Chandler Chruma: Arista (Sony) - West Coast Promotions
Introduce yourself to us! What do you do in the industry? Where are you from?
Hi! I frequently introduce myself as “Chandler from Friends” to clarify any confusion when people think they misheard me. I work at Arista (Sony Music) as the West Coast Promotions Manager. I am originally from Slate Hill, NY but recently moved to Los Angeles!
How did you get your start in the industry, and how long have you been in the industry?
I went to OCCC for the first two years and met a professor who thought I would be a good on air personality. She helped me get an internship for a morning show (K104) in my hometown. After a few months, as much as I wanted to be on air the position wasn't there for me so I did whatever I could to stay in the building. I was hired to their promotions staff full time and helped run their winter and summer concerts in addition to work local events at gas stations, water parks, bars etc. After I graduated from OCCC, I transferred to Marist College to study PR and Broadcasting; I stayed at the station for 5 years while doing other internships (Columbia Records and WWE). I met more people working for K104 then I ever thought I would, my old boss, Scotty Mac, took me under his wing and taught me a lot about radio programming and the biz in general. Fast forward to today, every step led me to my current role now with Arista!
When did you know being in the business is what you wanted to do? Was there a specific moment where you were like “oh god, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”?
I interned with WWE in the Live Events Department for over a year and beyond grateful that I was referred for a job after graduation. I was hired as an assistant in a completely different department and quickly realized it was not what I was told during the interview process. After a few months of sticking it out and commuting 4-6 hours a day, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I started applying for promotion gigs at every label and landed an interview with Atlantic Records - I was there for TWO HOURS. After a week or so, I got a call from John Boulos who offered me the gig and the rest is history!
*I will say the WWE Live Events internship was one of the best experiences and they have the best people!
Is there anything you struggled with (or even still do struggle with) being in the industry?
I struggle ALL THE TIME in my role. Working in promotions you are told NO 99% of the time. Imagine feeling like you don’t make any progress after four to six weeks of work? It’s draining!!! You become attached to your artists and want them to succeed but in today’s climate “so much music keeps coming out” and radio only has so many slots. The best thing to do when working in promotions is just stay close to your team, ask questions, work together, and keep fighting.
You mentioned that you travel the west coast and promote artists for radio play, what does that entail?
My role is relationship based, I am emailing, calling, and visiting stations trying to convince them to add our records. I travel A LOT, I cover the entire west coast which is typically covered by 2-3 reps at other labels. When I visit with these programs and music directors (they control what goes on the radio in their market) they sometimes already know the music, sometimes they don’t, so it’s my job to give them all the facts, data and whatever else they want to know how to get them to look at the record to be added to their playlist.
What is the best part of your job? Why?
I never thought I would get to travel the world... I didn’t even think I would leave NY! Being able to just book a flight, and visit another state for just a day or two is now such a norm. I need to take a step back and just soak it in more.
Is there someone who you consider as your mentor in the industry?
John Boulos. Hands down the greatest human in this business. He saw how hungry I was to learn and grow in the biz three years ago and gave me the opportunity to succeed. Never once shot down my ideas, understood my goals and respect work/life balance, which is uncommon in this world. I don’t know what I would do without him in my life, he is family.
What advice do you have for women who want to get their start in the music industry?
1. Don’t be afraid to be confident.
2. Continue to educate yourself in every way shape and form - don’t limit yourself to just one part of the industry
3. Continue to network with other women
Have you ever been turned down or not taken seriously because you were a female in the industry? What did you do when put into that position?
I think most women can go on about this especially working in the industry. Personally, I feel the worst is being micromanaged… being 26 and in the biz for 8 years people forget where you started and what you have learned along the way. Do not try to tell me how to do my job, I have it because I deserve it and kick ass at it! In the last few years, I have been more vocal about this and I will never change the way I do things for anyone especially if a man in the industry feels differently. The way I operate works for me and only me.
What are some of your other hobbies? What do you do in your free time (which we know can be very hard to find)?
I am either completely submerged in my couch binging shows like Mind Hunters or True Detective because in another life that's exactly what I would want to do. Otherwise, I’m looking for new things to explore, esp. in LA since I am so new here. I just signed up for my first Tough Mudder, so I am training for that which is in November!
You also mentioned you do promo tours with bands – what do you do when you’re on the road with them for a few days?
When it comes to what we have to do on the road, we spend most of our time visiting radio stations - doing interviews, shooting content and lounges for fans/staff. It’s a lot of fun doing these intimate events, it gets stations and fans involved where you don't have that one - on - one experience at venues. In between these promo’s, I’m always asking to get food/coffee. It gives us all time to just chat and have normal conversations which helps ease the stress of being on the road for 4+ weeks.
Cell phone chargers and snacks, lots of snacks. I hate when I am on the road with artists and we all get hangry.
Who is your all-time favorite artist?
I don’t have an all-time favorite artist. I really never attached to anyone but I grew up on Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Van Morrison (Sirius Classic Vinyl channel → my favorite)
What is something you can't live without?
My relationship with my parents/brother - wouldn't trade that for the world.
Go-to Karaoke song?
I get nervous singing in public unless I had a Martini … but I’m Real by Ja Rule and J. Lo or anything 2000’s rap is my sh**
Tea or Coffee?
Iced Coffee and Iced Tea!!!
First concert you went to?
What’s something that you always have on you?
I actually carry a notepad and pen, I like handwriting things!
Who is your dream artist or band to tour/work with?
What does a typical day at work look like for you? When you’re traveling vs when you’re not.
Monday - Tuesdays are the same every week. I work on east coast time so I am up early looking over all the data that rolls in (streaming, charts, spins etc). Once I have everything, I start firing off emails that have all the data needed for radio to consider our records. Everything is market specific, so it can take some time! If I am home & not traveling, I am constantly communicating with my stations to keep them in the loop on our projects.
If I am traveling, my days are all outta wack. Bouncing between flights, station visits, meetings etc., it’s important to find / plan time for myself to just sit, grab a coffee and look at emails. If I don't, I can go all day without looking at my phone.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I love working in radio, but I could see myself transitioning into management or artist development. I love being hands on with projects from start to finish and helping develop their story!
What do you hope to see done in the industry within the next few years?
1.) Let creatives be creative
2.) Stop signing “viral” content to make a quick $$$
3.) Have radio play what they want because they believe in it and want to be a part of the story
Lastly, what saying do you live by?
Without struggle, there is no progress.