SXSW Panel Recap: Linda Perry & Kerry Brown

Indie label ethos from two major hitmakers

“Rock & roll doesn’t belong on a grid. It belongs on a pulse – a natural pulse,” insisted Linda Perry. The half-full Thursday morning keynote conversation at the Austin Convention Center with longtime producer Kerry Brown littered zinging one-liners from the big-shot industry vets, even as the topic became muddled.

Linda Perry (Photo by Todd V. Wolfson)

Perry’s the former frontwoman of 4 Non Blondes and a songwriter for the likes of Pink and Adele. Brown’s produced albums for Cheap Trick and Courtney Love, while maintaining a long-running working relationship with the Smashing Pumpkins. Meaning, they know what makes a good rock star, how the industry operates, and thus offered advice and anecdotal nuggets.

In 2017, the pair launched We Are Hear, a record label/publishing company/artist management firm hybrid. Naturally, that newish endeavor dominated the conversation. Brown and Perry extolled the virtues of their greater vision.

They think artist development is dead, but We Are Hear is focused on A&R, community building, and on artists’ authentic voices. Perry noted being exasperated by labels asking for the social media metrics of artists she managed, and insisted she didn’t focus on the data even though later in the conversation the impressions/engagements of a video for up-and-coming artist Willa Amai were mentioned repeatedly.

Mostly, it sounded like the ethos of an indie label, but with two major hitmakers at the helm.

“We don’t want to own artists,” Brown remarked.

“Labels work for the musicians, not the other way around,” said the singer. “We’re not huge right now, but we will be. This time next year we will be.”

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Linda Perry & Kerry Brown, SXSW Music 2018, 4 Non Blondes, Pink, Adele, Hole, Cheap Trick, Smashing Pumpkins, Willa Amai, We Are Hear

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