10 Questions with ... Ronny Gutfreund
May 17, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started at Mammoth Records in 2001 answering the phones, and then switched over to Promotion Asst. Moved from there to Elektra Entertainment Group in 2002 assisting the Alternative Promotion Department. In 2003, my next stop was to Wind-up Records as the Promotion Coordinator, 2006 given the keys to handle Mid-Atlantic Regional duties, 2007 segued to Southeast Regional, 2014 became East Coast Director, and was laid off due to restructuring in 2015.
1. How did you become interested in the record business and what stands out the most about your first job at Mammoth Records?
I was living in New York and searched high and low to find my entrance into the music business. I had been in law school - spoiler alert I didn't finish - and always wanted a career in music and entertainment. I found an opening online for (and I'll never forget) "a Disney-owned record label looking for an office manager" and walked out with my first add. OK, I got the call later that day, but still. What stood out the most was being exposed to and understanding what radio promotion actually meant. From the outside, not much is known about it. Thanks to the promotion department there I quickly learned what kind of driver the department is for a record label. That and a daily dose of Tecmo Bowl with Tommy Delaney.
2. What led you to Capitol Records and what's it like working with Gary Gorman?
My phone rang! I've known Gary for 12+ years so I, so while it took me by surprise it quickly wore off. The opportunity to join him in the Alternative Department at a place like Capitol was a no-brainer of a dream. I am thrilled to be working with him, this team, and for this company. His energy and passion for the music are infectious, and he completely understands the micro and macro elements of the work we do.
3. What do you love most about your job?
I work with music...you can't beat that. There are so many different facets of what we do that I get a kick out of. A big one still is hearing a song you are working on the radio when you are visiting the market. Still makes me excited. Knowing that you made somewhat of a difference. I can't play an instrument to save my life, and no one will ever see my name on the marquis or ticket stub. But this kind of work gets you in the mix of spreading some really great music to people who might otherwise never be exposed to it.
4. What stations are you covering in your new position as Director/Alternative Promotion and what is your current pitch to radio?
I'm covering the eastern half of the country more or less. It's really a collaborative effort, but that'll be where I am focusing on. The pitch changes song by song and station by station. What's appealing to one station in market A might not go as far as another station in market B, or even across the street. Finding out what's the best way to serve our radio partners while also building our songs' profile makes for win-wins.
5. How would you describe yourself as a record promoter?
At times I'm laid back, and at other times I'll jump on the desk in front of me. I've never programmed radio so I don't pretend I know how to when I speak with those that do. It's my job to tell them what our projects are what's going to help them succeed the most. Above all, it never includes begging or bullshit. Both are see through and are time-wasters.
6. Where do you get your greatest pleasure in doing record promotion?
Selfishly it's getting an add. Getting one today gets me as fired up as it did the first time. But bigger picture is watching a band grow from playing in front of 10 people, then 50 people, then 100, then a packed room.
7. What is the toughest part of your job?
Keeping everything humming just how you envision it. You strategize and implement these great plans, but there are always hiccups along the way you have to overcome. But really, being apart from my wife and son when I'm on the road. That beats the rest.
8. Where is your favorite market you like to visit and why?
One favorite? No dice Shawn! Including but not limited to Charleston, New Orleans, Austin, Nashville, DC, and Philly...I really could go on. Take the missing the family out of the equation and traveling is one of the best parts of the job. And the why is quickly realized when you sit down with someone you have a great working relationship with and break some bread with them. After they gave you the add at the station, of course.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _______?
A little sugar from my family, even if it's on facetime.
10. What would surprise people the most about you?
I pickle lots of things.
What are your hobbies?
Cooking and traveling. Turning the TV off, putting the phone down, and just being around friends and family sharing a laugh.
Last non-industry job?
When Gary came calling I had just started a sales job at a start-up tech company in Atlanta.
First record ever purchased?
I distinctly remember buying three that day: Green Day, The Cranberries, and Jethro Tull.
Air Supply (mom and dad started me young)
Favorite band of all-time?
Over the years my answer to this question would have changed, but included in no order Beatles, Beck, Radiohead, Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson.