Room at Executive Suite For Motown Artists
DETROIT — At Motown Records one can be an executive and artist at the same time. Smokey Robinson and his three associates who work as the Miracles outside the environment of Motown’s Detroit headquarters, are three such executive-artists.
Robinson is a producer and vice-president with the company. Bobby Rodgers and Pete Moore work in quality-control, checking sound quality, and Ronny White spends his “white collar” time with Jobete Music, auditioning tunes and distributing songs among the firm’s own talent.
The Miracles have been with Motown since its inception. Because they are salaried employees with important posts, the quartet limits itself to three-week personal appearance junkets. The major change in the Miracles act is that Smokey Robinson’s wife, Claudette, doesn’t travel with the group anymore.
Robinson categorizes Motown as a “family affair,” in which many people work on various multiple projects. While he, Robinson, has produced studio sessions by a number of the label’s top acts, he says its not unusual for several producers to work on an album project.
On the first Saturday of each month, Motown holds open auditions. A number of producers are assigned to attend the recording sessions and select the top representatives by virtue of choice.
At Motown, Robinson contends, everyone listens to everyone. Martha of Martha and the Vandellas was a former secretary for Motown, and was given the opportunity to audition and to perform. The company maintains its own artists’ development school where stately presence and presentation are taught for every act. For two years Lon Fontaine ran the operation; now Harvey Fuqua and Johnny Bristol handle the “dance, turn, and smile” school of the Motown arts at “Hitsville, U.S.A.” END.
(Information and news source: Billboard; February 11, 1967).