Breakfast of Champions (The 2019 NAMM Show): Chris Gero and Nathan East
During his career at Yamaha, Chris Gero has overseen the growth of the company’s artist relations and founded Yamaha Entertainment Group of America. At “Breakfast of Champions,” he spoke with NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond about the importance of artist relations and how it’s evolved at Yamaha in tandem with the recording industry. He was also joined onstage by Yamaha artist and bass legend Nathan East.
“We, at Yamaha, already had a long and fruitful artist relations program,” Gero said. “What transpired was what transpired in the world and in life, and that was how we all spoke to each other and made music together.
“It became clear to us that we had to step away from the kind of linear, ‘I’m playing in New York. I need a piano. Can you provide that?,’ to a much more synergistic, very, very detailed partnership along with the artist in their career.
“It’s a very unique environment now in which there have never been more people making music and the vehicle in which for them to be seen. However, it’s still really very difficult to get above the waterline.
“So the way that we engage in business now is very, very quick but very, very embedded into their careers. So us branching off to be record-makers and filmmakers and producers and what have you was just an extension of what we were already doing. It just exponentially grew as the way that the methodology grew.”
East joined Gero onstage halfway through the interview. East’s solo album was released through Yamaha Entertainment Group, and he and Gero also collaborated on a documentary about his artistry.
“When Chris approached me about doing a record, it was a very natural fit,” East said. “We had the relationship. And that’s one of the things I stress is just throughout all the changes that have taken place in the business, the one thing for me that stays constant is the relationships with the people that I’ve had.”