Renowned music publicist Fiona Bloom walks us through her storied career, giving us an insight into how she got to where she is today.
Here at Loud Hailer, we love speaking to people in the music industry about the journey they took that led them to do what they do. Fiona Bloom‘s route to setting up her own music publicity firm is certainly a unique and inspiring one. Her path from young concert pianist to business owner has certainly taken many unexpected twists and turns.
If ever there’s proof that perseverance, hard work, and an entrepreneurial spirit prevails, this is it. Get yourself comfortable, as Fiona walks us through her life in the music industry.
LH: I’m interested in how people start out in music and I understand you started training effectively as a concert pianist.
Fiona: Yeah, I mean that’s really how I started out in the business, so when people always asked me how I got into the music industry, the first thing I always say is, well, I don’t think I got into the music industry. I think I was born into the music industry. I didn’t wake up one day decide, oh my God, I want to go after this, this is exactly what I want to do for a living. That didn’t happen. It was more like I was born and then suddenly at four years old I was already singing and playing piano and then violin. So a very different upbringing. And I think it also helped the fact that I grew up across the street from Abbey Road Studios. So little did I know that major rock and pop was being recorded and evolution of rock and roll as it is, started there. Little did I know that that was the sort of basis of me coming up in the music business.
LH: That’s amazing, right over the road!
Fiona: Yeah, Abbey Road Studios, that’s a pretty cool thing. So yeah, it’s in my blood, it’s in my veins, basically. That’s how I started. It’s funny, I go through ups and downs in this business, sometimes wishing, gosh, should I go into a different field because you have your highs and lows just like everyone else does. But people say to me, well if you left the business, where would you go? Could you do this? Could you do that? And I think to myself, hang on a minute! There’s no such thing as leaving the business! I was born in the business, I’ll die in the business. And that’s it for me, really. There’s no alternative.
LH: It’s really strange because when I speak to musicians as well, there’s that exact same frame of reference. For those guys, there was never anything else it was ever going to be for them. They would sit in their rooms and play for hours and hours a day to the detriment of their social life and everything. People ask them those questions, what would you have done if you weren’t a musician? And they can’t normally answer it. They’re like, I don’t know because it was the only thing that was ever in my mind.
Fiona: Right, right. See, that happened to me though, because I was a musician. So all I ever wanted to do was be a successful recording artist. When I realized at the tender young age of 21 that wasn’t going to be an option for me or that wasn’t going to be something that I’m actually going to be able to pursue, then I thought, what am I going to do? So then I took the obvious route – if I can’t be a musician let me be in the music business. If I can’t be in front of the camera, let me be behind the camera. Like if I can’t be on stage, let me be behind the stage. So that’s it for me. There’s nothing else.
LH: That’s a very young age to start playing. Did your parents suggest you do that? Was it something you wanted to do?
Fiona: No, no, they didn’t at all. It was all me. It all happened when I was about three. I kind of have a slight visual in my head just from my dad telling me all the time about this, telling the story over and over again. I was about three years old, sitting on my dad’s lap in the den, listening to the radio as that’s all we really had back then. Radio was really where we got all our news and listened to music. And so we’re listening to the radio and there was a music program on the BBC. I think about a week later, I started singing those songs and my dad and mum were like, how’s she singing songs? She’s three years old. How does she know these songs? And they realized, it dawned on them, well, wait a minute, we had the radio on last week. She’s memorized those songs. Which was very unusual.
LH: At that age, yes.
Fiona: Very unusual. So my parents started to talk to their friends about that and their friends were like, well, have you thought about getting her piano lessons or singing lessons or music lessons? And then they came to me and I wasn’t really speaking, but they said to me, what about playing an instrument or playing the piano? And apparently, I jumped and said, yes, I want that. And that was it. I never turned back. So after that, they never had to force me to practice. I took lessons. I was excited to go to my teachers. I was excited to go home and practice. I was excited to play and learn. That was it. No forcing me into anything.
LH: Oh, that’s excellent. And were your parents musical at all themselves?
Fiona: No, they weren’t. My mom was an aspiring actor for years, but when my dad married her, he basically took her away from all of that. So she gave up acting. She married very young, in her early twenties. She was studying acting, so she dropped all of that to marry him because he was a little bit older. And then, as far as other musical background, my grandpa was actually good at picking up music by ear. He’d never been trained, but he could sit at the piano and start playing a song. I don’t know where that came from. And then I guess my aunt’s husband’s side of the family, they’re all very, very gifted famous concert violinist, harpsichordists, and cellists. Some of the most famous classical chamber group artists in the world. But other than that, my mum and dad weren’t.
LH: In terms of playing piano, it sounds like you were really committed to it and really reached a very, very good level. Right?
Fiona: I did. I was a Steinway artist. I won a Steinway competition at a very young age. I went into a lot of other competitions. I traveled, I did a lot of chamber recitals and chamber group stuff and master classes with some very, very famous pianists. And I studied with a few famous pianists. I had scholarships, as well, for further training. So yeah, I did, I got to a certain level that everyone thought that’s it. She’s going to be famous, she’s going far, she’s going to get a recording contract and the rest is history, but that didn’t happen.
LH: So I guess the next big thing was that your family relocated to the US. Were you still playing at that point?
Fiona: To Atlanta. Yes, I was still playing. When we moved to Atlanta, I just got to the University of Maryland. So yes, I was still playing, but that was when I sort of had a midlife crisis at about 21 years old because I realized at Maryland on a full scholarship that I just wasn’t getting any better. I’d reached my peak, I’d done the Rachmaninoff third piano concerto, and I realized that the Koreans and the South Americans in my school were better than me. I wasn’t the best anymore. I wasn’t second best, I wasn’t third best. I was starting to get fifth best, sixth best. And I realized that that’s just not going cut it. So I thankfully knew that at a young age, I had the foresight at to know at 21 that it’s not going to happen. I didn’t want to say I quit on my dreams because I hate to say I failed and gave up because I did. If you think about it, I did give up, but I gave up knowingly that it wasn’t gonna happen because you know how some people give up because they just can’t take it anymore. I don’t think I gave up because of that. I didn’t give up because I couldn’t take it anymore. I gave up because I knew inside me that I wasn’t going to make it, so it had nothing to do with I couldn’t take it. It was more that I knew that I wasn’t going to make it. And that is a real epiphany. That’s a scary crossroads.
LH: At that age it was, yeah.
