Wendy Rubin, CEO, Joe’s Production & Grille, Inc.
by Alex Teitz
Joe’s Grille was one of the first Internet companies to offer CD production, and distribution over the internet, as early as 1995. Joe’s has worked hard and dedicated itself to the independent artist. Both Joesgrille.com and now Joe’s Blue Plate Special, a college radio program, have worked to make the independent voice heard. FEMMUSIC met the CEO of Joe’s Production and Grille, Inc. recently and asked her a few questions. For more information visit http://www.joesgrille.com
FEMMUSIC: What made you decide to start joesgrille.com?
WR: Like most cool things in life. Joe’s was an accident. I was a music/documentary photographer and film maker. I was doing the starving artist thing, doing some CD brokering on the side, trying to raise money for my film projects. Finally, I realized the only way I was going to get money for my art was to make it myself, so I hired my first “employee” in 1995. Once I got further involved in the music industry I realized how unjust a system it is and the mission to change the music industry overtook my film making.
FEMMUSIC: Why should an artist or band use your services?
WR: We keep our word. If we give a delivery date, we keep it. If the CDs don’t ship on time, we’ll cover the extra costs to get the CDs to the gig. It is not an option to not have CDs for a CD release party. We promise the best quality and service and we guarantee satisfaction. No small print. Plus we put our money where our mouth is – all the money we’ve made off of CD manufacturing has gone right back into developing new services for artists, like joesgrille.com or the Joe’s Blue Plate Special radio show. We are setting up a national network for independent artists (including traditional radio, distribution & promotion) that will give indie artists power in the system that was set up by the majors, for the majors. We believe that there is strength in numbers and if we all work together, we can make a difference. Sounds hokey, I know, but call me Doris Day- I really belive it.
FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge in running joesgrille.com?
WR: Learning how to run a business. My background was art school, theatre production, film production, photography and sales. Nothing had prepared me for running a business. It actually astonishes me how many people in the business world use business as an excuse for doing or not doing something. “It’s only business” is a phrase I’ve learned to hate. Perhaps I am old school, but I believe in loyalty, keeping your word and that everything I or Joe’s does reflects on me personally.
FEMMUSIC: What was your most memorable experience with Joe’s Grille?
WR: Probably the time we had to get CDs to Telluride in time for Tribal Folk’s CD release party. The manufacturer did not ship the CDs overnight as scheduled, so we had to revert to plan B – a same day ship. The CDs made it from Minneapolis to Denver, however, we couldn’t get them out of Denver airport; they kept getting bumped from the Telluride flight. Meanwhile, UPS had successfully delivered 100 CDs to us in Boulder, so at 6pm, when the shipping company had said there was no way those CDs were getting on the 7:30 pm flight, we grabbed our box of CDs and raced to the airport. I stood in line to buy a ticket on the flight, while our sales rep ran to the gate in an attempt to bribe some poor soul to take the CDs on the plane with them. Despite all the “don’t accept anything from strangers” signs posted at the gate, he was able to talk someone into taking the CDs to Telluride that night. We paid for their rental car, their hotel and a bouquet of flowers, delivered to their home the next day. Needless to say, the band had their CDs for their release party.
FEMMUSIC: What common mistakes do most artists make when ordering the making of CD’s?
WR: They believe what people tell them. Many companies in this industry promise the world and deliver garbage. When looking for services, be it CD manufacturing, web related promotions, radio promotions, etc. it is wise to spend some time doing due diligence on the company you’re going to work with. If you can, go meet the people who will be handling your project. Also, make sure you do an apples to apples price/services comparison. Many companies quote low pricing to get you in the door and then tack on all kinds of charges, like 10% overs, shipping, or extra money if you would like 2 color photos or a design that actually stands out. You do get what you pay for; if price is your most important criteria in choosing a vendor, you’re going to have some quality and service problems.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to see changed about the music industry?
WR: That artists can make a living and maintain their integrity. We’re doing our best to provide tools for artists to gain some traction in the industry, from Joe’s Blue Plate Special radio show, which plays on over 200 college stations weekly and has always been free to artists (and free to the stations that play it), to being the first independent CD store online and introducing the “like artist” search in ’96. Also, I would like to see people in the independent industry working together towards change.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
WR: I think anyone outside of the elite, inner circle is discriminated against. It’s true that it is a bit of a boys club, but being a woman has been helpful in that regard. I think it’s rare to find a female internet/music CEO and usually that works in my favor. I won’t lie to you-I have had my share of problems because I have breasts instead of a dick, but I think that being a woman usually works in my favor.
FEMMUSIC: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
WR: Not to give up. I believe that if you have talent and you are tenacious, you will succeed, eventually.
FEMMUSIC: What does Joe’s Grille have coming up in the future?
WR: Joesgrille.com is debuting the first of its new online musician services in the Fall. We will be concentrating on touring, networking and aggregate buying. At the end of the year, we will be introducing online fan management service, data marketing and all kinds of other tasty goodies to get a band’s music out to new fans.
Wendy Rubin, CEO, Joe’s Production & Grille, inc.
4919 N. Broadway,
Boulder, CO 80304
Check out http://www.joesgrille.com indie & import music for independent people & listen for joe’s Blue Plate Special, playing on a college station near you.
Coming in the Fall, featured interviews with: Kid Koala, Amon Tobin, Mix Master Mike, Dick Dale,& Orchestra Morphine.