Music Spotlight: Interview with Bob Chiappardi of StripJointsMusic.com!

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If you don’t know the name Bob Chiappardi by now, you simply aren’t paying enough attention. Bringing music guests like Halestorm and COLD to our podcasts, as well as bringing huge contests, like the $5,000 Rihanna Music Video contest or the Moltey Crue After Party contest, he’s one of PANDA’s biggest supporters.

Oh, and he gets PANDA DJ’s free promotional music every month, too!

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In this interview with one of the coolest cats in the business, see how he got started, how you can get FREE promotional music, be a part of MORE contests for FREE concerts tickets, cash prizes, etc., and how you can be help influence who the next big music artists will be!

Ron Sparkman: First up, what inspired you to get in the music industry?

Bob Chiappardi: When I was in junior high school, I had a history teacher who convinced me that the smartest thing I could do was to study business in college and go to law school to become a corporate lawyer. So I headed down that path by attending Fordham University in the Bronx, by taking marketing and management courses. In my junior and senior years I took some pre-law courses and learned very quickly that I could not deal with the minutia of being a lawyer. Sifting through pages of language, trying to cover every minute detail, I found excruciatingly tedious.

So there I was, halfway through my senior year, with a double major in marketing and management ,and not knowing what I wanted to do with it. If I was going to manage or market anything, I figured it should be something that I truly love. The one thing I loved above everything else was music, specifically rock music. I collected albums, read every line or note on the artists that I loved, read books about those artists, spent way too much time in record stores and concerts. In high school, I would work at a local IHOP on the weekends, from 5 PM to 5 AM, making $1.85 an hour, and every Friday when I got my paycheck, I would take it to my favorite record store ,which was literally three blocks away, and spend the entire thing. It was awesome!

R.S.: How did you land your first gig?

B.C. My first gig in the music industry was in the mailroom at Arista Records, the home of Barry Manilow and Air Supply, with the legendary Clive Davis at the helm. I had gotten that gig by being a temp at Warner Communications, which was the parent company of Warner Bros, Atlantic and Elektra Records. I had gotten that Warner gig through an “executive music management program” that Warner Communications instituted the year before my senior year. They offered it again my senior year and I applied. I had found out about the program just before the deadline to register, and I literally slipped my application under a locked door at 6pm on a Friday night at the Warner Communications human resource department, the very last day you could apply. I had taken the initiative to do more than just fill out the application by creating an advertisement pitching myself for the gig. I put together an ad talking about myself in the way a record label would talk about an artist they were promoting. Basically, I played off a Warner Bros. ad I had seen in Billboard Magazine they had done for an artist named Michael Franks. The head of human resources was intrigued by my initiative and called me in for an interview. The first thing she told me was that normally she should’ve thrown my application in the garbage because it was so late, but because it was something so unique and well thought out, she decided to at least meet me and see what I was about. I took that opportunity and charmed her like it was nobody’s business and on my way out the door she told me I made the cut to the next level of interviews.

I was one of 12 people that were going to meet with Steve Ross who, at that time, was the head of and founder of Warner Communications. Unfortunately, the music industry went into their first Black Friday (as in stock market crash, not the day after Thanksgiving) before I could have that second interview. Hundreds of people got laid off that year. It was the year that Fleetwood Mac released their HUGE flop of a record, “Tusk” and KISS released their solo records that did equally as miserable. They shipped those releases quadruple platinum and ALL the records came back except for a couple hundred thousand each. Millions of dollars were lost on that fiasco. Anyway, they canceled the executive management program.

Being that the head of Human Resources liked me, she gave me a consolation prize of a temp job at 75 Rock. This meant that I bounced around ALL the Warner Divisions: Book Publishing, Music Publishing, Movies, Administration, etc. Unbeknownst to me, the human resource director, having taken me under her wing, also had alternative motives. She thought I would be a good match for her daughter who was about a year younger than me. She set us up on blind date that I stupidly agreed on doing. I was young, eager to please, and single, so I went for it. Unfortunately her daughter and I had absolutely no chemistry. Nice girl, attractive, but we had absolutely nothing in common and we spent most of the date staring at each other with nothing to say. After the date, the human resource director invited me into her office and asked me what I thought of her daughter. Being young and stupid I told her the truth. I was polite, but expressed we were not a good match, and that did not go over very well. Apparently, her daughter thought it was a good date.

