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Making Music

Monte Lipman of Universal Republic Records



Monte Lipman

No amount of oolong tea or hip-hop music, both of which waft along the corridors at Universal Republic, can disguise the fact that big things are happening around Monte Lipman, CEO and co-founder of Republic Records. “The record industry is in crisis mode,” he says, referring to the paradigm shift brought about by music piracy. “If Coca-Cola started flowing out of the faucets in your home for free, imagine what might happen to the soft-drink industry,” he explains.

Lipman has a lot to protect, given that he manages a music empire with his lifelong business partner and brother, Avery. “After that first lemonade stand, we always did everything together,” Lipman says. The two brothers started their first record company, Republic Records, in 1995 with $800. “We were almost out of business when the Bloodhound Gang came through the door and changed our lives forever. That is the neat thing about this business,” he says.

The Universal Republic venture followed and the Lipman brothers went on to launch the successful careers of artists such as Jack Johnson, 3 Doors Down, Godsmack, and others, selling 25 million albums during this period before selling their interests to the Universal Music Group. “I have an intense fascination of behind-the-scenes of all things music,” Lipman adds. In the early years, he organized his own personal album collection by record label, not artist. “People thought I was crazy,” he admits. “I have been fired from essentially every job I have ever had, or kicked in my butt.”

Everything about Universal Republic feels young. Lipman describes this modern-day music industry as a “kids business.” The waiting room feels like an upscale version of a college lounge area. There are signed flyers and posters of mega-size music artists, graffiti artwork, chocolate and chrome furnishings, even a set of snare drums atop stacked milk crates. Issues of Bedford Magazine are tucked in magazine nooks, to be read while lounging on puffy throw pillows adorned with famous faces like Taylor Swift. It is coffeehouse meets underground concert studio.

The Lipman brothers’ symbiotic management partnership has led to the discovery of Grammy Award–winning stars like Amy Winehouse and Colbie Caillat, and of taking superstars Taylor Swift and Enrique Iglesias to the top of the charts. In addition to international breakouts like Florence + The Machine and Jessie J, there are new projects like NBC-TV’s music reality-show blockbuster “The Voice”; “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane’s swing and standard’s album, due out this fall; “Saturday Night Live”’s Andy Samberg comedy album; and iconic Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder’s solo album.

Lipman’s enthusiastic demeanor shifts significantly when the conversation turns to Bedford, where he lives with his wife Angela and their two children. He describes it as a refreshing place to come home to.

The Lipmans gather for a meal at North Star restaurant or a Saturday ritual at Daisy Hill Farm, where petting the animals and indulging in a muffin sounds as exciting as discovering a new music star. “Bedford started off as a second home for us back in 2002, and we began spending more and more time away from the apartment in the city,” Lipman says. “Two weeks stretched into more and eventually, we traded elevators for a backyard. I am living the whole Bedford lifestyle,” says Lipman, who has recently taken up golf at Brynwood Country Club. “Though I’m not very good, I did catch the bug,” he admits.

When asked about family pets, only a true Bedfordite like Lipman would mention two new St. Patrick’s School Carnival goldfish. “They seem to be doing just fine,” says a man who seems to have figured out how to balance an exciting if frenzied career with a fresh-baked muffin, family time, and a few fish.

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