10 Questions with ... Paul Langton
August 4, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Polygram Distribution -- marketing
- Polygram Label Group -- regional promo
- Island Records -- Alternative National Promo
- Palm Pictures -- Head of Promo
- Rounder Records -- Vice President of Promo
- Ravel Rouser/Music Allies -- Independent Promo
1. What got you interested in the record business?
Music has always been a powerful aphrodisiac for me. I recall spending endless hours listening to American Top 40 as a kid. Especially the Labor Day Weekend and the Year End special. My older brother was always turning me on to music. I still remember him handing me Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True and telling me that this was going to change my taste in music. He was right! I also wore out my copy of The Jam's Sound Affects.
2. What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
I was fortunate to grow up listening to WBRU/Providence and in the '80s they were a free-form radio station. We would hear Frank Zappa, The Clash and Big Country all in the same half-hour.
3. In addition to hanging out your own shingle, tell us about your relationship with Music Allies.
I alerted Sean that I was leaving Rounder and he generously offered me the opportunity to work with him and his clients which made the transition into independent promotion much smoother.
4. What was the first record you worked to radio and what has been the biggest change since you first began doing radio promotion?
In 1992, I was promoted from Polygram Distribution to be the New England Rep for Polygram Label Group. There were so many records that came through the pipeline. PM Dawn "Set Adrift On A Memory Bliss" comes to mind as one of those records that crossed all radio formats. I caught the tail end of the "old days" where BDS and Soundscan did not exist. It was all about getting radio to report a light, medium or heavy. When the spin counts came into play, it changed a great deal as to how a new artist would develop. There is something to be said about "Smoke and Mirror" promotion. After all, music is like magic and no matter how much we apply science to it, the listeners react no different than ourselves. If we dig it, we dig it!
5. Where do you get your greatest pleasure in doing record promotion?
There have been many stops along the way that were very satisfying. I really enjoyed working at Island in the '90s and promoting bands like Local H. It was thrilling to be a part of a song like "Bound For The Floor." I feel like the word "copacetic" was brought back into our lexicon because of that song. Being a part of Zero Seven's "Destiny" at Palm Pictures was pretty magical and working with Alison Krauss/Robert Plant's "Raising Sand" at Rounder was something else!
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?
The Triple A format is by far the most generous area in exposing new music. Like a lot of my comrades, it offers more opportunity on the airwaves to expose new songs. Of course, I want records to stay on the airwaves longer, too, but it's a format that opens the door to bigger and better things which means that songs are going to come and go at a fast clip.
7. What do you view as the most important issue facing Triple A radio today?
To continue to develop and hold on to artists that they break. I understand the philosophy of letting go of records that break out and cross to other formats, but it's important to hang on to them and be a part of their future releases.
8. What new bands are you most excited about?
I really dig the artist Crash; he sings in Edward Sharpe's Magnetic Zeros. His debut album Hardly Criminal is a fantastic collection of songs. The new album by the Bahamas is incredible and that they have delivered a great single that is going to be a classic for the format. I am also crazy about Reignwolf. I've seen them twice in the past year and they bring a fresh and exciting approach to rock n roll. It's hard to go see another act after they blow the roof off of the place! When are they going to release an album?!
9. What has been your biggest career highlight?
That after 25 years I am still able to remain in a business that I absolutely love to be a part of. Man, the time flies but I still never lose that sense of excitement that I get when I hear a song and want to share it with others.
10. What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
It's a relationship business and relationships take time to develop. Go out there, travel the country and see radio folks in their markets and when you are not doing that, stream their stations and make sure you know what they are up too before you promote them on a record.
Last non-industry job:
I did radio sales at WBRU/Providence.
First record ever purchased:
Ringo Star "The No No Song"
Billy Joel Glass Houses tour
Favorite band of all-time:
The Velvet Underground
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Spending time with my family, playing guitar, enjoying the outdoors and searching for the perfect wave.