'Real Biz': Legendary music executive Clive Davis on Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen and more

Davis shares stories from his time in the music business and gives his take on the state of the entertainment industry.
37:52 | 11/01/17

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Transcript for 'Real Biz': Legendary music executive Clive Davis on Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen and more
He every loud I'm Rebecca Jarvis I'm the ABC news chief business technology and economics correspondent I'm thrilled to have you with us today. And this is a pinch me moment for me because sitting here. On my couch in my office inside of ABC news for this episode of real is with RJ. He's the legendary Clive Davis well cup we'll think you'll I'm happy to be here. I'm thrilled to have you here there's so much to get to you have had. An incredible career the man with the golden ears you're definitely be most powerful person in the music industry hands down. Inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame. The only person who's not an artist to have that title. You worked with everybody from Whitney Houston to Janis Joplin to Alicia Keys Bruce Springsteen. We could be here all day or by name every person that you have worked with in your career and I find it fascinating that. You were on a path originally. Studying law you grew up here in Brooklyn studied law ended up. Getting into the record business was it part of your idea in life that you wanted tipping your music or was it a complete accident. It was a complete action. My parents Doug and overthrew teenager. No money 4000 goes through my name it to better. Needed scholarship to get through and boy you cut through hope it will school. I became a lawyer no portable music no training of the listening to radio okay. Shortcut through withdrawal with the firm whose clients with Columbia records and Phoebe. Three years out of law school. They came with the bowl proved to be. To become General Counsel of Columbia record Sobel. Was added to Ramos and I was making love themselves though you. I'd like federal program that will be 24. I drove from Barry. It was a good old for I didn't. And then I plugged in to news to cover about global school food. Courses and copy rights. That would would picked the Jules at about drugs. And I just learned as much about music. As I could but ears. Creatively. But I did not want practiced law in the throw in the ivory tower I want to don't understand the business problems. Five years later. But both got of the Booth and was being promoted will equal group proved that he didn't know life of these I didn't noise it is. He'd first openly that this document reports. You will be the head of the musical instrument division they have for you with the boy of the reports flood way. I've had but means that I have to move to allay akin to two. Because I want it to stay or for your fans are wont to the State of New York from way family. The next morning he called me up. He's fed by executive vice president gore would the warmth of the potential hopefully you know -- care measure of the instruments division. He'll become the head of Columbia Brooke and me and it happened to have felt way I guess it was. And how to be good to be. You know we've we've proved lucky you are now hopefully that fell by Phil but the mother Lori Pope comfortable. With chest chaplain to open this film shows play. Quote not wearing khaki. Where it is what are. There'll wearing long robes and flow within your hair I didn't know. Do we think either Irish stories true for rural pollution cultural role pollution. A more broad sword droplet of the electorate four. That had heard I knew it was a musical revolution I was there. No musical book world. But would cut Cagle other kids you've got to make you boo you know. I'd fill and draw blood and big Grover. I fell in the electorate four. Of them would cut back three weeks later Bure regional blood through its views the Bill Cooper. Played from the flowed and flowed through tears. Until trusting that instinct I'd seen the revolution comes to defendants and had a ruptured called Golan. Bruce Springsteen and believe droll you. Still. Don't put it you always to probe Floyd. Expecting failure and saying you got word to the nth degree the way the achievement scholarship. Or would the Monday to go through a boy who will hold. And so. Bill to boost prepare. That growth is like you know they don't play you records with influential world. That is Mary good point so. So for people are hearing this the the apple music documentary which is phenomenal was number one right off the bat still at the top of the charts. Called Clive Davis the soundtrack of our lives you go through so many. It goes through so many stories and so many of these histories that you packed with Houston with Bruce Springsteen I loved the Bruce Springsteen story. About when you first told him hey you gotta get some hits on this record. And gracefully he's figure no. Went back. And I broke plundered by the way and a broad spirit in the night so he could double through good coal ago. When you. Have a team from thing tonight but yours and I'm guessing you're seeing adults hit on Broadway her later this week with Aretha Franklin doing that broaden you know. It life Clegg. Got a great look. A book news. This documentary with them but the Ridley Scott for the recruitment out it was done independently crews freed killed the director. What did you think when making TO and because it because letting your life opening up your life and allowing people to take a look inside that. Open yourself up some owner of right. Without question but I want to that documentary I didn't want a blow a ball of the working and operating. And a woman she's from but it playing BI had all those