In addition to brokering deals for the sale and purchase of noted music IPs, James is known for his ability to match entertainment properties with “just the right buyers.” But these distinctions were earned over a lifetime of music industry experience.
Like many music industry executives, James Citkovic began his career as a musician – at age 13 – playing drums, to be exact. Keyboards, guitar, harmonica and songwriting soon followed. In 1970, James became intrigued with Indian classical music, picked up the tablas and studied with some of the world’s most renowned Indian masters, including Alla Rakha, Ravi Shankar, Zakir Hussain and Badel Roy.
In 1973, James moved to London and became a session player/songwriter for EMI, recording mostly at Abbey Road Studios. While in the UK, his primary songwriting partner was Robbie Patton, best known as a co-writer for Fleetwood Mac. He also toured with a number of Seventies groups, including The Foundations (“Baby Now That I Found You,” “Build Me Up Buttercup”), and secured several publishing deals.
Back in the U.S., he focused on pitching songs to the many legendary managers, artists and songwriters who called New York’s famed Brill Building and 1650 Broadway home. He soon secured a recording deal and several publishing contracts. Taking note of his successes, many of James’s musician friends began asking for his help with their own music careers. In 1983, Citkovic founded Countdown Entertainment and began concentrating on other people’s careers.
Over his many years as a music manager, James Citkovic secured hundreds of deals for his clients, including international licensing, publishing, film & TV soundtrack and recording contracts. He was involved in forwarding the careers of platinum recording acts and Grammy award-winning artists, and even one of the Top 100 Entertainers of All-Time (Irene Cara), as well as emerging acts in all genres.
James also partnered with other major music managers, including Michael Lang (Woodstock, Joe Cocker, Billy Joel), Mike Appel (Bruce Springsteen), John Regna (Jose Feliciano, ELO) and Betty Kelapire (Trammps).
In the mid-nineties, as the traditional music industry – faced with the harsh realities of the digital age – struggled to reorganize, Citkovic saw the role of managers shifting as well. He began to explore new ways of putting his years of experience and extensive network of contacts to work. He soon recognized that music publishing and masters were becoming increasingly valuable commodities and guided Countdown Entertainment in a new direction – that of brokering entertainment and music intellectual properties.
Little did he know then that he was helping to shepherd in the industry’s profitable brave new world of IP.