Fiona: That’s why I call it a midlife crisis because that’s kind of what it was. And I freaked out at that point when I realized that I was quitting because I knew I wasn’t going to make it. When I realized at that juncture that that’s what was happening to me, I basically disappeared. I went to Israel, I told my parents I’m going, I’m leaving. I had to find out what I’m going to do with my life. I have to find out who I am and my parents were very supportive about that and worried that I was moving to Israel on my own at that age, knowing that things were very volatile in Israel. Being I’m Jewish as well, they knew that it wasn’t the safest place to be. Especially back then, because we’re talking 80s.
LH: Oh yeah, so it was volatile back then.
Fiona: Exactly. So, I went to Jerusalem, I went to work at a kibbutz and I thought I was just going to be there for about six, seven, eight weeks. It turned out I was there for about seven months. There was no cell phones back then, there was no internet back then, so you can imagine I scared the shit out of them. My Dad had to call Interpol to find me.
LH: That must’ve been terrifying for them.
Fiona: You don’t think of it at the time, you don’t think of how terrifying you were to your family. I was very selfish but put myself in your shoes. I imagine doing something from the age of three or four and doing it like seven, eight hours a day with no kid life, with no young life, playing with dolls or having summer parties with your girlfriends. But think about having a very, very shallow, very insular, sort of isolated life at that young age, ripe young age and, and think of the things that does to you and then wake up and realize that it’s not happening. It’s not going to work. I mean, it did such a number on me that was all I could do was just run away. I literally ran away.
LH: Having a midlife crisis in midlife is bad enough. But having it at 21, I would guess that the thing to do is to go and take some time, maybe away from everything that you have been doing in a different environment to try and make some sense of what the next step is.
Fiona: Exactly. And the reason I chose Israel was to find my roots, and also realizing that you could go on a kibbutz. It’s a safe place to be on a kibbutz. You don’t have to spend any money, they pay you a few shekels a week to clean toilets or be in the kitchen or do stuff in the fields. It’s very mindless work, but yet, a chance to think and a chance to explore and a chance to discover which was the three things that I needed desperately.
LH: And I think that sometimes that kind of busy work where it’s repetitive and you’re doing something like that is, to me personally, that’s a bit of meditation because it doesn’t take much mental power. So your mind can go elsewhere while you’re doing that. And I think it’s useful in that respect.
Fiona: Exactly. Yup.
LH: It sounded like you started hearing this urban and hip hop music when you were in Atlanta? Had that already started affecting you before you went to Israel?
Fiona: No, never. Are you kidding me? I was so into like Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, and Bach and a little jazz. But as far as pop music or urban music or dance music. No, not really. I mean if there was, it might have been something like Madonna early on, but definitely not the hip hop. Oh no, not at all. So in Israel, I did hear fusions of amazing things. Because in Israel, I had the chance to travel around the Middle East. So I went to Egypt, I went to Turkey, Greece, etc. I would hear in the cafes or on the streets, this amazing sort of Middle Eastern blend of hip hop or dance and electronic, but blended in with like the traditional sounds and it blew my mind. I loved it, being a musician and not knowing what I’m going to do with my life, it moved me and inspired me to want to create and want to curate and want to do things to help some of these musicians. And that’s kind of what happened.
LH: And that was really where you started to cut your teeth in Atlanta in that genre of music, right? The urban environment. Which is interesting to me, an English concert pianist in Atlanta and then you move into that sort of area.
Fiona: Exactly. So, when my parents called Interpol, I finally had to come home and when I did get home, it was about 1990/91, I went to Philadelphia College Performing Arts on a full scholarship in music. I went to Maryland and did music and theater, and I thought, well now what? So when my parents brought me back to Atlanta, it was a rude awakening coming back because yes, I gained a lot of cultural knowledge and inspiration from being out in the Middle East, but now it’s like back to the real world. So I had to go back to school because I didn’t have any training or any kind of business savvy or any kind of a skill set. So I went to Georgia State University which is in Atlanta and I had to pick a degree and I was sweating going through the list of what degrees I could do because back then there was no degree in Music Business. There was no program in anything like Creative Arts or anything like that. I mean, there was a Fine Arts, but I’m not a painter.I’m not a sculptor, so I literally was like, what am I going to do? And I chose speech communications because I thought, well, you know, I have the gift of gab, I know how to speak to people. I have effective communication skills. I have great elocution, great enunciation. I should be able to ace these courses. And that’s what I did. I picked Speech Communication with a minor in Broadcast Journalism. That’s what I graduated in and while I was in school there, there was WRAS 88.5fm, the most influential, most powerful college radio station in the country. I just went in there relentless saying, I want to be on the radio. I heard that they had a “Best of Britain” show, which was a weekly show and it was hosted by two Americans. And I thought, well hang on there a minute, what’s the “Best of Britain” show doing, being hosted by two Americans? So I talked them into hiring me to guest host and they just loved me. Audiences went mad. The phones were lighting up, that they finally gave me my own show. And then from there, I got recruited onto commercial radio and then next thing you know, I started to have quite a moderately successful career in radio, Radio Personality Assistant Music Director, helping Star 94 with picking playlists and dealing with record companies and going through all that. I was also promoting on the side. So I was a party promoter because the radio stuff couldn’t sustain me because being on the air was $7 an hour, they weren’t paying much and a salary there I once I did get in was like $25,000. So it wasn’t very much. And so I party promoted on the side doing these parties at these clubs that happened to be DJs or hip hop and next thing you know I became like a hip hop DJ because after losing the commercial radio thing, I got into public radio WRFG 89.3 and from there I had a daily radio show. I was on every single day called “World Party.” And that show became one of the most successful shows in non-commercial radio in Atlanta.
LH: There’s a real entrepreneurial streak running through you.
Fiona: Well, it’s funny you say that because for years people used to ask me, so what do you do exactly? And I never knew the way to describe it other than the fact that I said hustle. Hustle doing this, doing that, doing this job. Basically, I would always say to them, well I run this company, I do a little bit of this, I do marketing for this, I do that. And they would always look at me like, you wear so many hats, how do you keep it straight? And I kept saying to myself, I wish there was a name for that, like a proper name for a hustler. A couple of years later, “Entrepreneurs” came into play as like the hot term of the day and I’m like, that’s it! That’s what I’ve always been! This entrepreneur name, whoever coined that name is exactly what I wanted to call myself back in the early nineties. I’m an entrepreneur. I got the radio show, I was also a party promoter, I also started my own PR firm with another partner who is now a successful publicist in Athens, Georgia. We called it Roche and Bloom and she handled the PR and I handled radio promotions. That was in 1991/92 and it really took off because we started doing all the Atlanta artists, you know not REM from Athens, but like some of the other ones like Drivin’ and Cryin’, Follow For Now, JOI, Five Eight, Michelle Malone – they all went on to successful careers in the nineties. We basically launched their careers. I had the successful non-commercial radio station, I was killing it in a Pro promotions firm that I co-owned, and I was also a party promoter. So yeah, I was doing pretty well at the tender age of 24/25.
