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Friday, 28 November 2014 17:33


WHAT YOUNG MUSICIAN hasn’t fantasized about nailing that big-time audition, cutting a hit album, and embarking on a glamorous world tour? The thing is, those fantasies rarely include the stresses of such situations, like having to prepare for a high-profile gig on absurdly short notice.
Friday, 28 November 2014 17:10


FOR MANY MUSICIANS, LOSING a fingertip would be a career-ending nightmare. But the childhood accident that claimed Abe Laboriel, Sr.’s most important fretting finger didn’t prevent him from becoming one of the most successful session bassists in history. If anything, the injury contributed to the unique style that has captured the ears of countless artists, including Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, and Madonna. And that’s Laboriel anchoring “Let It Go” from the Frozen soundtrack, currently topping charts worldwide.
Saturday, 15 November 2014 21:53

Letters from Chris Gero - SUMMER 2009

chris gero headshotWITH THE 18TH EDITION OF ALL ACCESS UPON US, I’m reminded of how special the relationships are that lie on the pages before me. Since the inception of Yamaha Corporate Artist Affairs, we’ve stressed that the most important asset at Yamaha is our artists.

Elton John, Paul McCartney, Alicia Keys and all of our other 2,000 Yamaha artists bring our two-dimensional products to life. Our instruments become superstars when in the hands of these musical geniuses. When Natalie Cole or Gavin DeGraw goes on tour, our logo is put on display for millions of onlookers throughout the world to see. When Stevie Wonder or Norah Jones performs during an awards show or a late night talk show, millions witness that their chosen instrument is a Yamaha.

Yamaha instruments have always been known for their quality and craftsmanship; thanks to our artists, they are world-renowned and sometimes become famous in and of their own right. The alliance that is created between Yamaha and our artists is unparalled by any other music manufacturer. YCAA, Inc. works tirelessly supporting the needs and requests of artists who earn a living using Yamaha products. But above it all, the reason our artists are so important to us, is because, in the simplest of terms, they are our friends.

After spending more than 15 years spearheading Yamaha’s branding as it relates to our most valuable asset, it’s hard not to become friends with these talented people. Just as we put our instruments in their hands, they put their image in ours, and it is through that synergistic relationship that we create more than just a convenient means to an end, but we build a bridge of trust, a partnership, and, ultimately, a friendship that will last a lifetime.

I feel so honored to be in the position to call James Newton Howard, Sarah McLachlan, Brooke White, Carl Fischer, Chick Corea and Mark Rivera, among countless others, my friends. I am priviledged to have come to know their families, loved ones, children, and in turn, they mine. The collaborative relationship we share is one we at YCAA will never take lightly. Sarah gives our instruments a voice. Elton puts our brand on a pedestal and shows it off to the world, night after night. So in a sense, that’s what we hope to give back with All Access. A pedestal, a beautiful assortment of photographs that capture a moment in time, a voice that is truly their own, and a spotlight on what we all believe in: music.

Kindest Regards,
Chris Gero

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Saturday, 15 November 2014 21:47

Letters from Chris Gero - SUMMER 2008

chris gero headshotIN THIS, THE 16TH ISSUE OF YAMAHA ALL ACCESS, you will find some changes, some of which are obvious and some much more subtle. First the obvious: We decided to change the format to a larger and cleaner look, one that focuses more on the visual aspect of our artists as well as the written word. More space has been provided to tell each artist’s story and fewer artists will be featured per issue, exacting a fresh and highly stylized layout that reflects more on a streamlined amount of key artists, beautifully captured by some of the world’s best photographers.

The second and much less obvious change has been with the publication itself. Although a select handful of people here at Yamaha Corporate Artist Affairs have been producing Yamaha All Access for more than 8 years, the magazine had been until recently owned and funded from our friends in the Pro Audio and Combo Division at Yamaha. This change came about when Corporate Artist Affairs became a subsidiary division of Yamaha during this last year. What this means to you, our reader, is most likely trivial, but what it means to us, at YCAA, Inc., is that Yamaha All Access is finally home.

Yamaha Corporate Artist Affairs, Inc, is the division of Yamaha that is responsible for much of the high profile artist relations, artist branding and strategic endorsements at Yamaha. Here at YCAA, we manage the relationships with many of the artists who have graced the cover of this magazine including Elton John, James Blunt, Alicia Keys and many more. Although Yamaha has several artist relations departments that are specific to certain groups of instruments, YCAA focuses mostly on pianos (contemporary and jazz), synthesizer and digital musical products, Pro Audio and recording products and Steinberg products. In addition, YCAA is responsible for all the television and film placement as well as the Yamaha related concerts that are produced here in house, and much more.

