This is Magnetic’s Industry Focus, a series where we highlight those working behind the scenes of the EDM biz. These are the folks running the record labels, representing the artists, promoting the shows and just getting it done. Today we talk to Ruchie 'Roo' Farndon. She is the Director of Rood Media, a boutique Music PR agency set up in 2006, which handles Global Specialist Radio, Online and Print for some of the world's most respected artists and labels. In her 12-year career as a publicist, Roo has worked on projects for the likes of Beyonce, Disclosure, Bromance Records and Q-Tip.
Although based in the U.K, Rood Media's network is global and unlike most other agencies, Rood cover many different territories for their clients including France, Australia and the USA. Aside from PR, Roo manages future heroes Mumbai Science and Human Life (Win Music/Hot Creations/Defected). Roo's career has also seen her co-managing and handling the global PR for Felix Da Housecat, playing an integral part in his re-brand and return in 2013, managing the PR agency Sliding Doors Publicity, writing for various music publications and working as a Production Assistant on BBC's Choice World Clubbing series.
Here are her words--
How did you start your career in the electronic music business?
I studied media and communication, which included journalism, photography, audio and audio-visual. I always knew I wanted to do something that involved one of more of those areas, but it had to involve music. Previously, I worked in record stores as a teen, wrote for a few music magazines/sites, but I ended up in the land of T.V at 21 working on a clubbing documentary for the BBC in Australia with DJ/Producer, Anne Savage. Moving on, I applied for an internship to work at the Music PR agency Sliding Doors, where Anne had just joined as a client. I literally jumped in at the deep end representing artists such as Roger Sanchez and Judge Jules in early 2000, which was a very exciting time for dance music. I worked my way up through the company pretty fast before setting up Rood Media in 2006. We specialize in music PR covering global specialist radio, online and print. We also manage artists Mumbai Science and Human Life.
What is the best part of the business?
Unearthing new artists and seeing them evolve from having little or no profile to being a household name. I was responsible for handling the U.K Online PR for Beyonce during her ‘I Am Sasha Fierce’ period, and whilst that was incredible, you don’t really need to sell an artist as big as her! You can get much more involved and creative at the early stages of an artist’s career. Disclosure would be a good example of that. I remember being in my car listening to Annie Mac play them for the first time on BBC Radio 1. I slammed on my breaks and pulled over to listen. That instant recognition of talent is what you are constantly looking for in this business. The week after, I got a call from Greco Roman asking me if I’d like to handle the International PR for their ‘The Face’ EP. It was great to be a part of that at the very beginning. My work with Bromance Records and artists such as Gesaffelstein was equally exciting, helping to build the label and its artist’s profiles until they reached a point where they signed a partnership deal with EMI. I also have to mention Yuksek here and his incredible imprint, Partyfine. That label is like a new DFA – so many epic releases! The above combined with getting to work with a constant flow of creative geniuses, whilst traveling the world and attending some incredible parties along the way would have to be up there with the best things. None of what I do ever feels like work.
What are the biggest challenges?
At one point I found myself having to take on projects that I perhaps didn’t fully believe in because I needed to pay my bills. I decided enough was enough and that I would rather be broke than sacrifice my ears and tarnish my reputation. I sold my car, my furniture, moved back to my parents and started to focus on my brand. I had always been advising clients on how to sell themselves, but had never really focused on my own company. I got a new logo, website and let go of any artist that I wasn’t passionate about. Soon I was able to approach labels and managers that would never normally give me the time of day and everything turned around from there. I have been offered insane amounts of money to take terrible projects on, but I just cannot bring myself to do it. Working alone means that I rarely get to switch off, but I’m learning to find a balance. There’s a lot of competition, so you always have to on the ball and ahead of the game, but I like to think I’m pretty unique in the way I work and the results I deliver, so everything always works out for the best. There is obviously always the concern that a client could leave at any moment and you are back to square one on the hustle, but that is part of the game. I truly believe that if you visualise something enough it will manifest. If you believe you are going to have that Mercedes Pagoda at the age of 30, and are going to have so much work that you’re going to be turning jobs down, it will happen! I have stopped worrying and it seems to be working.
What career advice would you recommend to someone just starting off?
Be prepared to work for free, get an internship; get your foot in the door. Go out of your way to impress. Be prepared to make the coffee and stay late. Network, network, network! I was the biggest blagger when I was younger and it really helped as I suddenly found myself backstage at gigs talking to all manner of people in the industry that were happy to give you their business card, which often lead to helpful things. Be prepared to take risks, try to make yourself stand out, but always be polite and kind with it. If you put your mind to it, use a bit of common sense and have the mentality that you can achieve anything, you will go far.
As the EDM industry continues to grow, what do you think the secrets to longevity in this business will be?
Good music and having a strong team around you. Passion, hard work and determination. The artist has to work equally as hard as his/her manager and every other person in their set-up. You’re all in it together and working towards the same goal. Lazy divas will be taken down by producers who are prepared to work 20 hour days and play gigs for peanuts at the start in order to get to the top. Leave your egos at the door. I just watched Seth Troxler being interviewed by Pete Tong at IMS and he is just a prime example of longevity in this industry. The money is a bonus, but the music and love for what you do should always come first. Make the right choices, for the right reasons. Be true to yourself along the way, stay humble and always treat others how you would wish to be treated, as you never know when that intern will become the head of an international record label.
What does electronic music mean to you?
Music is my life. I live and breathe it 24/7. I love how it stirs emotions like nothing else can. How it can lift you out of a mood, make you cry, laugh at any moment. I’ve met some of my closest friends from working in the industry, had some of the best moments of my life listening to it. I guess it’s my family. I’m married to it! I got a cassette tape tattooed on my wrist and a musical note behind my ear, so will literally be taking it to my grave, armed with some of my fave pieces of vinyl. Sadly not my Technics 1210s as I had to sell those when I was having financial troubles. Don’t ask me how much I got for them. And it was just before Technics announced they were ceasing production. I wince every time!
What cities/regions do you think electronic dance music is best thriving?
It seems to be thriving everywhere, but the obvious one is the USA, in particular L.A. I recently spent two months in the States, and it’s truly amazing what is going on over there. The amount of industry people I know that are moving to L.A is quite remarkable and it’s easy to see why. In n Out Burger being the prime reason, of course. Those burgers are enough to move continent for. But seriously, everyone is so eager and happy to help you get things done. They want to see you do well. It’s very refreshing. I found that in NYC too. It’s actually insane how incestuous and small the industry really is, that’s why it’s so important to be the best person you can be along the way. Australia also has a strong scene with some solid artists and labels such as Two Bright Lakes, Future Classic and Sweat It Out. Those Aussies really know how to party too!