"Promotion Man. (Joseph Isgro, Music Group Inc.)"

By Martin Kihn
13 May 1991

Promotion man

A year and a half ago Joseph Isgro faced a possible 200-year sentence and $1.5 million in fines for payola, drug trafficking and racketeering. His trial capped a more than three-year federal probe of Isgro's network of independent music promoters, whom record companies allegedly paid to garner airtime for their songs. But just after the case went to a jury, it was thrown out because the prosecution failed to disclose contradictory information. Isgro's nightmare was over.

Today Isgro, 43, is president of Music Group, Inc., a publishing and management firm associated with City Lights Productions, a New Jersey-based recording studio. "I don't kno if we're going to go into a specific label deal or multiple production deals," says Isgro. He claims to be in "preproduction" with six acts, which he won't name.

Isgro, who reportedly is friendly with convicted mobster Joe (Joe Piney) Armone, also has an eye on Hollywood. He is producing Twentieth Century Fox's Hoffa, directed by Danny DeVito. And he is producing a film based on the book The Man Who Made It Snow, about cocaine distributor turned government witness Max Mermelstein. Isgro claims he will soon buy more film properties.

The music promotion business may prove more elusive. Isgro was so successful at getting airtime on local radio stations that record companies paid him a reported $10 million in 1985. But Isgro bit the hands that fed him when he filed an antitrust suit against several major record labels in 1986. The suit was dismissed, but the big record companies have not forgotten.

ILLUSTRATION: portrait CAPTION: Joseph Isgro. (portrait)