WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES
M I K E E A S T E R L I N
FUELED BY RAMEN + ROADRUNNER RECORDS
NEW YORK CITY
Photograph by Isaac Rosenthal
I. The biggest challenge facing the music industry is the transition from downloads and album purchases to streaming. We all need to do a better job of promoting streaming to fans. It is crucial that more people pay for music. There is so much amazing music being made, and what record companies offer from a marketing standpoint to a band can’t be matched. Ultimately, we need to fight for the value of music to be properly recognized.
II. The wisdom of the people I work for has never been more important to me than it is right now. I transitioned from a radio promotion job to the general manager of two labels three years ago. At that time, I had a primary focus: airplay. I now am responsible for all aspects of an artist’s career, from the rollout of a project to the deal with the artist in legal terms. It was a world I had little experience in prior to taking on the job. My bosses Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman have been instrumental in walking me through each part of this process, but have also allowed me to take risks and learn on my own. I am beyond fortunate to have bosses that are always happy to share their wisdom.
III. One thing that I try to always tell an artist is that we never treat any two artists the same way. The rollout of an album should be unique, and the ideas that we put out should never feel like we took the easy way. One campaign from the last few years that stands out to me was the last Panic! At The Disco album launch. Brendon Urie, the lead singer of Panic, actually came in and sat down with each department to share his overall vision. The campaign was all focused around the Hunter S Thompson book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. We even purchased a car from the film with Johnny Depp, a 1972 Cutlass Supreme convertible, which we used in videos, the photo shoot, and eventually gave away as part of a national radio campaign. The record jumped up almost 200,000 from their previous release.
IV. I think anytime a record doesn’t come home it’s a disappointment. Sometimes it just doesn’t connect. You try to look back and reflect, but much like a sports team, you can’t spend a lot of time looking back because other artists are depending on you. The fact is, not all things are hits.
V. The music business is cyclical. Every few years we go through a transition. The next couple of years might be challenging, but I have never been more optimistic about the world of music. Touring is up, merch sales are hotter than ever, and music is being consumed in massive ways. In times like these, we are pushed to be more creative.
VI. We need to talk more about managing people.
VII. I am for our artists.