The First Ten Years
Happy Birthday to
you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday, Promo Only. Happy
Birthday to you.
Promo Only is ten
years old this year.
Let's put that
into perspective: it's 1992 -- a 600-megabyte hard drive cost $4000,
a decent DAT recorder weighed in at around 70 pounds, and if you
weren't sure which way the technology winds were blowing, you weren't
alone. Even the major record companies were sitting on the sidelines
while the tug of war between analog and digital audio wore on. As a
consequence, the release of promotional records stalled as the
industry struggled for direction. If you were a DJ searching the
record bins for new releases, you couldn't help but feel as though
you were the one caught in the middle.
Sure, there were a
couple of music services available: one charged $200 a month (and
didn't include the all-important 12" releases so vital to DJs),
the other offered its services for free - with a paid magazine
subscription - and charged the record labels to include their newest
releases (a practice that did not bring out the best the labels had
to offer). Neither had a DJ's best interests at heart.
Enter two DJs ...
Promo Only began
modestly enough with DJ and digital audio consultant, Jim Robinson's
search for a copy of Janet Jackson's 'Miss You Much (The Mama
Mix).' Robinson's quest led him to friend and Billboard
reporting DJ, Pete Werner (Werner was one of the lucky few still
being provided with the precious few promotional releases the labels
were still doling out to select DJs). Happy to help a friend out,
Werner loaned his friend the Jackson mix for Robinson to copy in his
digital home studio. Robinson, in return, offered that he would be
glad to copy the dozens of bulky 12" vinyl releases Werner
received each month onto one DAT. They even joked about having the
DAT shipped off and pressed as an even more convenient CD.
Just two friends
helping each other out - when the light bulb went off.
and Werner realized that having all the current club hits on one
easy-to-manage CD was an idea that had teeth. As DJs, they saw the
potential market for such a package. As businessmen they realized its
worth. As entrepreneurs, they put their own time, talents and capital
on the line to assemble what would become the very first issue of
Today, some ten
years later, DJs helping DJs remains the focus of Promo Only.
Promo Only (later
renamed 'Promo Only Club') made its debut in June of 1992 as the
first monthly music service available to music professionals on CD.
It featured the latest 12" Dance mixes and offered early
subscribers many hard, if not impossible-to-find, releases.
Werner quickly went about expanding their line of product to include
a monthly compilation of the latest pop releases. Columbia Records
head of pop promotions, Jerry McKenna, already a fan of Promo Only's
Club series, was the first to offer the resources of his label to the
still-struggling company. Dubbed Promo Only Radio, it combined the
best of pop, dance, urban and rock Top 40 releases.
series soon followed: Urban Radio (August 1994), Country Radio (June
1994) and Modern Rock Radio (November 1995) quickly established
themselves -- and Promo Only -- as DJ favorites.
With the additions
of the Rhythm Radio and Rhythm Club series in November 1997, Robinson
and Werner began what was to be a series of changes, all geared
towards offering a greater selection of music.
It was here that
Promo Only began dividing their line of CDs into two categories --
Radio and Club -- a practice that continues to this day. Promo Only
Club and Promo Only Radio became Mainstream Club and Mainstream
Radio, respectively, and subscribers were able to enjoy the clear
differences that separated the two formats. DJs working teen, wedding
and other similar family functions were able to enjoy the short,
'clean' edits the new Radio series provided; Club DJs were able to
focus their time and resources on the series that featured a growing
number of 12" dance and rhythm-crossover mixes.
1997 also saw the
creation of Promo Only Canada. With its programming geared
specifically for Canadian audiences (and fully licensed by the AVLA)
Promo Only's Canadian division quickly became as popular as its U.S.
counterpart. Similarly, Promo Only's excursion into the European
market with the opening of its London branch has met with much success.
Always swift to
meet any music trend that shows itself to be of substance and
duration, 1999 saw Promo Only begin its third CD series. The Latin
Series had evolved into three distinct categories: Tropical, Regional
and, most recently, Pop.
and Robinson were equally quick to see that music video was a medium
waiting to be properly developed. Even the late 90s saw video jockeys
wishing to offer music video forced to deal with clumsy VHS tape and
inferior sound quality. Seizing the opportunity to buy out long-time
friend Wolf Zimmerman (of Wolfram Video) when he announced his
retirement, Robinson and Werner brought the entire Wolfram staff and
40,000-plus video library to their Orlando-based operation and set up
music video shop in late 1999. With the foresight and entrepreneurial
spirit Robinson and Werner have always demonstrated, Promo Only
quickly began offering a series of enhanced music videos - priced
within the means of the average DJ and VJ - and available via the
digital medium of DVD.
Today the Promo
Only line of music video has reached six monthly series - Hot Video,
Dance Mix Video, Pop Mix Video, Club Video, Country Video and Latin
Video. Promo Only also offers an extended line of specialty
compilation DVDs, the latest of which is Hot Video Classics (Best of 1987-1989).
Robinson and Werner are quick to point out that they could have
accomplished little without the support of their talented staff of
programmers and engineers. They are quick to credit long-time head of
audio programming Chuck Barrett, video-programming director, Nick
Allard, and their talented staffs as the people who realize their
vision. Equally important are the people of the Promo Only sales and
customer service departments who insure that each customer gets the
service and selection they deserve.
As to the future,
Promo Only plans to expand on its line of DVD music video, as well as
its line of DJ and VJ specific audio and video gear. Also in the
works, the debut of their 14th monthly CD series, tentatively titled
future may hold for DJs and VJs, you can bet Promo Only - the only DJ
service run by DJs -- will be there, making friends one CD and DVD at