Tell us about tranistioning from radio to artist management? You skipped records entirely.
Interesting question, I didn’t realize records was an intermediary step! Realizing that it’s only been a month, I have to say that I’ve learned volumes about the way things “really” work on this side of the business, and as the old saying goes, it really is true that the more you learn, the more you learn you don’t know.
The move to the management side really was something that I’d been considering for quite some time, and when this particular opportunity arose, it was simply too good to pass up. Red Light is an incredibly solid company with a tremendously diverse roster, Coran Capshaw offers amazing perspective on music, touring, marketing and business in general, and Tim McGraw has been a favorite artist of mine since he debuted. Recognizing that it sounds a little corny, I’ll still say that the ability to work with these entities as well as the other Red Light Nashville offices really is a dream come true!
Red Light’s only been managing Tim for a couple of months, so we’re still defining roles, but everyone involved has a unique and incredibly strong set of skills. It’s still amazing to me how much goes into the management of an artist’s career, and how fast the whole thing moves. I’m trying to think of an analogous situation in Radio, but I can’t come up with anything, other than to say that there’s always a deadline, always something that has to get done immediately, and that I can already see where the time (and crisis) management skills I developed as a Program Director are really going to be helpful.
Do you still deal with radio on a daily basis with Red Light?
Absolutely. In fact, that’s one of the main foci of what I’m doing. While in Radio, I was incredibly fortunate to get to know some people that I consider lifelong friends, and I’m looking forward to getting to know a lot of folks better than I do now. Coran’s goal was to bring someone on board that understood the workings and decision making processes at Radio. The idea is to not only re-engage Tim with Radio, but to do so in a unique and memorable way that will raise the bar for the industry as a whole.
What do you think of the current state of Country radio?
The best answer to this question is not my own; I’ll paraphrase a statement made to me by a friend who’s not in the industry. He’d just spoken at a meeting to a number of Sales & Programming people, and I’d asked him what his impression was. His answer was something to the effect of “I saw a room full of talented and intelligent people, but I couldn’t help thinking that I was peeking in the losing team’s locker room.” That really bothered me because I know so many people feel beaten down, but the fact is that the game isn’t over for Radio. It’s still one of the greatest industries in the world, and I don’t like seeing something that I love so much undergoing such turmoil. So many people fearing for their jobs, and so many of my friends out of work. Talented, creative, innovative, driven individuals who would love nothing more than to get their fingers back into it.
As a person who has had a year and a half to look at Radio from the outside, I see opportunity, and tons of it. Radio’s changing rapidly, (as is the rest of the country) and with change comes that opportunity. The mavericks, the innovators, the leaders, they will cut through and emerge as the victors when the dust settles. Down times are the best ones during which to invest, and while the marketing resources may not be there, the most valuable commodity of all is time. Spend it wisely, and know that the guy or girl across the street is just as stressed and overworked as you. If you can figure out how to make better investments with your time, you will prevail. That’s one of the reasons that I’m so excited to see Larry Wilson back in the game. He’s someone who zigs when everyone else is zagging, and isn’t afraid to take educated risks. It’s my hope that his involvement will elevate the level of the game for Radio...first in Portland, then across the country.
It will be interesting to see what happens with PPM. People are saying that they’re cutting back the amount of new music they’re playing because of tune outs, but that begs the question...what’s going to happen in a year, when the audience is sick of hearing the same old music over and over? It may not be as easy to directly see attrition the way that you can see people tuning out because of new music, but it will be there. One of the biggest assets that Radio has is a one-to-one relationship with each of its listeners, and every air talent has built a level of trust with the members of their audience. Use that trust! When you’re playing a new song, sell it, and mean it! Of course people are going to tune out if they’re hearing something they don’t know, but if their “close personal friend” on the air talks passionately about the song, that tune’s going to get the benefit of the doubt in some people’s minds. Remember, the best testing Power Gold in every station’s library was a brand new single going for airplay once. It’s all about having the guts to invest in the future when everyone else is stuff their cash under the mattress. I’m off my soapbox.