Yamaha All Access has always been a service we provided, in essence, to a client. We are now producing Yamaha All Access for ourselves. This means the magazine will continue to grow and develop in the years to come. You will also shortly see an emailed version as well as an expanded podcast version. Both are currently under production here at YCAA.

These are big changes to us and I hope that you will enjoy the result of much hard work from the folks behind the scenes that bring Yamaha All Access to life. If you are interested in more information about Yamaha Corporate Artist Affairs, please visit On the behalf of the staff of YCAA and myself, we hope you enjoy the new changes and thank you for continuing to support Yamaha All Access.

Kindest Regards,
Chris Gero

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Saturday, 15 November 2014 21:38

Letters from Chris Gero - WINTER 2009

chris gero headshotThey say a picture is worth a thousand words. This could not be truer when referring to the photography of All Access. A large component in artist marketing at Yamaha is the photography we produce with the artists that play Yamaha instruments. Often, we are asked what it is like to photograph famous artists. Let me be the first to say that it is everything one would envision in the glamorous, hassle-free and romantic jet-setting celebrity world we live in…Well okay, maybe not. Mind you, it does require jet-setting (of the coach variety), but that is normally where the glamour ends.

The process of getting great photography for All Access is quite challenging and honestly can be very stressful and complicated. It often takes months, if not years, of planning to arrange a time when an artist may be available for a photo shoot. Artist photo shoots are orchestrated events that can involve a small army of people at times working on anything from travel to art direction, from gear and lighting procurement to location scouting and much more. More times than not, all of this careful planning comes down to less than a half hour of actual shooting time with the artist who may or may not be having a good day.

Over the years, I have had my fair share of photographers needing to be bailed out of jail, staff members detained in customs, redeye flights, smashed rental cars, angry stage mangers, intoxicated, nude, hung-over, or sleeping talent, foreign speaking cabbies, and navigational difficulties to last a lifetime. There have been enough, in fact, to fill a book and so far from reality that you would think it to be the script of a television series. So why do we do it? It’s simple: Our photography says a great deal about who we are. We take considerable pride in our artists and how they are imaged with our products and we are willing to do whatever it takes to produce world-class photography that truly sets us apart from our competitors.

We thought it might be interesting to share some of our world with you. So with all that said, we are very excited to announce the launch of All Access 360. All Access 360 is the new online, behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoots we create for this magazine. At, you will see unique interview content, photos that didn’t make it to print as well as chances to win great prizes such as an SLG100S Silent Guitar, autographed by this issue’s cover artist: Jason Mraz. And it’s all available as a free podcast so you can download it to your phone or share it with others through your social networking site. I bet you will now look differently upon the photos in All Access and wonder what crazy adventure we went on to get that picture. Fortunately for us, this issue was fairly tame, but fun to create nonetheless!

Kindest Regards,
Chris Gero

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Saturday, 15 November 2014 21:04

Letters from Chris Gero - WINTER 2010

chris gero headshotAt Yamaha, we are proud to say that we make products that help artists create music and earn a living. As we enter our half-century anniversary of doing business in America, I am reminded of some of the amazing artists who have played Yamaha products over the years and the impact they have left on the world.

When Yamaha opened its doors for business in the United States in 1960, the label “made in Japan” was not associated with the level of quality that it is today. From humble beginnings sprung a technological revolution that changed the way we hear and make music.
In the late ‘60s, Yamaha acoustic guitars quickly became an industry mainstay. James Taylor, John Denver, and many other artists helped establish the Yamaha brand; John Lennon, Bob Marley, Brian May, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, Bob Seger, Paul Simon, and Bruce Springsteen have helped maintain it.

In the ’70s, Stevie Wonder used the GX1 keyboard to create his masterpiece “Songs in the Key of Life.” Jeff Lynne wrote and recorded “Out of the Blue” using a C7 and Michael McDonald wrote and recorded “What a Fool Believes” on a CP-70 and CS-80. In 1978, Yamaha introduced the NS-10M monitor speaker, which continues to be the benchmark in the recording, film and TV industry even though the product was discontinued years ago.

At a time when synth-driven pop music reined supreme, the DX-7 became an instrument that actually defined the era. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Toto’s “Africa,” Chicago’s “Hard Habit to Break” and Luther Vandross’ “Here and Now” are just a small fraction of the countless songs that were recorded with this groundbreaking instrument in the ‘80s.

