Holly Lane is an American entertainment executive and entrepreneur, who has served as the COO for six record labels, five of which were distributed and/or funded by the majors, and two of which were start-ups that she founded. For each record label she ran, she created a series of smaller imprints, each with a different musical and artistic focus, along with a separate distribution network, believing that the diversification of profit centers is a basic template for the protection of assets.
She has also run an indie distribution company, which was one of the earliest dance music operations in the US, and for whom she also launched a merchandise line of DJ equipment and clothing. Other ventures she headed operations for include an artist management firm, and a music video production house. Additionally, she was a staff member at Electric Lady recording facilities, the legendary home studio of Jimi Hendrix.
Her entrepreneurial life began at 15, when she designed a t-shirt line, and as an offshoot of that exposure was retained to design concert tickets, posters, wall murals and merchandise for local promoters and musical acts. She started this work in her hometown in the metro Washington DC area, and continued this work in Orlando Florida, where she was hired to create concert or festival posters, merchandise, mural and ad art for a one stop and three record store chains. Two of those she was to work in the business side of later: Record City (owned by Jim Stagg) and East West Records, and All Points One Stop (owned by Roman and Hanna Skrobko.)
Upon moving to NY in the early 80’s she began working in the music industry, starting with Greenworld Distribution, which was the largest independent distributor in the world at that time. As the NY label manager, she worked with Stryper, Great White, Poison and many others.
She was offered work by several of the labels she distributed at Greenworld, and chose to team with Netherlands based Cees Wessels of Roadrunner and then partner, Jan Van Der Linden of Bertus (the first manufacturer of music compact discs.) She launched Roadrunner Records US as their first and sole American hire, inked a distribution deal with Important Records Distribution and launched three imprints: the heavy metal Roadracer (King DIamond), alternative music Emergo (The Fleshtones) and hardcore Hawker (Token Entry.) Her first year releases all charted in the Billboard Top 200.
Her success with Roadrunner was highly visible, and led to a partnership between herself and her indie record label rival Steve Sinclair, who was at the time running Combat Records. The partnership of Lane and Sinclair, with Jules Kurz serving as their legal affairs partner, attracted a funding and distribution deal with MCA, spearheaded by Irving Azoff and his head of legal affairs, Myron Roth. This would be Lane’s second start up (first Roadrunner) and this new venture, in which she was a partner/owner, Mechanic Records. Mechanic was a success, and Lane put out her first gold sales certifying record in 1989 (Trixter), with every Mechanic release selling at least 280,000 units. At Mechanic she signed and released the first Dream Theater record. Mechanic was later picked up by RCA/BMG during the Bob Jameison and Joe Gallante administration, then by Warner Brothers in a Reprise/Giant deal. Lane, Sinclair and Kurz were to form three independent sub-imprints during this period, World of Hurt (distributed by RED), Futurist and Machinery (distributed by ADA.)
From there Lane decided to return to distribution, and was hired by Flying Records US (an Italian firm, based in Naples), which exported it's own recordings to the US, and distributed some 500 titles at any time, from their distributed labels. Among the labels with which they had exclusives were Irma, UMM, Nitestuff, Godhead, Sound of Music, UJamm'n and Family Affair. Flying was one of the earliest dance music operations in the US, and for whom she also launched a merchandise line of DJ equipment and clothing. Lane took Flying from being an importer and distributor to a full-fledged American manufacturing label with several non-exclusive distribution deals, including one with Koch Entertainment. She also staffed a team of ten in-house salesmen, comprised of popular DJs and dance producers. Flying's first domestic release under Lane's administration produced a Billboard charting record in Ralphie Rosario's "Brinca."
In this period, Lane also wrote a music satire column, in which she interviewed other music journalists with a volley of snarky barbs, deriding their musical point of view. Her column, “Why…?” was picked up Jefferson Hack, editor of British style monthly “Dazed and Confused.”
She delved into live music as the promoter of “Rumba on B" and "Just Another Hellhole.” "Rumba on B" presented Afro-Cuban folkloric music and featured the top Latin and Caribbean musicians in the area, performing traditional spiritual music from the African diaspora. The rumbas were housed in outdoor gardens in the Lower East Side of New York in the summer. Among the regular musicians there were Alberto Serrano, Wilfredo Simeon, Skip Burney, Abraham Rodriguez, Gene Golden and Mark Birnbaum. The "Just Another Hellhole" party series (named after the Coney Island carnival ride) was housed in West Village venues, and was both staffed by and showcased performances by volunteers and activists from such charities as “God’s Love We Deliver” and “GMHC.”
The next record label she was to GM was urban music Next Plateau Entertainment (home of Salt N Pepa, 4PM, Kool DJ Red Alert and The Ultramagnetic MC's), as the company transitioned from Polygram to Roadrunner Distribution. She and owner of Next Plateau, Eddie O'Loughlin were to work together independently for the next year.
Lane moved next to Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna's Blackheart Records (for whom she acquired some 15 boutique labels), distributed by Mercury in a deal executed by Danny Goldberg. As a liaison to Mercury, she was to collaborate again with Dana Millman Dufine, who'd managed Gold Mountain artists Lane signed in earlier years. Among the Blackheart P&D imprints were Ron Skoler's Lethal (Professor Griff, Mutabaruka, DJ SnS), One (The Chemical Brothers), The Label (Big Daddy Kane), Irma, Raw Shack, Bros. Vibe, Sound Evolution, Zukor, Modern Voice Records, and Sound of Music Entertainment. In addition to managing the reissue of the Joan Jett catalogue as well as her new recordings, she was also responsible for the daily operations of the management company for Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, Anabella Lwin (of Bow Wow Wow) and Motorbaby (Sharon Middendorf and Les Warner.)
Lane formed Fast Lane, and worked with European independent label clients (Megadisc, Blue Whale) for the next two years, representing the label or their artists to majors and top independents for licensing. She also contracted the US promo teams (marketing, publicity, and song-plugging) to work those American releases.
Lane was recruited to work in video and new media, in the capacity of an account executive (for Bill Schacht's company, Aesthticom), selling the service of video production to her record industry cronies. Her account base was comprised of marketing mavens from the major labels, and the musicians she’d worked with at record labels. With her long background as a COO of music labels, it was natural for her to also assume the role of producer, administering the budget, crew and logistics of a shoot.
Going further with creative production services, she partnered with a crew of expatriates from Microsoft and Google (fromanywhere.com), who wrote code for widgets, apps, games and other new media products for her music label clients.
Once again, she would GM a record label, for soul, R&B, hip-hop and New Orleans’ music rooted Tuff City, founded by Aaron Fuchs. At Tuff City, (Spoonie Gee, Trouble Funk, The 45 King, Ray Charles, Ike Turner, Wardelle Quezerque, Dr. John) she developed the Latin imprint Andale. Andale releases included Ricardo Ray, and The Best of Boogaloo series.
As a byproduct of working in film and new media, she would be called into film crews for Network TV programs, TV spots, theatrical films, PSA's, web ads, webisodes and interstitials. In the last year she has worked on The Barbara Walters Specials, and for Concacaf's "Winner's Health" PSA series, featuring Dr. Max Gomez, and numerous others.
Lane's career is unique in that she has worked in all genres of music as well as in TV and film, duplicating the same trajectory of success for each company and each area of work. This is unusual in an industry filled with genre-segregated contacts and marketing practices.