10 Questions with ... Mike Jakubow
May 7, 2013
1. What made you want to get into the music business? Who were some of your early mentors?
I was fascinated with everything music-related; I guess that planted the seed to investigate things, from the first time I tuned into MTV or a cool radio station in town or when I first picked up a guitar. I'm just curious in general and wanted to know the "behind the scenes" stuff going on in this industry. I got very curious about radio, record labels and the music industry once I hit high school. I DJ'd on my high school and college radio stations and that led to me taking the next step into record label world once I could intern in College. My first internship was with Interscope and I had two great bosses during that period who encouraged me and didn't mind exposing me to the realities of the business and working with artists -- the "behind the scenes."
2. What was your first job ... and give us a run-down of the labels and positions you've held over the years?
I suppose my first "job" was a part-time assistant to the Midwest retail promotions guys at Interscope. The internship led to a part-time gig there. Tons of hours for little pay (shocking), but I ate it all up. It was cool and it was fun because of the people I worked for and the bands I met.
3. You spent several years as National Dir./Radio Promotions at such groundswell Rock labels as Victory and Century Media. Tell us about some of the bands you worked with and broke out of those labels?
The independent label world has its challenges and advantages for sure. The positives I totally believe in come from the bonding you have with an artist. With fewer people at the label, you have that direct contact with an artist. I love having that passion for an artist, because you take it somewhat personally. You truly want their success because it's a part of you. And every one of these bands I list, I can still call today or see in person and it's still a great hang. I got to work the beginning phases of Atreyu's career at radio while at Victory. Charting three consecutive singles by these guys and really watching them explode onto the national scene. At Century Media I found a kinship with Lacuna Coil, that's for sure. Some of my favorite people around. Taking them to the next phase of their radio careers ... I love that. Same goes for In This Moment while I was at Century Media. I remember those tough first (thousand) calls talking about the validity of this artist. It's been amazing to see them mature and grow.
4. Besides your label stints, you've also done your own independent Promotion work. Tell us the advantages as well as challenges of working for a Label vs Independent promotion?
Advantages ... you are your own boss and the variety of artists you work kinda explodes. Once you get rolling and make relationships in this community, it's a cool network of people. Great people. You interact with a larger variety of people and artists. I thought it was fun. I could take on the projects I wanted and really felt I could deliver. The oversight is different, though. But it's a discipline either way. For the most part, lots of independent promo folks have an office out of their house. Makes sense. For me, if I work out of my house I have to stick to a strict schedule. With a label now, it's the small things that make me smile. Going to the press guy or warehouse person or sales guy if I need info or assistance ... being on a team with the same timeline. I enjoy it. The consistent checks are a plus.
5. Congratulations on your new position as National Dir./Radio for Sumerian Records. For those who aren't familiar with Sumerian, give us a little label history and who are some of the bands who call Sumerian home?
Sumerian is growing. I see it and I feel it. It's fantastic to come in with a growing label. Not just because they brought me in to expand their commercial radio reach, but on the roster side. We'll have announcements on some great signings coming. I'm a metal and rock guy. That's me. And it feels like this is the place where both these worlds are merging. Some of our notable heavy artists are Dillinger Escape Plan, Periphery, Born Of Osiris and The Faceless ... and they have all done incredibly well. Not to mention Asking Alexandria. This band has done some amazing numbers out there and they gave us the material to elevate them even further. What a progression of things in the few short years this label has been around. Plus Body Count just signed with us; that's awesome!
6. Asking Alexandria is a big priority for Sumerian right now. Tell us about the band's latest project and your plans for marketing this new release to Rock radio?
As I briefly touched upon above, Asking Alexandria has some significant numbers out there -- record sales and ticket sales nationally. What's that show on ESPN ... "Numbers Never Lie"? The band has been right outside the consciousness of radio folks for a little while now. The more I talk to PDs, the more I learn that many at the Rock format have seen or heard of the band and its following. Sometimes it's timing as well. Growth in musicianship and sound help. They delivered some great tunes on this record. It's all developing like an artist should. Everything's natural, honest and it f'n rocks. My job is to show the radio world what I am seeing. They have a real following and it's only getting bigger.
7. What are the most important tools/resources you use to stay on top of the Rock formats' growth and constant daily changes?
Absorbing information. Speaking to a big network of people and staying on top of any news or changes out there. The resources are people and your daily trade sites.
8. Let's talk about the Rock format as a whole. What's your take on the "State of Rock Radio" today?
Where are our next headliners? Who is the band (all of us in this format) can rally behind? We have some great artists out there right now we can see develop to headliners. I still think it's bad-ass how FFDP could develop into three straight Gold records. Or what Volbeat is doing. Rock radio can make it happen. Listeners want to hear something with meaning and many of the harder hitting artists could be a great solution. Something with a backbone. People want that ... always have.
9. 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?
I dig what Eye Empire is doing. Hope they continue to develop. Another Lost Year is another newbie band just hitting radio I really like. Plus I think Soil is do for a solid comeback this year ... not new or emerging ... but I like Soil.
10. How do you use social media as a promotion tool for your label and the artists you are promoting?
Keep the updates coming. Amazing what fans retain. You get closer to these artists by knowing their humor or character as people. Every one of our artists is active online (as they should be). Sumerian also gets creative with online stuff ... keep it fresh for everyone as well.
When you're not in Rock mode, what other music or artists do you enjoy outside your "format"?
I'm a mega-Michael Jackson fan. Started early in life -- and hell no, it hasn't changed. I saw "Michael Jackson Thriller" at a theatre in London a few years back, Michael Jackson "Immortal" in Vegas a couple years back and of course, "This Is It" on opening weekend. I'll go see all of it, now that I can't see him live. Shamone!
What was the first album or single you purchased on your own?
I think it was Michael Jackson "Bad" actually! That or a Poison record.