10 Questions with ... Jon Borris
June 7, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I began my career in the music business in 1998 as a promotion assistant for Atlantic Records, moving to Sony Music Entertainment in 1999 to work as promotion assistant for what was then 550 Music/Epic Records. In 2001, I was promoted to Regional Promotion Manager in Houston for Epic Records and in 2002, Regional Promotion Manager in Miami for Epic. I was upped to Associate Director for Epic Records in 2003 and rose to Director (2004) and Sr. Dir. (2005) for Epic's Top 40 Promotion department in New York, before being named VP/Top 40 Promotion for Columbia Records in 2006. In January 2011, I was named VP/Promotion for Columbia.
1) What led you to a career in "reckidz," as they say in New York?
I was playing guitar in a band in New York for awhile after I got out of college. My best friend was interning at London/Sire Records and he caught word that there was an assistant position opening at Atlantic Records. I went in and interviewed and they hired someone else. She lasted one day ... and they called me back. I was at Atlantic for one great year and have spent the last 12 years at Sony Music in Promotion.
2) Brag on the artists that you work with. What's going on in their worlds right now?
Can't help but start with Adele -- #1s across the board ... and she has truly changed the landscape of popular music.
Beyonce is releasing her 4th solo album on 6/28 and continues to reinvent herself and dictate pop culture. Her new single, "Best Thing I Never Had," is classic Beyonce and I can't wait for the world to experience it.
Foster The People has one of the coolest albums of the year ... and they have serious crossover potential.
Steven Tyler has his first solo single all over Hot AC and Pop radio. He's the great American rock star, is credited with saving the "American Idol" franchise, and is still the coolest guy I've ever met ... and I've met Robert Plant.
3) What's been your most rewarding project to work?
Most recently it has to be Train. They were gone, nearly dropped from the label, and then they recorded the best album of their careers. It's unbelievable to think that "Drops Of Jupiter" ISN'T their most-popular song anymore. I can remember all the calls and e-mails, "Are you serious? This song? With the ukulele? C'mon, JB!" Then the hit, the sales, the Grammy, etc. There's a ton of music out there that's just the best ... and it never sees the light of day. Train was that close to being forgotten, but destiny had other plans it would seem.
4) What's been the most frustrating?
Most recently, the disjointed start of the new Beyonce project. Leaks really jam you up. You have all these pieces in place ... looks and triggers built in ... you have a plan. And then some terrible version leaks and everything is gone to hell. Especially with superstars whose art is so beloved by their fan base, you have to be really careful. The fans have been anxiously awaiting something they care so deeply about, something that truly affects their lives...and if you shove it at them, yeah, they don't like that so much. You do the best you can to explain the overall plan to the people you partner with, but in the end, the fans make the real decisions.
5) What's the worst excuse you ever heard from a programmer?
The programmers who know me best know that I don't entertain excuses from them. But it was probably, "Beyonce's not really relevant anymore."
6) What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
Surprised? Probably Firehouse, because they suck, and I try to keep the music on my iPod from sucking. So I guess I'm surprised that they're still on there. Or maybe Ned's Atomic Dustbin.
7) What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
My senior year of high school, I placed 5th in the State of New York in wrestling, 145 lbs. weight class. I looked like a flagpole with eyes, so maybe I was underestimated.
8) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
I listened to the CW Post college station. The frequency was 88.1 and if the wind blew the wrong way, you couldn't get it because the stick was so weak. But when it came in clear they just were playing the coolest new music I'd never heard.
9) Looking back, which years hold the best musical memories for you and who were your favorite acts at that time?
Definitely the '90s and the birth of true "Modern Rock." Fuel's "Shimmer," Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage," Faith No More's Angel Dust album, and my goodness ... Alice In Chains' "We Die Young." I knew why they named that album Facelift after the first time I heard that song. They could've named it Facemelter instead. When I heard Jerry Cantrell's dropped-D guitar tuning and Layne's voice, "Scaaarrrrry's on the wall! Scaaarrrry's on his waaaayyyy!" I was amazed and terrified at the same time ... and I loved it immediately.
10) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
"A hit single cures all ills."
Which character on a current TV series most reflects your personality?
It's either Jim Halpert from The Office, or Khal Drogo from Game Of Thrones.