Ian Harrison - Hopeless Records Publicist -...

Interviewed by
Ian Harrison - Hopeless Records Publicist -...Frank- Describe your job at Hopeless Records, and what's expected of you.
Ian- I handle Marketing and Publicity at Hopeless Records. I spend most of my time writing marketing plans, press releases, doing advertising artwork, and video/radio promotion. I work with Gerado and Melissa in the marketing department and together we put together the marketing efforts for Hopeless Records, Sub City Records, Downloadpunk.com, and the Take Action Tour

Frank- Obviously every band has a marketing budget to work with, how do you decide where to put this money to ensure the band gets the most visibility they can?
Ian- We try very hard tailor each marketing plan to each band. Some bands are more online driven, others might do better with TV and print promotion, some bands appeal to a wider audience and some to a smaller more select group of people. We always have meetings with the bands to decide what will work best. Amber pacific for example had a great online fan base so we spent a lot of energy promoting them online and building fans that way.

Frank- What is a marketing plan and what goes into one? What does it look like and what does it consist of?
Ian- A marketing plan is a simple document that outlines your goals and ideas for marketing a band. We detail our plans in publicity, print, TV, new media, contests and set dates and costs for each item. Once we are happy with the plan we make sure all the stuff we planned actually happens. It is very important to plan ahead, if you are unorganized you end up wasting money and missing opportunities that could help your bands. One thing most people donąt realize is that magazines and TV stations need along time to prepare for an ad so you have to plan what is going to be advertised months in advance.

Frank- I understand you are employed by Hopeless/Sub-City Records, and I am sure (whether you admit it or not) that there are some artists on that label that you personally don't enjoy musically. Do you find it hard to push and promote a band that you, yourself, don't even take interest in?
Ian- People who market and sell refrigerators probably don't love refrigerators, but they can be good at selling them. Most people in the industry like being around music in general otherwise they would be doing something else so it is not a big deal if a band is not a personal favorite.

I certainly have my favorite releases, but we develop pretty good relationships with all our artists and it becomes more about helping someone you know succeed at getting their music out to as many fans as possible. I think Hopeless has been very good at signing bands with real talent, we only sign a few bands a year so we spend a lot of time on our artists. We do not sign based on one type of sound so it is cool to find out about types of music I normally wouldnąt listen to. I think we have a pretty legendary punk catalog, but we love taking chances on new artists that might have their own style. There is no reason someone canąt love Thrice and Mike Park.

Specifically I find myself listening mostly to Common Rider and Against All Authority from our label, but I have listened to Nural, Amber Pacific, and Kaddisfly more than most of their fans and I love all of those albums as well. Every one here has their own tastes in music and it is great because with how varied our artists are it is always right for somebody here. You will find indie rock people working at metal labels and vice versa. It is more about being happy working within a creative community, and when you get to work on a band you are a true fan of that makes it that much more enjoyable.

Frank- What kind of experience do you have in the industry and what are some of your past jobs, internships, college classes, etc.?
Ian- I bartended and served in restaurants in Southern California. When I was in college at Cal State Fullerton I interned with NITRO Records. Some great people there showed me a lot about the industry and it made me want to pursue it at as a career. Through Jerod Gunsberg at NITRO I met Louis Posen, president of Hopeless Records. A position later opened up at Hopeless and I fortunately got the job. I took a lot of marketing, art, and advertising classes in college and it has helped me quite a bit. Before I interned at NITRO I had never thought about working at a label. I always went to tons of shows when I was younger and was very into punk music, but I didnąt think about it.

Frank- What are the main differences between retail and new media marketing? What is more important and do both, generally, fall into the same field of work?
Ian- We have a full time person doing Sales and and a full time person doing New Media. Both are forms of marketing, but they require different skills.

Retail is a lot different than New Media. It is really sales and retail that keep labels and bands in business. Sales is the behind the scenes part of the business that not a lot of people understand. It takes a lot of work to get records in stores and getting them good placement. There is a lot of competition, especially in bigger stores like Tower, Best Buy, etc. when an album is on the counter or displayed in a good spot, it is because someone from the label and the distributor worked very hard to make that happen. That goes for big stores and most indie shops.

New Media is just like regular advertising, but there are a lot more options. Web sites can offer sample mp3s, and have tons of space for interviews and reviews of bands. running ads on Absolute or Purevolume, etc has become very important to us. Amber Pacific built a huge online following and has been very successful because of that. Kaddisfly is also starting to see an online buzz that you cant build in print.

