10 Questions with ... Todd Sievers & Tracy Brown
May 24, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Todd: I told my mother I wanted to be Bill Graham when I was 10 years old; I had the bug for music and radio from day one. At 14 I had a paper route just so I could buy records at Tower Records weekly. In college I worked at KUCI 88.9FM at UC Irvine from 88-92. After studying economics and business, it is only natural to start working at Def American. I owe my career to Marc Geiger, Mark DiDia and Troy Hanson for hiring me straight out of college. My first job was college promotion which led to working NPR/AAA and P3 Alternative stations. I worked at 1500 Records with Gary Richards, Nickel Bag Records with The Dust Brothers, Mammoth under Jay Faires, Reprise with Howie Klein and Phil Costello, Artemis with Daniel Glass and Danny Goldberg, before starting CO5 with Tracy in 2003.
Tracy: I started at a record store, Sound Warehouse, across the street from the University of North Texas. That was one of the most fun jobs I've ever had. From there, I went to work for EMI (when it was CEMA) as a Field Marketing Rep and moved into a more marketing intensive position as an Artist Development Rep. One day I got a call from Daniel Glass who interviewed and hired me to do promotion at Artemis Records for him and Danny Goldberg. I learned so much from both of them, have so much respect for what they've done and who they are and consider Daniel my mentor. Todd eventually worked there too and after we both left, we founded CO5 in 2003 and have been breaking bands independently every year since.
1. Give us the 411 on The Gathering for the Alternative format on June 15-17.
(Todd & Tracy): The Gathering is the ultimate showcase platform for new and developing Alternative bands gathering the best and brightest minds in the music business. Tastemakers, movers and shakers and key individuals in the music business who define themselves by their instincts and intuition for what their audiences are craving. From major market Alternative Radio Programmers to integral Music Supervisors and key Bloggers, we have curated a list of the people who are responsible year in and year out for breaking new talent and delivering the most significant new music to the market place. We offer your band the opportunity to showcase and get to know people who are imperative to your artist's careers, forging relationships and networking with the who's who in the business.
2. Todd, you mentioned in the press release that when you and Tracy founded CO5 Music in 2003 that you had a vision to launch a world class music discovery event. How did The Gathering finally come to fruition?
Todd: The core goal for CO5 is to break new artists and turn them into household names. The Gathering is a logical extension of this idea. There is nothing more compelling than seeing a great live band, it makes the hair on your arm stand up and heart race. Conventions have always been a part of the music industry, it is a social business. We are working to create an event that brings the community together and facilitates discovery. We want it to include thoughtful discussions, idea sharing, exposure to new bands all while encouraging more new music to be exposed through radio….in a cool destination.
Tracy: Alternative radio breaks artists, that's part of what they do and it felt like the right time to give the format an event that catered to their needs. The R&R and Gavin conventions are gone. Active Rock has Contraband, Hot AC has Live in Napa, and all formats go to the Worldwide Radio Summit. There was nothing that served the Alternative formats needs. Showcasing bands is expensive and currently, it's also very limiting. You can only fly so many guys in for a showcase. Additionally, it's good for the programmers and their label counterparts to have the opportunity to get together and feel like a community. A veritable who's who of Alternative radio, all of which we are proud to have coming. The list includes: Mike Kaplan, Nerf, Nancy Stevens, Ross Mahoney Lazlo, Aly Young, Aaron Axelson, Spam, Zigz, James Kurdziel, Aaron Zytle….+ 15 Music Supervisors including NBC, 20th Century Fox, CW Network, Playstation and more.
3. How did you decide on Louisville for the location of the inaugural Gathering?
Todd: Churchill Downs, Distilleries, Louisville Slugger, Muhammad Ali, amazing restaurants, gorgeous blue grass, incredible river front, unbelievable hospitality and did I mention Distilleries? The options for event planning are endless and fun. Plus Brad Hardin is from there and we want him to attend!
Tracy: We wanted a destination, someplace that was amazing and off the beaten path, it's a location that most people have never visited before and Vegas, L.A. and NYC just felt played out. Whiskey has seen resurgence in popularity, diversity and mixed drinks. Louisville felt like a great fit as a destination and point of interest, its rich with American and prohibition history, surrounded by gorgeous landscape. There's so much more to see there than we will get to this year. After my first visit, I left thinking how much I really loved the area and the people.
4. What is the schedule and showcases each day and why will someone who is not into whiskey still love The Gathering Along The Whiskey Trail?
