Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Team Clermont Celebrates 15 Years!

Team Clermont, the music promotion and publicity company I work for, is celebrating 15 years of spreading the good word about good music. Two of my favorite guys, Steve and Shil, were interviewed by CMJ about our company's history, and 2011 highlights like keeping the latest M83 record at #1 for so long! Look at these guys: Best hair in the biz!

Team Clermont has spent the past 15 years helping both new and established artists maintain exposure in the press and at radio. 2011 was especially eventful for the company, with big showcases at CMJ and SXSW and ending off the year promoting a record that was No. 1 for six weeks in a row on the CMJ charts. 2012 brings the company’s 15-year anniversary. Team Clermont’s Shil Patel and Steve Hendriksen talk with CMJ about the past, as well as their plans for the future.

CMJ: What are some of your favorite memories of 2011 as far as things you did or worked on as a company?
Steve Hendriksen: 2011 was a great one for us! We had the chance to put on our annual showcases at CMJ and SXSW, as well as our first showcase at Raleigh, NC’s Hopscotch Music Festival (where I actually got to join John Vanderslice on stage for two songs). Also, having the chance to see M83 on Halloween night was pretty legendary.

Shil Patel: I had a great time at the festivals too—SXSW, 35 Denton, CMJ and the rest. At SXSW, one of the highlights was getting to see Telekinesis record a few songs with Jim Eno (Spoon) at his studio. At 35 Denton I saw Big Boi, Reggie Watts, and saw Michael Cera pop up everywhere. And at CMJ I had a great time at our showcase and at our party at Barcade. We promoted so many incredible albums, including M83‘s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, which ended the year at No. 1 for six weeks in a row on the CMJ Radio 200 chart.

Were there any releases that surprised you by how well they were received at college radio stations?
SH: We sent out a single from a New Zealand group called Kids Of 88 in the early part of 2011 that stations really seemed to jump all over.

SP: I go back to that M83 album. We all knew it would do well, considering that Saturdays=Youth was M83′s first album to come in at No. 1 on the chart. But I was really blown away by all the support that kept Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming at No. 1 for so long. For a couple weeks over 70 percent of the stations that submitted charts had M83 in their Top 30. That was very impressive to me.

What are some releases you’re looking forward to hearing in 2012?
SH: Bear In Heaven! I loved their 2009 release, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, and I can’t wait to see how they’re going to follow it up.

SP: I agree with Steve: Can’t wait to hear that Bear In Heaven. I’m also really looking forward to the upcoming Magnetic Fields, Sharon Van Etten, Shearwater, Tindersticks, Nite Jewel and Andrew Bird releases, as well as getting my hands on all those Palace reissues.

It looks like 2011 treated you guys pretty well, and 2012 should too with your 15-year anniversary coming up. So now for a little history: How did Team Clermont get started as a company?
SP: Bill Benson and Nelson Wells were both working for the same promotion company in 1997 that Nelson co-founded a few years earlier. They formed a new partnership and bought that previous company (Revolution Promotion Management, the company that broke Hootie And The Blowfish and helped get them signed). With the new company, they streamlined and sharpened their focus on mostly indie artists and less Triple A-leaning artists. However, Team Clermont carried on with almost all of the same great clients: Warner Bros., Geffen, Tim/Kerr Records and more, and with artists like R.E.M. and Little Red Rocket (who later became Azure Ray featuring Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink, two former Athenians).

What’s changed the most about college radio in the past 15 years?
SP: I’ve been at Team Clermont since the beginning of 2007, and in that period of time there have been several changes. Of course, technology has changed so many things. Many of the stations we work with were among the first to develop their online presence, offering video of in-studio performances, creating regular podcasts and utilizing social media in creative ways. There seems to be more options for stations to make their presence felt.

SH: It’s exciting to see how stations are utilizing new technologies and social media to further their station’s goals and raise awareness. Stations have been able to capitalize on these free services in really creative ways, and it’s exciting to see what they’ll be up to next.

Are there challenges you face in radio promotion now that didn’t exist 15 years ago?
SP: Sure, I think one of the biggest challenges at the moment is the transition to digital servicing. Many other companies and labels are dealing with it as well. It makes sense to decrease the amount of CDs that are being mailed out for many reasons. When you take into account everything that goes into mailing a CD to a station (the CD itself, packaging, postage, fuel costs, etc.), it adds up monetarily and environmentally. I know that eventually we will get to a point where we no longer send out CDs, but right now we still ask our artists and labels to mail them out because many stations don’t yet have the time or the infrastructure to shift to an all-digital system. We want to make it as easy as possible for a music director to hear the music we’re promoting. As of now, we find that sending CDs cuts down the number of steps it takes for them to review the music.

This year calls for some more celebrations than usual. Have you made any plans yet for celebrating your anniversary?
SP: Yes! We’re working on throwing a 15th anniversary party from July 26-28. We haven’t thrown a Team Clermont Blue Ribbon Ball or Summer Festival since we did the Summer Camp in 2008, and we thought, “What better time to get all our friends in the music industry down to Athens than on our 15th anniversary?” We’re still in the planning stages, but we’ll fill everyone in on the details over the coming months.

SH: It’s going to be legendary.

Check out some of Team Clermont’s current and past projects on its website.

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