10 Questions with ... Tyler Laporte
January 6, 2014
1. Have you always been a big music fan? Who are some your early favorite bands/artists?
I was never a record store rat and didn't really go to concerts till I was a teenager. Dover was and still is a pretty sleepy town. We only had a Sam Goody in the mall, which was pretty far from my house. They just started doing the Firefly Festival last year, which has been cool to go back the hometown and experience now twice. But I always had the radio growing up and my dad was a music head.
So I remember listening to The Police, R.E.M., The Beatles, Aaron Copeland, Vivaldi, Wynton Marsalis, the Grateful Dead and much more. The radio around Dover was mostly commercial AC, Pop, Rock and Classic Rock and I listened every free moment I had. Weekly countdowns, listened to Kasey tell the saddest stories every Sunday, requested songs during my summer vacation. The radio was what woke me up and sent me to bed every day.
I just soaked up a lot until I learned about Y-100/Philadelphia and WHFS/Baltimore. Those stations helped form a more current base for me. In high school my friends and I were into Ben Folds Five, Jack Johnson, DMB and other typical white-boy suburb stuff. But when I got to college, met other people, did my own radio show and interned at WTMD, I realized I had a lot of catching up to do -- but I had a great foundation to build on.
2. How has the transition been from radio to the promotion side?
It's been interesting. I don't think programmers realize how tough this job is. The relationships that I built during my time as an MD have helped a bit and having a general knowledge of the format has helped, too. But it's a pretty clunky transition that is starting to smooth out. I'm still a noob.
I've had to unlearn some things and learn a lot on the fly. There is a big difference between this and doing a little show prep and jumping on the air for a few hours and then cranking out logs. I'll tell you it's a lot easier to be on the other side of the phone but being on this side can be very rewarding.
3. How has your perspective changed?
Well, going from understanding and worrying about what one station is doing to having to know what almost 200 are doing makes your head spin a little bit. Every station is different and has its own personality. I loved that aspect of Triple A when I was at radio, but it certainly makes things a little challenging on the promo side. I also remember getting things added as a programmer and getting really excited, but that feeling is so much bigger when you've been telling the story, sending the e-mails, and calling a PD/MD what seems like a 1,000 times.
4. Tell us a bit about co-sign.
co-sign is an artist development agency specializing in radio promotion, licensing, street marketing and brand strategy. The company works with artists, record labels, and brands to execute campaigns focused on commercial music releases, tour dates and music driven marketing initiatives.
When the company opened its doors, they were focusing on specialty radio campaigns but, over the past four years, the business has organically expanded into all terrestrial, Internet and satellite radio formats along with licensing. The Triple A format is the latest department developing here, and it's been really exciting to be a part of it. Before I started with the team the company had already solidified a lot of relationships with great stations, so its been really fantastic to continue building with those folks and continue connecting the dots along the way.
5. Where do you get your greatest pleasure in doing record promotion?
Getting an add! It feels amazing. My first add was from Eric Gottlieb at Music Choice on Paul McCartney's "New" during my first week on the job. I just so happened to be wearing a Beatles shirt that day, too, and they are my favorite band of all time so it felt great. Every add that I've had with Basia Bulat has felt like a triumph. She's so talented and having programmers recognize that is fantastic. It's also nice to hear that a track is reacting with listeners. That's one thing I miss about radio is having that direct connection with listeners -- when you play something on the air and they call right away to find out who it was. It is so nice to hear those stories when on a call.
6. What kind of tactics do you use to effectively to compete with the majors?
This is a tough question because as far as I can tell, we don't really think about what we do in the context of competition with those guys. Don't get me wrong, we're completely aware of what we're up against as far as budgets, exposure, and manpower and all that. But, it's also a totally different ballgame for us.
We know that some of the artists we're working to the format may have a very specific audience, or may not have a history at radio, so we look at each campaign uniquely. We're calling MDs and PDs just like everyone else is, but we're also reaching out to of specialty show DJs at these stations, and MD assistants, and people who throw great events in our target markets. We are also always working closely with our artists' publicists and the good people who work retail for them so we're all on the same page, and can continue to create memorable impressions and experiences for potential fans all over.
We embrace social media and encourage our artists to do the same, and help give them a roadmap to do so if they don't have a strategy already, but as far as the basics go the company takes a really old school approach to working a record: We make loads of phone calls, we're always trying to get folks out to shows, and sending e-mails and info out with great information to our programmers.
Outside of all that, we are persistent. Everyone at the company is truly personally invested in what we do here, and passionate about our clients, so don't be surprised if you have 20 voicemails from me about Basia Bulat, or Diego Garcia, or Los Campesinos! by the end of the year.
7. What is the toughest part of your job?
Getting through to programmers. I'm the new guy. Another call you don't want to take. I get it. I remember being the busy/frustrated/gruff dude on the other side of the phone who didn't trust the new promo person or records they were working. So I'm getting a bit of a karmic kick in the ass here and there but it seems to be coming around. Cold calling is a bitch, too.
8. Who do you see as the next breakthrough artist you are working with?
I really think Basia Bulat has a great chance to be a name that people will know and pronounce correctly. BAH-SHA BULL-aht. Say it with me now. Seriously though, she's got an amazing voice, plays so many cool instruments and has done some really excellent sessions for every station we've sent her to. I could see her playing at Non-Comm or in Boulder and really capturing the attention of the format.
9. How do you stay in touch with the latest music trends?
Friends, programmers, and now that I can look at everyone's playlists, I go through them and check out band names that I don't know and listen on Spotify. I also use industry websites and check into a few blogs I like. Stereogum and Noisey are my go-to sites. Pitchfork tends to be a last resort. I also check Jambase frequently.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...?
... the support of my girlfriend Kristin. She really encouraged me to move on from my last job at WTMD and try something new. I had no plans when I did decide to leave and she was very supportive of that. Then Jess Weber from co-sign reached out to me a few months later and here I am.
Last non-industry job:
Summer Intern at the Delaware Department of Transportation -- Public Relations Division
First record ever purchased"
It could have been Hootie & The Blowfish "Cracked Rear View" or Boyz II Men "II." I think I got them on the same trip to Sam Goody.
This is embarrassing but it was Creedence Clearwater Revisited/Beach Boys. It was so bad I claim that my second show ever was my first and that was Dave Matthews Band with Ben Harper and Ozomatli.
Favorite band of all-time:
I would say The Beatles since I go back to their records all the time, but as far as bands that are touring and making new music Phish is my go to band.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
I really love to cook. It's really fun for me to make things that would be really expensive at the store or out a restaurant, especially if I can make it better. So I make my own popcorn, chicken broth, tortillas and things like that. It may sound lame but that stuff really helps me relax and forget about work when I need to. I've got big plans for my garden as well and have been working on that a bunch.