Inside The Industry with Robert “Bob” Bradley
A growing movement of musicians gravitating towards the business side of the industry has been occurring over the past decade. The musicians who once graced the stages at your local venues are now managing your favorite artists from behind the scenes, creating the next big record label and branching out into new ventures. For Robert “Bob” Bradley, he has utilized his experience as a touring musician for Scars of Tomorrow into a successful career at Fearless Records, Authentik Artists and his new company, Airtime PR.
Come inside the industry with us to see all about Robert Bradley’s transition from a touring musician to an owner of a PR company!
You have built a lengthy and established career within the music industry, what all do you attribute towards its success?
Many cups of coffee, hard work, late nights and sacrifice. I think everyone has a different idea of success, and to me it’s doing what you love without it feeling like typical 9-5 work. It took some decisions to try new things that could have easily left me completely broke, unemployed and potentially unfocused. Thankfully I’ve had some great friends, mentors and many years of creative work in music to help me along the way. It’s really just that “keep going” attitude and staying on top of trends that have been very helpful to stay on the progressive track. I’ve also found that creating a work/life balance has been helpful to stay inspired and to find new ways to evolve as an entrepreneur. In a nutshell, working hard and being good to others has always worked for me.
When we first met nearly 10 years ago, you were playing bass for Scars of Tomorrow. What was it like getting to be a touring musician signed to a record contract and be able to achieve all of that in your 20s?
It was a great experience being able to play the songs you love for more than just a local audience. At the time all I cared about was being on the road as much as possible, and there were some years we were gone 200+ days. Touring has it high moments, and others where sometimes you didn’t know if you would make it through the next tour. All in all, it was one of the best experiences of my life, and being on the road can teach you the networking and business skills needed to work on the flip side of the industry. In regards to being signed to a record deal, it’s really an interesting situation since it’s almost like a trade off. A good deal gives you the opportunity to do things full time, but you then run the risk like any business venture to not recoup on that investment made by the label.
Scars of Tomorrow reunited last year to record “Failed Transmissions” that was released through Artery Recordings. I know the band had done small shows together over the years, but how did everything come to light with the reformation?
I’ve kept in touch with Scars vocalist Mike Milford over the years, and we’ve always had the idea of getting the guys back together to make a record and play occasional shows. I think the timing was just right and at the end of 2013 we had an opportunity to play the 2014 Metalfest in New England, and that was the catalyst to get ideas together for a new record. With the current lineup, most of the band actually lives in Portland and I would just help out virtually and fly up there for practices or shows.
Would you have any advice for musicians who are wanting to transition from a local draw to a band with a label behind them?
Have patience and work really hard. Many artists are in a hurry to get that record deal, but have barely developed their stride with good songwriting and figuring out their long-term touring lineup as a band. Sometimes it’s just a waiting game and you have to pretend that deal may never come. Just do as much as you can on your own and invest what money you can in occasional marketing, PR and of course your live show/gear.
You also got to be part of Bleeding Through’s final tour last summer; I can imagine what that was like.
It was a lot of fun and seeing those guys play their final shows was a sort of closure on a very important part of my youth. Orange County has bred some incredible bands over many decades and it was an honor to tour with a band that likely many metal/hardcore fans will listen to for years to come. The shows were killer, and each night was packed wall to wall with great friends, fans and of course other great acts on the bills like Lionheart, Fate 13 and Winds of Plague.
There are many musicians who eventually, or while still playing music as a touring act transition to the business side of the industry as you did at Fearless Records and eventually, Authentik Artists. In your words, what was the experience like for you?
It was a natural transition honestly, and taking a normal day job in an unrelated industry just wasn’t an option once I decided to stop touring. I had to turn down a couple opportunities to tour in other bands, and I worked hard to create a good resume and contact music companies for potential job opportunities. The touring was sort of an “internship,” and these companies really valued that experience. I’ll always play music in some capacity on the side, and have played at least 10-15 shows a year since not being on the road full time. For any musicians out there thinking about stepping into the industry, I always suggest going with your gut and personally reaching out to companies you would be passionate about working for.
Aside from the music industry, your company, Airtime PR is doing big things heading into 2015. How has this been?
When Airtime opened it’s doors, we primarily targeted music clients but quickly made the transition to focus on hospitality and small / medium sized businesses. Airtime PR has been growing steadily and I couldn’t be happier being able to help people tell their story and garner press for their well-deserved efforts. The experience of working with businesses is really rewarding, and they have a great attitude towards PR that keeps you going when you bring them news about features and opportunities.
OC Restaurant Week just wrapped up and included your client, Bacchus Bar & Bistro. Did you have a specific marketing campaigned that was created?
The team over at OC Restaurant Week had an internal marketing campaign for Orange County as a whole. We simply helped get Bacchus onto OCRW and gave the media the awesome update. We constantly pitch the media to come try our restaurant clients, and OCRW provided a great opportunity for influencers to come in try their offerings. The overall marketing campaign for Bacchus is going great and their business has improved with the awareness and strategy we’ve put into action. Plus, the food is great!
Looking into the future, where you do see Airtime PR headed as a company?
I will always have a debt to the music industry for getting me to where I am today, and moving forward we are actually putting a strong effort into hospitality and emerging businesses. I see Airtime as being an agency that Southern California can depend on for quality publicity, social media, copywriting and branding needs. We aim to be boutique, but not so big that we lose touch with the client relationship and the ability to be flexible as trends change. We’ll be working with music clients on occasion, and currently have a great artist out of Los Angeles called Copper The Bet we’re working. They have an awesome EP called “Champagne” and we’ve been helping push the album, 2 music videos and 2 amazing remixes to the press. Check them out!
Interview by: Robert Fayette
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