10 Questions with ... Laura J Curtin
October 23, 2012
1. What made you want to get into the music business? Early mentors? First job?
I was getting out of high school and at the time CBS (I know, before Sony) was hiring from each borough. So CBS took 50 people from the five boroughs, and had us do three weeks of a test writing/typing/math and each week you would see there would be less people. Then after the three weeks I was one of the 50 people who got hired. We worked where we were needed in the company. My first week I went to the sports dept. They weren't into me and I wasn't into them. So then there was an opening at Epic where I worked one week and they hired me. I never looked back and the rest is HISTORY.
2. You spent quite a few years working in the Rock department at Epic. Tell us about those years and some of the bands you worked with.
In the '90s, when I worked at Epic Records, it was a great time to be in ROCK. I worked for Harvey Leeds and Polly Anthony and it doesn't get better than that. My first band up was Firehouse, which was the first and last HAIR BAND. Then we made history when Pearl Jam came along and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Hair bands were dead and we started a whole new thing. Grunge came alive! Then I had the Spin Doctors and Indigo Girls. Then when we brought back Ozzy's career; I had to deal with "Isn't that the guy that bite the head off of a dove?" "Mama I'm Coming Home" was a HUGE HIT. I also worked with Rage Against the Machine, Korn and Oasis. I had a BLAST.
3. After years working in Rock Promotion for various labels, you went to work for Island Def Jam doing National Hot AC promotion. How did Hot AC Radio react to the "Rock Chick" working them on records?
I guess I was called the "ROCK CHICK," but if you love music and you know how to do promotion, you will win.
4. What are the major differences between working records at Rock and Hot AC?
I love guitars ...and who doesn't? When you do Rock radio, you are always on the road with your bands. There are lots of great things to breaking bands on the road. Going up to radio with the band and having them play acoustic sets and having them on the radio is the best. The bands at Rock radio can call the artists their own. Hot AC is comprised of acts breaking from somewhere else. So sometimes it's about the song. I always feel it's about the artists no matter what. At RED, we want to develop artists because it's about a career for them. So maybe the only difference is I get to work with "CHICKS" now ... lol.
5. You also ran your own indie promotion company, Curtinrises. How was the experience going from working for a label to working for yourself?
It was very tough. I would dream of having the staff I work with now. All the great things at RED to develop an artist are here, so now you can break an artist again. When you work for yourself, it gets very expensive for the label. It's hard to be everything to everyone. I like a "TEAM."
6. You've been doing promotion and artist development for RED Music since last Spring. Tell us about your experience working with this unique company model.
It is unique. I have to say I love it. First of all, I have come full circle in my life, working for Sony again. How lucky am I; this is my home. The company is amazing. All the different departments working on all great artists. Not all our artists come to Promotion. We have a great media dept called stachemedia. It is an interactive marketing/promotion agency. We have great labels we work with, such as Glassnote, Eleven Seven, ATO, Downtown, Collective, Red Bull, Fearless, Broken Bow Records, Century Media and so many more.
7. Who are some of the artists you're currently working with? Any new artists coming up that you're excited to tell us about?
First of all, Mumford and Son's is the biggest selling album of the year so far ... wow! I'm currently working Mumford & Sons, Megan & Liz, AWOL NATION, and Matt & Kim. There is also a musician, Robert Delong, as well as Electric Guest, Heaven's Basement and In This Moment.
8. You've done record promotion for various formats, but we know that Rock is still your first love. What's your take on the current state of Rock radio?
My first love is Rock so you won't ever hear me say a bad word, but the music is all sounding the same. Joe Guzik has a new band coming out on Red Bull Records through RED Distribution called "Heaven's Basement." Rock radio, here we come!
9. The lost art of artist development. What do you do to ensure your artist is building a career as opposed to just breaking a song? And does it even matter anymore?
Here at RED we develop artists. It's in my title, Promotion and Artist Development, and I am so proud that we do both things.
10. Every promotion person has a record close to their heart that for one reason or another never broke through, "The One That Got Away"..... What is your "One That Got Away" -- and what did you learn from that record?
Maybe I don't remember because I don't want to, but I do remember the changes in my career because of the artists and the great people I worked with. Pearl Jam changed my career and my life. Spin Doctors made me a VP of Epic. Oasis made me proud to bring them to America. As for Ozzy? There are no words to tell you what that was like. Indigo Girls was quite a fight to get that played. The going to Dreamworks and being part of something that was so special with Papa Roach, Buckcherry, Nelly Furtado and Alien Ant Farm. Then there was Island Def Jam and Fall Out Boy, The Killers and yes ... even Jon Bon Jovi, Kanye and Rihanna. Now to the present, I am fortunate to be working in this business still. Thanks, Danny Buch, for giving me the chance to have a new chapter in my life with RED - an artist development company. We ROCK!