This month's SONA member profile is on Jack Kugell! Check out an exclusive Q&A with him below:
Q - Jack, you've had a highly successful and long career in the music industry as a writer and producer - what are some things that you’ve seen change over the years?
A - You used to be able to support yourself with album cuts, even if you didn’t have the lead single. Sometimes an album cut alone could support you for about a whole year while you continued to write on records, hoping for that single. Now you need to get a single to make any money and even then it's nothing close to what it used to be. In addition to that, now you are also seeing many more writers listed on songs which continues to split up the pie.
Q - You've had a ton of music featured on TV and in Films, but you mentioned to me that a lot of money tends to get lost if you aren't watchful. What’s the best way to stay on top of getting paid for your music appearing on TV and in Films?
A - No one is going to care more about your money or creative property than you will. If you know something is airing, jot down the date/time and 9 months later when your statement comes in make sure you got paid for it and if not call somebody. You are reliant upon someone turning in a cue sheet for you to get paid and mistakes happen all the time. Reach out to the production company, reach out to your PRO to see if they got cue sheets. But you have to stay on top of it. It's your money and your creative copyright. You can't assume people are taking care of it for you.
Q - Given the current musical climate, if you were starting your career now what would you have done differently?
A - Probably gone to law school (kidding) - although having that degree now might make me a better viable executive. I would say that you have to be a lot more well rounded these days. Don’t just program beats, learn instruments. Maybe learn to produce in addition to writing songs so that you can support yourself doing music instead of having to get a ton of side jobs.
Q - Any other thoughts Jack?
A - In relation to SONA, I'd just like to say that I'm really proud to be on board with Shelly, Michelle and Kay and to have come on early since the beginning. Hopefully we can make a difference so that this career that we all love — future generations of writers can continue to do what they love without a side job.
Jack's official bio:
Jack Kugell has been one of Sony Music Publishing's most versatile songwriter/producers for the last 23 years: his work spans the Pop, R&B and Country arenas - to name a few. Jack’s work has sold a combined total of 19 million units, and counting. He has worked with artists from all over the world, reaching number one more than a dozen times in many different countries.
Jack was first signed to EMI Music Publishing in 1993 but as the son of producer Marty Kugell ("In The Still of The Nite"), his first musical experiences took place as he watched his dad write and record in the classic studios of New York and Los Angeles. By age eleven, Jack knew that he wanted to be a songwriter, and what started as a hobby soon became a full time career.
Kugell's first success as a songwriter came after he penned the perennial Christmas song "Hey Santa!" for The Wilsons and the theme song for "The Carnie Wilson Show." Jack is perhaps most recognized for his #1 chart-topper "Valentine" recorded by Martina McBride, co-written with Jim Brickman. "Valentine" became a #1 AC hit as well as reaching Top 5 on the Billboard Country Singles chart and earned multi-platinum status for both Martina McBride and Jim Brickman's albums. Artists Jack has worked with include: Christina Aguilera, Kesha, J.Lo, Fergie, The Pussycat Dolls, Jim Brickman, Martina McBride, Jessica Simpson, Sean Kingston, Mary J. Blige, Wayne Brady, Taio Cruz, 98 Degrees, All-4-One, Anastacia & Michelle Williams to name a few.
Jack along with his partners Jamie Jones and Matt Wong, are songwriters/ producers collectively known as The Heavyweights. As a production team, The Heavyweights have delivered hit songs to amass collective record sales of over 35 million units. They most recently enjoyed being a part of the Disney "Descendants 2" soundtrack which debuted at #1 on the iTunes Album charts worldwide. Their cover of “Love Is A Battlefield” for Grammy-nominated Shanachie recording Artist Maysa, was just released to radio as the lead single from her current album.
The Heavyweights other endeavors include writing and producing Shontelle’s "Battle Cry", which received the historic honor of being an official theme song for the Obama campaign, as well as being included on the official Obama Campaign CD. The Heavyweights also wrote and produced Wayne Brady’s critically acclaimed debut album “A LONG TIME COMING”, which resulted in a 2009 Grammy nomination for Brady’s vocal performance on the Sam Cooke classic “A Change Is Gonna Come”. In 2015 the Heavyweights work resulted in their second GRAMMY nominated vocal for Hidden Beach Recordings Artist, Angie Fisher, for the song "I.R.S."
Jack, along with The Heavyweights, is currently developing talent, having recently signed artist Tay Beckham, to their new Imprint HEAVYWEIGHTS Entertainment in partnership with Empire Distribution. Jack continues to consistently write great songs and put his stamp on great talent.