10 Questions with ... Rob Wilcox
February 23, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
While attending Rowan University, I got my foot in the door interning at WXPN in Philadelphia. I eventually transitioned into a volunteer production assistant role on World Café with David Dye, and got my on-air chops DJ'ing for Y-Rock on XPN, which was Jim McGuinn's Online/HD-Radio continuation of the beloved WPLY/Y-100 brand. Over the course of my four years there, I learned a wealth of knowledge from the likes of Bruce Warren, Jim McGuinn, Josh Landow, Dan Reed, Robert Drake, and Kim Junod. After a chance meeting with Jon Landman (while sitting in on a session for The Little Ones back in 2008), I took a leap into the world radio promotion and spent nearly six years working at The Syndicate in Weehawken, NJ. I've since found my new home here at Concord Music Group and couldn't be happier.
1. How did you become interested in the record business?
I became enamored with music at a very young age and eventually picked up the guitar when I was 12 - I subsequently started my first punk band at 13. In the early days of gigging around southern New Jersey, I quickly learned the ropes of booking shows, designing flyers and album art, and networking with other local bands in the scene. As much as I still enjoy the excitement of performing live with a band, I've always loved the behind the scenes work that goes into it. As a budding record nerd, I eventually became interested in independent label culture, and spent a lot of my time absorbing the catalog teachings of Epitaph, Sub Pop, Dischord, Polyvinyl, Asian Man, Merge, Crank, Jade Tree, Saddle Creek, and so on. My high school "dream" was to be in a band and work at an independent record label. Check!!
2. After almost six years at The Syndicate, what led you to Concord?
A great opportunity to work on behalf of great artists on a team of great people.
The Syndicate played a major role in preparing me for what would ultimately be the next step in my career as a record promoter, and I owe a lot of that to Jon Landman's teachings, as well as mentors like Scott Perlewitz, Billy Burrs, and Mike DePippa. I personally believe that most life opportunities are a product of being in the right place (mentally and physically) at the right time - so when Jill Weindorf and Karen Durkot approached me about joining Concord, I immediately knew it was that next step I had been searching for. It just felt right. The promotion team here is made up of wonderfully supportive, sincere, hardworking, and diverse individuals who absolutely love music.
3. What do you love most about your job?
The music. It's why we do it, right? Being able to work with the likes of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Iggy Pop, Andrew Bird, Ghost, Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, The Record Company, HEALTH, Esperanza Spalding, and Spirt Animal (among others) has been an honor. Not to mention some really bright up and comers like Paul McCartney, James Taylor, and Paul Simon.
4. How would you describe yourself as a record promoter?
I could tell you my opinion of myself, but that would be biased, so instead I'll pass this one to my friend Jon Manley out in Seattle: "I would say he's honest and caring - he gives a shit and he's a music dude - not a salesman, and that's what matters to us. Rob is one of my favorite radio peeps. Now when do I get my check?"
5. Where do you get your greatest pleasure in doing record promotion?
I guess it's two fold for me. Developing trusting relationships with programmers who share a common love for music, which go beyond the boundaries of 9 to 5, has always brought me sincere joy. Just as important, knowing that my voice helps to connect the dots for artists and musicians within one of the most influential mediums (radio) has always been deeply satisfying to me.
6. What may surprise people the most to learn about Concord Music Group?
Aside from being the largest independent record label group and right holders in the US, we recently opened a record store in Malibu called Stax Of Wax - check it out: staxofwaxmalibu.com.
7. What is the toughest part of your job?
Reminding myself to be patient.
8. Where is your favorite market you like to visit and why?
I've still got quite a few places to check off the radio promo bucket list, but I would have to say that I've made more friends in Columbus than I can count on my two hands. The gang at CD102.5 were among the first stations to take me seriously as a young promoter, and were quick to embrace me as a friend of the family.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _______?
A little Big Star.
10. What would surprise people the most about you?
I love the outdoors. As a young kid, I spent a lot of time camping away from home with the scouts, but I didn't learn to truly appreciate the great outdoors until a couple years ago when my girlfriend introduced me to Acadia National Park in Maine. Big Sur is next on the list and I cannot wait!
What are your hobbies?
I love to cook. This past weekend was a number of firsts for me - making perfectly poached eggs and cooking a steak dinner in a cast-iron skillet. I also play guitar in an indie rock band called By Surprise. We're currently working on our second LP, set to release later this year on Topshelf Records. Hiking is rad, as well.
Last non-industry job?
From the time I was 17, up until I started at The Syndicate in January of 2010, I worked in coffee shops - including Starbucks. Every morning shift there made me feel like I was being attacked by an angry mob.
First record ever purchased?
I acquired a lot of cassettes and growing up. My earliest musical memories were spent listening to Michael Jackson, The Beach Boys, and Aerosmith - however, the first records I bought with my own allowance from Strawberries in Deptford, NJ were These Days by Bon Jovi and Classic Queen.
My first family concert experience was The Beach Boys in Atlantic City in 1996. After that, my first unchaperoned club show was seeing H2O on their Faster Than The World tour back in 2000 at The Trocadero in Philadelphia.
Favorite band of all-time?
It changes almost daily. I love The Replacements, Guided By Voices, Superchunk, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Spoon, Big Star, Archers of Loaf... Today, I'm going to say Descendents. If you haven't seen their Filmage documentary, I highly recommend it.