great ordered. Whitney. The biggest thorn filled world will be sure all moved things fade from the Ripa. This is the film director who would because Jews here. A 105 music fused with the greed solved that word and by four plus decades. Will you created this soundtrack of our lives means so much of every song I can think of throughout my childhood. Playing on the school bus playing in the car with my parents on the way to school playing on a car when I have actually could drive my own car so many of them are the artists that you help nurture. And build into what they became like Whitney Houston for example. This documentary is NBC news and other stations. Critics have said if you love music if you go to street the documentary because it's not a puppies. It coach Wolfe and and the ability. And life in a very candid way. Whitney my life with errors but point me. Three minutes of the two hour film of what you've seen Britney but the way. The first TV movie will be approved plucked him entries come outpour agree. Unbundling and not telling the full story we show Whitney. Plaguing. Her drug addiction. You see. Conversations. That I've had with power and veterans of other word to our imploring her. To deal boo boos of the deadly addiction doesn't do so would look sugar coated but you. All Phil. True weak fifth drugs would you see her and under show aborted two of them were were from the national TV show and you see her single home from with the food full version of it. A new sea bed incredible. Talent. Boy and how she became. The great whose finger of our generation and you see her. You know be telling her you better pay and you felt seven mobile ones in roll used few that work ethic. That she. And you don't get if you understand all felons who were so good to see her as a skeleton. During the Michael Jackson concert at Madison square Gordon. Would you see her ever end of the peak of propel them singing to reduce global wall. But. Lucrative thing going views. And filled funeral for the to apply after their blood forming groups there. Insightful book but you feed the industry of closed UC mud Lloyd. Up close to resilience of the dude you don't go through. For plug decade. We had two major challenges. That tool book home. So the veil and giving you know appropriate Julia. Perseverance. Leaving as if you will Collins is today inspirational. Among the different thought of that ultimately crumbled in bullet or. I'd met feel to be on the other side. Strange strange you worry about it. Put got to feel the first week we entered in the both Philip up 200 dollar dreams have broken well. A leading gradually has written well I think that right Phil would for drug. Do you feel being on this side of it that you understand. Things that may be the artist we're trying to tell you in a different way. No. One bit advised ordinance what they have to say that they can truth for color that they've got a big got from her ankle please. Pour your heart out as to what you feel it's powerful. Although filled. Speaking at Columbia I didn't they could go to materially only of was independently Bertrand noble all boil. All boy agreed pre grove ago. The bug. There's going to be agency shall. Once again you know it is the night of news should we all can be and there. To fill the breaking news or. These are good time for newsroom where it. You think that I think that's an interesting point coming from you because. You know covering business and technology the music industry has come through some major growing pains youth and art is have spoken out at length about how hard it is to make money in the music industry today and you have a number of companies that. Our publishing music and art is get a smaller cut of that music right you. Still it's interesting that you would say that it's a good time for world. Duchardt come with compared to three of four years ago when the public felt that you could have used it for nothing rightly you felt one draw it. Did the new digital technology. Written to music you know and antiquated. Quote Robert they'll will be looked beyond the end throughs. Views big storms screaming pleas from Poland bill if and so. Streamed worldwide you build that it's full of life is the central and as meaningful. As of the big four and all of a sudden if true for flood views dental group we went backwards. And the overall revenues or all of 51015. With. Through that yes we have a trio went to work out prepare equities split I was tub means he could shared. And Woodward book. We collect music from broadcast Jews from of influences. To reflect it fell you and programming everywhere. So of course. The equity of it and how grilled Brcko. Book it was moment. It is with the flow of revenues it is record company's growing again and book contracting in. Doe who would it should cool club and they've Booth. Institute for recorded music big give them. It's a doctorate of footnotes. To agree. If you both deployed to grow and you know at them ramming through that. Two years ago with students will question is there were few true music all we in the right place with all the via all the book. Public thing they should give it three. Look this is a business program. We know. Good creativity both rewarded you don't give him for his fund could for the creative people or the Korean company and comfortable. All with the book yes back up you do things that we have a moment of we have problems to work out what it with the Booth third. They abused it can be of great career. U told almost students. Tip should you do that pictured pristine field. What spend for you know and your career the toughest lesson you've had to learn. Let the real good quote. Funeral as that film for Intel. I'd pick and brewery repeating what you've been out for Ellwood truth of life. You know you've just got to