10 Questions with ... Ray Gmeiner
July 16, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Elektra Records 1980-1990 - VP Rock Promotion 1989-1990
- Ace Promotion & Marketing 1990-1994 - Independent Promotion & Marketing
- Zoo Entertainment 1994-1997 - VP Rock Promotion
- Virgin Records 1997-2002 - VP Rock Promotion
- Virgin Records 2002-2007 - VP Promotion incl ; Active , Mainstream Rock & AAA
- EMI Music incl ; Capitol & Virgin Records 2007 - 2012 - VP Rock Promotion
- Capitol Music Group 2012 - Present - VP Rock Promotion
1.What made you want to get into the music business? Early mentors? First job?
Love of rock music ! I played bass guitar before, during and after college. Also, three years of College Radio helped give me some insight into the business. After I moved to Denver to join friends in a band, the money ran out quickly . I got a job at the new record superstore, Peaches, that had recently opened. I met record label salesmen but it was the local promotion guys who had the cooler jobs. I got the bug for promotion from a great group of guys in an excellent market with a great concert promoter, Barry Fey .
2. You were the VP/Rock Promotion for Elektra Records during the Motley Crue and Metallica years. Care to elaborate on any great "Rock Star" stories from those years?
There was "the Bottle Lady" in Albuquerque who, uh, never mind. Let's just say there's a reason I call the '80s "The Bad Ol Days."
3. You've certainly seen your share of record label consolidation with Virgin and Capitol and EMI in general. How has the latest round of consolidation worked out with lots of folks from the East Coast moving into the Capitol building in Hollywood?
It's a major commitment from our new owners, Universal Music Group. They recognized that Capitol Records and The Tower are American music business icons. They are giving new President Steve Barnett the tools to build the best team with the best artist roster in the business.
4. Let's talk about one of your major artists on Capitol. Congrats on Alice In Chains reaching #1 again on the Active Charts. What else can you share with us about that project?
Thanks. It's a career milestone for me to be working with and for one of the Rock & Roll history's greatest bands. We'll be following up the first two # 1s with "Voices." It's Rock Radio's unanimous choice for the 3rd single . Did you check out their mockumentary ? Hilarious! A side of Alice In Chains you might not expect from a band whose music is often described as "dark." Drummer Sean Kinney is a friggin' comedian!
5. Sick Puppies and Thirty Seconds to Mars are also recent projects that are doing well for Virgin/Capitol. How are those projects doing and what can we look forward to in the future with these artists?
Sick Puppies' debut single, "There's No Going Back," just hit top 10 on the Active Rock charts! Their new album, Connect, is out this week! Mars' second single, "City Of Angels," is impacting next week . Jared, Shannon & Tomo will be bringing their amazing "live" show around the U.S. later this summer. Sick Puppies are rolling out a massive number of U.S. tour dates that will take them into the Fall.
6. Can you tell us what other bands (new or established) and projects your label has in store for Rock radio in the future?
Sorry, I'd have to shoot you if I did, LOL! I can tell you Rick DeJesus is in L.A. writing a ton of songs for the next Adelitas Way album. Oh, and we re-signed The Rolling Stones!
7. Who do you consider some of the current tastemaker Rock stations today and why?
Oooooh, that's a dangerous question. But I will say I like what Bill Weston and his team do with WMMR. They use a variety of colors from across the musical palette to make a Heritage station unique. We always watch with interest what WJJO does. I'm a huge fan of KILO.
8. Let's talk about the Active Rock format as a whole. What's your take on the music at the format and why do you see such a division between the Active Rock and Alternative formats today?
I believe Active Rock radio is searching for new bands that can move the format in a new direction. Like the WMMR example, Active Rock should search out and take music from a variety of styles and genres. Dave Hill is doing that more in Baltimore. So is Troy in Nashville. Larry McFeelie is changing it up in Phoenix. Val Garris and the Cumulus Actives, such as Fin's WFTK/Cincinnati, are exploring a more hybrid style of Active Rock. Alternative is really two formats under one banner. It's evolving away from a homogenous format .
9. You're known as a very meticulous promotion person. What are the most important tools/resources you use to stay on top of the Rock formats' growth and constant daily changes?
Besides the obvious tools of gathering data, ie: detection services, research and sales, social media is an increasingly bigger tool for both radio and record labels. We are just scratching the surface of what we CAN do together to make the music more exciting to the listener/consumer . Now, if we all only had more time in our workday for creative thinking. That damn delete button takes up too much time!
10. What is the strangest record you ever worked and what ended up happening to the band?
Strangest? That's a tough one . I've been honored to work many of the greatest bands. But strange? West Indian Girl from L.A. was pretty, um, different, but cool , too . I think they might still be around.
I know for a fact you're a HUGE golfer. What are the THREE best golf courses you've played and why?
- Spyglass ... one word. Majestic !
- Ballybunion in Ireland. True links-style golf
- Pebble Beach. Nuff said . There are so many yet to play!
What is the best live band you've seen this year NOT on your label?
I'm obsessed with Jake Bugg. Album of the Year!