Hit-maker Jerry Lloyd has swapped running some of New Zealand’s biggest record companies for helping behind the counter at a Queenstown music shop.
While calling shots at EMI and Warner Music in Auckland, Lloyd launched a raft of the country’s best-known acts such as The Feelers, Anika Moa and Shihad.
He also masterminded NZ album campaigns for big names like Queen, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cher and James Blunt, to namedrop just a few.
He’d even be there to pay for the damage when wildmen rockers started chucking television sets out of hotel windows.
“That was a favourite trick of The Feelers when in full party mode, but I didn’t mind picking up the tab,” Lloyd says with a grin. “After all, boys will be boys.”
Lloyd – who will only admit to being aged “somewhere between 35 and 50” – is enjoying time out from the corporate music scene, since stepping down as general manager of Warner in 2007.
“I’d been there for 10 years and was tired of working 16 to 20 hours a day,” he says. “Anyway, the business had stopped being about the music and had become all about numbers, so I figured it was time for a break.”
The engaged dad-of-four – also stepfather to four other kids – shifted to Queenstown in October and is lending a hand at Play It Again Records in O’Connells mall.
The shop is owned by his old pal Kath Evans, and Lloyd insists he’s perfectly happy being behind the counter for now as it has taken him back to his roots.
“I started out cleaning vinyl records at a second-hand shop called Tandys in Hamilton when I was 14,” he explains. “It was a great introduction to music and I remember Neil and Tim Finn’s dad used to come in to check where his boys were on the charts.
“Guys like Jimmy Barnes would also drop by when they were in town and I turned Jimmy on to rockabilly. I went from the shop floor to the top floor in the music business, so at the moment I suppose I’ve come full circle.”
As national sales boss at EMI, then general manager at Warner, Lloyd says his biggest buzz was steering Kiwi acts back into the mainstream after they’d been ignored by commercial radio stations for years.
“It was The Feelers who opened the door. They brought a touch of world-class to the table and suddenly NZ radio programmers had the confidence to start playing home-grown music again.”
Lloyd says it was also “a privilege” to have household names like Crowded House and Radiohead drop into the boardroom to preview their latest songs.
The talent-spotter is still on the lookout for new blood and is spreading the word about an innovative music website called Fifty100, aimed at unsigned acts.
Based in California, it offers up-and-coming musos the opportunity to promote and sell their work online.
“It’s the musician’s equivalent of Facebook, without all the other din and clutter that goes with it,” Lloyd says.
“It’s a great way of getting in a shop window that’s viewed by fans and record company scouts worldwide.
“Film and TV people also check out Fifty100 while looking for music for adverts and movies.”
Lloyd says he’d also like to help get Queenstown talent noticed and that anyone is welcome to drop him a demo tape at Play It Again.
“Queenstown is a creative place and has some superb musicians and bands,” he adds. “But it’s a remote area and if I can get someone’s work into the right hands I’m more than happy to do it.”