believe good news filled who was on your talent. Two would oh for the product. Unfilled stabbing the product. Hello my orders fit into new club world business we've people who Philly one hit wonder right. Springsteen of seeing him tonight on Broadway okay mean headlining everywhere excellent. Had bluntly. The great deal Warwick were read for Franklin believed troll every block. Filling about it for the August that good report. Phil who police then. There in do several decades overhead lightning and boy reunited with the intent of his troop are not True Blue smooth and Maria Maria. Mean horrible. Chemical real love so. And what. And the secret to bat to bat everlasting career rule. Toddler fell four but did a few years ago would Rhodes who will be bold for booked on the grid of birth control book. 24 billion overflow volumes of albums we've sold. Broad filled filming all over the world filled the time was wearing good. Where we will for the forward vision and you would you addition need to see can do with Cambodians. There's fees. And you tell that like we do addition an artist did they walk into a room alone with you and perform Korea. It's very all through boot securities and how they know that I'm that'll lift an audience if it's Hewitt me in Ingraham well. So ago few good news going to need three she's from background finger in the Balkans. She stepped forward in February. But she does to fool Warner's home four wins. The other route is that we're live lovable formed a like commission. Eight years earlier approval would form well but all week. Drew wood fence and the great food code to grow Corbett sharp. Vote Whitney. Have found that fool. She felt warm B and doubtful that I knew that compose foods cope with the there. When it was tourist route she was a vocal genius. So that when you see Britney interest through. Being personally you. Because you've seen an early documentary. To agree QB movie. The Whitney Google was totally. A product of the tabloids. Unit and teach what do you remember when she fell in double what was worldview and she to have pregnant. Poured. Turn. To be ordinance and would read to themselves for that. Incredible go. That was a not true. What London where he should move from mobile as a teenager. Never told what to Wear and of the capital until order is filled should be strong woman for a woman all of working woman. The power of drugs led to a premature to appeal of that is so. So devastating. That looked true group code. Put one should not obscure. Water woes so that every book with a struggle followed through with the root of the issue keys were moved fields. Britney is that a close put herself of the greatest anger of the generation that chose. The I'm proud that used to commit crucial flaws. When you look at upping coming artists today what do you think is the biggest mistake they're making. I don't think when you look at the open coming or is that they are making a mistake I would think that the industry. And radio which is too vulnerable one word to break a board of you've got to show that it cannot be dominated like urban mainstream news culminated. Almost under present put the ball of low coupon. I'm finding. They're. Boy funding and will phase. Of their early withdrawals got Herron report from BP and pull which is also story which is in the story. And the end through this we will go next to Reid could come from we will go next would become Wimbledon and brings things right now. A lot of the orders to be ensured there because they're just following the single. They don't have the curiosity. Will be open. When you get to would build a true order. 42 million albums on school of beach relief. Because she's in orbit than the global bio low dough boy to a three over what that most via mobile. We'll go at fewer and showing that could be threw him tear loose would have to show and that could be true horror. So that we obviously both give opportunities. To the individual. Orders film big Tuesday or unique. I was approved for those who book. The public pulled out a work of that single who need an animal we going to be. Nurturing. For individual well. Nurturing I think that's so clear in the documentary. How in nurturing you have banned so many careers and so many of these people and that. They all bring the talent in the steel to the table but without that mentor ship without that person looking out for that it could be as we're organ. A group of the development executive bill will be all right Michael Friday goofy humbled them with the Ripa she's seeking. Oranges you know and you nurture if not a threatening things of that I'm thrilled I've moved up there. When Ridley Scott for recruit for co picked these live picked. Fed. And to hear them troll about a live together will be viewed sleeper. Feldman to go for uncle Howard truth for drew broad approval order. To be there's signaled they never expected that. So but the right relationship. Is the club where reports. The auto physical what talent would you feel home or would genes. You of something to or for Bach. And collaborated. And so that you could still. Being glued them decades later nurturing that Korea. One of the things that has come up in the news lately and Hollywood in particular these terrible sexual harassment claims. And I wonder if you think that. Given your experience in. Helping to nurture so many counts if you think that there's anything that culturally needs to change. About Hollywood. Or the music industry. Listen I think that clearly. Everything you read in I read your nobody or vigilant though they have banishing. Offenders. From membership of the killed they realized that whatever have existed in the you know wood was. Brooke of glossed over needs to be uncovered. And this is some serious serious serious problem. Booth got to be things. It's hopeful