The next day I got transferred to the basement of the Warner building working in the “de-collation” department. My immediate supervisor was literally “illiterate”. During our lunch breaks I would help him with his homework, which was learning how to read. “See Jane Run” level stuff. I was happy to help him, but it was a bit disheartening being a dean’s list student and reporting to someone that had not finished grammar school. At that point I started looking around for any kind a job in the music industry and came across a mailroom job at Arista. I spent about a year there and realized that I didn’t want to work for a record label after all. I needed to work for myself. I started signing up local cover bands, that we’re doing some original music, to a little publishing company I started called Go-Rilla Music. I worked on this after hours at Arista; I would try to get songs by these artists covered buy established bands. Eventually, some of the acts I was working with asked me to manage them, so I tried my hand at that and found I had a knack for it.

R.S.: And how did Concrete Marketing come about?

B.C.: While I was doing Go-Rilla Music after hours at Arista Records, I came across some artists that were on the downside of their careers. One was an amazing bass player named Percy Jones that had played in a band called Brand X. The drummer of the Brand X was Phil Collins, who played with the band when he wasn’t playing in Genesis. There was also a somewhat known singer-songwriter named Dean Friedman, who had a hit record with a song called “Ariel” in the 70s. I was a fan and started helping him out by performing managerial services for him. That’s how I cut by teeth on the management side of the business.

Percy was trying to get a record deal and I brought him to a gentleman named Walter O’Brien. Walter worked at a company called Important Records, where he started a label called Relativity Records. Walter was a fan of Percy and had actually been the tour manager for Brand X for a few years. He really wanted to sign him to Relativity. The owner of Important Records gave little funding to run Relativity Records, which frustrated Walter to the point where he quit. He wanted to sign Percy and they would not let him. That was the last straw in his mind. He just walked out one day. I asked him if he wanted to join me so we could manage Percy together and he said “yes”. We worked under the banner of Go-Rilla Music for a bit and then got offered to tour manage a band called Grim Reaper, a metal band signed to RCA records. Walter had extensive experience in tour managing bands. They wound up on RCA because Walter had sent the band there when he was not given a budget to sign the band at Relativity. This tour managing gig was a kind of payback for turning RCA onto the band. We started touring Grim Reaper around the country and about two weeks in, the band asked us to manage them. At that point we decided to start Concrete Management. That was the start of Concrete Marketing, which came about a couple years after Concrete Management. Heavy metal music was just starting to take off and we were right there at the beginning of it. We got a great reputation for knowing how to work heavy metal acts, and record label marketing people began offering us money to work their heavy metal acts. First band we worked was Armored Saint on Chrysalis Records. The second project Concrete Marketing worked was the first Metallica record on Megaforce Records. Things just start snowballing from there. About two years later we were working acts like Ozzy Osbourne and KISS. We started a trade publication for heavy metal music, as well as a convention for metal music called Foundation’s Forum. Bands that played our convention included Ozzy, KISS, Pantera, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Scorpions, Judas Priest, and about 500 other bands.

RS: Tell us how you got involved in the strip clubs, how StripJoints came about, and its evolution into StripJointsMusic.com.

BC: Every year I would get a phone call one from my record label marketing clients who would would ask me if I could promote a song of theirs in the strip clubs. I never said no to any offer of work, figuring I could always figure it out. I remembered that a guy I knew named Don Waitt was now working in the strip club industry running a trade publication called Exotic Dancer magazine. I met Don when he had a music industry trade publication called Performance Magazine. He used to come to all my heavy metal conventions promoting his magazine, and that’s how I got to know him. So once a year when one of these songs came about I would call him up and we would put together a plan where I would manufacture copies of the song to insert into his magazine and I would take out a full-page ad to advertise the promotion.

