10 Questions with ... Ray Gmeiner
February 3, 2015
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; early mentors include Brad Hunt, Mike Bone , David Urso, Michael Brannen, Dick Merkle and the late Don Zucker .
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 just closed the book on 17 years of Rock promotion at Virgin/Capitol. That's quite a run. Can you briefly share with us some of your "artist- breaking" highlights from all those years?
First # 1 was "Bittersweet Symphony" from The Verve. It was fun working Mer De Noms from A Perfect Circle. The Thrills' first album was genius. We almost broke that all the way. KT Tunstalls' "Black Horse & The Cherry Tree" was huge! "You're Going Down" from Sick Puppies was big as was Saving Abel's "Addicted." It was an honor working Alice In Chains. They should be in the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame. Get ready for new Adelitas Way. Rick DeJesus is coming back and he's on a mission.
4. Congrats on launching your new company Ray Gmeiner Rocks Promotion. As you return to independent Rock promotion, what are some of the initial goals you have for your company?
Keeping it tight and right for a small select group of clients.
5. I know that back in the day you had your own independent promotion company. Now that you're armed with all of this major label experience, how will that benefit Rock radio and your new projects moving forward?
Contrary to what one manager said recently, relationships are key to getting it done for your clients and radio stations. By utilizing years of relationships you can get exceptional content from the clients for Rock radio.
6. Can you tell us about any new Rock projects that Ray Gmeiner Rocks will be working with in the future?
I'm excited to work for some of my friends' new Rock projects, including We Are Harlot for manager Rick Sales and Atlantic's Lea Pisacane. Also, I'll be quarterbacking the new Danko Jones with Tommy DeBenedictis at Sony/RED.
7. Let's talk about the Active Rock format as a whole. What's your take on the music and artists at the format today?
I believe Active Rock radio is searching for new bands that can move the format in a new direction. Active Rock should search out and take music from a variety of styles and genres .We can't be loud and hard 24/7.
8. 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 format's 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 time in our workday for more creative thinking. That damn delete button takes up too much time!
9. What can Rock radio and it's record promotion counterparts do to make their relationship stronger moving forward and ultimately help Rock radio break artists and labels sell Rock records?
We must get face-to-face and, if that's not always possible, speak to each other regularly on the phone. We can't rely only on computers and social media.
10. Finally, we've all heard the old "Rock Is Dead" mantra for years. What's your take on the future of Rock ... both on the Radio and Label side?
Once you get out of N.Y.C. and L.A., heartland America loves its Rock. Look at the success our Rock festivals are having in Columbus, Kansas City, Charlotte and the expansion into more markets around the country. In the meantime, let's get back to Rock being a little less politically correct and a little more dangerous.
What do you like to do to relax when you're not in radio promotion work mode?
Golf or watch golf with a glass of red from Paso Robles. Torrey Pines is this weekend baby!