continued from previous page

    Though the Tedescos are vitally concerned with the tunes on the discs, it's the info contained in the notes that draws companies in. Once the customer unwraps the disc, they're suddenly a captive audience.
    "It's the cereal box mentality," said Damon Tedesco, 32. "You give it to someone when they look at your product, then they rifle through and look at all the stuff on the jacket. They'll always look at at least something inside."
    What that inside contains is up to the consumer. From nostalgic photos for a class reunion to worldwide sales locations for a film company, the Tedescos have cooked up discs for clients nationwide.
    Bill Brewer, manager of Acura of Pasadena, came to them looking for a promo that customers could hang onto.
    "A T-shirt will get washed, soiled, and tossed out," he said. "This is something you won't throw away. If you have good music, people will listen and remember you."
    To show off Brewer's dealership, CD Promo crafted a disc that looked like a car tire, and published service hours and information within. The music wasn't too bad, either, he said, so he signed up a few artists to play his holiday parties.
    Though the idea sounds simple enough, the brothers go to extreme caution to detail just how difficult it is.
    "We thought it would be an overnight success," said Denny Tedesco, 40. "But here we are six years later and it's just taking off right now."
    The newfound success, with their products being handed out internationally and phones ringing at all hours of the day, has been hard won, based on years of painstaking negotiating within the music and business worlds. Through time, the Tedescos have called in favors from a slew of musicians to secure rights to their songs, and made sure to repay those favors in kind.
    The brother grew up surrounded by music, the sons of well-respected session guitarist Tommy Tedesco. Watching their father -- who played on seminal albums like the Beach Boys "Pet Sounds" but never rose to stardom on his own -- get jerked around by the industry, the pair decided that if they were to enter the business, they'd make sure to do so with class and ethics.
    Though their promo CDs, with names like "Happy Holidays from USA Today" and "Hilton St. Paul/Minneapolis Airport" may not seem like lucrative projects for talented players, the brothers' business practices make them worthwhile.
    "Usually people are out to take you for what you can get," said John Leitham, a Studio City bassist who's contributed numerous cuts for the pair's discs. "They understand that the artist needs to make a living, so they're not out just to get money."
    The discs also send the music of the artists, talented but unheralded journeymen, into a wide distribution unavailable in other forms. Thom Rotella, a jazz guitarist with more recording sessions under his belt than he can remember, has found the arrangement to work out quite well indeed. In return for licensing songs to CD Promo, he gets a tidy paycheck and essentially free marketing.
    "It's been a real great thing for me," he said. "It's a channel that gets to people who you couldn't find in a record store."
    And it's good music, the brothers say adamantly. Damon, a recording engineer and disc jockey, and Denny, a lifelong music devotee, aren't interested in foisting crummy music off on subpar discs.
    "We wanted to get quality music, stuff we'd be proud to play at our cocktail parties or in our cars," Damon said. "If it excites us, then we'll put it on a disc."

©Los Angeles Daily News