Six years have passed since we last spoke to world renowned promoter Robbi (find our 2009 interview here) who is celebrating 22 years in the business this month. Reason enough for us to revive our Interview section and reach out to the man who has been elementary to the dance music scene in and around New York...
Question: You've been doing what you're doing for an unbelievably long period of over two decades. What keeps you going, what motivates you?
Answer: First: The Music !! As long as there's good music out, I play different types of music. Then it's simple things I'm told by folks in the street or people in the industry: "I like your style of promoting", "you're the best promoter I've ever seen" or simply (and I think this is the best one I got) "I knew nothing about promoting until I joined your Facebook, you make it seem so easy and hella entertaining"... So its totally about the music and the people and this is why I'm always promoting.
Question: Back in the day, I got to know you as an event promoter, ever since you expanded into other areas. Can you tell us more about your current field of work?
Answer: Yes I do marketing for many labels and their music, many song / trax out there you dance to... actually two of the biggest I worked with are "Burnin Hot" by Peven Everett (Timmy Regisford & Adam Rios remix) and "Take It Easy" by Gershon Jackson/Mike Dunn. I do marketing for websites and clothing. I manage/promote DJ's Wayne Williams, Alan King, Mark Francis & Adam Rios and I'm a "filter" for tons of other DJ's. What I mean is a couple of times a week promoters ask me about DJ's and I refer directly to to the DJ or their managers. I also show music to labels.
Question: Undoubtedly, the skills required to successfully promote a 'product' in the dance music world have changed. How do you adapt to these changes and keep yourself up to date with the latest trends?
Answer: My creative juices are constantly flowing...
Question: Would you say you're a pioneer, or even a trend-setter, when it comes to being a promoter?
Answer: Pioneer? Maybe but yes a definite trend setter, I have and will continue to develop distinct, exciting and entertaining ways of promoting because I treat what I do as more of an ART than just a machine. For example, I've had promoters ask me to help them with something they come with the 20 questions on how am I going to market it. I only tell them SOME of what I do they run off with it thinking they have all my "blueprints" and I never hear from them again... LOL!!!
Question: I remember back in the day that 'word of mouth', flyers and posters were instrumental in promoting a product. Nowadays with the internet, and especially with social networking, it appears to me that these traditional methods of promotion have winded down in importance. Is this an accurate observation how promotion evolved over the years?
Answer: Its accurate for most people yes others including myself still print flyers.
Question: Speaking of social media networking, would you say it is the contemporary 'word of mouth'?
Answer: I say it now works both ways. Social media networking triggers the 'word of mouth' thing especially if one has a big event or a big song.
Question: We are living in a digital word, which makes it very easy for people to create a release and put it out to the masses. Consequently there is a constant flow of new music, with the quality often left behind. How do you pick the artists and releases you support and promote?
Answer: I don't pick anyone they all reach out and I help.
Question: What advice do you have for an artist, producer or DJ who wants to break into the house music scene? How can they attract your attention?
Answer: Try to support other as much as possible, observe, learn and sometimes be different to the others nothing annoys me more than a copy cat especially DJ's. If you're playing the same style and choice of music that has already over saturated the movement you're only telling me you're in it first for the fame and/or are just doing it to fit in.
Question: In our previous interview from end of 2009 you mentioned that the music scene going digital hurts on a financial level. Did things change for the better since, or did things even get worse?
Answer: In terms of the actual sales yes it hurts but I'm happy to see a surge folks using the music to promote themselves thus leading to other endeavours.
Question: There is a lot of debate in the DJ scene about how new technologies change the way of DJ'ing, how DJ'ing is more and more becoming like producing in front of a crowd. Traditionalists argue that the original art form of DJ'ing should be respected, modernists argue the other way round. What arguments would you throw into the discussion?
Answer: If the DJ booth was high up and you couldn't see WHAT they were doing, but they were killing the crowd - would it make a difference on WHAT they were playing? ALL I ask is that no matter what you use - USE IT LIVE... no pre-recorded sets and just pressing the play button...
Question: There have always been ups and downs in the dance music scene in New York. How did it change in the past 5 to 10 years, do you perceive this change as good or bad?
Answer: Change can always be good, New York believe it or not I think has more events than ever before, especially in the summer.
Question: How do you assess the demise of the legendary record stores, for example in New York and London. After all, artists, producers, DJ's and music aficionados alike used to congregate there and chat about all matters related to music... and sometimes did business there, too.
Answer: One word: "Internet".
Question: Do you have any plans for the Winter Music Conference, any parties you recommend people should attend?
Answer: Please attend all parties at Yuca Lounge and the Kings Of House event (to me this is the most exciting Soul Dance Party around) at National Hotel, and also Barbara Tucker's "Let The Singer Be Heard" party.
Question: What can we expect from you in the future, any concrete plans you could share with us?
Answer: I'm planning some events for my 25th year of promoting.
Question: Any final words for our readers?
Answer: I intend to serve the dance music movement as a long as life let's me. I've been voted "Undaground Archives" best promoter 5 years in a row. I wanted to thank Mark Sandy for introducing me to underground dance music back in 1988, Barbara Tucker & Don Welch & Louie Vega for starting me off back in the 1994, T.O. Sweet and the staff at Candy Store 89.1 FM station who supported and played a major part in my being "known" nationally and internationally, Steve at Nychouseradio.com, Sammy Rock at Cyberjamz.com, everyone for supporting me and dance music.... thanks to you Mike for the interview
Thanks alot for taking the time to answer our questions.