Toronto's Jeremy Summers doesn't need to tackle LA traffic when he starts his new job as executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Interscope Geffen A&M on Monday.
"I'm literally staying at an apartment across the street from the office - so no commute!" he tells Billboard. "My wife and German Shepherd join me in mid November when we'll get a place in Hollywood."
Summers, 37, is leaving Toronto after 17 years with Universal Music Canada, most recently as senior vice-president of marketing. He has long dealt with U.S. execs on their projects, and is excited about the opportunity to work with some of the industry's most influential minds, from Jimmy Iovine on down.
He will be reporting directly to vice-chairman Steve Berman.
"My role - it's a lot of what I have been doing here actually - is to drive the artists and the projects on an everyday basis. That will actually free Berman up to be able do a lot of what he's great at, and that is to spot the issues, manage his relationships," Summers explains. "I can be inside dealing with the artists, the managers and the marketing team to truly drive and break some artists."
Summers has had years to hone those skills, and even prior to entering the business was innately groomed for it. His father, Joe, started in the warehouse at Capitol, then went to Decca in sales, and then to Motown as vice-president of sales, before coming to Canada to start A&M Records Canada with Gerry Lacoursiere. He retired as chairman in 1997, and was inducted in to the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame. "I was always afforded a view to the business that not everyone is afforded - to be a spectator at that level," says Summers.
He initially tried his hand on the stage, playing in "a lot of unsuccessful bands" and one mildly successful local club band called the Marvelous Beauhunks. ("I joined after it was named").
"My dad being in the business and being a musician myself, it was a natural connection for me to go into it too," says Summers.
He started in sales at A&M/Island/Motown (then owned by Polygram) in June of 1994. "We had no hits at the time so we had to break an album," he recalls. "It was Chaka Demus & Pliers that the entire company rallied behind."
He then moved to London, Ontario for Polygram, where he was a one-man office, before accepting a promotion position in Calgary for A&M, covering the midwest. He later managed promo in the west, then finally relocated to Toronto for Universal/Interscope to do national promotion, and eventually took on marketing.
"When I joined the company in sales, I realized that I could have a greater impact on artists if I picked up some promotion tools," Summers recalls.
Last year, Universal Music Canada president Randy Lennox promoted Summers to senior vice-president of marketing, adding Island Def Jam Classics and Universal's Republic labels to his responsibilities along with Interscope.
"I feel blessed to have been a part of the Gaga development," he says, reflecting on his accomplishments over almost two decades. "To have been on the earlier tip of that, I feel blessed to have that view of that and to have that experience because she's such an amazing artist."
His goal in his new position at Interscope, he says, is simply to add value overall to a company he says thinks "holistically."
He has "a familiarity with the structure, and with the people," he says, "that is going to make it easier for me than someone on the outside. I'm more like a cousin who was coming to spend the summer with a family, rather than a stranger."
While he'll miss Canada, his friends, family and work associates, and "the best pizza" in the city at Queen Margherita Pizza, the offer to work at Interscope was something he never could have passed up.
"Imagine that you're a baseball payer and someone invites you to go play for the New York Yankees, or you're a football player and someone asks you to play for Man U," Summer says. "The answer's going to be yes."
"There are so many great young acts on Interscope right now. Just in the last week, gaining exposure to the diversity and the breadth of new artists," he concludes. "That's exciting."