of it goes. Well without question. The sexual growth Lyndon and in the form in this role being fooled. It's going to be Boogaard. In every way. I ask everybody has questions heavy fur and I'll ask you what is the worst advice you've been given in your career. Okay hopefully. Amid fruitful for OK. And I get through corporate go to Columbia records. It can't fool would go in to meet with what we'll be seeing importance. And he said the thought. You came from whole. The record industry. Cold treating. Them feeding. Drive toward thing you don't food in there. Let me take this program and I mean seriously or note you got the picture. Of record the record industry people in mind position. Husband's food to distort them for them to believe. That who beat the record industry. So but I mentioned are names that you Ruth moved would hero they've kept him. Richard brands Jerry morphin Herb Alpert bowl all of them on Woodward and go to the blues I could go all in all along. Doug Morris of robed stranger of these or gentleman who. Or the both in light of the people like competed again. Let stand for buying these 5% of the record business hospitals theaters. Shortening they have to how big Cuban. Is good world about what program final fail. They concentrated. All of that is who was filthy and juggle or. They went to a food fictional with a stick approach with one goal eight. Who threw a local drugs. Was. Inappropriately. The rift of the industry dignity and development of really the pill with. Of society ducked the motion picture industry poor paying very. Karen both of the eve. The cut of executives that dominated. Dug the puck percent of the work console so. The worst that life would be. I don't go went to music. Through all glad I did from Gordon. Powerful group book second bull. I have no body over to have a product appalled that it took until of the old world. I do movable pig club I doable reasons. Trusted that I could get Ruble. With people will all walks of life and like kids think it was intentional but was bad boys. Two from Gorton. The good. We've full mumble out. Before if you go maneuvers today okay. But she's sure I had an academic. It was always Finley's two with the books with low we didn't loves to do. She's fit to me. Don't become. The kind. Of bring chill that in truth and Harvard tell. Could please stick pole plum fool on with pre condoned and mix with people whose funeral learn as much from people. But you weren't for book. Of that is true what does liberal reading but I could be. You'll know and total global. Total of boat people would be ghetto there you go to Google. But was supposed to put food. That is fantastic advice we have some questions from our viewers and going. Documentary mentioned that client found artists he believed it sadly didn't have a seat successful careers at some other well known artists. There are if that comes to mind that you would do something different for now in hindsight. Great question Alexis. Well. Not every orbit come through what that word please to all of the film they could clip makes it clear there was a group called the helpful. And defend patrol. All orders with a gun and people important. And that with the violin with their current by the Greek looking. Eiffel appeal. Would make it. Of big. People Burnett individually. Has made it a beyond good things incredible. Views of cool figure. Put the fueled story you've got. The alphabet and two in that period people did not Kumble who moved from. Until they did not emerge although he. Some were of one of the great musical. Figure is over we'll have. Several decades to do group cobol plunking king I was flying object and should. Judge could written piece will be viewed fueling. Several of the Eagles began to. He did Roy shoots for his school. The flunking king and so very. Did both make good to have those were very believable or whose that fill Woodman. What did not make it oval blue pill would there sometimes. Who did you pay Phil. Who reviewed thing. Would vote naked and did. There's took an addict he'll let me two. I do addition to a bill would have been withdrawn coup. One or addition to. Here I would sell and brings the. We've and they Dube was to be. Moved agreed. What crumbled figures for it is performers. A bold. What voted four. I felt he was too close family. Fit. Up us. Just a few years ago. The rock and roll all the food that led 34. And I was sitting at this famed table. Boyd you good coincident to have design this was the table. All but love from Wednesday on his loved his trombone kid on his love instruction bro. All in his love to install an ugly truth. That's at. Go. Table. And quotable. And they all floated torching will be the bone to form or did they who do should from the Jackson told his story we almost. Or addition familiar my book did. Joseph Boland. That droll go to things every in the only point to you as the biggest store growth. But. To both solid and after auditioning. He of the drug between us. I foot wooden additions for you that he would come close to prove them Robert. He and through. True story things first program of a patrol and so. John Mellencamp foods will be tell you something. Even we. People who are different for you. I've like good news I was in the cobra a lot figures cover but in truth doing its of the day. Told me give free David always look overture came to fields. Cornered the to show it to good and leave this. You're cut individual Olympic go to the store picking. If you if you could Roy. I will moment if you. He I took that advice. Both abandonment. Writing crime to plug it voids. And called legal and pieces I've got no tuition fees and those with clogged. You know we'll deliberately huddled the government authorities who was smug because influence of the time. Does Bruce Springsteen and so growth