saucer Tour Volume 1 and consulted on music issues with a variety of employers. During the internet Start-up Boom, he wrote comedic webisodes and movie reviews for now-defunct websites.
In 2002, Rougvie’s son Nash Jeffrey White Rougvie was born.
Rougvie’s instincts about Ryko’s future proved correct. Ryko/Palm struggled with expensive but poor-selling releases and huge overhead, including a film division and a costly Internet startup, Blue Tape. By 2002 it was clear Ryko/Palm wasn’t working and later that year Ryko was spun off from Palm as an asset to repay Palm debt. Label management was fired and Rougvie was re-hired on January 1st, 2003, resuming the duties he performed from 87-99. His first signing was the horror-rock band the Misfits, whose 2003 album “Project 1950” was the label’s best selling and first Billboard Top 200 charting release since his previous signing, Kelly Willis. Later that year, Rougvie compiled and wrote the liner for the Rykodisc 20th Anniversary 2-CD set, revealing many anecdotes about the label’s history.
In 2005, he won a High Times “Stony” award for producing the Bill Hicks DVD, Bill Hicks Live. Rougvie oversaw the digital initiative at the label, successfully uploading nearly a thousand albums and accompanying metadata to iTunes from a single Mac in the Beverly, MA office. It was Rykodisc’s best financial year since the 90’s.
In 2006, the Ryko label and distribution company was sold to Warner Music Group for about $67 million (the Publishing company was sold earlier for approximately $16 million). Rougvie departed shortly thereafter to EMI, where he was hired to relaunch the EMI-owned Caroline Records imprint under Enigma & Restless Records founder William Hein.
From 2002-2006 Rougvie was responsible for signing, A&R and catalog work with (highlights): Tara Angell, Balzac, Jay Bennett (ex-Wilco), Big Star, Rory Block, Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, Alex Chilton, Death Angel, Dream Syndicate, Dumptruck, Elf Power, Roky Erikson, Miho Hatori (ex-Cibo Matto), Bill Hicks, The Jayhawks, Jess Klein, Jack Kerouac, James Kochalka Superstar, the Meat Puppets, Medeski Martin & Wood, Ministry, the Misfits, Mission Of Burma, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Necros, Nine Inch Nails, Perfect (Guns N Roses, Replacements), Plasticland, the Posies, the Raspberries, The Replacements, Revolting Cocks, Josh Rouse, Soul Asylum, Starz, Stiff Little Fingers, Waltham, Wednesday 13 & the Frankenstein Drag Queens, Kelly Willis and a number of Soundtracks including the Bad News Bears, Beauty & The Beast (TV), Fever Pitch, Mad Hot Ballroom, Mean Girls, Sahara, Tidelands and Weeds (TV).
Starting at Caroline in late 2006, Rougvie worked with foreign-signed EMI acts (and acts on EMI partnered labels) including The 69 Eyes, Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row), Bat For Lashes, Black Summer Crush (who became Rival Sons), Carbon / Silicon (featuring Mick Jones of the Clash & B.A.D. with Tony James of Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik), Cinder Road, Kittie, Laura Marling, Jamie T, Van Der Graaf Generator, and Yelle.
Continuing to utilize his catalog expertise, Rougvie resuscitated a number of EMI copyrights that had been dormant worldwide, and, in 2008, issued a number of out of print CD titles in the collectible mini-sleeve format, as well as digitally.
He also launched the innovative Caroline World Service program, which released thousands of EMI-owned recordings in the US for the first time (both digitally and physically). This was an extremely profitable venture that combined new technology with effective, inexpensive alternative marketing. The imprint broke the French-language act, Yelle. Japanese superstar Utada Hikaru’s first US releases were through Caroline World Service. Following the purchase of EMI by Terra Firma in 2007, Rougvie left EMI in mid-2008.
The experience at EMI inspired Rougvie to start his own company, Supermegabot Toys, with Sculptor and Business Partner Steve Kiwus. The company creates limited edition vinyl art toys, largely based on licensed properties, a unique element in the vinyl toy world, which typically manufactures original creations.
He also joined forces with former Ryko, Geffen, and Mobile Fidelity employee Thomas Enright on a new venture; Supermegabout Music Concern LLC, which re-releases catalog music titles in high-end presentations.