The Underdogs Participate in L.A.'s NARIP Panel

May 25, 2004 12:00 PM, Editors


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Producers, artists, studio owners, publishers, managers and songwriters crowded into the Beverly Garland Theater in Los Angeles on May 10, 2004, to hear The Underdogs, Damon Thomas and Harvey Mason Jr., discuss what it takes to succeed in the music business today. The program was sponsored by the National Association of Record Industry Professionals (NARIP, and drew attendees from as far away as Arizona, San Diego, and San Francisco.

The capacity audience was eager and bursting with questions, and no wonder: The Underdogs have written and produced hits for Justin Timberlake, Tyrese, Ruben Studdard, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Luther Vandross, Brian McKnight and more.

In just a few years, they have worked on more than 50 Gold, Platinum and multi-Platinum singles/albums. In addition, they have formed their own label, Underdog Entertainment, in partnership with J Records, part of the Clive Davis-led BMG organization.

"When the marketplace responds and makes your creative work successful, it's the best reward and the best indicator of the ability to sustain a career over time," said Tess Taylor, president of NARIP and panel moderator, introducing the pair. "Damon and Harvey are a bright part of the present and future of our industry, and we thought it would be a good time to talk to them about how they are flourishing outside the major label model, and how they have managed their business to success and profitability."

Over the course of the program, The Underdogs offered their take on the industry’s current state. Said Damon Thomas, "I'm optimistic about the future. I think there's better music in all genres right now, and sales are up for the first time in a long time." His partner Harvey Mason Jr. echoed that sentiment, saying, "This is a great time to be in music. And the best way to act is to just be grateful if you can be in the music business. This is just such a dream."

In a spirited Q&A segment, The Underdogs answered what top producers in the record business look for in an artist: "What helps make great artists is a story in their songs," said Damon Thomas. "[I look for] someone who can sing in a way that is convincing," added Harvey Mason Jr, "They need to deliver from the heart, so that when they sing, you believe them. It's not always something you can say, it's something you can feel."

The discussion centered on music’s future, technology and gear, artist development, producing and owning a record label, and more. For more information on NARIP, got their Website, at

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