LH: Yeah, many hats. And I guess under-pinning it, certain people do just have an ear for new music, spotting artists that they think other people are going like and spotting them at an early stage. And you obviously had that from the time that you started working on the radio.
Fiona: Exactly, yes. Because I was playlisting all my stuff. Everything I programmed came from me. I would pick it all day long – just go to record stores, labels would hit me up, send me tons and tons of 12 inches, tons of CD’s and I would just go through stuff all day long and listen to stuff and whatever moved me or something that I felt had something, had a quality, I played it. And then not only did I have the number one non-commercial show or was the number one most successful, most popular DJ or a radio announcer, I also became the influencer in the Atlanta market. So I’d be breaking stuff on the radio all day long and then labels would come to me and put me on lists for certain things or premieres for things or invites to certain private events and then artists would come on my show and I’d interview them all day long and then years later they’d become world-renowned artists.
LH: So you’re at the radio station, you’re doing party planning, you’ve got a business now, and then I guess it’s that specific talent that led to a record company, you moving to a record company or being approached to work for a record company?
Fiona: Yes, yes. I’ll tell you what happened. A complete fluke, you know, when they say luck, it’s not all luck. It’s a little bit of luck and it’s timing, etc. Well, this one I have to say it was all luck. Not to say that I didn’t have the ears, but it was luck to get the type of job that I got. Because think about it, I had the PR promotions firm, I was a party promoter and I was a radio personality. Again, combining all of that together, still not making enough, but making a decent living, living in Atlanta. Because you don’t need a ton of money back then. As well, in the nineties, the inflation hadn’t hit as hard as it is now, or the early 2000s, in the Millenium. So, with all that said, I definitely had a gift. I knew that I was a really great personality on the radio and I knew that I was doing really well with my local Atlanta artists or some of the regional acts that I was breaking on the radio, doing tracking, calling college radio, calling community radio. But did I have a real success breakthrough in terms of clients? Not really. I mean, I had a breakthrough in terms of building a buzz, but it was more on a regional level. So that’s why I say it was a bit of a fluke.
So what happened was I’m in Atlanta doing my thing, I’m running around the clubs. I think at that point, I’m at an urban club, it was a hip hop thing. I’m maybe one of the only white people in the club in Atlanta. And at the time, Daniel Glass, who was the president of Chrysalis EMI records. He started Glassnote. He’s very successful. He has Mumford and Sons and he’s got some amazing artists. So he was the president of Chrysalis EMI. He signed a lot of Atlanta artists. He signed Arrested Development, he signed Joy, he signed Dallas, Austin. He signed a lot of artists. I knew them all because of being where I was being centered in the hub of it all in the beginnings of a scene that was really starting to explode, but early days. So he recognized all that. He loved my energy, he loved my passion and he saw me work the room. It was at a private event and he came up to me at the end of the night, and basically said, you know, I’ve been watching you all night, I’ve been watching you hustle, watching you work the room with your magic. He said, I don’t know how you do it, but everybody seems to adore you. Everyone seems to love you. He says, I think we could use that in New York. And I had no idea who he was, by the way, I didn’t know about record companies very much. I never really followed the record industry because only when I was in the radio station, when labels were hitting me up, asking me to play their records, I knew who the regional reps were, but I didn’t think of, oh my god, I’d love to work a Polygram, or oh my god, I’d love to work at Arista or oh my god, I’d love to work at Sire or Nonsuch. I didn’t really think of it like that. It was more like I’d love a major radio break, break in the commercial radio thing, or I’d like to do a syndicated show or I’d like to….You know, the business wasn’t really driving me. It was more like I’m an entrepreneur, but I’m a personality. I like to party promote. It was just sort of an overall well-rounded, public figure Fiona Bloom kind of thing, right? Also, by the way, I didn’t want to miss this. While I was doing all this radio stuff, I also emceed shows. So because I had a local name, people would call me and say, hey let’s get you to intro this concert. Let’s get you out to do that, or to do this, do that, or the other. So yes, I was a real personality and I loved it. I loved the energy of that. Because I wasn’t a musician, this is the next best thing. I can still be on stage.
LH: Exactly. You’re still in front of an audience. You still get that feeling.
Fiona: Right. I’m emceeing, I’m doing remotes, I’m doing hosting, I’m still on stage. I loved it. I had the energy and the personality and the drive for that. So the behind the scenes radio promotion with my partner doing the firm, it was cool, but I didn’t love it. So when he comes to me and says, we could use you in New York, I had no idea who he was. I said to him, well, what do you have in New York? And he said, well, I’m the president of such and such record company, how would you like to do marketing for us? And I wasn’t that excited, but I thought, I want to be in New York. That’s always been a dream of mine, too. So I thought, well sure I’m interested, what would I need to do? So he thought that was so funny. He’s like, you don’t know who the company is, you don’t know who I am. I’m like, no, I don’t know any of that. He started laughing. He sort of liked the naivety and the fact that I was so fresh about it and no attitude, not disinterested, but almost like didn’t really care either way. He thought that that was actually refreshing because he said, do you know how many people are dying and begging to do this, would beg to do this job. And I was almost like not really, like, eh, take it either way. He liked that. And so he said, here’s my information. He said, call me and I’ll let you know exactly what it entails and if you’re serious, if you want this, you can have it. But that wasn’t that easy because that took six months to get it. I literally called him three times a week. I called him three times a week for about four months straight. He never took my calls.
LH: So he made you work for it in that sense.
