10 Questions with ... Steve Ford
February 8, 2016
1. Brief History / Synopsis
I grew up in Los Angeles right in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. My two brothers and I grew up with a single mom until I was 11 years old. I read an article about recording, engineering and producing when I was 14 and said that is what I want to do. I walked into my first recording studio the summer after high school and did not leave them for a decade. I attended Cal State Northridge while I was working in recording studios...please don't ask my GPA. I left the studios and moved to Nashville to join Sparrow Records in the A&R department. I went on to work at Star Song as Marketing Director, Myrrh Records as Vice President of Marketing, General Manager at Inpop Records and SRE Recordings. I was recently promoted to General Manager from Vice President of Marketing at Centricity. Whew!
2. What does a normal day at the office look like for you?
I'm not sure there is such a thing as a normal day, but here goes. Three times a week I start my day playing racquetball at 6 am, and normally I have a breakfast meeting at 8 am with one of the Centricity staff, a manager or an artist. About half of my day is filled with other meetings....the radio department (that department is two people, we are a small label. Ha!), accounting, A&R or management. I normally have a lunch scheduled and then it's back to the office for lots of emails, calls, and more meetings. I'm home for dinner with my lovely wife between 6 and 7 pm.
3. What's the song that you just can't get out of your head right now?
The two songs that have been bouncing around in my head are "Stressed Out" from 21 Pilots and "Beloved" from Jordan Feliz. Each section of "Stressed Out" is memorable and singable, while the production is so fresh and new. Love it. I chose "Beloved" because we were recently listening to Jordan Feliz in the Centricity office when that song came on. Not to have too much self-love, but that song has a melody that drills itself into your brain and it never comes out. Match that with meaningful lyrics and you have what I think is a hit.
4. What's your process to finding new talent?
We are privileged to have two amazing A&R guys with John Mays and Jon Sell. They work incredibly hard to find artists who are gifted, unique and hard working. Most of those come from relationships with producers, managers, songwriters or other artists.
5. What three leaders/mentors have had the greatest impact on you, and why?
I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing minds in the industry. First would be Bill Hearn (Capitol Christian Music Group) who taught me to think like a marketer, followed by Jeff Moseley (Fair Trade Service) who taught me to think like a businessman, and Jim Chaffee (Chaffee Management) who reminded me of the importance of loving music.
6. What's the last book you read?
Last two books - "Difficult Men" by Brett Martin, which is an examination of the show runners for the TV series that changed television. I am intrigued by the movie and TV industries and how they parallel to the music industry. The second book is "The Song Machine" by John Seabrook that takes an inside look at the modern run songwriting factory.
7. Funniest or most embarrassing moment you've had during your music label career?
Oh, I am not good at that. I bury the embarrassing moments deep in my psyche.
8. Tell us about the current Centricity roster for 2016.
The current roster is Lauren Daigle, Unspoken, Jordan Feliz, Jason Gray, Andrew Peterson, JJ Weeks Band, Aaron Shust, Jonny Diaz, Jared Anderson and Carrollton, plus a couple of acts Centricity may potentially sign.
9. What's your strategy to become even more competitive at retail and radio?
We want to keep the roster small but impactful. I never see us competing with the majors on number of releases or singles. I do see our commitment to artist development continuing. We did launch a general market label, Residence Music, in order to serve people of faith who are called to the lost. For our overall strategy I will steal a quote that is up in our A&R department. "Find great songs. Make great records. Serve great artists."
10. Person you'd most like to have a discussion with, living or dead.....Deities are excused from this question
I would love to sit down with either Steve Jobs (though some do consider him deity) or Walt Disney because both of them were able to live in the tension between creative and corporate.
Favorite Bible Verse....life verse?
Right now it is Titus 3:14, "Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives."
I think it is interesting to see what God calls us to do, 'do what is good and provide the needs of others,' in order to live a productive life. That is what He considers productive. It encourages me to refocus on what is important. Loving others.