From One Fan to Another

My approach for marketing music is coming from a fan’s angle because I started off as a fan. This approach allows me to capture the attention of other fans and give a genuine voice to the attentive audience.

As far as I can remember my passion for music dates back to the release of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album when I was 4 years old. That Christmas my grandfather gave me a handheld cassette recorder. In the recorder was a tape that had Ziggy Stardust on one side and the audio from the Rankin & Bass Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer tv special on the other side. My grandfather set the tape deck next to the tv and stereo speakers to record the included cassette. Despite the numerous copyright laws my grandfather broke, he created a vivid memory for me that has lasted more than 40 years.

For the next 6 years my musical tastes would change from Bowie to Barry Manilow to the disco version of the Bee-Gees then taking a serious left turn into Jimi Hendrix. In hindsight that path doesn’t seem as radical as it used to and there’s almost a natural progression to that path. At age 10, my musical world would be turned upside down and never recover from the discovery of a progressive English rock band called Genesis.

Although I don’t really remember using the term “Progressive Rock” at the time. My friends and I called it Art Rock or Classical Rock (this was definitely before there was such as thing as Classic Rock and hearing Aerosmith in an elevator). Regardless of what we called their style of music, Genesis had arrived and my preference of music would remain the same some 30+ years later.

Shortly after moving from New Jersey to California, at a most awkward age of 13, I was wearing a Pink Floyd concert shirt (still do to this day, not the same shirt mind you) when this kid with long hair named “Hatley” (there were at least 3 Dougs in our class so they all went by their last name) thrust his notebook in my face that had a Floyd sticker on it. Needless to say two long haired (although mine was a giant afro) introverts into Art Rock bands hit it off quite well and we retreated from the world for the next 5 years to discuss prog rock, music theory (or lack of), light organs and levels of organization.

After graduating from high school, we parted ways for many years and I went onto the local community college and got a job at Tower Video (it was in Tower Records but a separate store and a whole other story). When a supervisor job presented itself, I dropped out of college to fulfill my high school ambitions of running a record store or being a roadie. Looks like the record store won that round and I quickly worked my way up the ladder to become the youngest manager that Tower ever hired.

Once I was solidly embedded into Tower, I got to know all the label reps and was persistent in getting to market my favorite bands. Going to concerts wasn’t enough, I wanted to go backstage and meet my heroes and then take it one step further and market whatever they had to offer. Like brokering a deal between Tower and Phil Collins to sell the video that was only available at his concerts with all profits going to help the homeless. Or convincing Tony Levin, while meeting him backstage at a King Crimson concert, to let me consign his first solo album in all of the Bay Area Tower stores.

In 1994, while hanging around the backstage area at a Phil Collins concert, I met a singer named Arnold McCuller who was about to release a solo album. That chance meeting has lead to a long term relationship of lending Arnold a hand whether it be as road manager for one off solo shows to designing his Witness album cover to currently directing his social media and most importantly being a friend when needed.

Eventually I left Tower Records to work sales/marketing at Sony Music for 9 years. My time at Sony Music was filled with promoting and marketing bands in an age when records store still roamed the earth. I even spent several of those years running the graphic design department of the NorthWest branch and twice was awarded the national Marketing Rep of the Year award. As record stores became extinct, I decided it was time to move on and look elsewhere to make a living.

Shortly after meeting Arnold, I was fortunate enough to meet a very kind hearted man through Tony Levin, that being Jerry Marotta. For the next 20+ years our paths would cross from time to time and Jerry always treated me kindly, even after I was long gone from the music industry. Earlier this year, I received a call from Jerry asking me to help him out with social media marketing. Despite my willingness to help a friend, he insisted that it be a paid job. And the next thing I know here I am back in this business of music, with a roster of new clients and a passion to promote I thought was lost.

There’s a lot of details I left out in between, like getting married and raising two beautiful daughters (it’s a good thing they got their mother’s looks) or reconnecting with “Hatley” to create videos for The Fragile Fate. But my purpose of this piece was to get rid of the stock blog text when setting up this site and a rambling introduction of myself that hopefully paints a little picture of my love for music.

Promoting Arnold McCuller’s Exception to the Rule album (1994)

Trunk trading with the Tony Levin Band and the first time I met Jerry Marotta. Jesse Gress, Tony, me, Jerry (1995)

On The Fixx’s tour bus with Rupert Greenall and my beautiful family (2017)