Fiona: Yeah, but then he put the idea in my head of getting to New York and I started doing research on the record company, Chrysalis and SBK and EMI, and I thought, oh my god, it wouldn’t be a bad place at all. There’s some cool artists that I like. I like Billy Idol, Arrested Development was on that label. Gang Starr was on that label. There were a few artists I really passionately liked and I thought well damn it! Now you’re not taking my calls! I kept going and going with my nonstop follow through, my being a little bit annoying because that’s what you do in this biz and I guess he loved that. And finally, his assistant finally took my call. She calls me back says, listen, can you come up to interview in the next two weeks? And I was like, sure, can you send me a plane ticket? She was like, no, honey, that’s on you. You need to pay for your flight. You need to figure out where you’re staying, come up and interview. So I thought, oh well, okay, I’ll do that. I mean I didn’t really want to spend the money and flights were kind of expensive but I thought I might as well do it. It’s a once in a lifetime thing. So sure enough, I did the interview, paid for the flights, didn’t really know anyone in New York. I mean, I hadn’t worked in the record industry ever. I’m living in Atlanta, I came from London, had no contacts in New York. And because I didn’t pursue them, I didn’t feel like I needed to. I was doing regional promotion in Atlanta radio. I didn’t need any contacts in New York.
So when I came up there, the interview was literally from 9:15 in the morning till 6:00 PM. They had me interview with the mailman, to the art director, to the radio folks, to the street marketing teams, to the retail people to finally Daniel Glass himself. You know, Kai Davis, his son who was working in legal at the time, Fred Davis, he had me interview and meet with everybody. Everybody! So I mean talk about pressure, talk about nerve-wracking. By the end of it, I had no idea whether I was going to get the job or not. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know if these people liked me. I didn’t know if I had pitched myself properly, if I had presented a good picture of what I am, what I’ve done, because at that point I didn’t have any real experience other than the limited stuff I was doing. I’ve just been a very successful DJ personality in the south. I had no clue. So I flew back to Atlanta, a little bit depressed thinking it’s not going to happen to me, no way. Two weeks later, this is about November 30th, 1993, he called me and said, you’ve got the job, when can you start? And I remember putting down the phone for a second and coming back and screaming the loudest scream I’ve ever done in my life. And Daniel Glass’ assistant was like, oh my god, you almost deafened me! I’m so sorry. I’m so, so, so, so, so excited. I didn’t even ask them what I was going to make. I was so excited that I didn’t say what’s the exact position and what’s the salary?
LH: So you just said yes.
Fiona: I didn’t even care. I was like, okay, just let me know when I have to be there. And she said, January 2nd. I think I moved either New Year’s Eve or January 1st and I literally started like two days later. It was insane and I didn’t even know what I was making until I sat down with the Human Resources department to get everything together, paperwork and everything, that they finally told me what my salary was. And I’m like, well I can’t say no to that now. It was a good salary. Let’s just say that. It was, really for me to have that experience, it was a frigging great salary.
But let me just tell you, I had enough time to pack, barely enough time to pack and put together the most amazing goodbye party ever. And I’ll never forget the goodbye party because I was so big in the hip hop world and the urban world in Atlanta, I had Outkast. Outkast performed, Escape performed, Lil Jon was the DJ, Ludacris, and Ludacris’ manager was the MC, Shaka Zulu, some of the TLC folks were there, Pebbles was there, who managed TLC at the time, LA Reid, Bryant Reid, the other half of Babyface, Bill Campbell, the mayor at the time, it was a who’s who in the urban world. And it was written up everywhere. It was written up in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, it was in Peach Buzz, it was all over the radio, it was in the Creative Loafing. It was a huge to-do, a huge show and that was like the send-off. I felt like that was not just a send-off for me, but also the very beginnings of something brewing huge in Atlanta. That is exactly what it is today in Atlanta. What popped up at my goodbye party basically spawned this huge, massive industry and mind-bending genre of trap and rap of the scene it is now today.
LH: What an amazing lineup for a goodbye party! And then you move to New York, coming from Atlanta. At the minute I’m reading the Beastie Boys’ book and New York was a very different place back then than it is now. Obviously in the nineties, I think it was starting to change, but it’s been interesting to me reading their book about growing up in New York and what that city was like then, compared to what I’ve only ever seen of New York, which is over the last seven years when I’ve traveled there. It must’ve been a big change making that move, just in terms of living circumstances and the environment.
Fiona: Yeah. I mean it was a huge change. Well, the thing is though, back then, I mean the New York scene was still really, really strong for rock music. The thing is, when I worked at EMI, it was a very short stint. I mean, listen, I’m not gonna lie, I was in over my head. I was thrown to the wolves, I was eaten up alive. I really was. I was miserable because I was stifled because any of my creative juices, any of my passion and my entrepreneurial spirit was suffocated. It was completely wiped out from under me. And I had not only bosses but I had people that supposedly should be team players but just weren’t going to help me. Nobody was wanting to support me or wanting to show me the ropes. So it’s just nobody had time. I think people were pissed at the fact that Daniel brought someone like me in. Because let’s face it, no experience. And I think that they felt slighted or bothered or just really just pissed at the idea that I could even have a job like this.
LH: From my experience, sometimes, depending on the organization, I think the larger organizations get, the more red tape and things like that they put in place, and the more difficult it becomes for anyone to be creative in that environment. That would be tough being moved into that environment where if people are not fully behind you, that makes it a lot harder.
Fiona: Exactly. So the fact that I lost it a little under a year was pretty amazing actually because there were days I’d come in feeling like I was going to be fired that very moment, like after the first three, four, five weeks. That’s how bad it was. And the people there, even though nobody was really supportive of me and there was a lot of cutting throats stuff happening, I think in hindsight, the people that worked there were actually lovely people. It’s just that because I was in over my head, I just feel like people saw that and they knew that I knew that and they just didn’t want to waste their time helping me. I mean, there are a couple of people that did help me, that did sort of take me under their wing, but for the most part I knew that people were probably thinking to themselves, talking amongst themselves, probably thinking, god, how long is she going to last? And it’s fine. Again, I was young. I was new, first job in New York. I mean, listen, the first job in New York, coming from being a classical pianist and growing up in London, it’s actually not a bad thing to say I was a Manager of Marketing for EMI records as a first gig. I mean let’s face it, first gigs are usually assistants, they’re usually interns, turning into something else. Or they’re usually receptionist. First gigs in the music industry are definitely not managing a team of people and doing something on a national level, right? That’s what I had, that was massive.
So, it was short-lived and a lot of my Atlanta folks, when they heard I’d lost my job, everyone, and not even just Atlanta people, but every one of my urban contacts just assumed I’d go back to Atlanta and be a big fish in a small pond again because it was a smaller pond back then. This is still the early nineties, mid-nineties. Atlanta hadn’t exploded yet. So everyone thought, maybe you’re coming back, yes? And I thought, are you crazy? How the hell can I come back to Atlanta after the biggest sendoff ever? How humiliating would that be? Talk about publicly failing. So, I just insisted I was just going to figure it out here. I was going to figure it out being a little under a year at EMI, still not having that many contacts because it’s just under a year, got my feet wet, but thinking, gosh, where am I going to go from here?
