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Sam Sutherland

Sam Sutherland

SAM SUTHERLAND began his career as a music journalist in the early '70s, joining Billboard's New York offices where he covered record companies, recording studios, and college media by day and reviewed live music by night. He would undertake a subsequent tour of duty at Record World magazine in the late '70s as its west coast editor, rejoining Billboard in 1981 as its west coast bureau chief.

As a freelance writer, Sutherland contributed to High Fidelity, Phonograph Record Magazine, Musician, Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, and The NARAS Journal.

A New York native, he moved to Los Angeles in 1974 as inhouse writer and publicist for Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch Records and embarked on a second label adventure a dozen years later as an executive for Windham Hill Productions, based at its Los Angeles sales, marketing, and promotion offices. In addition to overseeing the Bay Area company's media relations team, he assumed a welcome second role overseeing A&R and artist relations for Windham Hill's jazz and fusion subsidiary, working with such artists as Tuck and Patti, the Turtle Island String Quartet, Andy Narell, Billy Childs, Henry Butler, and Denny Zeitlin.

He also shepherded the Grammy-nominated 1990 studio summit for Art Blakey, Dr. John, and David "Fathead" Newman released as Bluesiana Triangle, as well as a sequel recorded following Blakey's death from cancer later that year. In 1991, he recruited Steely Dan's Walter Becker to produce a series of albums showcasing emerging jazz artists Bob Sheppard, John Beasley, and the Lost Tribe.

During the early 1990s, he served as an independent A&R consultant to clients including Discovery Records, newly resurrected by Elektra founder Jac Holzman, and began exploring how new media technologies could enable music discovery, pouring 'old wines into new bottles.' A research project undertaken for Microsoft led to an invitation for Sutherland to join the development team for Microsoft Music Central, an interactive consumer music project combining CD-ROM and online publishing, prompting his move to the Seattle area.

In 1998, Sutherland was recruited by Amazon.com to join the online bookseller's launch teams for music and video, overseeing the editorial reviews databases for its separate music, classical and opera, and DVD and video stores launched over that summer and fall. During his four-year tenure at Amazon, he served as managing editor for its burgeoning DVD business, then pivoted to a senior editorial role with its central marketing group.

Sutherland returned to Microsoft in 2002 as managing editor for the Windows Media Guide, the online platform showcasing streaming media encoded in Microsoft's proprietary codecs. He subsequently moved to MSN Entertainment in a series of assignments culminating in his 2007 move to oversee MSN Music, guiding the channel until 2016.

16 articles

By Artist | By Date

List of articles in the library by artist

Jackson Browne: The Pretender (Asylum 7E-1079)

Review by Sam Sutherland, Phonograph Record, November 1976

JACKSON BROWNE'S fourth and best album draws its power from a stunning tension of opposites: he continues to revise and refine many of the same ...

Earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White: Maurice White: From Sessionman To Producer

Interview by Sam Sutherland, Record World, 7 January 1978

EVEN IF Maurice had chosen to retire as a musician in the early '70s, his mid-decade emergence as a producer would guarantee him prominence: White's ...

Donald Fagen Talks

Interview by Sam Sutherland, High Fidelity, January 1983

From the dark, jaded regions of Steely Dan emerges an intellectual with an album about innocence, by Sam Sutherland ...

George Harrison: A&M Sues George Harrison for $10 Million

Report by Sam Sutherland, Record World, 9 October 1976

LOS ANGELES — A&M Records has filed a suit against George Harrison, seeking $10 million in damages and the dissolution of Harrison's Dark Horse label, ...

Etta James, Allen Toussaint: Jerry Wexler: Producer with a Fan's Passion

Interview by Sam Sutherland, High Fidelity, August 1978

ON A BLEAK, sunless afternoon, Jerry Wexler sits comfortably in the shadows of a recording studio control room, listening to the playback of a vocal ...

Little Feat in Heat

Profile and Interview by Sam Sutherland, Phonograph Record, December 1975

LOWELL GEORGE is ravaged, eyes wired with fatigue beneath the peak of a floppy leather poorboy cap, face pallid against the dark beard. He smiles ...

Bob Marley & The Wailers: Rastaman Vibration (Island ILPS 9383)

Review by Sam Sutherland, Phonograph Record, May 1976

Top 40 Rasta: Marley at his most Mischievous ...

Material: One Down (Elektra 60206)

Review by Sam Sutherland, High Fidelity, March 1983

CHARACTERIZING MATERIAL'S work as "new music" could be somewhat misleading, since synthetic pop proponents have recently begun to use the term in lieu of "new ...

Randy Newman: Backbeat: Randy Newman's Coming-Out Party

Interview by Sam Sutherland, High Fidelity, April 1983

Called a recluse and a bigot by some, Newman has more to say than most "confessional" singer/songwriters. ...

Steely Dan Sans Sarcasm

Profile and Interview by Sam Sutherland, High Fidelity, November 1977

STEELY DAN has been insinuating their mordant, pop-noir sensibility into the American musical mainstream for over five years now, and from the outset they've smartly ...

Steely Dan: Katy Lied (ABC ABCD-846)

Review by Sam Sutherland, Phonograph Record, April 1975

STEELY DAN is a feisty little outfit. Their songs insinuate themselves onto Top 40 playlists, to blare from car radios and transmute vinylite into gold, ...

Steely Dan: Royal Scam (ABC ABCD-931)

Review by Sam Sutherland, Phonograph Record, May 1976

SO YOU wanna dance? Steely Dan will oblige you, punching up their fast songs with hot guitars and bubbling rhythms. You say you like spectacle, ...

Tom Waits: Swordfishtrombones (Island ILPS90095-1)

Review by Sam Sutherland, High Fidelity, January 1984

BETWEEN HIS fall from grace at his old record company (due as much to executive shifts as poor sales) and his time-consuming involvement in the ...

Was (Not Was): Caught in an Elevator

Interview by Sam Sutherland, High Fidelity, April 1984

The assortment of artists on a Was (Not Was) album appears accidental. But it's not. Really. ...

Warren Zevon: Backbeat: Warren Zevon

Interview by Sam Sutherland, High Fidelity, July 1980

Don't the sun look angry through the trees Don't the trees look like crucified thieves Don't you feel like desperados under the eaves ...

List of genre pieces

Muscle Shoals: A Look at Who Makes It Cook

Profile by Sam Sutherland, Record World, 19 May 1979

THE MUSICAL traits that have earned the Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section the respect and admiration of artists and producers around the world aren't obvious ...

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