10 Questions with ... Jeffrey Naumann
September 29, 2015
1. What made you want to get into the music business? Who were some of your early mentors?
My best friend's father was a promotion man in Boston. He loaded me up with his projects: James Gang, Mothers of Invention, all the Bosstown Sound bands like The Beacon Street Union, Orpheus, Ultimate Spinach ,etc. He grew my record collection from teeny bopper bands like the Monkees, Lemon Pipers, etc. into another level.
Early mentors: Don "Spacey" Delacey (local Boston for RCA for many years). I called him the "Fossil" because he seemed so old at that time. I guess I'm now the Fossil, LOL. The man who hired me for my first promotion job, John Betancourt, and a young national for Millinium Records, Don Ienner.
2. What was your first job and give us a rundown of the labels and positions you've held over the years?
First record job was for RCA Records1976 in Boston as a Jr. Field Associate. I did store displays, inventoried RCA albums at retail (UGH) and called retail to report our singles and albums to radio. Less than a year later, I was promoted to Local Promotion out of Hartford, CT. I actually worked Elvis Presley when he was still alive! I moved to Denver in 1978, then to Los Angeles in 1981. Betancourt soon elevated me from Local L.A. to West Coast Album Director. At the end of 1986 Phil Quartararo hired me at a brand new start-up label called Virgin Records America. I was the VP of the Rock Department and the later was promoted to VP, Field Promotion when John Boulos left Virgin. Virgin Records kind of crashed and burned in 2002 and most of us were "let go." Stupid people they were! I spent about a year helping run a short-lived label through Best Buy with Sky Daniels called Red Line Entertainment.
When that ended, Jeffrey Naumann Promotion was born. Then in 2005, this fucking asshole named Eliot Spitzer upset the whole radio and record business, as you know, and most radio companies were instructed not to communicate with anybody but record labels or managers. I then helped start a new label we named EMI Music Reactive based out of Nashville, which consisted of Christian artists and bands such as Thousand Foot Krutch, Anberlin, Under Oath, etc. Imagine me working for a Christian label! In January 2007 I reopened my company as it remains today.
3. You worked at Virgin Records for many years and helped break many bands. What are some of the best highlights of your time with Virgin?
Most of the Virgin Records years were the best years of my life in this business. I worked and helped hire many future stars in our current biz like Jim Burruss, Joe "Sodfarm" Greenwald, Phil "Pulp Fiction" Costello, Mike "Easterjesus" Easterlin, Steve Walker and so many more. Some of the bands/artists we broke were: Lenny Kravitz, Smashing Pumpkins, Cracker, Paula Abdul., Ziggy Marley and yes, even the Spice Girls. And then. of course. working the true icons: Roy Orbison, Tina Turner, Bowie, my good friend John Lydon and Iggy but the best experience of all was the Rolling Stones! I can't tell how much craziness went on among my good friends Michael "the Attack Hamster" Plen and John Boulos. It's too crazy for this rant. I cherish almost all the people I worked with in the Virgin years!
4. How long ago did you start your own company Jeffrey Naumann Promotion and what's the best thing about doing independent promotion?
As I mentioned earlier, there were two phases of JNP -- pre-Spitzer and post-Jesus. I miss working with a staff. What I like most working for me is: no marketing meetings. I kind of got burnt from all the travel, and I don't miss the L.A. traffic driving to and from the office.
5. Tell us some of the bands you are working with now and how these bands are progressing?
Five Finger Death Punch - "Jekyll and Hyde" sitting at #3 with a brand new album, Got Your Six," debuting at #1 with 115,000 sold the first week!! Fantastic band that just doesn't miss. Next single will be "Wash It All Away," which should be a solid #1 song.
Breaking Benjamin -- "Angels Fall," which could be another #1 follow up to "Failure." Another #1 debuting album with first week sales of 145,000. Did anyone say Rock bands don't sell anymore? HA.
The new Trivium single, "Until The World Goes Cold," could be their breakthrough song. Radio wants to see these guys succeed and are saying this is the most radio-friendly song they have done.
A few heritage bands just getting going are Collective Soul, with "This," which is a one-listen song. Winery Dogs "Oblivion" -- three great musicians. And there's brand new music from Def Leppard "Let's Go." These guys still sell out stadiums and will have their first studio album in seven years. This song could also be played at any fast-paced sporting event, too. Let's go, Patriots! Sorry, I couldn't resist. New music from Trapt, P.O.D. and Islander are high charting songs as well.
6. You have been working with Five Finger Death Punch, who just released an awesome new album. What makes this band such a huge hit at Rock radio?
They are a band with a branded sound, huge fan base and sales, plus a killer live show. Their songs are all chart toppers with great research. Radio loves them except some guy on the East Coast named Lenny.
7. You are spearheading Rock promotion for the new Def Leppard single. How do you think this will work at Rock radio and why should Active Rock play this new song?
First of all, I did a history of what Rock and Active Rock stations still play Def Leppard in their Golds. Wow, quite a few. So that's my initial roadmap to target "Let's Go" for airplay. Since it's been seven years since their last studio album, a lot changes at radio, so it's hard to predict how many will play new music from a heritage band like Def Leppard. They still sell out stadiums. Their fan base seems to be as strong as ever. The single is a signature sound from Def Leppard and it has a wicked hook. I also think "Let's Go" could be a huge song at sporting events to charge up the crowd. Only time will tell, but I'm very optimistic!
8. You've been in the record promotion business for a long time. What are the most important tools/resources you use to stay on top of the Rock formats' growth and constant daily changes?
Communication and knowing how each and every station "ticks" is most important for me. I still like the old-fashioned conversations on the phone. I also stay on top of all the daily news blasts.
9. Let's talk about the Rock format as a whole. What's your take on the state of Rock sadio today?
It really doesn't matter what I think of any format of radio. What does matter is adapting to the constant changes through the years. I try to stay focused on what radio's needs are and respect their jobs. One note, I constantly hear programmers complain there is just no room for all the great songs out there to be "added" to their playlist. My remedy to solve this problem is to increase currents. When there aren't as many great songs, scale back the currents. Radio and records are like a living organism also in flux.
10. Finally, you're famous for coining names for industry folks. How did this so-called "Naumannclature" originate and what are some of your favorite names and why?
Well, not just industry folks. It started way back in my life with some close friends. I guess we just see humor in certain nicknames. Some my favorites include:
- "Boxjesus" is Art Phillips. His real last name is Boxman and for some reason, anybody's name ending MAN becomes jesus. I guess that would make me Naujesus.
- "Don Ameche" is Ken Anthony. In his younger days at KSJO, he had a mustache and he looked like Don Ameche.
- "The Attack Hamster" is Michael Plen. Looks kind of like a hamster and is relentless at promoting radio.
- "Sodfarm" is Joe Greenwald, who was hired at Virgin to be our Detroit rep. I realized early on Joe needed a lot of training because he was as green as a sodfarm.
- "The Painted Wonder" was Rick Williams because he painted his bald spot with something like black paint.
What do you like to do for fun and relaxation when you're not in "work" mode??
I love wine, sports, hiking, my cabin, my boat, BBQing, The Three Stooges, and most of all, listening to music. My music library has close to 10,000 albums and CDs combined.