10 Questions with ... Lynn McDonnell
September 30, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I left Buffalo 10 days after college graduation with $2k, no job and never looked back. I started working overnights at KFWB All News 98 as a news desk assistant and days at a holistic Doctor's office to get my career rolling. I met Yvonne Olsen at KFWB. She was the News Talk Editor at R&R, working weekends to save money for her upcoming nuptials to Gene Sandbloom the MD at KIIS. She recommended me for a job as a report taker at R&R. I had a BLAST there working with Harvey Kojan, Joel Denver & Jeff Gelb. I literally typed in radio station playlists and talked to programming people all day long. It was the foundation of my love for the music business.
Michael Papale saw a potential promotion person in the works, and offered me the opportunity of a lifetime doing College/Metal & Alternative Promotion at a little start up label called Interscope. Eight years and many platinum albums later, I relocated to Laguna Beach to work for Jim Guerinot at Time Bomb Recordings & Rebel Waltz Management. After Time Bomb lost the distribution deal with BMG, I did a brief stint at The Firm, and then rolled to Reprise for 10 years. When Reprise folded into WB, I was a victim of the downsizing. I did some soul searching which lead me back to my roots in Buffalo. I wanted to reconnect with my family after being gone for 25 years. As luck would have it, Live Nation had a regional marketing job available. Eighteen months and one winter later, I realized the live concert business and living back in Buffalo wasn't optimal for my happiness. Luckily for me, Epic Records came to the rescue!
1. What do you remember most growing up in Buffalo listening to the radio?
Danny Neaverth in the morning on WKBW. My parents had it on every morning when we were getting ready for school. I loved phoning in trying to win contests too.
2. What stands out the most from your first label gig at Interscope Records?
The best part was being a young promotion person, open to constructive criticism and learning from the very best. I loved working with Brenda Romano because she is the epitome of a successful woman in a male dominated business. The other was breaking AMAZING acts where most of the bands on the roster were my age and so relatable as people. I'm so grateful to be partially responsible for paving the early careers of No Doubt, Bush, Primus, The Toadies, The Wallflowers, Marilyn Manson, Helmet, Smashmouth, 4 Non Blondes, and NIN etc. etc.
3. What are you most proud of from your 10 years at Reprise Records?
Breaking My Chemical Romance and working Green Day's "American Idiot" album. Talk about stellar opportunities!
4. After moving back to the East Coast for a couple years, what brought you back to L.A. and why did you want to work for Epic Records?
The weather, the weather and did I say the weather? After living in LA for 25 years I became a native. I missed my friends, the record business and the LA Lifestyle. I was intrigued to come to Epic Records to play a role in the revamping of a classic brand. I am so blessed for the opportunity to be on the team.
5. Tell us about the newly revitalized Epic Alternative & Rock roster?
It's currently a work in progress. We have awesome newcomers Kongos, The Last Internationale, and The Airborne Toxic Event (new to us anyway). Chevelle, Modest Mouse (yes I'm still waiting to hear new music too - can't wait), Judas Priest, Lamb Of God, and Ozzy are still rocking the roster.
6. How would you describe yourself as a record promotion executive?
The Cherub Faced Pitbull.
7. What still excites you about the music business?
The hair on my arms always stands up when I hear hit songs. It's such a rush to introduce radio to new artists and actually be instrumental in building a bands career. Oh and CLOSING ADDS - still excites me!
8. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ______?
Snuggling with my ladies.
9. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
- The Four Agreements:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don't take anything personally (hard one)
- Don't Make Assumptions
- Always Do your Best!
10. What has been your biggest challenge raising two young girls and working in the music business?
Do you have two hours and a therapist handy? I think the biggest challenge is accepting that I am not the promotion person I was prior to their arrival. I can't travel two weeks out of every month, I can't go to every show or philander after midnight. I do think they shifted my perspective about success. I approach the gig with a better vision of time management, and what's important. I have severely curbed my truck driver language as well.
What do you enjoy doing with your beautiful girls on the weekends?
I was always active, so I try to incorporate hiking, biking or outdoor activities into the mix. We love farmers market, steamer trains, the beach and the kid's gym place as well.