So luckily there was a guy that heard about me and I reached out to him from somebody else who’d said, why don’t you contact him? He happened to book a successful club at the time, very, very hot rock club called Brownies, probably the hottest club in New York at the time. Every great rock and roll artist would play there. Everybody from Lou Reed, to Nirvana, Soundgarden, like everybody… Pearl Jam, it wouldn’t be surprising if Pearl Jam got their start there at Brownies when they first came to New York. So Mike Stuto heard about me and he said, listen, there’s a small label starting out that’s got a lot of cash behind them, a lot of investment behind them because the guy that owns it comes from Wall Street. He had money and he started this record label because he got paid out from an investment firm, Morgan Stanley, and he was miserable doing that and this is all he ever wanted to do. So he started this company called Zero Hour Records and I ended up being there for almost six and a half years and it did tremendously well. All really because of me. Because I built the publicity department from the ground up basically and built it to such a place that major labels were seeing that I was getting more press on their artists than a major label publicist was getting. Everybody was trying to take me, steal me away because they saw the amazing amount of work that I was producing and the amount of press I was securing for bands. It was huge, everything from Newsweek to Entertainment Weekly to New York Times, The Spin to Rolling Stone to Alternative Press and more. People were just like god, everything she touches is magic and she just turns it to gold.
LH: So when you go in there and you start out in that, I would guess a lot of that is just relentless hard work?
Fiona: Yeah. Relentless hard work, being in your face. The Chicago Sun Times, Jim DeRogatis quoted me once in his Sun Times piece about one of the artists on Zero Hour. He said that I was “one of the most persistent arm-twisters in the business.” That’s exactly what I was. I was an arm-twister – the type that’s annoying, but borderline annoying, but not the bad annoying. They’re aggressive but not overly aggressive, annoying but not bad annoying. But yes, in your face all the time because you had to be, otherwise you weren’t going to get anywhere. It takes a certain breed of person to be able to do that. A lot of people can’t.
LH: Yeah, it’s a skill in itself I think, and it’s interesting as well to me because you started in the business and have been there throughout the social media revolution as well. I think you were probably an early adopter or you recognized the potential of it at an early stage, right?
Fiona: Exactly, yes. So when Mike Stuto got me the interview, Ray McKenzie practically hired me on the spot, loved me, loved my tenacity, loved my vivaciousness, my energy, my passion, all of it. He had a great feeling about it and pretty much called me the next day and said, when can you start? And from there I was there from the end of 1994 till June 1999. And Daniel Glass came back in the picture by the way, because he’d started a company after he left EMI. He started a company with Doug Morris called Rising Tide, and he and I stayed in touch and he said to me listen, we’ve got this hot record company, we’re looking for artists. So I told him what we’re doing at Zero Hour and he was very impressed. The next thing you know, we had a closed-door meeting that I wasn’t privy to, with him, Doug Morris and Ray McKenzie and it turned out they did a massive multimillion deal with us, which I ended up seeing $7,000 bonus because I didn’t have the business smarts. I should have walked away with at least $150,000 from that deal. And I got $7,000. My boss Ray McKenzie said to me, oh Fiona, I’ve got a little gift for you. Thanks for introducing that deal. And you know, I gladly took the $7,000, but looking back on that, I realized a few years later what an idiot I was. What a bloody idiot.
LH: I guess you learn from that kind of thing.
Fiona: You learn and he was good to me Ray McKenzie, because at one point he said to me back in 1997/98, after that deal went through with Rising Tide, he did say to me, what is it you want to do here? I’ll give you anything you want. So I did say to him, I’d love to start a hip hop label, and he gave it to me. He allowed me to do it. I called it 3-2-1 Records, and the first thing I ran off to sign was Blackalicious and then several others after that. I think I was the first to discover the Atmosphere. There were so many groups I went after. He allowed me to fly around the world, just to look for talent. He trusted me.
LH: Which must have been a fantastic experience, as well.
Fiona: It was, it was a great experience. I traveled the world because of him. I made amazing relationships, built amazing relationships with companies like Raucous and Stone’s Throw and Def Jux and other labels, Fat Beats, every hip hop label you can imagine because I had started 3-2-1. Every hip hop label you could imagine. Not even labels, but every DJ, every producer, every record store. I got amazing relationships with all of them.
LH: So what triggered the move and then setting up your own business? Did that happen around 2007? Was there anything in between?
Fiona: No, no, no. Oh my gosh. So you see that I’ve been an entrepreneur from day one, pretty much. I’m a very enterprising person. So 3-2-1, even though it was Zero Hour, it’s still technically my own company because it’s my baby. I’m running it. I’m putting a team together. I brought on an urban radio guy, brought on another retail guy to track. I brought on some street team folks, I hired press. Even though I did the press as well, I ran it, I was signing things. I got the deals with ADA, with RED, with Caroline Distribution. I got amazing deals and then we were selling so many records that it turned out we were selling more on the hip hop stuff with 3-2-1 than Zero Hour. Suddenly Zero Hour the rock stuff couldn’t get Arrested, and the hip hop we were killing it. So what happened was because the volume of a hip hop wasn’t as much as Zero Hour because Zero Hour had maybe 15, 20 titles, hip hop only had about five titles, but I was still out doing everything the 15 titles were doing, but it wasn’t enough releases. So because of it, Rising Tide saw the bad performance overall at Zero Hour that they pulled out of our deal. So we lost a lot of money. We, as in the parent company Zero Hour, that was paying all these lavish salaries all of a sudden, not mine but in general lavish salaries to Zero Hour, bringing a VP of Marketing, bringing in this person, that person, moving into the Flat Iron District in New York. So with all these high expensive, very, very high overheads and then losing this deal, Ray basically was hemorrhaging. The company was hemorrhaging, went out of business, pulled the rug out of us. It was terrible. So it was pretty much one of the worst times of my life because I had Blackalicious in the studio. Rubber Room were on tour. I was just about to sign Atmosphere. I’d been wining and dining a few artists to do all these different production deals, and with the rug being pulled out from under me, all of a sudden I’m getting death threats from producers saying you owe me $7,000. We mastered this album and now we’re owed $15,000 and where can I get the money? Because I was the face of 3-2-1, but I wasn’t the money person. Oh, it put me in such a bad way that it ended up driving me to the hospital. I ended up having an emergency operation for, thank god it was benign, but I had a major tumor, so I had to go under for a while. Yeah, terrible period of my life. That was the end of 1999.
