10 Questions with ... Brian 'DJ Fly' Samson
June 12, 2007
POSITION:West Coast Director of Urban/Crossover PromotionsCOMPANY:Island Def Jam Music GroupBORN:Stockton, CA The "209" home of KWIN and PD BIG MIKERAISED:Stockton/San Francisco
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
-On air talent/mixshow DJ at University of the Pacific
-Started promotion company, M.C. Fly Productions, as a Club DJ/Club Promoter in STOCKTON/SACRAMENTO/SAN FRANCISCO
-First full-time on-air gig, hired by HARLEY DAVIDSON/PD
-Transferred to SAN FRANCISCO STATE, and started DJ'ing and doing Club Promotions
-Hosted radio show at KUSF-UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO
-Started doing club promotions and hosted SOUL CLAP, MR. FIVE and THE PIRATE DJ'S (DJ MIND MOTION, IVAN, MIKE BROWN & ROLO)
ALL CITY RECORDS-San Francisco
-First record promotion gig was for SWAY & KING TECH's indie label
DAN THE AUTOMATOR
-Second promotion gig was for local Bay Area producer DAN "THE AUTOMATOR" NAKAMURA
THE GAVIN REPORT
-Started as an intern under DAVE SHOLIN, LEE MICHAELS, BEN FONG TORRES, ZIMMERMAN BROTHERS and RON FELL
-Hired as full-time Rap Editor and Convention Coordinator, hired Rap Editorial staff: ROD EDWARDS, KELLY WOO, ERN LLAMADO, and IVAN RODRIGUEZ
-National Director of Rap/Mixshow Promotion
-Hired by ED ECKSTEIN and LISA CORTEZ
-Back then I worked an incredible promotion staff who are all-star promo execs today, with GARNETT MARCH/INTERSCOPE, MARTHE REYNOLDS/DEF JAM, TOMMY NAPPI/EPIC, FRANCO IEMMELLO/WARNER BROTHERS, TONY SMITH, DAVE MCPHERSON/SONY, and DANNY C./TVT
-National Director Mixshow/Rap Promotion
-Hired by ERNIE SINGLETON and A.D. WASHINGTON
-Worked long time friends TROY MARSHALL/INTERSCOPE and PAULA TUGGEY/CAPITOL
-Started Indpendent Mixshow/Street Promotions company with PAUL "BIG PAUL" TUIVAI
-Sr. National Director Crossover Promotions
-Hired by TOM BRACAMONTES and MARK BOYD
-Worked side by side with LIZ MONTALBANO, CARY VANCE, and MICHAEL PLEN
ARTIST DIRECT RECORDS
-National Director of Crossover Promotions
-Hired by MARC BENESCH and MIKE WHITED
-West Coast Crossover Promotions
-ISLAND DEF JAM RECORDS
-West Coast Director Urban/Crossover Promotions
-Hired by BENNY POUGH and STEVE BARTELS
1. What was your first job in the business?
-First official part-time job in the business was in STOCKTON, CA. During high school, I was an on-air jock at KUOP/UNIVERSITY OF THE PACIFIC. This launched both my career as on-air DJ, club/mixshow and club/concert promoter. Being on the radio and a club DJ in STOCKTON really helped my career on three levels: developing relationships, execution, and sales/promotion. So from high school to college I did radio at KUOP, and then I landed a job at Top40/Rhythm station KSJQ/Modesto with PD HARLEY DAVIDSON. I supported myself through college by DJing or promoting clubs/concerts in STOCKTON, SACRAMENTO and SAN FRANCISCO.
After I transferred to SAN FRANCISCO STATE, opportunities opened for me on the record and trade side. My first trade magazine gig was THE GAVIN REPORT, Rap Editor. And my first label promo job was for SWAY & KING TECH's label ALL CITY RECORDS, they had a big single in the Bay Area called "Follow for Now."
2. What is ISLAND DEF JAM doing differently from other major label groups at the promotion level?
We work together collectively as a team with all of the Urban, Pop and Rhythm departments. Whoever has the relationship, gets the job done. Our senior executive promo staff, BENNY POUGH, GREG THOMPSON, and RICK SACKHEIM have created a very rare, healthy and productive work environment for our staff. All of our counterparts communicate, share creative ideas, and constantly support each at radio events, artist tours and strategic planning. I've worked at several different labels over my career, and I've never felt the type of passion, motivation and challenge that STEVE BARTELS has instilled. It's a rare opportunity to experience. I respect that fact that I can call on any of my counterparts from various departments, and everyone takes the time to listen and be supportive.
