Feature InterviewInterviews

Grant Hubbard Interview 10-23-17

Grant Hubbard
Vice President, National Promotion
Capitol CMG

Career Capsule: I started in radio in 1982 in Nederland Texas.  KDVE 1510 AM, doing weekends and filling in for vacationing jocks when I could.  In 1986 I helped my dad sign on KKRE in Monument, Colorado.  We were a CCM station, reporting to CRR and CCM Update for AC.  I started as Mid-days and moved to afternoons and was eventually the MD.  In 1988 we lost the station over financial issues, and we signed on KXRE in Manitou Springs, Colorado.  KXRE was my first and only PD job.  I wasn’t the greatest PD, as the station only lasted about 18 months.  In the Spring of 1990, I was let go from my PD job and I applied and got the job at Word as a radio promoter.  I worked at Word from 1990 until 1997 when Sparrow Label Group hired me as Sr. Director of National Promotion.  In 1999 I was promoted to VP National Promotion, and have been in that position since.  We’ve gone through a few name changes, but still the same leadership and many of the same artists that I’ve been fortunate to work for through the years.  Today, we’re owned by Universal Music Group, the largest music company in the world, and Capitol CMG is our label.

Grant, Tell us about what’s new with you, your latest adventures, happenings at CCMG? 

It’s a new era for radio and the music industry for sure.  With all the different ways of consuming music, we’ve worked hard to ensure our brands, labels, artists and radio stations, are everywhere people hear music.  At Capitol, it’s been a very good year.  We’ve had great new music from several artists that have impacted charts and sales, from Tomlin to Toby to Hillsong – United and Worship – launching new music from Jeremy Camp, Matthew West, Mandisa, Rend Collective and Crowder.  It’s been a very busy year! 

Since you have a such a busy schedule, how do you best manage your responsibilities and priorities?

I learned a long time ago that the work never ends.  NEVER.  Most days I determine the fires that must be put out, work on long term goals for my team, and try to get as much done as I can during the work day.  As I said, the work is never done.  At some point you have to determine that you’ve done all you can do today, and know that all of the work will be here tomorrow morning.  I’ve learned through the years the only way to stay healthy and happy in any job is to leave the work at work.  At least as much as you can, there’s occasionally things that must be addressed at night, and then there’s always promo travel.  To stay in this business for the long haul, you have to have a good home and work balance.

Complete this sentence: The best way to get a new artist recognized is to____________? 

Get a hit song on the radio.  (There’s more to it than that, but that’s the best way)

Generally speaking how do you see the state of Christian radio? 

I think it’s very healthy, we have a lot of stations doing great work in local markets and growing, and we have a few networks who are filling in the gaps.  With the local stations and networks, we can get recognition for an artist nationwide.

Regarding record sales how has it changed ….please explain?

We look at consumption of music now, it’s a different look at how revenue is generated.  We aren’t selling the large amounts of physical CD’s that we sold in the early 2000’s, and digital downloads have really peaked it seems, but streaming is exploding!  Spotify and Apple Music have really increased our audience on those platforms.  We’re also seeing really good consumption and sales through Amazon.  We’re still selling physical music, but the % of physical is falling as our consumers migrate to streaming.  Streaming has really increased for Christian music in the last 24 months.  With our leadership at Capitol CMG, we were on the leading edge of the streaming changes, and that has helped us maintain our share of sales/consumption.

What promotions with radio have you been involved with personally that are most memorable?

The world of creating promotions that are turn-key for radio has changed.  It seems most stations are getting more creative and trying to use our artists and music as “add-ons” to the promotions they are doing.  For instance, I just spoke with a programmer I’ve worked with for 25+ years about using a local show in his market and tying in a winner with that show, and he wants to also include a premium viewing spot along a parade route for that winner.  The show happens to be the day before the Christmas parade in his city.  So tying those together is a win for his station and audience, and it’s a win for my artist as well.  Many stations have HUGE promotions that we have partnered with thru the years, I really like what The Joy FM in Tampa has done with “30 Wishes.”  They include many artists in these “wishes” and it’s some of the most compelling video/on air content I’ve seen. 

Do you feel the record/radio relationship is still as important as it has been in the past………..explain how its same/different?

I think those relationships are as important as ever.  I’m not sure it’s changed a lot in the years I’ve been a part of this process.  We have access to data on sales and consumption of songs that are tools for the station to use to determine what their audience is actually consuming, and radio has testing that tells us what their audience wants to hear!  Working together, we can make better decisions about current songs and promotions and even get information about styles of music that are making an impact on their audience.  We both have the same goal in mind, gather as many consumers as we can, play them great music, and hope they love the music enough to keep listening and buy our music!

What advice would you give to someone jumping from radio to records?

Listen to radio programmers.  Learn from each and every station.  When I first got to Nashville, I was really a failed radio programmer.  I thought I knew more than I actually did!  I learned more by talking to programmers than I ever learned trying to program a station!   You’ll learn new ideas and you’ll also see what doesn’t work as you get to know some of our programmers.  This is a very small, close knit community in Christian radio.  Everyone knows everyone.  Because of CMB and the connection points we have, more programmers talk to each other than most formats.  I think most realize that they’re not in competition with the guy in another market, and they just might learn something by listening.  That’s what someone jumping to this side should do first.

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