The Top Ten |

The Most Influential People in Israeli Music

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1. Yossi Meiri, 35, Ma'ayan Meltzer, 33, and Yonatan Gal, 31, founders and managers of the Headstart website

2. Dalit Ofer, 55, director of Galgalatz radio station

The Internet killed the record stores. The Internet killed the record companies. But the Internet still hasn't killed radio, which continues to play an important role in setting the musical agenda in Israel. Galgalatz may not have as much influence as it once did, but with high listener ratings and a bit more openness than in the past to different voices, this is still the one radio station that can spin a record from straw into gold.

3. Zachi Eliyahu, 34, chief casting director for Israel's versions of "The Voice" and "X-Factor"

Is the ever-growing array of musical TV programs just a passing trend? For the sake of the creative health of the Israeli music scene, one hopes so. In the meantime, until this hit phenomenon loses its luster, the eternal pop model in which new stars are discovered and embraced by hundreds of thousands of young people is mainly playing out on the TV screen. The fellow most responsible for finding these potential new stars is Zachi Eliyahu. As the chief casting director for "The Voice" and "X-Factor," he plays the part once reserved, in prehistoric times, for record company talent scouts.

4. Noam and Yoni Feingold and Ruthie Cohen, 38, 48 and 53, respectively, owners of the Zappa music clubs

In the beginning, there was one Zappa, in Ramat Hahayal in Tel Aviv. And then another Zappa in Herzliya. And then a third Zappa in Jerusalem. And then brothers Yoni and Noam Feingold, who started out in the business in the 1990s with Tel Aviv's Camelot Club, also bought the concert site at the Shuni Amphitheater in Binyamina, becoming a small nightclub empire. What's the next step Zappa Caesarea?

5. David Ben-Bassat, 68, CEO and owner, Radio Lev Hamedina

Galgalatz may have more listeners and more influence, but none of its DJs would ever be the subject of a parody on "Eretz Nehederet." Radio Lev Hamedina and its star DJ, Eliko, are inextricably linked with the rise in popularity, influence, sales and radio play of Mediterranean music in recent years. And rightly so: They promote it with uninhibited passion. However, we happen to prefer Ari Shamai's program, which airs between two and four, before Eliko.

6. Shuki Weiss, 61, producer

This was the summer of Shuki Weiss, without cancelations and disappointments: It began with Depeche Mode, continued with Barbra Streisand and Pet Shop Boys, and culminated with Alicia Keys (if you don't count less popular artists like Tomahawk and Anthrax, arriving in the coming weeks). In a music business in which concerts are the only thing with real economic value, Weiss is the top importer of music to Israel. If he gets the Rolling Stones to come, we promise to move him up to a higher place on the list.

7. Amir Benayoun, 38, singer

"Amir Benayoun totally changed the way singers in Israel sing," said Haim Ulliel of the Sfatayim band not long ago. That is, Eyal Golan and Idan Raichel are more popular, but when a young singer is searching for a source of inspiration and influence, consciously or not, Benayoun is the more likely choice. And young singers aren't the only ones looking to Benayoun lately. Veterans like Yehoram Gaon and Yishai Levy are doing so too, and basing entire albums on his songs. Because of this wide influence on several generations of musical artists, Benayoun may be considered the most influential singer in Israel.

8. Danny Danieli, 58, former director of Beit Avi Chai

Danieli left Beit Avi Chai a few months ago, but the extensive programming he promoted there, with budgets of a magnitude that Israeli rock could only dream of, continues to have a lasting influence. In recent years, no other Israeli institution has offered so many performances, series, encounters and collaborations focusing on original Israeli music, often with the aim of bridging between religious and secular. One might ask whether this agenda, and the funding that came with it, didn't lead artists to give undue weight to the Jewish issue, but one can only admire the commitment, quality and variety of musical activity at Beit Avi Chai.

9. Tamir Muskat, 40, music producer

If Israeli music sounds fresher, more interesting and up to date in the coming years than it has in the past, it will be largely thanks to Tamir Muskat. Muskat is the most prominent music producer in Israeli pop, and a wide range of artists from Asaf Avidan to HaBiluim to Chava Alberstein and Ester Rada are seeking out his special touch, which combines a deep love for popular music with an equally deep understanding of electronic music. And besides all that, Muskat is a member of one of Israel's most successful international bands Balkan Beat Box.

10. Asaf Avidan, 33, singer

You either love his voice or hate it, but there's no denying that Asaf Avidan has become a role model for every young musician trying to move from the margins of the indie scene to gold records and performances before an audience of thousands. Avidan did so without the aid of a record company or a professional producer. He just opened his mouth, unleashed his vocal chords, performed nonstop, killed himself on stage and people listened and fell in love and told their friends, who told their friends, who told their friends, who eventually filled up the Caesarea Amphitheater.

Asaf Avidan.Credit: Dudi Hasson

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