3. What's the biggest way that your job of record promotion has changed over the last 3 years?
The internet. As digital distribution/promotion and on-line internet communities have become a vital part of our lifestyle, the landscape of radio and records has also changed accordingly. Consumers/listeners are now empowered with the decision to listen, participate or purchase at their convenience, as the internet has now been embraced as the substitute vehicle for radio/television.
Music can be delivered faster than ever across the world, and radio has used to the internet intelligence to attract and garner listeners. Developing artist at radio can be from two weeks to a year. It's become a microwave process, where we're forcing radio to rotate our priorities at rapid pace. In turn, radio wants it now. Radio expects records to react and research immediately, so after 50-100x spins, our records have to be top fifteen requests or call-out. You've got to use information, and give radio a compelling sell. The positive change that the internet has created, is an even playing field for new music and the unsigned/independent artist to reach consumers and radio.
4. Which Rhy-Crossover PD or MD have you been working with the longest?
JAZZY JIM ARCHER at KYLD. I've know JIM since 1986. I used to hire JAZZY and his family for sound and lighting at my concerts at the STOCKTON CIVIC AUDITORIUM. I have the highest respect for him, because I've seen his humble beginnings where he hustled as mobile DJ, to being an icon of Bay Area music culture, and one the most respected radio executives. Back in the 80's, JIM and I also used to host DJ Battles and Breakdance contests where JAZZY and his SKYWAY SOUNDS crew smashed all the other Bay Area crews. I still have one of JAZZY JIM's original cassette mixtapes from the 80's, he was the early creator of the mash-up mixes.
5. What's the first job related thing you do in the morning?
Wake up to the alarm with BIG BOY and POWER106, read BDS and RICH WESTOVER/DEF JAM's airplay reports. Oh yeah, and bug the shit outta STACEY CUNNINGHAM at KMEL. Not much of an exciting life, right?
6. If you pick one market to make a 2 day promo run to...which would it be?
SAN DIEGO, dinner at ROY'S HAWAIIAN with RICK THOMAS/Z90 and ROBZILLA/Z90 the first night, then hit TIJUANA on a Friday night with TRE/Z90, D-ROCK/Z90 and 2RILLE/Z90, the best promo run on the West Coast, lol.
7. Who do you consider to be your mentor(s)?
A.D. WASHINGTON (MCA), BENNY POUGH (DEF JAM), MARC BENESCH (ARTIST DIRECT), MARIA SAMSON (mom), RICK SACKHEIM (DEF JAM), TROY MARSHALL (INTERSCOPE), and TOM BRACAMONTES (VIRGIN).
8. After a long day in the office what do you do to relax?
Hang out on the roof top at THE ISLAND DEF JAM L.A. office, with my West Coast promo crew: JUDD GUEVARA, JERICHO ADAMS, MIKE CHESTER, NOAH SHEER, and VERONICA AMARANTE...on a clear day, the view is incredible, lol...
9. What new artist(s) will radio still be playing in 5 years?
NE-YO...he's the like EARTH, WIND & FIRE meets the ISLEY BROTHERS...music to party and make love to! CORINNE BAILEY RAE, CHRISETTE MICHELE
10. What's on the way from Island Def Jam?
New KANYE WEST, DREAM (he wrote "Umbrella"), JASON FOX "Aunt Jackie," JOHNTA AUSTIN (from the SOSODEF family), and CHRISETTE MICHELE (she's the John Legend meets Lauren Hill of R&B Music)
BOnus. Which programmer that you work with, could you clearly see having a successful career...in record promotion?
That's a great question, cause in record promotion you gotta have skills to listen, sell with honesty, create relationships, live the passion and lifestyle of the music, and follow through. So I nominate the following PD's as record promotion reps: EBRO/HOT97 (a true b-boy who lives the lifestyle), JAZZY JIM/KYLD (music is his business and passion), BIG BEAR/KCAQ (knows music, and would you say "no" to him), and BYRON KENNEDY/KSFM (he will throw down and fight for you at AVALON, I mean that literally)
Bonus. Your platoon is about to storm the enemy's headquarters. You are outmanned 4 to 1. Pick two non-ISLAND DEF JAM executives in the record industry that you want in your platoon fighting with you.
GARY MARELLA/UNIVERSAL and WARREN GESIN/ATLANTIC, we all came from the same MARC BENESCH (God bless him) school of promotions. If you graduate from the BENESCH BOOTCAMP you can survive anything that challenges you in life.