Then one day, there was a cover story in Billboard Magazine talking about how rap music was breaking out of the strip clubs. A lot of this was stemming from Lil Jon and the whole “Crunk” movement, which started in Memphis and made it’s way to Atlanta. These guys would go to a strip club with a new song and have the DJ play it for the girls. If the strippers reacted well to it, they would release the song. If the girls didn’t like it, they would take said song back into the studio and work on it some more, or even scrap it and start all over. So after reading that article, I’m thinking about how the record labels were coming to me every now and then trying to get their music into strip clubs and there was an opportunity for me to provide a service for them on a regular basis. That’s how I came up with the concept of StripJoints. By manufacturing CDs and putting a number of songs on it from different labels, I could divide up the costs so that it would be affordable for record labels to put more songs on more often. Instead of waiting for them to find me, I would turn around and I would chase them down telling them what songs I thought would work well in the strip clubs. One of the first songs that was on the very first StripJoints was Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch”. It all took off from there.

RS: Who has been your favorite artist to work with? If it’s multiple artists, please elaborate.

BC: Over the years I’ve had an opportunity to work with some amazing artists. Some became like family to me. In that category I would have to include Ozzy, Rob Zombie, Megadeth, Extreme, Linkin Park, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and a number of other amazing bands. Besides the chemistry that sometimes forms with an artist, what attracts me to certain artists is their dedication to their art and their commitment to work as hard as they need to in order to be successful. I’m working with a young artist right now, named Matt Butler,( http://www.mattbutlerofficial.com ), who fits in that mold. He’s a singer-songwriter, so I doubt you’ll be hearing his music at one of your strip clubs in the near future, but if you like Americana music, he definitely worth checking out.

RS: Favorite kind of music?

BC: Like most people in the music business, or even most people that truly love music, I like several genres. I gravitate to classic hard rock/metal, singer-songwriter, what I call “Barroom” Rock, and old school Rock/R&B.
RS: And what’s your favorite club to party at?
I don’t do as much partying as I used to, but back in the day I used to tear it up at VIP in Manhattan and before that, Scores. HQ, also in NYC, was the last place I really has gotten crazy. I was always bringing my artist/clients to those clubs and the rock girls that worked there just loved it. I remember whenever I walked into VIP, the DJs there, like Mike Pont, would play Bruce Springsteen “Born to Run” to let all my girls know I was in the house. Big fun back in those days. Lots of fun stories I could tell you guys from that era. Most recently I had the pleasure to hang with DJ Platypus at Tootsies and that was a fun night. Will definitely be going back there next time I am in the Miami area.

RS: Free music is nearly unheard of these days, but you knock it out month after month. Tell us a bit about the process and what PANDAs can do to help you get more artists involved in this?

BC: Free music is really not hard to come by, if you are a professional in the music industry, which the PANDA DJs are. You should be getting your promotional music for free, the same way that radio stations get their promotional music for free. If you can expose new music to large crowds of people, you deserve to get free promotional music. What the PANDA members can do is to help me show the music industry how valuable your support is. You can do this by checking out, playing, and reporting on your monthly Panda charts the songs that are included in our StripJoints program. It’s that simple. The more you show support for StripJoints, the more I can show the record labels and help them understand PANDA’s value.

RS: Your contests are huge, $5,000 video contest for Rihanna, after parties for Motley Crue concerts. What can PANDAs do to help keep these promotions coming?

BC: As I said earlier, I need PANDA DJs to participate in these promotions that I am offering you. If I do a promotion and no one participates, why would a record label want to spend money to do it again? Does not make sense. Participate! Talk up the promotions in your socials and tell your brethren DJs to participate as well. It’s that simple. What you get back by doing that will be tenfold. Case-in-point, our current promotion for Motley Crue. A club can win a free Official After Party right after the Motley Crue show in their market and get to send girls down to venue to had out passes. We have clubs that DOUBLE their normal attendance for those nights. Easy. Check it out here: http://goo.gl/JDo61A

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