10 Questions with ... Howard Petruziello
June 21, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WVVV/Christiansburg, VA 1988-1992, WROV/Roanoke, VA 1992-1995, WKLS/Atlanta 1995-1997, Ichiban Records 1995, Roadrunner Records and the Enclave 1996-1997, Mammoth Records 1997, and Virgin Records/Capitol Music Group 1998-present.
1. What has been your most defining moment at your current job?
That's hard because there have been a lot of amazing moments but two recent ones come to mind. Like the time in December 2009 when 30 Seconds To Mars played 97X/Tampa's Next Big Thing show and sold 1,000 CDs in one day. That was one of those moments where Bill Carroll and I looked at each other and realized how far the band had come and how they had the potential to get even bigger. It was a reminder of how much hard work and true artist development went into breaking the band and it was great knowing that we had a hand in that. I got a similar feeling when the Gorillaz toured last year and seeing the way people went nuts when they played "Feel Good, Inc." That song was so left-of-center and not easy to get played but it has really stood the test of time.
2. What are the most important indicators when working a song to alternative radio?
Well when we see an impact in sales that bolsters our belief that something is sticking but we have to monitor everything from sales to research to online metrics. The important thing is to know what information individual programmers find the most compelling and give them that information. There are a lot of statistics floating around out there and there is also a lot of noise so I try to filter out the extraneous information and focus on what will impact a programmer's decision.
3. How has PPM and M-Score changed the way you promote songs to radio?
It doesn't really change the way I promote a song to radio. The fundamentals of good set up, listening to music with stations, identifying/closing early champions and spreading success stories are as important as ever. M-Score is a factor in the growth and maintenance of songs and, frankly, it seems like this tool has made stations less patient and more likely to slow down or stop playing songs earlier than in the past. It takes time for songs to break through and for an audience to connect with them and it's frustrating to even have to talk about M-Score in the first month of a song going on or when the spin count is low.
I appreciate it when stations decide to really commit to a song and work with us to break it in their market. Obviously, call-out, online research, and M-Score will come into play eventually but I will contend that it should be later rather than sooner and I encourage less itchy trigger fingers. We all have more tools now than we did when I started and, in a climate where sales aren't what they used to be, Big Champagne, YouTube counts, Facebook, and Twitter activity and a micro view of market sales (physical and digital) help us gauge how well songs and artists are connecting. None of these by themselves tell the whole story so I would encourage my pals in radio to use things like M-Score as one of many tools at their disposal and not make hurried decisions until they have a clear picture of how a song is performing.
4. Where do you get your greatest pleasure in doing record promotion?
There is nothing more gratifying in this job than helping a new artist get started and grow. It's still a huge thrill hearing a song that I worked on the radio, especially the ones that we really had to fight to get on and break through.
5. What do you like best about working at Capitol Records?
I wake up every day thankful that I work with such incredible, good people. Greg Thompson has assembled an amazing team of professionals who all work hard for the artists every single day but, just as importantly, he has created an environment where teamwork and support are paramount. Our regional staff is second to none and it is an honor and a pleasure to be in this with them. And in Bill Carroll, I have a great boss, mentor, and friend and I don't take that for granted.
6. What is the toughest part of your job?
Having too many good records! It seems like we say this every year, but the space for current music seems to shrink every year but our release schedule is as robust as ever. We constantly strategize and focus to make sure the number of songs we're working, the sonic balance, and timing are as optimal as possible so that every song can get the most out of a campaign.
7. What are you most proud of over the past year?
The last 12 months have been great and I've been able to work with some amazing artists. I think the things that really stand out are Sick Puppies and 30 Seconds To Mars really breaking through to a higher level. Those records came out in 2009 but they both had big radio hits in the last year and are playing to big crowds every night. 30 Seconds To Mars sell out arenas and play huge festivals in Europe and that would never have happened had they not broken here and I have no doubt that the Sick Puppies are poised to break wide open. Also, the Gorillaz tour was incredible and I made it a point to "work" as many of those shows as I could.
8. What is your favorite market you like to visit and why?
Cleveland because I get to work Nard at Radio 92.3 AND see my parents and some family. I take an early flight and go straight to my folk's house where my mom has a great breakfast ready, usually pancakes, bacon, and coffee that you could fuel a jet with, and then I go to my morning appointment well fed and caffeinated.
9. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
There are two, be honest and work hard.
10. What would it take for you to return to a job in radio?
I would gladly return to radio if I could be Lenny Diana's Assistant Program Director and specialty show host.
When you're away from work, what are you music listening habits to the radio, iPod, online, etc.?
I wake up around 5:15am most mornings and I start listening to music not long after that and have music playing almost all day. I'm a bit of an audiophile and obsessive record buyer so my favorite time is when I can sit down and enjoy listening to tunes on my home system (Rega turntable, Rogue tube amp, and Vandersteen speakers), but, as someone who spends a lot of time on a train and walking, I also love my 120GB iPod which has over 18,000 songs on it. I primarily listen to the radio in the car on the weekends and my presets are WRXP (which my wife and kids also love), 1010 WINS, WFMU (the best free-form station on the planet), WDHA, Q104, and WCBS so I can always find something to crank up while running errands and carting my kids around. If I'm at my computer then I stream KEXP. I don't drive much but if I lived somewhere where I did then I would definitely have Sirius XM and I love listening to it when I'm on long road trips (XMU, Alt Nation, Octane, Outlaw Country, and the Elvis and Dead channels rule). Bottom line, if I'm awake, I'm listening to music.