Michael Caplan has seen every part of the music industry. From his first job at Cutler’s Records in New Haven to becoming a top talent cultivator for Sony, music has literally been his life’s work.
But after working in New York for decades, the New Haven area native decided to return home to embark on something new. That was when he called Vic Steffens, owner of the Horizon Music Group in West Haven.
“When I first started working in New York, I was in the back of my head saying ‘Some day i’m going home,’“ Caplan says. “Vic has one of the best studios in Connecticut, but more than that he’s one of the few people in Connecticut who’s aware of the national industry.”
Together, Mike and Vic Caplan and Steffens founded the Elm City Music record label, landing a national distribution deal with EMI- a rare deal, if not the first of its kind for any label based in Connecticut, they say.
Elm City Music’s first album was the March release from Adrenaline Mob, an act billed as a metal super-group (featuring members of Dream Theatre, Symphony X, and Disturbed).
Caplan says an album by Tampa-based Miggs will be Elm City Music’s next release. That band made waves last year with a music video starring Lindsay Lohan soon after her release from jail.
While the scope is national, Steffens and Caplan say they want to grow the local music scene as well. Prog metal group Mile Marker Zero is set to be the first local band on the label, with a release planned for early 2013.
Horizon is also opening their doors to local hip hop artists every Sunday night with free studio sessions. Caplan said he hopes to release the occasional mix tape based on their work.
“We want people to be around other people and challenge each other to get better, and try to grow a little bit,” Steffens says. “That’s a goal of ours.”
Both men have a storied knowledge of the industry. Caplan climbed to the top of Strawberries music, running the chain for Morris Levy. While at Sony he was responsible for signing stars like Tower Of Power, Los Lonely Boys, and Matisyahu.
Steffens, a producer and engineer for the last three decades, counts Lita Ford and Bobby Brown among the artists he’s recorded. He was once a session drummer for the Rolling Stones.
Their knowledge of what works and what doesn’t will be crucial for the startup, considering the music industry is still struggling with shifts in technology and distribution. The two stressed that embracing technological changes,coupled with their experience, will let them grow.
“We’ve been doing this all our lives, and we have a certain amount of expertise as to what goes on,” Steffens says. “We’d like to find talent to make use of what we know and get ahead.”
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