President and Founder
With experience as an artist manager, entertainment lawyer, producer, publisher and booking agent, Ken Levitan has developed an international reputation as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the music industry today. The President and founder of Vector Management, Ken's management roster boasts such legendary and diverse acts as Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, Hank Williams Jr., B-52s, Ben Folds, John Hiatt, Michael McDonald, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Trisha Yearwood , Trace Adkins, Jonny Lang, Patty Griffin and Kings of Leon. Additionally, Ken is Co-President of Vector Recordings, a label he founded with former head of RCA, Jack Rovner, and also the Co-President (with Chris Farren) of Combustion Music, a music publishing/production company and soundtrack label.Levitan's innovative marketing and promotion techniques have inarguably propelled his acts' careers to the next level, while his musical integrity has received its own recognition-in 1998 Levitan was awarded a Grammy for producing The Apostle soundtrack. An interest in all areas of the music industry has enticed Levitan to constantly diversify his career. It is this passion for music and understanding of music's business aspects that has enabled Ken Levitan to help his acts to grow professionally without compromising artistically, thus, successfully combining art and commerce.Music has always served as a great inspiration for Levitan, even as he immersed himself in the preparation of his business career. The son of a surgeon and homemaker, Levitan was born in Brooklyn, New York. His father dabbled in the entertainment industry in his spare time, managing members of the Four Seasons and Canadian country performer Ronnie Prophet before moving into movie production. Perhaps unintentionally, his enthusiasm rubbed off on his son.While attending Vanderbilt University, Ken Levitan ran the school's concert committee, booking acts such as Carole King, Genesis, Stephen Stills and Hall & Oates. After graduation, he served as a booking agent for Buddy Lee Attractions, working with Willie Nelson, George Strait and Jerry Lee Lewis.In 1983, following his graduation from the University of Dayton's School of Law, Levitan returned to Nashville, where he joined forces with another young attorney, Trip Aldredge. "We just hung a shingle straight out of law school," Levitan says. "We had no clients; we just found music that we liked and we shopped record deals for them." He helped secure record and publishing deals for Foster & Lloyd, Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Nanci Griffith and numerous rock acts and songwriters in Nashville."When I practiced law, I shopped a lot of deals," Levitan says. "I got tired of shopping deals and being everything for the artists and then handing it over to a manager. Once we had gotten a deal, I missed being involved. I wanted to do more than just contractual work." While maintaining his law practice, in 1990 Levitan established a management company to represent Steve Wariner, Nanci Griffith and New Grass Revival. He quickly became a full-time manager and joined forces with Will Botwin, now the President of Columbia Records in New York. The duo managed Griffith, Lovett, film composer Mark Isham and others. Their publishing company, Crossfire, worked with Crash Test Dummies, Deana Carter and Matthew Ryan.In 1996, Levitan was lured away from management by the opportunity to run Rising Tide Records, a subsidiary of Universal. He signed Dolly Parton, Matraca Berg, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Delbert McClinton, The Buffalo Club and Rebecca Lynn Howard, enhancing his growing reputation of musical integrity and furthering his music industry knowledge. "I wanted to learn the other side of the business," he says, explaining his decision to take the job. "It was a good challenge to start a fresh record company."Unfortunately a casualty of the Universal-PolyGram merger, Rising Tide was closed in 1998. Following a brief stint helping his wife, Gloria Dumas, win her campaign to be Davidson County General Sessions Judge, Levitan returned to management in the fall of 1998 and re-opened Vector Management.Speaking about his goals at Vector, Levitan comments, "You have to balance the creativity and the business side to really make sure the artist maximizes his or her own goals. We really want to try to build box sets and long careers instead of one-hit wonders. We are in a time when everything is really quick-hit oriented. We try to take a long-term marketing approach. One thing we're really trying to do for our experienced acts is build up their ownership of their masters," he says. "We're making it so the artists own their records and then we license them around the world. For the first time in their lives, some of our more established artists own their own art." Levitan, with his partner in Combustion music, Chris Farren, has signed to the publishing entity such talented and diverse writers as Drew Ramsey, Gordie Sampson, Aaron Lines, and Kings of Leon. In its first two years of operation, they have over seventy recorded cuts, including recordings by India.Arie, Dave Matthews, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Keith Urban, George Straight, Travis Tritt and Michael McDonald. Along with former President of RCA, Jack Rovner, Levitan established Vector Recordings in 2002. The label's first release, Damien Rice's O, received Gold certification and tremendous critical acclaim. With a name for the artistic integrity, artist development and creative marketing, other Vector Recordings releases include Herbie Hancock's Possibilities, Queen Latifah's The Dana Owens Album, and Joseph Arthur's Our Shadows Will Remain.