10 Questions with ... Dave Barbis
February 14, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Interned at Geffen Records in '89/'90 in San Francisco. My first promotion job was with Polygram in Denver for two and a half years before moving to Los Angeles as regional for Island Records. I spent a number of years as a regional in LA for Island and A&M/Polydor. I came back to Island as National Director and then a brief stint at London Records. I became National Director at Dreamworks for four years before coming here to EMI/Capitol.
1. How did you become interested in the record business?
Born and bred in a passionate music family where I was so fortunate to be introduced to such a wide genre of amazing music. This of course spawned my interest in wanting to be around great music, as much as possible, which lead to my first break when I was in college getting an internship for the great Warren Christensen.
2. What stands out the most from your first job?
Two things stand out the most from my job in Denver. The first being the great camaraderie we all had both with the regional reps and radio stations in one room. Yes, all of us in one room enjoying a margarita and leaving our competitive spirit at the front door. Those days are unfortunately few and far between in this business. The second was the privilege of working with U2 and being a part of such a creative and groundbreaking new chapter in their career with the release of Achtung Baby. It was such an amazing treat which I will never forget.
3. What may surprise people the most to learn about the label?
That we have somewhat of a unique approach on how we promote and market our artists. We are in the branding business these days and we strive with each project to find that distinct connection between our artists and that individual station/market. Greg Thompson and Bill Carroll encourage us to think in a non- traditional manner which makes our job so much more exciting, challenging, and rewarding. I feel very fortunate to be able to work with such amazing artists and with incredible people whom I am constantly learning from each and every day. I've made so many great friends here at EMI and feel incredibly lucky to be a part of such a special group.
4. What are the most important indicators when working a song to alternative radio?
A number of things. Obviously watching any sales correlation with airplay and if lucky enough a synch. We have a lot of developmental bands that we work with and am always excited to watch the growth of our artists who tour extensively and have that special gift of charismatic stage presence. That can pay off in spades simply by word of mouth and can create that stir that a station needs to hear. It was a huge selling point for us with The Kooks as they continue to grow in ticket sales with each market play and that continues to play a big part in our conversations with radio. We are just starting to see that transformation now with M83.
There are so many other things like MySpace Plays, Spotify, Youtube Views, sometimes local and national press that's relevant, Twitter followers etc. Many stations have various criteria and it's up to us to learn what that is so we can message that information in a concise and productive manner. I spend quite a bit of time scouring station websites reading jocks blogs etc. I can learn a lot about their audience and get somewhat of a pulse by watching that weekly interaction.
5. Where do you get your greatest pleasure in doing record promotion?
After all these years, I still immensely enjoy the one-on-one face time with radio. I love to being able to introduce a new artist to a station and not only walk them through the label marketing plan but also strategizing with them a plan that fits both our needs and goals. There is nothing better than achieving our goals together as partners. This is still a relationship business despite what others might argue and having that personal time is essential.
6. What is the toughest part of your job?
My commute sucks. It's an hour and a half each way.
7. Where is your favorite market you like to visit and why?
So many great places like San Diego and the Northwest because of the people, food, climate etc. However, I'm biased being from the SF Bay Area and love my trips up to the northern California. Nothing better.
8. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Just be yourself and all will take care of itself.
9. What would surprise people the most about you?
Have to admit I make one heck of a Greek Chicken on the grill and happy to share my recipe.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _________?
At least a quick check-in to the Dan Patrick Show.
What are your hobbies?
Reading Jon Krakauer and David McCullough books, running, collecting Brian Benson wines, and BBQing.
Last non-industry job?
WOW! Working for a landscaping company installing sprinkler systems.
First record ever purchased?
Stones - Hot Rocks
Day On The Green at Oakland Coliseum with Beach Boys and Doobie Bros. Or was it Al Green at the Circle Star Theater... ?
Favorite band of all-time?
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers