10 Questions with ... George Cappellini Jr
September 25, 2012
1. What made you want to get into the music business? Besides your father, were there any other early mentors?
Music has always been my #1 passion. Everything about it gets me excited. I still remember the excitement of opening a new cassette tape or CD. The smell, the artwork and the first time going through the disc. Next, getting the chance to see that group/band for the first time live, and finally getting a T-shirt. Growing up in a house that had a jukebox full of Geffen Records releases, there was a ton of excitement and drama always going on. I can still remember my father on late-night strategy calls with Al Coury; and all the drama getting Axl Rose and Jesse James Dupree out of jail in Atlanta while we were baptizing my little sister.
These experiences I had around music when I was younger just made my passion grow more and more. I didn't exactly know what my role would be in the business, but to this day that's the least of my worries, I just like to be around it. There were many people I looked up to when I was growing up. There were plenty that were around a lot being friends with my father. From Johnny Barbis to Craig Lambert to Gary Bird to Brian Philips to Cat Collins to Mike DePippa. Yeah, my father has a notorious group of friends. Ha.
2. What was your first job and give us a rundown of the labels and positions you've held over the years?
While I was in college I wanted to make sure I got the experience of being an intern. I had the opportunity to work at Jason Flom's label Lava Records. Amazing experience! Jason had a fantastic promo team with one of them being a great family friend Greg Dorfman, who's fantastic at radio promotion! The next summer I had the opportunity to work in the video promotion department at Atlantic Records. It was another great experience seeing how that world worked in its prime when music videos still had meaning in television. After I graduated I worked for my father for a few months to get promo 101 under my belt. Let's just say, there wasn't one dull moment ...
I landed my first full-time gig at Columbia Records when Joe Guzik and Trina Tombrink hired me as their assistant. I spent a year there and it was the biggest learning curve I had in such a short amount of time. They both had two totally different personalities to work for; however the big thing they had in common was getting airplay! Eventually, I was itching to get out in the field, and a huge opportunity came about in Detroit. Island/Def Jam, arguably the hottest company in the business, was looking for someone to take the position up there. I wanted the gig very badly. A lot of friends were saying, "are you nuts; do you really want to move to Detroit?" But honestly, my passion for this business outweighed that roadblock in a nanosecond.
I was very fortunate to get to work with Greg Thompson and Erik Olesen for three full years. Greg gave me my regional gig and I will never forget that. Greg is one of the most tenacious people I've ever met. He knows how to push his staff to deliver. Lot's of pressure at that company; there were a lot of mouths to feed. Erik is the Vince Lombardi of radio promotion. He was the first to come into work and the last to leave. I remember getting phone calls from him at 11p asking me how a road trip was then getting a call the next morning at 7a. I always scratched my head on how he did this with the same energy every day.
3. I would imagine your dad (George Cappellini Sr.) has had a huge impact on you getting into the record promotion business. What are some of the best things you've learned from Sr.?
Ultimately there's no one that I've learned more from in this business. He's not just my father, business partner and best friend; he's a legendary promotion man in my eyes. I have nothing but the utmost respect for my father and what he does in the radio promotion world. I mean for him to still be doing radio promotion is one thing, but to have a successful independent radio promotion company is another. I've learned so much from him over the years, and from him I could write a book! I'm very thankful to have him here giving me pointers every day. Yeah, we might not see eye to eye on everything, but when he pulls the 30+ years of experience card on me he always wins ;)
Three things I can tell you I've learned are: find a way to win, never give up, and don't let anyone stop you from achieving your goal. Relentless is Sr's motto; that's something that is very challenging, but I welcome that challenge.
4. Let's talk about some of the bands on the eOne label, starting with Pop Evil. It seems like this band is quickly becoming a breakout act for Active Rock. To what do you attribute their success?
Pop Evil in a nutshell is like my first child born in the rock world. It's an interesting situation because I manage the band and do their radio promotion at eOne. G&G Entertainment (George Sr. and I) have managed the band for five years. The band has grown a tremendous amount. It's now paying off. We did the first record on a shoestring budget. The latest album, "War of Angels," hampered by a delayed release and label juggling, at the end still proved to be a very successful independent record. This year we have seen the ticket sales double or even triple in a lot radio markets that have supported the band from day one. We have three Top-10 singles off this album ... and now four Top-20 singles with the current single at radio. Radio, touring and sports marketing have been the three main ingredients to growing this band. I'm very lucky to have such a great bunch of guys to work with. It's simple; they go to work everyday to listen and deliver! I can't ask for anything more then that from a rock band. They are the hardest working band out there.
5. Another strong band on the eOne label is the Charm City Devils. Tell us about that band and your promotion strategy for breaking this band?
Charm City Devils is a hard-working band from Baltimore. They had a great song that caught the label's attention. The single was selling strong numbers for the format and we all agreed it was time to come and help grow the project. We are now on the second single, "Unstoppable," a very sports-friendly song. It has already had huge placement for the WWE. We are growing the record at a nice steady pace.
6. What are the most important tools/resources you use to stay on top of the Rock formats' growth and constant daily changes?
I use single sales, social media growth and ticket sales. Single sales really tell you a lot for this format. The numbers aren't as big as other formats see, but still it's the #1 way to see if the song is reacting. I always have a goal to find a key market to cheerlead a record, so we can see if the reaction happens like we expect it, too. Social media growth is very crucial to look at. You can get very specific analytics now to see if there's something going on with the artist you are researching. Ticket sale growth is great to watch as well. When you are able to see the actual ticket sales every night and see the artist go back to the market after airplay has been established, you can really get a good gauge on growth.
7. Let's talk about the Rock format as a whole. What's your take on the "State of Rock Radio" today?
Very good question. Man, it's tough to really give all my thoughts on the state of Rock radio right now in a short breath. The one thing I must say is the format/genre is really having a tough time growing new acts. When you really think about it, we are lucky to see two new artists breakthrough in one calendar year. It's just not enough to survive. We can't always depend on the big-name artists to release a record or this format will dry up. Other formats are growing because they are taking chances on new acts. We need to figure out a way to feed the Rock format audience new artists. It's crucial to keep the format growing.
8. Besides the artists you're already working with, what are some other new and emerging Rock bands you like that we should keep an ear out for?
Wait till the U.S. gets their hands on Avatar. A Swedish metal band with melody. We went to see them perform at Metaltown in Sweden. Man they have a brand that could do big things here. Rock Radio could use a metal band like this. Authentic to the core!
9. How do you use social media as a promotion tool for your label and the artists you are promoting?
When there's a great story and/or big news I will share for sure. Social media is great for spreading information. We make sure all the acts we work with are active on social media -- especially interacting with radio stations' social media pages.
10. What is the best live show you have seen this year?
Rock on the Range has to be it. There were a ton of great acts there this year; 40,000 in attendance for two days in the middle of America. It just proves that the Rock genre is still relevant.
When you're not in Rock mode, what other music or artists do you enjoy outside your "format"?
Awolnation is one of my favorites. I must say Of Monsters and Men write some timeless songs! I love that new Sheepdogs album too!
What was the first album or single you purchased on your own?
Soundgarden - "Superunknown"