Not being so much of a traveler, I never attended a Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp until they started their virtual classes earlier this year. There are many artists speaking that my friends and I are in love with. Go to https://www.rockcamp.com/masterclass.php, and you’ll see true rock and roll superheroes, including the Go-Gos’ Kathy Valentine and vocalist Sebastian Bach, producer Steve Lillywhite, John 5, Steve Morse, and Alice Cooper’s manager Shep Gordon.
Jason Flom’s master class told the story of a man with passion, evolution, and a work ethic he got from his father.
An immigrant from Russia, Joseph Flom was homeless in America during the Great Depression. Determined to make it, the young man sent a letter to Harvard University, that he’d love to study there but couldn’t afford tuition. They met with him, and gave him a full scholarship which made his career happen.
“Do whatever you want,” Joseph told his children. “But make the world a better place.”
Jason didn’t want to go to college; he just wanted to play in bands and party. Ultimately his parents agreed to let him work in the music industry for a year, and if that didn’t work out, he had to go to college. Father Flom reached out to his contact at Warner Bros., and found his son an illustrious gig of hanging posters up at record stores. The young man tackled it with passion; he saw that job as helping others become rock stars.
Jason read the radio trades, and studied the artists on local music shows. One day he contacted WBAB’s program director Bob Buchman about an act on his playlist, and Bob responded that they weren’t getting requests the way a group called Zebra was.
Jason liked Zebra’s demo and gave it to the label president, who listened to a little bit in his car, shook his head, “Nah,” turned on the radio which was on WBAB, who were playing Zebra! Coincidence? I think not! 😊
With Zebra, Jason became an A&R assistant, and signed one of my fave-raves–Twisted Sister, and then many acts that some of us love or hate with passion! White Lion, Stone Temple Pilots, Skid Row, Collective Soul.
At one point he went to Rehab, and, then, became President of Lava Records, then Virgin who fused with Capital, and then back with Lava now part of the Republic roster. This journey included signing Jill Sobule and Katy Perry—each having hits with different songs of the same title: “I Kissed A Girl.” Other acts: Kid Rock, Jessie J., Sugar Ray, Matchbox 20, Edwin McCain.
Jason and his team are developing new artists at Lava:
The Warning—3 Mexican teenage girls that could rock like Metallica.
Kat Cunning—pop, a true writer, from Netflix’s Emmy-winning show “Trinkets.”
Red Voodoo—classic hard rock, inspired by Van Halen, Montrose, Sammy Hagar, and fellow Sacramento, CA hometowners Tesla.
South of Eden—Columbus, OH’s hard alternative rock band. Powerful vocals, Grunge meets forceful and melodic instrumentals.
So many of the questions that folks asked had to do with getting their music heard. Jason said, “Promote music any way you can! Local radio. You have to ask people. Be your own best promotion person. Go on blogs. Kid Rock took a long time to break. Four albums. Get your music on a radio station somewhere and it pops. That guy will call his friends. Do a local or regional campaign instead of national. Focus.”
Here are some great tips that Jason gave his Rock and Roll Fantasy camp fans:
1) Use crazy numbers! “Instead of saying, ‘do you have 10 minutes?’ say, ‘give me 3 minutes.’”
2) Quick Blurbs. “It was an industry colleague that had ‘Lorde-hot shit’ as the subject line, and a quick message ‘unsigned female from New Zealand, please listen.’”
3) Put the pictures in the email. No attachments.
4) The best promoters to the industry are people that have a relationship with you. “We’re not going to hear from people that are working only one project.”
5) “Take your shot. Write to me on Instagram.” https://www.instagram.com/itsjasonflom/
6) For companies that post “No Unsolicited Mail,” research who you’re sending to. Send them a personalized trinket. Jason says, “If they play golf, send them a golf ball with their name.”
7) “The most important person in an organization is the boss’s assistant.” Make phone calls.
8) Jason says, “Bands spend too much time practicing and not enough time, playing. Get it out there. Put music out, and get the ball rolling.”
Jason showed insight on civics, prison reform, and fighting for equality. His father told him, “Do whatever you want, but make the world a better place.”
In addition to putting out a plea to vote to “save our democracy, because it’s stopping concerts,” he thanked Road Recovery, the charity he donated his Master class pay to. He spoke about his own charity the Innocence Project (http://www.incodenceproject.org,” which is fighting against wrongful convictions. Jason produces a thoughtful podcast in which he interviews wrongfully convicted people that need help fighting for freedom from the system. Podcast: https://www.wrongfulconvictionpodcast.com/
Jason skews towards signing upcoming acts for the youth market. He accepts that not every act is right for him, but there are ways he suggests that most people can grow their careers. “Don’t be humble. Stars have to be their own best fans.”
In end and all the way through this master class, Jason was saying his secret to success, “Send that email. My father wrote that letter.”