Frank- Does each band get a different amount of money to work with? Like, for instance, does Nural have a different marketing budget than Kaddisfly? If so, what are the differences in numbers decided upon?
Ian- The only responsible way to run a label is to spend money based on how many albums you think a band will sell. We meet with our distributor and discuss how many CDs we think will sell and then based on that number we spend a certain percentage on marketing the album. It is unfair to the band to spend too much because many expenses are shared with them. Get a music industry book and look up "recoupable" it effects a lot of decisions.

Frank- What is some advice you can give to kids interested in pursuing a career in the same field of work as you?
Ian- Get an internship!! most labels have small staffs and there is plenty of work that needs to be done. You start out doing some pretty shitty work (writing on posters, updating databases, answering phones) but if you prove to be a good worker you get more responsibility. We just hired our intern Erin because she did such a good job. Labels donąt always have room to hire interns even if they are great, but you meet a lot of people that can help you later on.

The best thing about interning is that you meet people in the industry. Everyone knows everyone else. We are very friendly with most other indie labels, we all help each other out, and if a position opens up at a label most people know about it and recommend their good interns.

Tip for interns: please know the bands on the label and have knowledge about the scene, ask questions and try to get involved in as much as you can. People are busy and may not take the time to sit down and teach you stuff. Try to learn as much as you can on your own. The more you know about the business before you intern the better, get a book about the industry and learn the basics. The more valuable you are at a label the more likely it is that you will get to work on good projects.

Most labels donąt require that you go to college, but it is pretty helpful. Everyone at Hopeless has a degree or is in school right now. I have a degree in advertising and it relates very well to what I do. Go to school for what you love doing, if you are smart and talented you can get most any job you want.

Frank- Videos, ads in magazines, ads on websites, etc. are all used to help promote a band, who decides on whetehr a band should shoot a video, or use that money for ads instead? In other words, who decides on what forms of promotion should be used for certain bands?
Ian- Before we put out an album we meet with the band and their manager. They tell us how they want to be represented and we talk about who their fans are what they think will work for them. At Hopeless/ Sub City the band always has the last word on artwork, songs, image, etc. We offer our experience on what is a good or band idea, but ultimately it is the bands call. We are not in the business of giving bands a punk rock makeover or messing with their recording or writing. When a label puts together what is essentially a BOY BAND it is very transparent and is no good for the scene.

We shoot a video for each album. For most Indies videos are for the fans to be able to see the band. Most indie videos never see any play on major video channels. Nural and Amber have had some success at FUSE and MTV, but it is more about letting fans get closer to the band. When łpunk˛ fist started seeing airplay on MTV fans were pissed because MTV had corrupted their band, now fans are pissed when MTV is unwilling to air the video of their favorite band.

Frank- Any last words, advice, thank yous, shout outs, jokes, stories, etc?
Ian- I donąt have a posse to shout out to or platinum teeth to shine, but everyone in the industry has people to thank, for me it is the people at NITRO and Hopeless. Most Labels will give you a shot and will be more willing to help than you may think. Any joke worth telling is not appropriate here, If you see me at a show I will tell you my favorite.

Absolute is a cool site-----My god you like Thrice.
Displaying posts 1 - 11 of 11
09:05 AM on 10/24/05
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njkid54's Avatar
i love these interviews.
09:28 AM on 10/24/05
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one time we got drunk with ian in NYC..it was very sexual
10:08 AM on 10/24/05
Just growing up to die.
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good interview! i love the last line.
11:29 AM on 10/24/05
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yes we do love thrice =). very informative interview.
12:08 PM on 10/24/05
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What a smart man Ian is and he's also very cute!
01:37 PM on 10/24/05
check out www.avoidthescene.com
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I appreciate you guys posting stuff like this because the more I read them and the more I photograph at shows, the more I want to be involved in the music scene. I need to decide on a major and what to do with my life, and these interviews give me more options. Thanks!
01:55 PM on 10/24/05
Viva la Weez
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Originally Posted by piaffeprncess98
I appreciate you guys posting stuff like this because the more I read them and the more I photograph at shows, the more I want to be involved in the music scene. I need to decide on a major and what to do with my life, and these interviews give me more options. Thanks!
Same here. I'd kill to have a job like any of these guys and be an active part of the scene as I grow up, and these really help.
02:00 PM on 10/24/05
Frank Giaramita
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Originally Posted by royden
one time we got drunk with ian in NYC..it was very sexual
When re you guys announcing your signing to Hopeless?

Oh shit, looks like I just did! Hahaha.
07:53 AM on 10/26/05
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CliFFy's Avatar
another amazing interview.

i'd love to get involved in the music scene and the info from all these interviews definitely helps. (especially when choosing my classes for next semester...)

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