So after I recovered from surgery and all of that, I was in Atlanta at the time, with my parents recovering. I then thought, well, I need to go back to figuring out what to do with these artists because then they figured out it wasn’t me, figured out a way to solve the debt. So somebody else introduced me to another person. It was Stress Magazine at the time, a hip hop magazine that introduced me to another investor, called Peter Lupoff who was at Bear Sterns. So here I was at Morgan Stanley with Ray McKenzie with the money there, and now I’ve got this Bear Sterns guy and he was fantastic. He bailed all of us out. He bailed everything that was owed, my god, talk about a blessing. But I had to go through hell, I had to go through an operation and hell. Peter Lupoff basically paid off all the debt, all the outstanding debts that 3-2-1 owed to all my hip hop artists. Bailed them all out and paid me because I didn’t have money for a while. But of course, there was a catch. He paid me because he wanted to go into business with me. We ended up going into business with a record company called Sub Verse. So rather than just Peter and I, I decided, well, if we’re gonna do this, let’s do it right and let’s get a hip hop A&R guy involved, which was the guy that used to be Company Flow, Bigg Jus who was with Raucous at the time, let’s bring him in. Because he’d split up from Company Flow, El-P who founded Def Jux, and the three of us were a trifecta. So we killed it. The first things out of the box was MF Doom. We signed MF Doom, I put out Operation: Doomsday and KMD’s Black Bastards. We did Scienz of Life, we did a deal with Blackalicious with MCA at the time because after we couldn’t pay Blackalicious to master the album, from 3-2-1 days, they ended up having to do deal with MCA because that was the company that wanted to put out that record.
So when I went to MCA at the time I said, listen I’m back, I want to put out this record with you since I discovered them so MCA allowed me to do a joint venture deal with Blackalicious which was beautiful. So with Sub Verse, and MCA and then MF Doom, we sold out hundreds of thousands of albums and we were doing really, really, really well. But then what happened was we had an office down in Tribeca, and 9/11 happened. And my partner, Peter Lupoff, was living down the street. He was evacuated for months and months and months, and we couldn’t get into our office as well for months and months and months because they were right there at ground zero. And my third partner, Bigg Juss, from Company Flow, disappears. He thought it was Nostradamus. He vanished from the world. He freaked.
LH: Took himself away.
Fiona: Yeah. And I just felt like, oh my god, once we could get into the office, I just felt sick. I was just like, Sub Verse, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do it. I can’t go on. So I severed ties. And again, stupidly without putting business ideas into it, because I realized I walked away from probably half a million dollars that was owed to me. I walked away with nothing. I walked away having built a pretty lucrative business, until 9/11. But nonetheless, a lucrative business with artists that were doing pretty well with a label deal. I walked away with nothing, absolutely nothing.
LH: What’s interesting to me as well in all of this is these investment bankers know where to put their money to earn a fantastic return with probably a hell of a lot less risk than putting it into a new startup record business. So it must be purely for the passion of it for those guys, as well.
Fiona: Well yes and no. I mean, think about it. We’re talking nineties.
LH: Ah, yeah I guess.
Fiona: The internet boom was starting to happen, with Napster and MP3.com and all this other stuff. But prior to that, I mean the record business, you could put out a single and sell 100,000 CDs and then 20,000/30,000 vinyl. So it was lucrative to get into the business as an investor. It was very lucrative. It wasn’t until about 2001/2 after 9/11 that Wall Street crashed. It wasn’t until the crash that investors wanted to get the hell out. Peter Lupoff came into the picture a little bit late, but it was still at the very tail end of the music industry booming.
LH: It’s been so long now that it’s more difficult to make a living from actually selling records rather than touring that I’ve probably got into the mindset that it was always like that. I hadn’t thought about it like that, actually. No, you’re right.
Fiona: Exactly. Yeah. So, after the Sub Verse situation, I had to take a bit of a break because 9/11 really did freak me out and then leaving a company that was blood, sweat, tears and having some pretty good success with, I was kind of shell-shocked, to be honest. So when I say I took a break I mean, I took a break from being in business again. I just took a break from being that entrepreneur for a second. I obviously was still hustling because I was freelancing. Freelancing is still very much entrepreneurial, but it had different repercussions. Like you weren’t subjected to the pressures of delivering as much, financially.
LH: All of the responsibility isn’t on you.
Fiona: Yeah, exactly. So I was freelancing, you know to pay the bills because again, I’m in New York, it’s an expensive city. You have to pay the bills. It’s 2001/2, and then I found out about a job at a nightclub talent booking, and I was like, oh, I’d love to do that. And I got the gig. It was Joe’s Pub, public theater, a very hot venue here in New York. So I basically ran with that. I developed an amazingly hot, hot, hot series, the late night series at Joe’s Pub and I was talent booking there every single night. I was producing shows every single night and all kinds of people would come in. David Byrne, Lou Reed came in, Suzanne Vega would come in just to sit at the tables and hang out.
LH: To actually watch?
Fiona: Yeah, it was that sort of a place. So I started getting friendly with some of these people, just seeing them, not friendly, but just being acquainted with some of these pretty well-known people in the scene and some of them would come to my shows as well. Not just come in early but also stay for the late nights. And I started booking, again with my A&R hat, my ability to recognize talent, my ability to curate and throw parties from my Atlanta days, I knew I could do this. And actually, when I had Sub Verse, I also had a Subversive Skool. I had a very successful production company with Sub Verse called Subversive Skool and I was bringing in artists to South by Southwest, and to Canadian Music Week and to A3C in Atlanta. Just different areas, building out their hip hop programming through Sub Verse. I was being clever branding our record company, but at the same time also curating shows I’m putting people on. I was the first to bring Aloe Blacc to shows, the first to give Atmosphere their shows on the east coast, the first to do stuff with Zion I. And I mean the list goes on and on. So while I was doing all of that, I remember Phife from A Tribe Called Quest when he broke out, when he did the solo stuff I was the first to do shows with him. I mean, just loads and loads and loads of firsts, and my shows were very, very, very popular. Which doesn’t surprise you because my radio shows were popular. So why wouldn’t my club shows be popular? It’s just a different medium, the same effect.
