10 Questions with ... Tyson Haller
July 19, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Elektra Records College Rep (1997), Elektra Records Tour Marketing Asst. (1997-1998), Elektra Records College Promotion (1998-2000), Virgin Records College Promotion (2000-2002), Virgin Records New York Local (2002-2004), and EastWest/ILG (2004-Present).
1. What was your favorite station to listen to growing up and what do you remember the most?
I grew up in St. Louis and mostly listened to The Point. They were and continue to be a great station. Although unlike then, I can't see Mattern playing Erasure or Enigma anytime soon. And the few times I traveled to LA, I always felt fortunate to get to hear KROQ. There were no internet streams back then of course, so KROQ was this legendary station that felt larger than life. Anyone else from St. Louis would also remember Steve and DC in the morning on WKBQ (Q104). They were local and hilarious.
2. Where do you get your greatest pleasure in doing record promotion?
The best part about my job is truly believing in a record and feeling validated after it becomes a real hit. As I think most promotion people would say, it's very rewarding to see your efforts pay off in the success of a project. I also love the fact that my job IS music. I can't imagine coming into work and having to talk about soap or TPS reports.
3. What is your favorite market you like to visit and why?
Selfishly I'd say St. Louis, because I get to stay at home and see family. PointFest 2011 here I come! But generally, I just like getting out of the office and getting to as many radio markets as I can. Anytime I get on the road, I feel a little bit of a release from the big city. Getting in a car and seeing trees is refreshing.
4. What has been your most defining moment at your current job?
I would have to say having both Cake and Middle Class Rut in the op 10 at Alternative was very exciting. Neither of those records were a given. Cake had been away for a few years, so there were no guarantees that new music would be well received. In the end, it was the combination of a great song and hard work -- Both by our radio team and the band.
Middle Class Rut was a labor of love. I first heard about the band almost three years ago, when I was in Sacramento listening to KWOD. Rubin, who was a DJ there at the time (now at KROQ), was interviewing the band on the air. After the interview they played "New Low," and I thought the record was great. Later that night I called Rubin to get the story on the band. He sent me more music, and I loved it. After that, Rubin and I stayed in touch and tried to figure out a way to bring the band to ILG. Over the course of the next year and a half, it all came together. And I was convinced "New Low" was a smash because both KWOD and KRXQ had success with the song. That right there told me it could work at a spectrum of different stations, because KWOD and KRXQ sound nothing alike. When it was all finished, "New Low" was a top 10 record at Alt for 4 months!
5. Tell us about recent promotion and added responsibilities?
I have to thank Stu Bergen for having the faith in me to lead the charge with our radio priorities. Once he was elevated to the President of ILG and EVP at Warner Bros. Records, he gave me the opportunity to run the department, which now includes Ryko's Radio Department. So the promotion team now includes me, Tommy Delaney, and Karen Durkot. As far as added responsibilities, I'm an active part now, alongside Karen, of planning and supporting our Ryko records at Triple A. Further than that, I've become more involved in the initial strategy and timing of our records at radio. Truthfully though, all three of us are actively involved in the planning and roll out.
6. What are the most important indicators when working a song to alternative radio?
There are different levels of indicators that we look for at each stage of working a record to radio. The first indicator we look at is whether or not programmers are initially excited about a record that lands on their desk. Do they like it? Do we see a lot of First Alerts right off the bat? After that, we'd obviously like to see positive listener reaction from the initial airplay. Is the record consistently winning a lot of cage matches? And more importantly, is the record reacting with the first stations to actually put it in rotation?
Once a solid number of stations have had the record in rotation for a bit, we start looking at digital single sales. Hopefully the airplay markets are standing out from the rest in track SoundScan. All these previously mentioned indicators are what we use at the beginning of our radio roll out. Following that and after the record has a solid presence at radio, then of course, research comes into play. How are M-Scores, as well as, traditional callout and station's online research? Album sales are also part of the mix.
And while that's what, in the end, helps to keep the lights on, it's really everything else mentioned that are the best gauges for radio. We can have a successful album at the end of the day, without the album having to consistently rank in SoundScan in airplay markets. Yes, we want to see that album selling more in the airplay markets, but we can be selling a comfortable amount of albums in a market, even if it might happen to rank just below the Top 100.
7. How has PPM and M-Score changed the way you promote songs to radio?
I like the fact that a lot of rock stations have seen their numbers rise for one! On the flip side, it seems like there could be a possibility for more knee jerk reactions to this type of research now that the information is down to the minute. I've definitely seen instances where my rotations have gone up and down very quickly. I also feel that records may not always get the opportunity to become as familiar as they should, since information from listeners comes back after the first spin essentially. At the end of the day, the more information a programmer has the better. I just hope all the information is used together to form a broad picture, and there's not just one form that determines the final outcome for my records.
8. What are you most proud of over the past year?
The success of Middle Class Rut and Cake, as I mentioned earlier, is something to be proud of for sure. Outside of records, I became a father just a little over a year ago. Making it through that first year is a good feeling. Being a dad and having a daughter all feels very natural now like its always been that way. All something I couldn't have imagined a year ago.
9. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
If you enjoy what you're doing, it doesn't feel like work. I wake up every morning looking forward to coming into the office. Not everyone is fortunate enough to love their job.
10. What would surprise people most about you?
I'm currently taking banjo lessons! I got a banjo for Christmas a few years back and haven't quite learned how to play it yet. So, for Father's Day this year, my wonderful wife set me up with lessons. I've always thought the banjo looked fun. Plus, when my family gets together around holidays and other special occasions, everyone sits around and plays music. Come this December, I'll be able to jump right in with everyone else!
When you're away from work, what are your music listening habits to the radio, iPod, online, etc.?
I listen to SiriusXM in my car and until last week sadly, I used to also listen to WRXP. At home it's the iPod and Music Choice. I don't really listen to music online that often, but I will go to a band's MySpace and Facebook page if I start to hear a buzz and want to check out more.