Why was it such a struggle for him to get a record deal in the first place?
The weak link was me — I was leading the charge on that. But I think that at least 18 years ago, record companies were very top 40-oriented for lack of a better word. And he obviously didn’t fit into that genre. I clearly remember taking him to Warner Bros. into one of their executive meetings and setting up my piano and saying, “You guys are not going to believe what you’re about to hear.” And of course we did “Mack the Knife” and “Moondance” and some standards. They didn’t know quite what to make of it. But I had already learned by then that television can become the new radio for artists like Michael Bublé, and that certainly proved to be true.
How did TV appearances help to boost his album sales almost two decades ago?
As it turns out, which was a bonus, he was a great songwriter, but I didn’t know that when I first ran across him 18 years ago. I just thought he was this incredible singer who didn’t learn this music — he lived this music — and that was enough for me to fall in love with him. Then I found out he was a great songwriter, so we did end up getting radio airplay. But at the beginning, the way we sold CDs was Warner Bros. obviously believing in him, and television. It used to be you could go on the “Today” show and sell 40,000 albums that morning if you had done well, so we didn’t need top 40 radio.
Why did you insist that he take a co-producer credit?
Artists get in the habit of wanting to be listed as co-producers when they don’t really do the work. It used to always annoy me because I thought: “You’re the artist. It’s your picture on the cover. It’s your album. Don’t try to diminish what I do by asking for a co-producer credit.” Michael had a vision and at this point in my life. I just love artists who know who they are and where they’re going and what they want. He was there every moment of the way along with Jochem van der Saag, the third person on the team who is also a co-producer. Maybe I was the captain of the ship, but I had two great first mates.