10 Questions with ... Rick Clair
February 28, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 1988 - 1991 - WRQN, Toledo, OH - On Air "Rowdy Ric"
- 1991 - 1992 - Spectra Records, Nashville, TN - Sales/Marketing
- 1992 - 1995 - Intersound Music, Atlanta, GA - East Coast Branch Manager
- 1995 - 1999 - Universal Music, Boston, MA - Marketing/Sales Manager
- 1999 - Present - Essential Group Management - Artist Management
1) What led you to a career in the music business? Who are some of your earliest mentors who gave you a shot in the business?
I was the kid who sat in his room acting like the coolest DJ in the world! I then moved on to throw talent shows in my backyard (yuppers, popcorn and concessions as well). I was the kid who decided to represent the kids who sang and danced the best. FUNNY thing, I am still that kid...the backyard has just gotten a lil' bigger...
Those who have helped me do what I love include Ken Benson (WMRQ), Indie legend Bill Skull, and label legend Jerry Bix (Intersound/Capital).
2) You had two Top 10 hits with your band The Last Goodnight. Tell us the story of how you achieved this success with their first single "Pictures Of You." and how it felt to finally break through?
Long story short, I managed the band from their beginning out of Enfield, CT when they were called, "Renata." We worked hard, toured, did the label push, did more touring, more sales, and more label pitches.
Enter Jeff Blue at RCA who loved the band and saw the vision. He left RCA and we worked the music and pitched the band to every label under the sun. Finally, Jason Flom came to the table. To be honest, all of folks at Virgin/Capital got it, and were very committed to the project. The band then signed to Virgin, we made a KILLER record and released "Pictures of You".
Success was simple! (LOL!) It was a great song, a great label and with Hilary Shaev running the radio world we were visiting every radio station in the country. Did I mention it was a GREAT song? And it all came together. Mix in about 1,232,435,098 hours worth of work and passion... the breakthough of a song, a hit, a platinum record, a Grammy winning artist, a career musician. It only leads to feeling like you have less time to do more. That's the rush!
3) Your new band Miggs are currently out on the road with Plain White T's and are also having great success with their video online. (Click here to see the video). How were you able to create a viral buzz on this band?
We made sure every dot was connected. All roads lead to the single "Girls & Boys" and the video for it. Miggs played in front of a great crowd each night on tour, promoting their music to radio, growing our fans, and the support of our street team, our press and publicity. We had a partnership with Justin Purser, the director of the video. We got the video played on over 4500 restaurant locations throughout the US. Also, the use of iTunes, Podcasts, video promotion to the big boys including lifestyle and regional video outlets, and last but not least, hand to hand combat at the mall!
4) What was the most unique marketing campaign you've ever been a part of?
I think the most unique campaign is one we are doing with Miggs currently. We are airing their video for "Girls & Boys" in over 4500 restaurant locations that have TVs. We have done this combined with a "text back campaign" to get that person munching on a burger to interact, and they do! Any campaign that gets to the music fan in their lifestyle has a better chance of sticking.
5) How can a manager make sure that his artist is a priority for their record label.
Gray hair, ulcers, and sleepless nights...it's a fight sometimes, but when they finally "get it," that makes for a successful partnership. Every label deal is so different, and every partnership is the same. That is part of the fun with what we do. We try to make it work so that the end result is the artist's music gets out there in a profitable way for all!
6) Would you ever let your artist sign a "360 deal?"
Of course! The profitability for the label and the artist is key to becoming a career artist.
You want a partnership where one hand washes the other. Everyone wins. One sided deals just don't work anymore. And not one deal works for every artist. It all depends where they are in their career, and that will have an influence on that decision.
7) What do you feel is the most valuable research tool that record companies should be paying more attention to?
Understanding the artist and what makes them unique. Artists are far more complex and valuable to us than a box of "TIDE." So they should be understood and marketed differently. Each artist is different. Back to the cookie cutter thang, it just has to work for the music.
8) As music purchases have migrated to the Internet, the music industry has transformed back into a "singles business." How can record companies persuade consumers to buy the entire album of their favorite artist?
Make great records. Honestly, we sometimes complicate something that should not be that complicated. Make a record with 10-15 great songs and people will buy it! Seriously, if you give music fans less they will give back less. Go listen to "Exile on Main Street" by the Rolling Stones and ask yourself if that record was made to deliver a few singles to a few fans?
9) Are you finding that today's "baby" bands are getting a fair shot at radio? And more importantly, are they being given the airplay they need to break through to the masses and be recognized?
NO. If I had one wish left in my jeannie bottle, I would rub it, and wish that radio would actually allow the PD and MD to listen, follow the artists, and make decisions based on their audience and the music.
10) How are you using Social Networks to connect your artists with their fans?
Social networking allows a manager to get their artist's image and music EVERYWHERE. You need to be creative in how and what you deliver and make sure every dot is connected. There is no question that technology rules right now and if you are not a master at marketing within it, you will be left behind. The damn tough thing is there is no right or wrong and no end to what new platform is blowing up day to day. You just have to prioritize and stay in the game long enough.
1) What are some of the artists we might find on your MP3 player?
Peter Gabriel, Rascal Flatts, Tupac, Live, and Neon Trees.
2) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Start with a great artist, great music, and a passionate team. If you don't have this, QUIT.
3) How have music file sharing services affected the way you market your artists?
It's tougher to make money these days. Music has become the loss leader to what? Touring? Podcasts? Monetizing YouTube views?
4) Who is your favorite artist that you have ever met or worked with?
Rick Springfield. He is a master, a class act, and an artist who knows who he is and what to do with it.
5) What do you do in your spare time?
Seriously? Find a manager who has free time and you will find him in the unemployment line!