these. No that really took occurred a few years ago these we're drones. I was too close to groups. Because he was will be whose importance and whose eight weeks after I was trying to follow my voice. Old quote effective. Ford. He used will be reasonable. Toward fitness. Poker is an explanation. What a story. What an incredible story would drew and your life is filled with patent. Well. May be four of the documentaries global war and you'll listen to condone vote. I iTunes you can download it's not apple music Clive Davis the soundtrack of our lives we have a few to have one last question Taylor. I'm sure we're getting a ton of questions it will give them what our quest will be home. Thick and the pilots what's the best advice prayers and artists just starting out in the. The best advice. Depends all on with the Reuter. What you were pulled forward dependent on of the people's Reuters. That's key to separate. Because if you were pulled formal. And if everybody's that you gotta write that approval and Whitney if that filled the noble won't came to me and but government co writer. Janet Jackson but to be competitive. They're co Reuters. The critics don't seem to have respect for what commercials since. Because I don't Reuters. Should I write and I always. Will if you won't move toward your word before it I deal. And it would give useful tool be if you keys and it would have given his soul to parties. They're vocal they're creative G news is boy. What if you don't Roy. You know every. Fold all Britain for a two well booms. A Cologne upward could've been vulnerable. So of course they Cleveland collaborative revived review. Them. Book it's like a movie actor or director for people who get the word roll yes it. You you people don't go enviable good humor of free bill you've got to be in the weren't role you go to. And in the same way of abuse are fed would do we have been reduced global Phoebe warm and well for you. All the board of inquiry fool. Fit it. It was all of the borrowers though there you can't wait to review of the war. You followed with a motive would vote figment truthful. During your career. Cove and who knows. So you've got a few appear things of that conform would war if you'll writer. Label me. You know I didn't. What I felons Springsteen. I thought they have good genes through for a date and you go to improve your all of a new go to be true to be with the integrity. Hopeful we used the news aboard who right. So. I think it'll get it would four what you stream. Christian. And an end with a work ethic. Isn't. That is such good advice I think I never thought through the idea that once you get up here like you sat with Whitney Houston once you get up here. If you are really going after you want to play at the top of your game you have to always be thinking about that next thing that can elevate you back. And that's heart because it. Hey it might not come along or BEU might be uncertain about whether you've landed on that thing or not to ruin. You referred true and I sharing your position you're has advisor thinking about these things to have you found. Have you found a way or a litmus test that allows you to determine or is it all on gut instinct whether something is really. That project of that thing that's gonna propel you back especially when you are reached such incredible heights. You Georgie case at that comes through with film what Rod Stewart. You know it would not be with the regional material biko's have cruel blow if you go and pure truth please fix these. The American foreign review Kabila to merchants Bulger. To veterans put. That concept held that he brought to me. The great American phone book burying to distinguish. Distinctive. Gravelly. Wonderful. Time with boys. With the grateful long's funeral of the Greenberg control board. We did five from. It ended up killing 46 million in the aggregate worldwide. Revived his career for the bell brand new drug in my approve putting more from my Grammy reporting. Everybody's been hearing Jovi do trains as orange smoke from regions wonderful wonderful. The next day to page headline in the calendar. Building poems and payment for. Joining book that is if loans. Quote portly. White and foreign films were blown. And so and pork bill the reports. Of the board's liberal drinker so. A new well O. Here's Jodi 81 youthful looking horrible following his best pole political career. Boys impeccable. Film we've just finished. Just felt this week. Tony about the things. The great new borrowers can fool people. So would John insignia a little boy 020 lead and in truth the way you warm Cold War draw anything how long view of wounded coal. One dispute for a goals fool me with global. Oh. Filbeck for a fifth exciting what Dooling and of course in the studio with the general for Hudson an incredible voice. An incredible tell. Go to find business had Pope culminated Urban League history. But soul that Jennifer. Could she felt every show every party or bruise show every evening. She truth could ripped the audience. So these are challenges that I as to what to do. That keeps me move. Clive Davis you're filled with wisdom I love this conversation thank you for coming blood flow thank you for joining me again it's called Clive Davis but soundtrack of our lives you can download it on iTunes view. Number one an apple music. Congratulations on everything you obviously never need to hear that from me but you've got to go rentable banging your career that and I really appreciate you sharing the wisdom here with us thank you through. And thank you all appreciate it. Keep those comments coming let us know what you're thinking about and let us know what question you haven't we you'd like to see here. On the next real lives thanks ever want have a great day.

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