LH: Yeah, exactly. It’s just the live version.
Fiona: So I loved the dream job at Joe’s Pub because I could continue being the first to do that. I was the first to do Spank Rock and the first to bring artists like Kudo and these electronic artists and Sway, the rapper from the uk, and so many other great artists. Jazmine Sullivan, I did her first show when Missy Elliott was in the audience. Jazmine Sullivan went on to become pretty big and there was a lot of those. And from there, I was at Midem one year because again, I was doing my freelance stuff, so one of my clients took me to Midem. Midem’s the big international conference which I’d gone to every year. At Midem, I ran into Steve Gottlieb, who was the president of TVT records at the time. This was 2004/5. And that was when Lil Jon was signed, Ying Yang Twins, Pitbull, Gil Scott-Heron… Nine Inch Nails wasn’t there anymore but TVT was a pretty big major force in independent music. He ended up giving me the job as an International Marketing Director. So from there I basically looked after Lil Jon, went on tour with him in Europe. And it’s funny because it all went full circle. Here I am with Lil Jon when he did my goodbye party in 1993 and now at 2004/5, I’m with Lil Jon again. It’s just a full circle. So there’s that, Ying Yang Twins, and then Pitbull, I was with him when his first record came out before he became the massive star he is today. So I was at TVT, but that was a very tough place to work because there’s no secret that Steve was not the easiest person to work with, to work for and to work with. He was definitely a dictator, definitely hard on his employees, a little crazy. Anyway, the employees that worked there were fabulous, but the environment itself was unpleasant. I’d have to say as unpleasant or worse than my time at EMI.
LH: It comes down from the top like that, right? So if the guy at the very top is that way, then the environment’s never going to be right.
Fiona: Yeah, exactly. So again, I was suffocating, smothered, couldn’t really be who I was, couldn’t really shine, and he thought I was an idiot. I pretty much think that Steve thought I was an idiot, probably thinking, what the hell does she do? What can she do? It was just one of those things. I was very stifled. It was just an awful place. So, luckily for me, I ended up getting, I don’t want to say fired, but they worked out a deal for me to leave. They just worked out a deal like we know it’s not working here, Fiona. We love you, not “we” as in Steve, but my boss. Steve was the owner and the president, but Paul Burgess was a lovely guy. He was my direct to reporting everyday guy. He loved me. He said, you know, Fiona, quite frankly, Steve and you don’t get along. Steve doesn’t really see what you’re doing. He said, I however do, but this is what we want to present to you. And they basically phased me out, which was the best thing to do really to be phased out because then I could actually keep working there while still looking for another job and know that my days were numbered, but know that I wasn’t being fired right then and there.
LH: Yeah. Which is definitely the best way to do it.
Fiona: Yeah. So at that point, I had a very cushy situation which didn’t last long either mind you, but it was a very nice situation to be in. While I knew my job was diminishing and knew that I was going to be phased out, while I knew that, I would just come in and do what I needed to do to get by, but then just scour the web, looking for a new gig. And at the time, a former intern of mine who’d worked with me at 3-2-1/Zero Hour, a lovely guy, Shawn Quinn, I’d like to stay in touch with everyone, so at the time he knew that I was a TVT, but I called him and said, I’m sort of being phased out of TVT and I need a gig. And he said to me, well Fiona, you might be interested in this. We might be interested in bringing you on. It’s a Swedish label, metal label because Shawn Quinn at the time was in metal. That was his specialty. Shawn Quinn is great because even though he started out as my intern, he is successful today. He’s the general manager of a metal label called Napalm. So he’s the general manager there, built out the UK team as it’s based out of Europe somewhere. So he runs the day to day here. Anyway, at the time he was running the Swedish label and doing the metal stuff and they told him they wanted a hip hop division. So he said to me, Fiona, why don’t you come and do A&R for us, and look after some of the existing rap stuff and then go out and find some new stuff. And I thought, my god, what a dream. It’d be lovely. And he said to me, what do you think you’d want for this? And he said, listen, they’ve got money, so why don’t you offer as much as you think you’d like. So I thought, okay. So I was asking for about $10,000 a month. And they said, yep, you got it. They would wire me every month, $10,000. I couldn’t believe it, for a very cushy job because I have to admit I maybe worked three, four hours a day for about $10,000 a month.
LH: But right in your sweet spot, I guess, in terms of what you could do for them.
Fiona: Oh my god. But silly me again, not being the best at business. So here I am, a creative entrepreneur who just still didn’t get it in business. Still didn’t have the panache to be a successful business-minded mogul. So what do I do with that $10,000 a month? Guess what? I decide to take acting classes and I decide to travel and I decide to entertain my friends with expensive bottles of wine and restaurants and things like that. So I basically went through $10,000 a month like that. What should have been saved in the bank. I saved nothing.
LH: But you probably had some fun, I’m guessing?
Fiona: And short-lived again. That gig lasted me about eight months. So $80,000 with nothing to show for it. $80,000 with zero in the bank. Unbelievable. But you know, in my head I don’t know what I’m thinking.
LH: Well, I guess as well you probably had some fun with that $80,000?
Fiona: Oh, are you kidding me? I had the time of my life!
LH: Yeah, exactly. So it’s not entirely wasted, then.
Fiona: But you can’t hold onto fun can you?
LH: Well, yes that’s true.
Fiona: Fun is for the moment. Fun is not your future, is it?
LH: Yeah. But you can keep up that fun locked away and then go there when you are feeling a bit down. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I’m spending too much money!
Fiona: Yeah. I don’t know about that. Listen, do I have regrets back then? I mean, no, I’m not going to say I have regrets because I feel, like you said, yeah, you can’t bottle up the fun but those moments that I had the fun, it was great. And I went to a lot of parties. Yeah, I established a good networking circuit of people. I definitely grew my network. So when that was short-lived, 2005/6 – that’s when I realized a few months later, you know what? I’m not even sure what else I can do. I’m not going to look for another gig. I might as well just start my own firm and call it a day and that’s when The Bloom Effect was born. So that brings us almost to fast forward to where we are today because I haven’t looked back. Since 2007, starting The Bloom Effect, I really haven’t looked back other than the fact that I did have a short stint at BMG last year. It was almost like doing PR at BMG but also doing The Bloom Effect as well. So it wasn’t like I left for them. In fact, it was more like a full-time consulting position at BMG. And then I left that in May because I realized, you know what? If I really want to be serious with The Bloom Effect and not exhaust myself, it’s one or the other. So I decided to stay with what I’m best at, being an entrepreneur.
