RCA VP Peter Gray Talks Up Radio’s Importance

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nipperOther than being recording artists, what do the Kings of Leon, Alicia Keys and Kelly Clarkson all have in common? They work with a Milwaukee, WI, native named Peter Grey who is the VP of pop promotion at the RCA Music Group.

I stumbled upon an interview with him at the On Milwaukee website recently and would like to share some of his perspective on radio, as perceived from a promotions standpoint. Managing editor Bobby Tanzilo, who incidentally is part of a great band called The Yell Leaders, did the interview. As is to be expected when a home town boy is at the mic, a lot of it centered on his roots and ties in the Milwaukee area. Then came the part that made me sit up and take notice, when he began to touch on radio.

It all starts with his response to a query as to what his job is like on a day to day level:

There are indeed some glamorous and rewarding moments, but the primary function of a record label’s promotion department is to secure radio airplay for its artists. We rely on our relationships with music programmers at all contemporary radio formats, nationwide — Top 40, Urban and Urban Adult, Hot AC and Mainstream Adult, Rhythm, Alternative, Active Rock, Rap, Dance, College radio, Smooth Jazz, etc. Our partnership with radio is paramount to breaking new acts, as well as keeping superstar artists in the eyes and ears of their fans and the music buying public.

Mr. Grey then proceeds to talk about other aspects of the process and more about Milwaukee for awhile. It’s a quite engaging interview. The reason I want to share this is because it shows that the labels, or at least his label, are well aware of the value they derive from airplay. As the battle over the additional royalties requested by the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) continues, candid moments like this reveal themselves.

It also lends credence to my oft-stated opinion that they should have to purchase airtime if it were not for the fact that doing so would damage the industry as much as or more than the “performance tax” itself. At one point no one knew who Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, David Cook, Alicia Keys, Gavin DeGraw and Leona Lewis were, but then they got a lot of airplay…

Image: walkadog / CC BY 2.0
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