10 Questions with ... Krystal Robbins
July 18, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started out in publicity working for an independent publicist, then Geffen (as freelance publicist ... more like a glorified paid intern there), moved to promotion as an assistant/coordinator in the Alternative Radio Dept. at Atlantic Records (West Coast office), then got my longtime dream job of working at Epitaph. I have been there just over 10 years now!
1. What got you interested in the record business?
My obsession with music and going to see live shows, and also knowing I wouldn't be happy in the typical "office" type job. I actually worked in the management trainee program at Enterprise Rental Cars right after college and my boss told me I needed to get my priorities straight when I kept missing the company after-work functions because I was going to shows!
2. What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
Once I was in Texas it was KRBE when it was Rock; when it flipped to Top 40, I switched to 101 KLOL and 97Rock. Then it was The Edge in Dallas in the late '80s and early '90s.
3. Anti Records has grown tremendously since its inception and you have been there for all of it. Give us your perspective on that.
When I first started at Epitaph/Anti I was much more of an "Epitaph" girl, so to speak -- I mean I wanted to work there because I LOVED punk rock and especially the punk rock on Epitaph. They had started Anti, but it was really only Tom Waits and a few others at that time, so things have really grown since then and I have grown with it.
It's actually been a perfect transition for me; as I got older my tastes changed and so did the sound of "punk rock," so I was able to really gravitate to and mature with the eclectic stuff that Anti had to offer. It also helped me expand my musical horizon immensely and I've been really lucky to mature musically with the best stuff around. I love that Anti has such a diverse roster with such iconic artists and now we have really started to break new artists that I think will be the icons of the future.
4. Who do you see as the next breakthrough artist for the label?
Lost In The Trees and Sean Rowe are both amazing emerging bands/artists on the label that I see as really original and incredible artists.
5. How does your label increase exposure of your artists outside of traditional radio promotion?
The company has always been into grassroots marketing and has been able to adjust to what "grassroots" means as new media has become a larger component of that now. As you can imagine, most of our marketing is done outside of the radio world as much of our stuff isn't so "radio friendly." That being said, many of our artists benefit greatly from radio and especially in the Noncomm /NPR radio world.
6. Things are changing rapidly in our business. Were it up to you, what would you change in our "system" to give your bands a better shot?
If stations would just take more chances instead of just waiting to see what a hit is ... why not give the artist/song a chance and help make it a hit! That's what the format was known for and now in the day of PPM so many (but not all) stations are scared to play a new artist in fear that the listener isn't smart enough to know or decide if something is good. How are we ever going to break new artists with that mindset?
7. Every promotion person has a record close to their heart that for one reason or another never broke through -- "The One That Got Away." What is your "One That Got Away," and what did you learn from that record?
I have had many of those! One in particular was the band Youth Group: the song was so catchy and the entire record was full of songs like that but it just didn't do anything. I guess mainly because no one had heard of them and being an Australian band, it was hard to keep them over here touring on the budget we had. Had we been able to keep them on the road in the U.S. it would have made a difference over time.
8. What is the toughest part of your job?
Trying to get radio to take a chance on an artist that might not fit the "radio mold," that, and the hours I spend in meetings when I could be on the phone to radio, can make things tough.
9. What would surprise people most about you?
My love of Henry Mancini and the other music and movies of that era and sound.
10. Where do you get your greatest pleasure in doing record promotion?
I love that feeling you get when you are at a show and the entire crowd is singing along to the song you helped get on the radio. I also love the interaction between myself and all the great people I get to spend time with and talk to about music on a daily basis!
What has been your biggest career highlight?
There have been many but the fact that I have been at Anti/Epitaph for over 10 years now has been an overall highlight for me, since I work in an industry that is ever-changing and live in a world where many don't have a job these days.
Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without __________.
... a hug from my son Porter, a kiss from my husband (when I'm on the road a conversation will suffice) and a cup of green tea in the morning.
Last non-industry job:
Waitress and swimming instructor
First record ever purchased:
I think it was a Shawn Cassidy 45 when I was about six.
ZZ Top (it's that Texas thing ;)
Favorite band of all-time:
Hmm, this is a hard one as this has changed over time. I would have to say The Clash and Johnny Cash are my two faves, if I have to pick.