LH: What it’s allowed you to do is really focus on all of your strengths, right? You can work exclusively in those areas where you know you most effective, and that’s working out really well for you.
Fiona: I think it is, knock on wood. Things seem to be pretty good. I finished off 2018 with a bang. Another client a second year in a row with a GRAMMY nod, and The Zombies getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
LH: Raul Midón got the GRAMMY nod, right?
Fiona: Yeah. And he did it last year, too. I did both campaigns for him. I was doing the PR for Badass and Blind, which got him a GRAMMY nod last year. And then this brand new album, If You Really Want, got him another GRAMMY nod. So second in a row, and funnily enough, in his 15-year career, this last two years has been his only time ever to get GRAMMY nominations. He didn’t even get one when he was with Blue Note Records. So you know, it goes to show that I’m good at what I do. And then The Zombies, I’ve been working with them for three and a half years and we get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They’ll be inducted in March.
LH: That’s a real achievement for them and it will be great to watch the induction this year.
Fiona: Yes, exactly. So I’m very happy about that. And then ended the year with an amazing tour. I did the North American tour for Simple Minds.
LH: Yeah, we got to cover that show and really enjoyed it.
Fiona: That’s right. Yeah. And then, the Tower of Power, the legendary funk band basically went into obscurity. I ended up digging them up from the grave and they said that out of their 50-year career, this was the most press they’ve had their entire life. So yeah, these are the types of testimonials I’m getting from my clients because I persevere because I’m relentless. I’m passionate and I hustle.
LH: And you still seem to enjoy spotting new talent as well.
Fiona: All the time. Oh my god. All the time. I mean, right now I’m really excited about a few artists. One that I spotted that actually played my party two years ago at the Soho House, that I ended up now working with. I didn’t think I’d be working with her, but two years later I just started working with her. Her name is Trishes, she’s out of LA. I think she’s extremely talented, very young from Trinidad. She’s brand new. And then another artist that I’m working with that’s also brand new, is called AJ Smith. He’s a singer-songwriter that’s the first to graduate with a master’s degree in Songwriting, which is a pretty big deal. And then the other one I’m excited about is The Liza Colby Sound. So you know, these are brand new and I’ve got the Lowdown Brass Band from Chicago. I mean, I always like to keep my hands in new talent even though it’s not as easy as it used to be to develop new talent because there’s less and less outlets that will talk about it or write about you these days. It’s sort of a catch 22. You have to have so much traction now or 100,000 followers on Facebook or x amount of IG fans. It’s very hard to get written about or get traction on PR these days. Not like it used to be. So developing artists is a very, very tricky arena to be in these days, but I’m not giving up on it. You know, I love discovering new artists, I love booking and I still like to curate parties from time to time when I have time for it. And then create a tip sheet from time to time, letting industry insiders know what hot music is out there.
LH: I’ve talked to a few different artists and things like that about the music current and technology. I watch a lot of industry interviews and I watched an interview with the president of a large record company, and it was interesting to me. Obviously, gone are the days of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or anything like that where you just record a cassette and then drop it off with people and they listen to it and decide what’s good and what’s not. This president said, if a new artist turned up to sign with his label and they hadn’t already built a significant social media following on Instagram, Bandcamp or Soundcloud, he wouldn’t even let them through the door. It’s become so important now. And I think there’s a positive and a negative side to it, right? Because the bands have this direct path to the audience, which the audience can connect with them, I think more directly than ever before. But then, also you’ve got to manage your message slightly and what you say in that arena because these days, more than ever, things tend to get picked to pieces and you could probably destroy your image as quickly as you could build it up.
Fiona: Yes, exactly.
LH: You must work closely with your artists on just building that presence, and coaching them in terms of what to do and say.
Fiona: Absolutely. I do everything from the branding opportunities to looking for sponsorships or endorsements. I help them with touring. If they don’t have agents, I’m also booking them. I also do their global stuff, I look out for opportunities internationally, opening up markets in South America or South Africa or Asia because that’s the other part I didn’t talk about – the fact that I’ve done global marketing because I’ve traveled over the world, throughout the world over the years – Midem and Popcom and Canada and all these places. It’s enabled me to develop amazing relationships and build my network overseas.
LH: That’s fantastic.
Fiona: My network’s insane. When I look at, not LinkedIn, but if I look at everything in general, like add up all the parts and what the sum of that total is, my network of people that I know is over 150,000.
Fiona: I scare myself because looking at my Microsoft Outlook address book or looking at my followers on Twitter or looking at my database, I have contacts and outlets and relationships with over 150,000 people. And actually, the manager of The Zombies actually said to me, Fiona knows everyone. Everyone always says everyone knows me. Like there’s not a person I don’t know. Of course, there is, but you know what I mean. Because if somebody might say, oh, you know, I’m looking to book something at Sirius XM’s Lip Service show, do you have a contact? I’m like, yes I do. Well, Fiona, I’m looking to book Global Fest for my artist next week. Do you have a contact? Oh yes, I do. You know what I mean? Do you know the editor of Nylon? Do you know the brand ambassador for Vans? Or Nike’s marketing director? Yes, yes and yes and yes to everything. Today a client was like, Fiona, do you have a contact of the Brit Awards? Yes, yes I do! That’s the thing. It’s like everybody knows to come to me because they know I have these contacts and if I don’t have these contacts, a day later, I do because I find them, and I get them on the phone or I get them to respond to me on email.
The manager of The Zombies said to me recently, Fiona, I know you know so many people but how are you able to maintain relationships with all of them? Let’s be real, you cannot have relationships with all of those people. Well, obviously that’s true, but then I said to her, yes, I don’t have relationships with 150,000 people, but I think I have relationships with at least 3,000 of them. She said, but how is that effective? How do you truly get things done if you have relationships with 3,000 because to be really thorough and committed to a relationship, one can maybe handle 200 at the most? And I said to her, if that was true and I only had 200 at the most, then I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I do. And that’s all I can really say for that because I know it sounds crazy to say that I have 3,000 really solid relationships, 150,000 people in my database, but about 3000 real solid relationships of people that I’ve either had lunch with, people that I’ve traveled with, people that I’ve had extended conversations with. I’m not talking about once met them and shook their hands. I’m talking about 3,000 people. I’m sorry to say this, I know that sounds like an outrageous number, but honestly, I would not have been able to achieve most of what I’m doing today if I did not have those 3,000 relationships.