Yamaha pioneered digital mixing consoles beginning in the late ‘60s and revolutionized the entire music industry with the release of the 02R in the mid-’90s. The C7 grand piano has long been established as the recording industry standard throughout the world, and it has become the number one piano choice of contemporary and jazz artists, including Elton John, Paul McCartney, Alicia Keys and Norah Jones.

The Recording Custom drum kit, the BB series bass, the Z trumpet, the Motif and the PM1D are a few more examples of the thousands of innovative products Yamaha has created – and countless artists have brought to life.

Yamaha has been there through every major artist related event in the past 50 years: Woodstock, Live Aid, Live 8, Live Earth, Concert for Diana, America: A Tribute to Heroes, Jazz Fest, Bonnaroo, and American Idol, to name a few. Since 1960, Yamaha has enjoyed a unique relationship with artists and music makers from all walks of life in the entertainment epicenter of the world: the United States. We are honored to have been a substantial part of music’s history, and we look forward to what the next 50 years will bring.

Kindest Regards,
Chris Gero

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Saturday, 15 November 2014 20:49

Letters from Chris Gero - Summer 2010

chris gero headshotDuring the first weekend of May 2010, the music city was struck by what is being called the thousand-year flood. Surprisingly to many shocked residents of Nashville and the surrounding areas, the flooding and extensive damage that was subsequently caused was not well known outside our region for several weeks. Lives were lost, thousands of people were displaced, businesses were destroyed and dreams were ruined by the simple force of water.

For us in the music community, it was very tough to hear and see the after-effects of the flood on the musicians and their instruments. While the top artists made headlines with horror stories of losing priceless collections, it was the hundreds of stories of the mostly nameless “working class” musicians that were the hardest to hear. These folks, many of who support major talent, are studio musicians or can be found paying their dues at some thankless gig and did not have insurance or the wherewithal to replace their instruments.

SoundCheck, the biggest cartage, rehearsal and instrument storage facility in Nashville, keeps personal instrument lockers on more than 600 musicians and is located at a place where some of the flooding was the worst. Nearly an entire week went by before owner, Ben Jumper, and his crew could get to the instruments that lay soaking in a thinly mud-coated brown water. Needless to say, nearly everything was destroyed. All of the music venues downtown were quiet, and if for just a brief moment, the music stopped in music city. But only for a moment. We music people are part of an extraordinary community and although Yamaha itself was not immune to the flooding and lost several instruments, I was truly humbled by the outreach of musicians for the musicians. In the days following the flood, nearly every artist I spoke to asked if we could not help them, but assist others in greater need.

Within hours of the flood’s end, my office was busy donating and replacing instruments to musicians as well as consulting with many of the stricken venues and productions as to the best means to get up and running as quickly as possible. But this flood was much more than losing some instruments––many lost homes and lives were destroyed.

During this recovery process, I was reintroduced to the efforts of MusiCares. MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need, such as this tragic event. MusiCares' services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies and quickly stepped in to assist the hundreds of musicians that were affected. Because of the efforts by organizations such as MusiCares, many of these musicians are getting back to work. Many still need help.

Please join me in supporting MusiCares by going to their website and learning about the organization and the incredible job they do in helping musicians in their everyday lives. Send them a cash donation to support their tireless efforts. Someday you may need their services.

I am proud to live in Nashville––the music city. No amount of water could ever drown the spirit of what Nashville and its people represent.

Kindest Regards,
Chris Gero

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Tuesday, 21 October 2014 23:17


Michael W. Smith may be the brightest star in contemporary Christian music. But despite having collected a truckload of Gold Record, Platinum Record, GRAMMY, and Dove awards during his 17-year career, Smith shows no signs of complacency. His 13th album, This is Your Time, finds the singer/composer exploring new musical territory and his next release promises even bolder departures: It's an all-instrumental collection highlighting Smith's cinematic-sounding compositions. We recently spoke to Smith about the secular side of his songwriting process.

Michael Baker is joking when he calls himself "the last of the dinosaurs," but Whitney Houston's longtime drummer is definitely attuned to the traditions of an earlier time.

Faith Hill continues to evolve from country singer to pop diva and Steve Hornbeak couldn't be happier. "Country is where I got my foot in the door," says Hill's longtime keyboardist/vocalist, "but I've always been more of a pop musician. Now that Faith is crossing over with things like the Divas tour, the gig has turned into something I enjoy even more."
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