10 Questions with ... Enrique Ongpin
September 24, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Landmark Theatre Corporation: Film Buying Assistant. Lucasfilm THX/Theatre Alignment Program: Technical Coordinator / Marketing Coordinator. INDI/California Record Distributors: Local Rep. Jive Records: Local Rep. Interscope Records: Local Rep, Crossover / West Coast Regional, Crossover. Virgin Records: Top 40 / Crossover National. Interscope Geffen A&M: West Coast Regional, Crossover Radio
1. What was your first music business gig?
My first gig in music was 21 years ago, working for the now-defunct California Record Distributors, Inc. [CRDI], which later became Independent National Distributors, Inc. [INDI]. They were a national network of music distributors that specialized in independent labels who wanted a national distribution and promotion reach. Based out of San Fernando, CA, I provided radio promotion services for independent pop, rock, hip-hop, dance and NAC labels, as well as the independent arms of a couple of majors: Island Independent Sales (ILS), BMG Independent Group (BIG). Some of artists I remember working back then were: Rodney O & Joe Cooley, Tag Team, Prince, Tricky, 95 South. Because of the vast number of records we worked, CRDI rep Chuck Rush and I were the only non-label reps to have standing meetings at local L.A. radio, as well as solid relationships with the stations in our market. Since we were a physical distributor, my boss Ted Higashioka insisted that we go on a few sales calls with sales reps to people like Violet Brown at the Wherehouse, and regularly visit the local one-stops, mom-and-pop record shops and swap meets in south L.A. thru Long Beach. I would even need to work the warehouse floor once a quarter, stocking product and filling orders. It was a really great learning experience; and provided a great foundation for working on the record side of the industry.
2. When you were a kid, say 10 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always knew I'd be working in either entertainment or advertising, mostly because I was a huge pop culture geek. It's funny, what I do now-talk passionately about music-is something I did always as a kid. So, the things more change, the more they stay the same... I guess I was destined for doing this exact job.
3. There's an increased Pop element in Rhythm radio today. How has that affected the way you do your job?
It hasn't really affected the way I do my job. I think in order to get results, you have to understand the culture/brand/lifestyle of each station. Those elements dictate which records are a natural fit, and which are work records.
4. Home base for you is Los Angeles. Personally, not professionally, what are some of your favorite markets in your territory?
Definitely the San Francisco Bay Area since that's where I was raised and went to school. A close second would be the Pacific Northwest.
5. Budgets have changed but do you think you have more or less tools in doing promotion?
In addition to research, sales and all the standard tools, understanding what engages the consumer via social media and the music blogs is certainly an important factor. You have sort through a lot of 'static', but you can find some nice kernels and some valid stats that can help your pitch.
6. If your boss, Nino Cuccinello, was a high school teacher of college professor, what do you think he'd be teaching?
I'm going to say guidance counselor and soccer coach. He's a great strategist.
7. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Discovering new music that gets me excited: live shows, festivals, dance clubs/parties (A Club Called Rhonda, Music For Dancers, Honey Soundsystem, Horse Meat Disco), music blogs, eMusic and apps like SoundHound, SoundCloud, Indie Shuffle. Seriously. I'm still that 10 year old music geek.
8. You're busy as hell but what is your 'can't miss an episode' TV show?
I'm usually on Netflix, watching BBC crime dramas from the UK and their original programming. When I'm playing on the iPad, I also half-watch some of the teen-targeted CW shows; their scripted programs have really great music cues that are usually on-trend or just ahead of the curve.
9. Where's your favorite vacation getaway spot?
Buenos Aires, Barcelona and Boracay Island.
10. If you didn't work in the music business, what artist's live show would be at the top of your 'must see' list?
Tough question. I get to see just about every artist perform live that I want to see. Rather than answer that, I'll tell you which artists I'm seeing on my own dime over the next few weeks: Pet Shop Boys at the Shrine (fifth row center with M&G-again, music geek), and Holy Ghost! at the Fonda Theatre.