Mitchell Cohen is a writer and A&R Executive. Over his years in the music industry, Mitchell worked for Verve, Columbia, and Arista. That last label is the subject of his book, Looking for the Magic: New York City, the ’70s and the Rise of Arista Records. In it, Mitchell covers the label, the city, and the culture surrounding it. But as he puts it in our interview, “I wanted to tell stories that haven’t been explored much, about artists who deserve more attention, like Willie Nile, David Forman, Quazar’s Glenn Goins, Linda Lewis, Janey Street.”
How did you get to where you are today, professionally?
Around 1972-1973, when I was at NYU grad school (Cinema Studies), I started writing for various movie and music magazines, like Film Comment, Take One, Creem, Fusion, Film Quarterly, Good Times. Then in 1977 I got a job as a copywriter in the publicity department of Arista Records, doing artist bios, press releases, things like that. Unexpectedly, that evolved into an almost 30-year career in what was then the record industry, doing A&R for Arista, then Columbia, and finally Verve. When my time in the biz expired, I went back to writing, which is what I’ve been doing for around 15 years now.
Can you please briefly describe the book?