Missi Callazzo Interview - July 15, 2003
Dave: Missi, I'd like to start off by saying that you're doing an incredible job at Megaforce Records and ask how you became the head of the label??
Missi: Well, thanks, but actually my partner Robert John runs the label and I run the distribution company. We also recently started a cutting edge, alternative label called, Transdreamer Records, which has some exciting music coming from the likes of Wellwater Conspiracy, which is Matt Cameron's band of Pearl Jam/Soundgarden.
Dave: I'm sure you went into Megaforce with certain goals for the company and ideas of how you would effect them. How have those goals and strategies changed since you took the helm?
Missi: I think that for the most part they remain the same. I really wanted to see Megaforce regain its glory. Megaforce is a legendary label and going from being a kid who shopped at Rock and Roll Heaven (the record store that spawned Megaforce) to being one of the owners is a dream come true. I try to keep in mind everyday, that if it was not for the fans and customers, we would not be here.
Dave: Do you find that peer to peer is helpful with an indie label and the underground movement that metal has always thrived in? It seems like a great way to get word of mouth around on the outside, but does it hinder or help sales from your labels perspective?
Missi: I really do not see it as a negative issue, I think that in the end it helps spread the word about our artists and we have to do our job with great packages and bonus materials to keep the fans buying our music.
Dave: Megaforce has been home to some of the biggest metal acts in history. How has promotion changed from the heyday of the 80's to bolster the local acts into the national spotlight in todays world?
Missi: For the most part it has stayed the same, there are different magazines and different radio stations, but there are many journalists who have been writing about our releases for about 20 years. There are more labels, too many releases, so quality control needs to be an even bigger issue. On the otherhand, it is much easier to get the word out to the fans than ever before thanks to the internet. But, large corporations have become more dominant and controlling of the media and actually control it more than ever. In the end I see indie labels still being the creative force and the incubators of music.
Dave: Do you find it harder to compete with the corporate structure of the majors and the money they have to throw around, or are they leaving a lot of mid-level artists, who sell product, up for grabs while they search for the next "hit" single with maximum profit for the label?
Missi: From my perspective the majors and the indies are in two different businesses. We are here to develop artists and make great music available for the fans. The majors have a lot of different agendas, most of which are financially driven. That is not to say that we are not here to turn a profit, I just think that the essence of how the same goals are achieved are drastically different. The star system has been the reason for most of contemporary music, from Metallica to Britney Spears to R.E.M. They all depend on the star system to drive sales. And within that system, there is good music and bad music. Indies labels don't work within the star-driven system as much and it's more about the music. The major label tactic all actually goes back to the Hollywood star system.
Dave: With radio in a seemingly "lock down" state with clear channel communications and the like, what other forms of promotion do you strive for to get your artists heard?
Missi: For the most part, we have never received mainstream radio support for our artists, so we continue to find all of the great commercial speciality shows and college stations. There are great webzines and magazines. Touring has always been a staple for our artists.
Dave: With the wide open setup of XM radio, what are your views on tapping into the up and coming XM radio markets for exposure to your labels artists?
Missi: I feel that potentially this could be the next big wide open "specialty show" it is great for the listeners and gives them far more options than they currently have.
Dave: How has the economy affected indie labels? It seems the majors have much more to lose, which could possibly cultivate the indies even further into prominence. Does it seem labels such as Megaforce, have a good chance to shorten the gap?
Missi: I have not felt the hit as much. We have been lucky and were able to pick up Clutch, Wellwater Conspiracy and Tom Mabe who under normal economic circumstances would be major label artists. We have made out pretty well.
Dave: How has it been as a woman running a label in a historically male dominated field? Any roadblocks or positive stories you would like to share?
Missi: In working for Megaforce for 14 years, the co-owner was a woman so I almost feel like men have had the harder time working for Megaforce! I never really think about it. When I worked in radio, I did a death metal show and the male listeners reacted in a positive manner.
Dave: Being the former label of Metallica, how do you feel about the direction they have taken since their earlier, heavier days into "mainstream metal".
Missi: I am a big fan of "Kill 'Em All."
Dave: You also work with some other indie labels through the distribution company MRI. Can you give us some insight on what you are achieving with that project?
Missi: MRI has been very rewarding. We have been fortunate enough to work with and watch the labels grow. working with artist owned and run labels is fantastic as well, seeing the growth of The String Cheese Incident, The Ben Taylor Band has been truly incredible.
Dave: Thanks for your time and for keeping the flame Missi!