10 Questions with ... Michael Chester
June 28, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Arista Records 1999-2003: Chicago Regional, Los Angeles Regional
- Atlantic Records 2003-2005: Los Angeles Regional
- Island Def Jam 2005-current: Los Angeles Regional, Senior Director Top 40 (L.A.-based), Sr. Dir./Top 40 (New York based).
1) What is your favorite part of the job?
Meeting and interacting with different people and getting them excited about music. Navigating the nuances of peoples' personalities and idiosyncrasies makes for something different every day. I love having the understanding of how vast this country is and how different regions can affect one another.
2) Brag on the artists that you work with. What's going on in their worlds right now?
Bieber is currently recording which is very exciting. Rihanna is on tour here in the U.S. and is a must-see show. She does two hours of hits! Kanye West & Jay-Z "Watch The Throne" is coming this summer and the music is groundbreaking. We're expecting new music from Ne-Yo, which will be the perfect set up coming off of the soon-to-be #1 "Give Me Everything." Kanye West protégé, Big Sean, is starting to break at Top 40 with "My Last" featuring Chris Brown. And last but not least, we have one of the most buzz-worthy artists in the game right now with Frank Ocean's "Novacane" (from Odd Future). Definitely one to watch...
3) What's been the most significant change in the business since you've been in it?
I feel like it's what's yet to come ... we are on the verge of a new era with Cloud technology and Spotify.
4) What's been your most rewarding project to work?
Justin Bieber ... sounds obvious, with the success that he has had, but the process of getting Justin Bieber to where his is now has been very rewarding. From the viral aspect to the process of mobilizing an online fan base, to developing an artist who has one of the most-anticipated albums this year ... the lessons learned will carry me into the future with a whole new bag of tricks.
5) What's been the most frustrating?
6) What's the longest road trip you've ever been on?
I was recently on the road for 14 days straight ... I just kept extending my run to see more and more radio. There's something very motivating and inspiring that happens when you get out of the office and get into the marketplace that you are trying to affect. This is something we can't lose sight of as T&E budgets continue to evaporate.
7) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
I grew up in Los Angles, so it was always KROQ, KIIS-FM and Power 106. Rick Dees, Casey Kasem, Kevin and Bean and Big Boy will always have a place in my heart.
8) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
I'm an Alternative guy ... Strokes, Arcade Fire, Ryan Adams, etc. I tend to stay away from Pop music when I'm not working. I did once get called out by a car full of guys at a red light for blasting a new Bieber song we were going to be working ... super-awkward waiting for that light to change.
9) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
The fact that the landscape is ever-changing. I love finding new ways to adapt to new challenges. We are constantly challenged to stay ahead of the trends and new technologies that are made available to market our artists. We deal with art, and there is no science to how it connects with people. That makes for a really exciting industry and one that I want to be a part of.
10) What advice you would give people new to the business?
You meet the same people coming up as you do going down. Hold on to your mentors and don't let them go ... I've learned so much from those who came before me. I continue this quest every day and would be half the promotion man had I not had the tutelage of my mentors. Be kind and respectful to part-timers, interns, assistants, etc. They deserve the chance that you had to grow. They WILL move into positions of power and will not forget who treated them poorly. I for one never forgot...
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I knew what I did not want ... that was a 9a-5p desk job.