By: Ruben Radlauer
Generally speaking, the name “Pirate!” brings to mind swashbuckling antiheroes of the seven seas. Those in the music marketing and college radio world, however, have a vastly different association—with an entity that might be partially responsible for bringing your favorite music into the public eye.
Pirate! Is a marketing company that has worked with both major and indie labels (Universal, Warner, Anti-, Kill Rock Stars, Epitaph, Rough Trade are just a few) to promote the work of artists ranging from Alkaline Trio to Tegan & Sara to Mavis Staples and everyone both famous, and unknown, in between (full list at: www.piratepirate.com/wp/labels-and-artists/)
Douglas Blake (or Pirate Doug, as he appears in my inbox,) is one of the founders of Pirate!. The music directors and I have noticed that every one of his emails has sometimes terrible, sometimes amazing, always hilarious puns, related to the company name, and that they always include more personal details and anecdotes than other companies do, in their promotional emails. Our curiosity was piqued, and we had to find out more.
We reached out, and Doug was gracious enough to answer a few questions about “Pirate Doug”, as well as the general state of music marketing and college radio.
Ruben: Your emails are far more human than most of the radio promo blasts we get. What led you to start adding that human touch, and the snarky subject lines? How have things changed for you since adding the personal touch?
Pirate Doug: Oh, thanks. I always thought they should be semi entertaining, to at least get people to read them. I figure stations are getting 100’s of emails each week, that if I can make ours entertaining, I can get people coming back week after week.
Ruben: How did you get started in working in music marketing? How did you start Pirate and work your way to where you are now?
Pirate Doug: I started in college, Georgia Southern University WVGS, as a DJ and worked my way up to Music Director and when I graduated I thought that it was pretty sweet that these people that called me every week got paid for it. So I moved to Boston and started at another promotion company and eventually thought we, along with Steve Theo, could do it better. So far, so good.
Ruben: What is your favorite (or top 5) albums you have done marketing for?
Pirate Doug: I was actually thinking of doing a blog post about this recently, on www.douginthehouse.com, so I have been thinking about it a bunch:
Motion City Soundtrack – Commit this to Memory
Tegan and Sara – The Con
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell
Dillinger Four – Civil war
The Black Keys – Thickfreakness
Ruben: What do you look for in a band you want to work with?
Pirate Doug: I try to look for something that both appeals to me and also will appeal to the people I am talking to. Things go in and out of fashion at radio so I try and find the things I like within that spectrum.
Ruben: With CMJ largely out of the picture, what do you see in the future of college radio? Do you foresee an entirely new model, or another similar company coming in and picking up where they left off?
Pirate Doug: Well NACC came in and took up the helm rather quickly and to pretty solid results. You need that anchor out there to help tie us all together as a community.
Ruben: Can we expect you to start giving us wine pairings with all new releases?
Pirate Doug: It must have been before your time, but I am pretty sure I did this in one of our weekly emails. Tegan and Sara with a nice Oregon Pinot?