Veteran music executive Ron Fair has been tapped to be the executive music director of Genius Brands International, Inc. (GBI), a global content and brand management company focused on the children's market, GBI CEO Andy Heyward announced today (Feb. 17).
Fair will provide creative direction on all aspects of music for GBI's new slate of original content programming that includes the award-winning Baby Genius and Thomas Edison's Secret Lab, GBI's new animated series set to debut this year on PBS.
"Given now that I'm married to a great songwriter and we have four children under the age of eight, we live and breathe and thrive in this kids space," Fair tells Billboard. "At our house, we have everything from 'Yankee Doodle- played on a fife and xylophone, to my six-year-old daughter who knows every Taylor Swift song."
Joining Fair at GBI is his wife Stefanie Fair, a songwriter and actress and former member of girl group Wild Orchid. The duo's Faircraft, Inc. will officially partner with GBI.
"Ron and Stefanie together will provide GBI with the highest caliber of talent and creativity imaginable," said Heyward in a statement, "opening the door to incredible opportunities for developing musical content in support of the GBI mission of entertaining and enriching the lives of kids."
Over the years, Ron Fair has held a variety of executive positions, including most recently as chief creative officer and evp of Virgin Records. Previously, he served as chairman of Geffen Records and president of A&M Records during which he helped guide the careers of Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, Keyshia Cole, the Black Eyed Peas, Snow Patrol and Bastille among many others.
Heyward is a multi-Emmy Award-winning producer of children's entertainment and former chairman and CEO of DIC Entertainment and co-president and CEO of A Squared Entertainment. He has produced over 5,000 episodes of award-winning children's programs, including Inspector Gadget, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Sonic the Hedgehog among many others. He is also the largest producer of FCC mandated educational informational programming for children.
Fair has set a rather ambitious goal for the caliber of songwriting and production he wants to attain in his new capacity. "My goal is to be the Sherman Borthers," he says referencing the great music film songwriters Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman. "I want to I do our modern take on them and create songs that shoot for the moon and create music that is as big as "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" or "Chim Chim Cher-ee."
Fair also believes the music they are working on has the potential to crossover to a mainstream audience from the children's market. "There is a model for this," he notes. "The Archies." Archie Comics is also represented by A Squared Entertainment, GBI's subsidiary. In 1969, the Archies cartoon, which was based on the comic book series, had a No. 1 hit song in 1969 with "Sugar Sugar."
As an additional source of revenue, Fair notes, he will be involved with merchandising which include everything "from digital music toys to cereal." GBI creates and licenses multimedia content for toddlers to tweens and its library of content includes Baby Genius, Warren Buffett's Secret Millionaires Club and Stan Lee's Mighty 7, the first project from Stan Lee Comics, a joint venture with Lee's POW! Entertainment.
Fair will continue to work on his own independent projects, including as the executive producer of TLC's new Kickstarter-funded album. His also says he will continues to be on the lookout for new talent. He mentions his recent discovery of Kimberly Henderson, a YouTube star who he was interested in working with before "the major labels found her."
When asked what are his most memorable moments in his decade-spanning music business career, Fair says it "depends on what day you ask." On this day he recounts three: his first gold record he got working with his mentor Bill Conti on "Gonna Fly Now" from the Rocky soundtrack; his extensive work with Christina Aguilera whose talent he recognized early-on when she was only 16; and working with the Black Eyed Peas and putting Fergie back in the group.
Despite all the changes in the music business, Fair remains sanguine. "There are certain things that never change," he says "What doesn't change in the music business is the inspiration and the perspiration."