Todd: Buffalo Trace makes a nice Wheatley Vodka too! This event is about community, music and idea sharing - The Whiskey Trail is just a gorgeous location that has a unique place in American history. The schedule includes an opening party at Churchill Downs with mock racing and the bugler, we're having a softball game Thursday morning conceived by Aaron Axelsen, a tour of Barton's 1792 Distillery that is fascinating, a showcase in a cool sweet smelling barrel room, an industry TED talk style discussion, catered lunch, and band showcases into the evening at an incredible urban distillery-art gallery called Copper And Kings. Friday is similar before we take over the Mercury Ballroom that is two blocks away from The Brown Hotel with AWOLNATION headlining a full night of amazing new artists. Louisville is a city that has a strong identity and an amazing number of recognizable high-quality brands. It is a very creative place that is comfortable and inviting. I really believe it will help promote fresh ideas.
Tracy: MUSIC, MUSIC, more music and history! You don't have to drink whiskey to appreciate the rich history of the area. We'll kick things off at Churchill Downs. The facility is massive and beautiful. The good news for our attendees is that they get to enjoy it in jeans, go to a race there and you better be dressed to the Nines! We'll do tours of some amazing distilleries; get to see the process of how it's made. But it's all about the music and we have some amazing artists performing.
5. Tell us about veteran programmer Michael Steele's involvement and everyone else on the CO5 team/Gathering staff.
Todd: Michael is one of my closest friends. He helped program KIIS-FM in L.A. and created Indie 103 (I left Omaha and Riverside out). He is a brilliant marketing mind, strong manager and understands programming. While the CO5 staff is committed to breaking artists day in and day out, Michael's focus is on The Gathering, managing our team and all of the details. He has also produced live events many times before which is a skill we needed on the team. The MX2 staff, Michael Parrish and Bacon, are working hand in hand with Steele (three Michaels, how confusing is that on a conference call?!?!) along with Edie Lundeen from Black Dog Music Marketing. They are heavily involved with planning, marketing and execution of the event. Each member of the CO5 team, Lida Galka, Jennifer Sligh, William Marion, Drew Murray, Bebop Hobel and Patti Martin are encouraging their station people to attend and will be hands on at the event. It takes an army.
Tracy: Michael is someone that we've known for some time. As a programmer, he was always at the top of his game, running some of the biggest and most important stations in the country. His programming experience also means that he's got expertise in putting together large events, he understands production needs, organization, details and he has always strived for perfection. Plus he's a really great guy with an amazing sense of humor. So he's a real pro and a ton of fun! He's been a key part of putting this together and making sure that it's top notch. We couldn't have done this without him.
6. What excites you the most about this event?
Todd: That it is only the beginning. We have so many ideas on how to grow this event year over year. Mark your calendar, we want this to be a must attend annual event.
Tracy: I'm excited about the shows and the chance to hang out with some great people for a few days in a casual setting.
7. If someone is on the fence about attending, how do you convince them to convince them to register?
Todd: It is a pretty easy sell. The hardest part is coordinating everyone's busy schedule.
Tracy: We haven't had to convince anyone to come! The reception from the industry has been phenomenal. As I said earlier, the format and the people that comprise it see themselves as part of a community. The amount of respect that format has for their colleagues are nothing short of amazing. I think most of the attendees are really looking forward to some facetime with everyone.
8. What may surprise people the most about The Gathering?
Todd: How motivational it will be.
Tracy: Louisville! It's an amazing city and I think that anyone who hasn't been there before will wonder why they never visited and will look forward to returning. The other surprise will be the Hot Brown but I won't spoil it, everyone can discover it themselves.
9. Why will The Gathering be a hit for the Alternative format?
Todd: The Alternative format is founded on new music and as the old saying goes, one in-person visit is worth 100 phone calls. Making personal connections and seeing bands live is so vital in the discovery process for labels and stations.
Tracy: Yes, absolutely!
10. What do you hope will be the biggest takeaway from The Gathering?
Tracy: I think the biggest takeaway will be how much great new music is coming out this year. How big AWOLNATION's show is and why it took so long for something like this to happen.
What would surprise people most about you?
Todd: I carry around a transistor radio in my house pretty much at all times.
Tracy: I can't stand celery, okra or oysters and know how to fold a fitted sheet.
What are your hobbies?
Todd: Golf, cooking, eating new foods, jazz, skiing, staring at the ocean, traveling in Europe and Costa Rica in particular.
Tracy: Playing Shopkins with my wonderful daughter and cleaning up her messes.
First record ever purchased?
Todd: Blondie "Parallel Lines"
Tracy: Duran Duran's first album
Todd: Depeche Mode Black Celebration tour at the Greek in Berkley with Book Of Love opening
Tracy: Cheap Trick with Aldo Nova in Corpus Christi, TX - Shining City by the Sea
Favorite band of all-time?
Todd: My brain just locked up…
Tracy: Come on! There's no such thing, I have way too many to list.