Questions Answered: Jeff Castelaz, President of Elektra Records

Jeff CastelazPresident, Elektra Records

What did you wake up thinking about this morning? The journey that I have been on with Fitz & the Tantrums--all the things we have to do to get them to where they need to be. We're on the eve of their second album coming out [May 7] and we have this incredible single out. They're a band important to me personally, professionally and, as a fan, musically. Obviously we were able to bring them to Elektra from Dangerbird [Records, co-founded by Castelaz], so that's a very important bridge for me. We've come up together. I have to do right by them.

Describe a lesson learned from a failure. Failure for me is not how far I fall, but how quickly I can get up and continue running. If I can flip it on its side, I'd rather say what I learned from a great loss, which is when my son Pablo died in 2009 after 13 months of battling cancer. As a human being I had to figure out who I was. I had to figure out, "Can I advocate for artists?"--which is all I had done in my life--and what I found was that I wanted to advocate for artists, and I also wanted to advocate for kids with cancer and their families. My wife and I founded the Pablove Foundation, which is a formal way for us to fund pediatric cancer research. Ultimately I found the answer to my music career in my desire to help kids with cancer.

What will define your career in the coming year? The answer is how well I deliver for my artists--and that's going to be the answer next year and 10 years from now. How well do I drive my artists through the Warner Music Group system? How well do I utilize the Atlantic Records Group machine and orchestrate marketing and promotion efforts? We have to be involved in businesses being built around music.

Who is your most important mentor, and what did you learn? I have several, some who are inspiration and others who have taken me under their wing--John Silva fits both of those categories. He's extremely supportive, and I look up to John's style of management, which is he picks up the phone or gets on a plane and gets things done for his artists. My business mentors, Kenny McPherson and Greg Sowders, were very supportive when they signed my first management client, Citizen King, at Warner/Chappell. I talk to Jac Holzman as often as I can. Craig Kallman, Seymour Stein--I love having many, many mentors, and I put a lot of effort into having mentors.

Name a project you're not affiliated with that has most impressed you in the past year. Mumford & Sons. I saw Island U.K. license [the band's "Sigh No More" album] to Dew Process in Australia and Dew Process figured out how to break the band in Australia by coming up with their own marketing plan and got the band on the radio in a big way. They got them into the national consciousness that informed Island U.K.'s relaunch of the record.

Name a desert island album. The Smiths' "The Queen Is Dead."


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