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In early August, Encinitas record label and management company Surfdog Records released The Dave Stewart Songbook, Volume I. Stewart, best known for being half of the Eurythmics (with Annie Lennox), has produced tracks for Aretha Franklin and Tom Petty.

“He actually approached us through a mutual associate,” says Surfdog general manager Niels Schroeter.

Surfdog, whose artist roster also includes Brian Setzer, has released music by Gary Hoey and the Butthole Surfers. As they do for Setzer, Surfdog serves as the record label and management company for Stewart. The company gets income from most artist activities, including touring, licensing, and merchandise sales.

“We’re a management company first that has also figured out how to release albums,” says Schroeter, who points out that the management of the Eagles and Bryan Adams have released CDs directly to Wal-Mart.

As Stewart’s manager, Surfdog oversees his publicity.

“So many labels downsized, which means that a lot of really talented people were displaced and went into business for themselves. We have a radio-promotions guy who used to work for Hollywood Records. Our retail consultant used to be with Warner Brothers.… A company like Surfdog can hire the ideal ‘dream team’ to surround the artist, and you only have them on payroll as long as you need them.”

Surfdog has released CDs by Slightly Stoopid, Sprung Monkey, and Agent 51 but currently has no local bands on its roster. Although Sprung Monkey no longer actively performs, Schroeter says the band’s music still makes money.

“They have been excellent for licensing. Their music was used in Not Another Teen Movie. The band gets paid every time that movie airs on HBO.”

Two years ago, Surfdog and the band Agent 51 settled out of court with Warner Bros. Records and Green Day over the charge that Green Day borrowed a riff from Agent 51’s “She’s My Heroine”; Green Day’s Grammy-winning “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” has similarities. When asked to comment about the reported six-figure settlement, Schroeter says, “Let’s move on.”

Surfdog has seven full-time employees and is located on Highway 101 behind a coffeehouse, which it also owns and operates.

– Ken Leighton

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