10 Questions with ... Steve Kline
October 14, 2014
1.What made you want to get into the music business? Were there any early mentors?
My earliest industry mentor was also my mentor for many other things in life -- my dad, Dick Kline. He started in the business sweeping floors in a warehouse and through hard work and perseverance, worked his way up. Like so many of us, music was a huge part of my childhood. My mom was always playing music and my dad started taking me to shows at a very young age. I didn't plan on it, but between my love of music and my exposure to the business, I guess it was just meant to be.
2. Can you give us a rundown of the record labels and positions you've held over the years?
It's hard for me to believe how long I've been doing this. How much time do you have?
- Crazy Eddie, Paramus, NJ: sales
- Atlantic Records: intern, assistant, NY local
- MCA Records: Northeast Regional Promotion
- Lava Records: Director National Promotion
- Geffen Records: VP/Top 40, Hot AC, and Rhythm Promotion
- Columbia Records: VP/West Coast Promotion
- J Records: VP/Promotion...
3. Before we talk about some of the hot new music on Eleven Seven, can you give us some of your proudest past achievements in breaking new acts with this label?
Breaking a new band is most often more challenging than with an established act, making any success that much sweeter. Sixx AM and Nothing More have both been amazing to work with. Motley Crue, Drowning Pool and Buckcherry were some re-branding campaigns that were equally as gratifying.
The best part about working here is that...
It's a good time and an education. Our CEO, Allen Kovac, knows more about the overall music business than anyone I have worked for. Whether it's running a label, management, touring, publishing, licensing, etc., domestic or international, Allen is well versed in all areas of the business and he freely shares his knowledge and experience. We work in an environment where trying new techniques and technologies are always embraced. Everyone here also has the opportunity to expand beyond his or her core areas of responsibilities. We have a diverse team of smart people that are also fun to be around.
4. Let's talk about the success of Nothing More. This has been one of the biggest breakthrough artists at the Rock format. To what do you attribute their success at the format?
First and foremost, I need to give credit to the band for delivering an album full of multiple options for radio tracks. A lot of new artists have big chart success, but very few deliver songs that test, sell and request. On top of that, they are some of the nicest guys that I have had the opportunity to work with and they are AMAZING live.
That being said, the band would not be off to such a great start at radio were it not for some very key champions. There were a handful of programmers who started the fire. Joe Bevilacqua and Vinny Usuriello believed in the band months before we impacted radio. They heard the album and committed their support whenever we were ready. Joe D was a huge cheerleader from the get-go and soon helped to get Troy Hanson on board. Roxy Myzal and Jave Patterson, too. There were some other early adopters and we appreciate all of the support that we have been luck to have so far, but these guys were KEY.
On top of that, Jackie Kajzer is my invaluable partner. She works hard, has incredible relationships and just kicks ass. Best of all it's a lot of fun working together.
5. You also have hit songs on Rock Radio now with Sixx: A.M. and the latest Hellyeah single. Can you give us an update on these two projects?
Sixx: A.M. is a unique band comprised of three incredibly talented musicians and songwriters who are always trying something new. They made another great album and have just announced their first headline tour. "Stars" is dead-on for Rock radio and we impact this week.
HellYeah really captured their true sound on this album. It's a perfect blend of Pantera meets Mudvayne. "Moth" is already doing great things at radio. We are seeing sales and research and it's just getting started.
6. What else does the label have coming down the pipeline in the future?
We plan to close out 2014 on a very high note with a great track from the new Papa Roach album. 2015 will bring follow-up tracks from Nothing More and Sixx: A.M., as well as new albums from Apocalyptica, Art Of Dying, Deuce, a new Motley Crue Greatest Hits (with some new tracks) and a few others TBD.
7. As a promotion person, what are the most important tools/resources you use to stay on top of the Rock formats' growth and constant daily changes?
We now have multiple tools to help us identify the best available music. In addition to research, we need to look at sales, Shazam tags, video views, Spotify streams, etc. to see what the fans and listeners are really passionate about.
8. Do you see a direct correlation today between Rock radio airplay of your artists and record sales?
Yes, but only if listeners are passionate about a song. Every week we create our own chart that ranks the charted Active Rock songs by sales. If the sales rank is way below the airplay rank, the song is likely either hype or a turntable hit. You must take other format airplay and ancillary impressions into account, but if sales outrank airplay, then odds are you have a song that listeners are passionate about.
9. Let's talk about the Rock format as a whole. What's your take on the state of Rock radio today?
Whether you are on the radio side or the music side, we are all part of the Rock community. It's not a secret the format has been in some trouble for the past few years. I think Shinedown was the last band to have a song cross to pop/Hot AC and that was a LONG time ago. I have, though, seen some very positive signs of improvement this year. We need to rally around the best possible bands/artists/music that will help Rock music thrive beyond its narrowing core audience. Pretty Reckless was the best example this year of a band that started at Active Rock and moved to other formats instead of the other way around.
10. What is the best live show you have seen this year on yours or another label and why?
Whether stripped down in a station's studio or fully plugged in, I have been blown away by Nothing More more times than I can count this year. They are remarkable musicians and Jonny Hawkins, the lead singer, is charismatic, engaging and has a tremendous voice. I also got to see Alice play with Motley ... Alice Cooper is simply a star. He has a complete command of the audience, even still. He sells his unique and original persona, and the crowd just eats it up.
What do you like to do for fun and relaxation when you're not in your "work" mode?
I ski and sail a bit. I like scotch, wine, movies and crossword puzzles. Mostly, I love doing the family thing with my awesome wife and kids as well as hanging with friends.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have five CDs with you. What are they?
Five CDs? How about five GBs? I can't limit to just five so I'll just rattle off five favorites in no particular order:
- Beach Boys -- Pet Sounds
- Led Zeppelin -- II
- Remy Zero -- Villa Elaine
- Pete Yorn -- Music For The Morning After
- Dr. Dre -- The Chronic