10 Questions with ... Kevin Carroll
June 3, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started in radio at WVUD/Dayton with additional stops at KFIG/Fresno and WYDD/Pittsburgh. From there, I moved to records with regional stints in the Midwest with Warner Bros., Capitol and MCA, advancing to the executive level with Chrysalis, and then heading the promotion efforts of Atco/East West, Relativity, Blue Note and founding the EMI Collective.
1. What got you interested in the music business?
I started playing guitar when I was 10 years old and formed bands with the kids who were bit by the British Invasion. That morphed into the folk and Country Rock genres that developed shortly after. I continued playing to support my radio habit in the early '70s until I had the great fortune of getting hired to work for the great Russ Thyret at Warner Bros.
2. What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
Two actually. WSAI/Cincinnati and then when FM started, WEBN/Cincinnati
3. Tell us about the Creative Allies division of Music Allies.
Creative Allies is an amazing platform that creates hundreds of original illustrations and designs for bands. We have over 45,000 designers and hundreds of thousands of fans who are members. By creating visual content, we are able to create conversations for bands across social networks. The success of the platform is incredible. We have contests that have generated over five million impressions.
4. Do you see the Music Allies model as the future, especially for independent artists?
Our model is unlike any other. At Music Allies, we are bullish on the influence of music festivals and their impact on fans and developing careers. We work tirelessly to create new festival brands, and through our events we can help bands reach massive audiences.
When it comes to independent artists, our radio marketing division is really an artist development agency. We develop long-term careers. That's been Sean O'Connell's life work -- and Zac Altheimer and the team see that through everyday. Amazingly, after all these years, our focus for marketing music is still radio because it gets the most results.
5. Things are changing rapidly in our business. Were it up to you, what would you change in our "system" to give bands a better shot?
I still believe that the "system" still gives any band in any format a great shot if they have one thing: a hit. It's hard to stop a hit. The problem is finding out if you have one. When an artist writes a song, the record company records it, the marketing team plugs it into a myriad of campaigns and the promo staff oils it up, it's a hit ... until it's not. Finding that out is the challenge it has always been. The criteria is ever-changing, but when it's a hit, it wins all battles.
6. What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
There are two I think: creativity and localization.
Creativity. Too many programmers have been sent to the penalty box for trying things that are fresh and unique. If it hasn't been researched, it must be a bad idea. When the most creative person in the station's pod is the Imaging Director, the station sounds as processed as an old Optomod. Fresh ideas must be cultivated, not discouraged.
Localization. It's getting harder to hear music stations that represent their geography. One, among the many things that WXRT/Chicago does so effectively, is that they sound like Chicago. When you hear them online anywhere in the world, you hear Chicago. In many cases now, you hear the same station market to market, even with the same personalities. A few years ago, I was driving through the Midwest and was listening to a pop station. When I lost the signal leaving town, I picked up the same song, in the same place from the sister station in the market ahead. The markets were 100 miles apart. That may be good revenue, but it is very shitty radio.
7. What is the toughest part of your job?
8. What would surprise people most about you?
I'm a NY Times crossword puzzle junkie
9. If you were to leave the record business today and you could choose any other occupation, what would it be?
Work with Michael Bloomberg to get intelligent gun legislation for the safety of the American citizenry. That, or the full-time job of fact-checking Senator Ted Cruz...
10. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Last non-industry job:
Pepsi Cola Special Events delivery
First record ever purchased:
Nat "King" Cole "Ramblin' Rose"
Beatles, Crosley Field Cincinnati, OH
Favorite band of all-time: