10 Questions with ... Jason Prinzo
April 29, 2008
NAME:Jason PrinzoPOSITION:VP/Top 40 PromotionLABEL:Warner Bros./Reprise Records
Please outline your radio career so far:
1997-2003: Lenny Lyons/Tri-State Promotions
2003-2007: Capitol Records
2007-present: VP/Top 40, Warner Bros./Reprise Records
1) What led you to a career in "reckidz," as they say in New York?
Probably the same thing that led everyone in industry to the business: a deep passion for music. Music was always my babysitter when I was a kid. Whether I passed the time listening to the radio as a five-year-old, or would run off the bus after school to catch Donnie Simpson on Video Soul, music has always been an integral part of my day.
2) What's been the most significant change in the business since you've been in it?
I'd definitely have to say the advancement of new media and marketing. Getting a song on the radio is now only the beginning of the process. With the increased importance of station websites and new media, we're constantly coming up with new ideas to surround airplay. We're no longer "promotion" people as much as we're "marketing" people. One of the best parts of the job here at Warner Bros/Reprise is having the opportunity to sit down at the inception of every record to brainstorm and come up with creative ideas to market our records -- and help increase awareness impacting not only airplay, but ultimately sales in the marketplace.
3) What is your favorite part of the job?
I'd definitely say having the opportunity to work with some amazing people. I'm fortunate to be surrounded by some of the industry's most passionate and well-respected executives; I take every opportunity I can to learn as much as possible from them. Tom Whalley has a very distinct vision for our future as a company, and to be a part of that process is priceless. The ability to work so closely with people such as Tom Biery, Ron Cerrito and Mike Rittberg is an amazing opportunity. I try to take in as much as I can from each of them on a daily basis.
4) What's been your most rewarding project to work?
The two projects we're currently working are, without a doubt, the most rewarding and the most exciting. On the Reprise side we couldn't be more passionate about the Spill Canvas record, "All Over You," and have no doubt that in the end, after a lot of hard work, this record will be a big hit. Also, to be lucky enough to work a Madonna project is undoubtedly a high point in my career. Madonna definitely brought us a phenomenal record and we've had a very specific plan as a company to properly launch not only the single, but all things "Madonna" leading into street date of the "Hard Candy" album.
5) What new ways are you coming up with to build stories on songs and artists?
This could also fall under "how has the business changed;" we now have so much information at our disposal, whether it be traditional research, sales numbers, BigChampagne, ringtone sales, YouTube views, etc., that you can properly build a compelling story, with most of those examples being new to our industry over the past six to seven years. We have the added luxury at Warner Bros/Reprise of having an in-house merch company that handles merch sales for most of our acts, as well as a New Media Dept. handling artist websites and fan clubs.
As far as information goes, it allows us to get specific as to what markets online merch sales are coming from, how much they're spending, what they're buying, etc. It's extremely valuable information to tell radio that not only are there "x" amount of active Spill Canvas fans in your market, but how much they're spending on average, what they're purchasing, etc. It also allows us to gain information from an active consumer and reach back out to them when new products hit the marketplace.
6) What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
Probably not one particular artist as much as an entire genre. I'm a '60s and '70s soul music geek. I have a huge collection of music from artists such as Donny Hathaway, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding, Edwin Starr, Marvin Gaye, etc.
7) What was your favorite radio station to listen to when you were a kid?
103.5 WBLZ in Cincinnati. At the time it was the only Urban station in town. and it was all I listened to. I think they played Gap Band "You Dropped A Bomb On Me" ever 30 minutes. I listened to the countdown every night like it was my job, and I always knew I'd hear artists like Midnight Star, who were from Cincinnati, or Roger and Zap from Dayton, OH, or The Deele, who were from nearby Indianapolis.
8) Do you have a favorite hobby?
I try to stay pretty physically active; my favorite hobby that I picked back up is boxing. I train a few times a week, spar with some of the guys in the gym on a pretty regular basis. Believe me, there are plenty of days when you leave the office and need that stress relief.
9) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
Not only can I not imagine myself in any other industry, but I continue to work hard so I don't have to go back to what I was doing before I got into music -- reading meters for the gas company. I held a series of blue-collar jobs after high school, and after spending five years begging my brother, Lenny Lyons, for a job, he finally got tired of me calling and gave in. Even on the bad days I go home at night knowing how lucky I am to have a job in an industry that seemed like a dream world when I was a kid.
10) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Find a mentor. You don't know anything and it's imperative to find and listen to somebody who does. I was lucky to work along side Ross Grierson for many years and I learned how to be a promotion person from him. When he wasn't making me get his lunch or watch some video he pulled up off the Internet, the man was and is a wealth of knowledge. Lenny Lyons showed me how to be a businessman; Ross Grierson taught me how to be a record executive.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Successful. I'm still working on it.