Jay Landers, Executive Music Producer for Barbra Streisand, Appears at Malibu Film Society

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Jay Landers, the longtime executive music producer for Barbra Streisand, did an audience Q&A at Malibu Film Society last week prior to a screening of the Netflix special “Barbra: The Music... The Mem’ries... The Magic!”

Legendary music producer and “A&R” person Jay Landers did an audience Q&A at the Malibu Film Society last week before a screening of the Netflix Barbra Streisand documentary, “Barbra: The Music … The Mem’ries … The Magic!” He was co-writer and music supervisor of the concert showcase and behind-the-scenes special, and appears in the film. 

Landers, who has worked with Malibu resident Streisand for 30 years and executive produced 26 of her albums, had to break away from a current recording session at her home studio to attend the Q&A. “And as soon as I leave here, I have to go back,” he laughed. “I told her I’d say nice things about her.” 

In explaining the origin of the Netflix special, Landers said, “Barbra became the only artist in the history of popular music ever to have six consecutive decades of No. 1 albums—a feat that I don’t think will ever be broken. That seemed to be cause for celebration, and that’s how the idea for this Netflix special came about.

“Barbra is a reluctant live performer,” he continued. “Whereas some artists do 300 concerts a year, she’s done 100 paid concerts since 1963, and doesn’t like singing the same songs over and over.”

Landers recalled how his relationship with Streisand began.

“I first met Barbra when I was a music publisher, and I pitched her some songs she liked. Then, when it came time to do her next album, she asked her manager to ‘find her the guy that gave her those good songs.’ That was 30 years ago and I’m still not sure if she knows my name,” Landers joked. “I help her come up with ideas and realize her vision.”

Landers said the question he’s most frequently asked about Streisand is whether she’s a perfectionist who’s difficult to work with. “Like being a perfectionist is a bad thing,” he laughed. “She’s reaching for perfection, and it’s one of the traits about her I admire most. Whatever she’s hearing in her head or imagining when she’s making a film, she just keeps going and going until it’s done. People who find it annoying or disconcerting just don’t have the same standard. I think it’s great she keeps pushing.

“I’ve had a very blessed and privileged life, with a front row seat watching some of the greatest artists in the world do their thing,” Landers noted. He’s worked with dozens of top artists, including Frank Sinatra, Madonna, Sting, Julio Iglesias and Josh Groban, to name just a few. “To sit there and be able to hear their voice in its purity without any echo or instrumentation is a great thrill,” Landers said.  

“Working in ‘A&R’ [artists and repertoire] means finding the right song for the right artist and also the right artist for the right project,” Landers explained. “For artists that don’t write their own songs, guys like me still have value because we help them find their material. 

“Certain artists like Barbra and Tony Bennett have been able to transcend every style of music and genre and yet still remain relevant,” he continued. “Only a few artists have that mind-heart-soul-vocal convergence, where you feel like they’re really communicating.”

Landers’ music projects have resulted in sales of 100 million albums in the U.S., and have won multiple Grammy Awards, including 30 nominations in Best Traditional Pop Album; Emmy awards; and several Oscars for “Best Song.” A successful independent music publisher and songwriter, he’s also held senior A&R positions with Columbia, Walt Disney and UMG, and is currently a consultant to Sony/ATV.