By Dawoud Kringle
The music world suffered an incalculable loss after the untimely passing of Steve Gordon, Esq.
Gordon graduated from SUNY Binghamton, in 1987, earning a B.A. (with Honors), New York University School of Law, J.D. in 1981, and earned a French Language Certificate from the University of Paris in 1982.
From 1981 to 1983 he served as a law clerk in the Appellate Division of the NYS Supreme Court, ( the second highest court in the New York State judicial system). 1983 to 1984 saw him employed as a Music Attorney by Dino Di Laurentis in Beverly Hills, CA, where he negotiated and drafted soundtrack recording agreements and contracts with composers for this Hollywood movie studio. Gordon served as a SESAC Senior Counsel between 1985 and1990. He handled the licensing of music for public performance on radio, television, cable, nightclubs, arenas, amusement parks, and background music services in the United States and throughout the world. From 1990 to 1991 he worked as an Associate with Mayer Katz Baker & Liebowitz, where he negotiated and drafted recording agreement for Elektra and Atlantic Records and recording artists including In Excess, Billy Idol and Boy George.
Gordon worked with Sony Music as a Director of Business Affairs between 1991 and 2001. He negotiated and drafted agreements on behalf of Columbia Records and Epic Records with Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Billy Joel, and others. He handled contracts and music licenses for over 200 music videos and 20 DVD’s each year, and handled legal work for Sony’s in-house production company, Automatic, including two television series: “Session at West 54th” on PBS and “Live by Request” on A&E.
In 2002, he founded Steve Gordon Law. He specialized in music, television and Internet projects, negotiated and drafted agreements, secured licenses for use of content including music, consult with respect to securing financing and distribution for traditional media, and new media including on-line and mobile delivery. His clients ranged from individual recording artists, to TV producers and entrepreneurs, and to major entertainment corporations such as Sony, MTV and Microsoft.
His achievements as an educator include The New School, Adjunct Professor (Fall 2007), where he taught a course on music business and law including new business models made possible by digital technologies. CUNY Graduate School and University Center, Instructor, teaching a course in the fall and spring of 2003 to 2006 titled “Recent Developments in the Music & Video Industries.” He also taught at The Fashion Institute of Technology between 2004 and 2006, where he moderated a two-hour seminar each spring on the convergence of the music and fashion industries. During the fall 2007, Gordon presented lectures to business and law students on various subjects including music and copyright law, music and video licensing, digital music distribution, recent cases and laws, and the revolutionary changes happening in the music business at Bocconi University, Milan, Italy. In the spring of 2010, he taught a course on the future of the music business at the Faulty of Management of Tel Aviv University, Israel.
He was also a Fulbright Scholar from 2006 to Present, New York University School of Law, Member, Board of Alumni, member of The Bar Association of the City of New York, and member of the Board of Advisors, Entertainment Law and Finance.
Gordon produced and hosted an Internet radio program titled the “Future of the Music Business” at www.MyRealBroadcast.com. His guests included leading academics, journalists, music industry executives, artists and entrepreneurs. He also wrote a blog on recent developments in the digital music industry including legal issues for www.DigitalMusicNews.com.
Gordon was the author of two groundbreaking and invaluable books. The Future of the Music Business: “How to Succeed with the New Technologies, A Guide for Artists and Entrepreneurs (Backbeat Books 2005; 2nd Edition Hal Leonard 2008), and The 11 Contracts That Every Professional Musician, Songwriter, and Producer Should Know (Hal Leonard). He wrote numerous articles on copyright and digital music law for Billboard, Entertainment Law & Finance, DigitalMusicNews.com, TheRegister.com, The NYU Journal of Intellectual Property & Entertainment Law, and other publications.
He was an early friend and supporter of Musicians for Musicians. He took the time to share his considerable wealth of knowledge, experience, and insight at the “Make Music Your Business” #5 Talk Series hosted by MFM last year. He was the first entertainment attorney who spoke at the MFM Talks.
Among his charitable works was “Jazz for the Homeless,” a charitable organization he’d founded, for whom he produced concerts to raise funds to help homeless jazz artists. He never hesitated to put his time, knowledge, and resources toward improving the lives and careers of musicians.
On Saturday, September 15th, 2018, Steve Gordon passed away from heart failure. We salute the memory of our departed friend, hold his accomplishments and charitable works as an example and template of good conduct.