Everyday Contessa: Director of Radio Promotion
Work + Life Balance

Everyday Contessa: Director of Radio Promotion

PAIGE ELLIOTT, WEST COAST REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR CAPITOL RECORDS NASHVILLE 

 

THE BASICS 

"My main job is to get country music played on the radio, which means going on the road a lot on tour." 

HOME BASE: Denver, Colorado

EDUCATION: B.M. in Music Industyr, Syracuse University

FIRST GIG: Top 40 Promotion Assistant at RCA

GO-TO TRAVEL APPS: Fitstar & National Car Rental App

IG: @promopaige

HER START

"I didn’t grow up around country at all, but I did grow up in the music industry. My dad was in radio for decades, then went over to the records side. I spent a lot of my childhood seeing Motown acts or sitting in my dad’s office while he talked on the phone with different stations. I never wanted to get involved in it, though, because it was just always there. So I went to Syracuse University, where I was a Music Education major because I wanted to teach. But while there, I realized where I supposed to be.

At age 22, I landed my first job as a promotion assistant at RCA, working in Top 40, which was kind of crazy. At 23, I left that job to start in regional promotion at Virgin/Capitol Records. There aren’t many people in those jobs that young. Not for the major labels. It's funny—I remember how happy my boss was when I turned 25 because they got to save some money in the travel budget. We rent cars for touring through National, and I was finally old enough to qualify for the standard rates.  

Over the years, I worked in a bit of everything music-wise, Top 40, blues and jazz, but never country. But then I had a boyfriend who was into country music, and through him I realized that I kind of was, too. That wasn’t a popular opinion—country wasn’t having the moment then that is is now. So when my bosses [at Capitol Records] realized I was into it, they suggested I try for the job I have now, repping country acts along the West Coast. I think something like 100 people applied, but in the end I got it! 

HER ROUTINE

I travel a minimum of seven days a month, but on average it’s more like 10-12. Sometimes it’s a lot more. Mostly when I’m traveling, I’m touring with bands and musicians like Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, and Little Big Town, introducing them to the local stations. When I'm off the road, I work from home. That helps keep things balanced. I moved to Colorado when I took the Nashville job, and I live near this huge park with a hiking trail where I'll take my dog on a 3-mile walk twice a day (as long as the weather's okay).  

It's a strange job and kind of hard to put in a schedule, but here's what a day on the road might look like:

7/7:30am - Wake up, try to remember what city I'm in. Get about 40 minutes' workout in with Fitstar, my go-to fitness app on the road. I like native apps. They make travel so much easier. 
 
8:30am - Grab breakfast at my hotel, shower, get ready
 
10:00am - Hit the road, stop nearby for coffee because show nights always go late! Depending on where the next tour date is, I'll drive 2-4 hours to get there. While on the road, I'll make calls to country radio stations in the West, talking to their program directors (PDs) and music directors (MDs) about my artists' singles, and trying to get them to play the singles more often. It's a very relationship-driven job so many of my calls are friendly chatter with some business thrown in. 
 
Lunch - I usually attempt to find something remotely healthy for lunch during the drive. Healthy food on the highway is rare. Sometimes the temptation of In N Out gets the better of me. 
 
Mid-afternoon - Occasionally, I'll stop by a station in the market where that evening's tour date is, maybe play the PD and MD some new music that isn't out yet. Or I'll just go to my next hotel and drop my stuff before heading to the venue. 
 
4pm - Arrive at concert venue, get my bearings, and figure out where everything (dressing rooms, production/touring office, catering, radio VIP room, meet and greet) is located. I go to the same venues over and over but different tours set the venues up their own ways. 
 
5pm - Radio station personnel will usually start calling me around this time with any will call issues they're encountering, and I'll fix them. This is the part of my day with the most physical activity—I walk all over these huge venues!
 
6pm - Doors open. I usually grab dinner at catering around this time. On the road when healthy food is hard to come by, the catering salad bar is your friend.
 
7:30pm - Meet and Greet. If I have any radio folks there, I'll make sure they're taken care of and everything runs smoothly. 
 
8:00pm - Gather my radio PDs and MDs (the people who decide what gets played on the radio) and take them to the radio VIP room. This room usually has a bar, food, sometimes ping pong or other games. It's a cool space for them to hang out and be entertained, and when the artists come in to say hi, it makes for a more casual environment. 
 
9:30pm - My artist (usually the headliner) takes the stage; if the radio folks want to hang around, we tend to watch some of the show together in the pit. 
 
11pm - Show wraps. Sometimes I go back to the hotel to hit the hay, sometimes I'll stay and hang out with the band and crew if I haven't seen them in a while. I work with some fun people who I genuinely like, so the late nights are enjoyable. 
 
12am (ish) - Bed time so I can do it all over again the next day. 
 

WHY NATIONAL'S EMERALD CLUB AND APP?

When I'm traveling, work happens on my phone. I like a native app because it makes it easier to have all the info I need at any given time at my fingertips. I'll use the National app to extend a rental last minute or check to make sure the right cars are available or that my reservation is set if it's not coming up on my work calendar for some reason. We're always renting minivans or SUVs one-way to get the people and gear to the small radio shows around the region. Minivans are embarrassing, but they're surprisingly useful for our work because they're spacious and easy to handle. No shame in the minivan game. Honestly though, almost every record rep rents religiously from National. It just makes it easier."
 

- As told to CC

This post was sponsored by National Car Rental and its Emerald Club, but we chose to interview Paige because we think she's rad.

Photos via.