10 Questions with ... Bob Laul
July 22, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Out of college: asst. engineer for Ken Scott doing movie soundtrack syncs.
Past: NYC sales rep to retail for A&M-Arista-Motown ('77-'79); I.R.S Records SVP Sales & Marketing-- also A&R ('79-'82); Represented 2X Grammy Producer Martin Rushent ('82-'83).
Current: Serious Bob Promotion ('82-now) 31 years! Also owned, funded and ran the Brilliant Recording Company from 1996 to 2001. Managed recording artist Astrid Williamson from 2007 to 2011.
1. What got you interested in the record business?
Always loved music, I don't ever remember not listening. My family was always playing Broadway & movie soundtracks, Sinatra etc on the stereo growing up. I saw the Dave Clark Five at their movie premier "Having A Wild Weekend" and hustled my way onto their tour bus after the movie (I was 12 or 13) and met the band and that was it, I was sold. I was already playing guitar since age of 12 or so. I had played in a lot of NYC bands in clubs and didn't want a mundane, pedantic 9-5 job, so I changed my curriculum to more music and art classes when I was in high school and then in college.
2. What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
WNEW when it was free-form in the mid-'60's, loved Rosko & Zacherly, their late-night shows were great!
3. You have had your company for many years, how have things changed over the decades?
Wow, no short answer to that one. Everything and nothing. Technology -- the major change is the way we communicate with the people we work with. Our business is information-based that has a short shelf life. We have e-mail, text messages, Facebook messages, cell phones and, oh yeah, old-school landline phones. Sometimes it takes all of these 'devices' to contact one station to get a reply. We now can get music immediately and send it to radio and clients via e-mails and you-send-it files.
Musicians have home-based studios which in some cases are more sophisticated than proper working studios. Musicians 25-30 years ago couldn't produce "vanity" projects -- you had to be signed to a major like A&M, Atlantic, Warners, etc. in order to have your album released to the public. Musicians now have fully equipped home-based studios that are just as sophisticated as the pro studios. Demise of the majors, rise of the indies.
4. Biggest change that you'd like to see in the business?
I like to see musicians get paid for what they do. The public at-large takes music for granted. We turn on the radio or TV and there it is for our enjoyment. No one thinks for a single moment that some poor group of musicians worked their asses off to create it. The Pandora issue is a perfect example; they pay the musicians based on an archaic scale, so they make millions and the musicians get zip. Everybody, including all of us fortunate enough to be in this industry, radio and records alike, should be buying our music. I even buy the music for the projects I'm hired for.
5. Where do you get your greatest pleasure in doing record promotion?
This is the best part. I promote a lot of major label bands and unknowns on small labels, with small budgets. The unknowns don't have the luxury of hiring several promo folks to promote their album. So you know you've helped someone like James Maddock, Nick Waterhouse or Danielia Cotton when they get some decent airplay and they finally sell some music. They even start to sell out some decent venues where they are getting the airplay. James Maddock and WFUV is a perfect example. That's very heartwarming to see.
6. What is the toughest part of your job?
Convincing radio that they're missing a great song by not playing it. Music is art and art is subjective. The idea is to try and convince through facts and comparisons without insulting someone.
7. What would surprise people most about you?
I'm not SO serious as the name implies but I am an animal activist and toy collector.
8. What is your best advice for up-and-coming promotion reps?
Be consistent, honest, tell the REAL story about the project your promoting, don't whine or complain, don't cop an attitude and don't call if you are in a bad mood. Ask me how I know this.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...
... seeing my beautiful wife, great son, hang with the cats and get turned on to some cool new sounds.
10. If you were to leave the record business today and you could choose any other occupation, what would it be?
Several actually. Continue to work with animals and open a small collector toy store called MARS OR BUST -- vintage space toys only
Last non industry job:
Never, always employed in the industry
First record ever purchased:
Elvis Presley "Jail House Rock" 45
Cream, Electric Flag & Terry Reid @ Madison Square Garden
Favorite band of all time:
Txo-way tie, The Yardbirds & Spooky Tooth
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Hanging out in my beach house on Fire Island.