Skateboard Marketing Ltd. has been at the forefront of independent metal radio promotion for the past 25 years since forming in 1991. The company has worked legendary rock and metal heavyweights such as Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Pantera, Soilwork, Testament, Morbid Angel, Black
Label Society and Kid Rock, among countless others. Skateboard Marketing operates within North America and is located in New York. Their concept is to get radio airplay in any place that has metal or rock programming. They still believe in artist development and building a fan base for the unknown artist. Every band has their time to shine, but that takes artist development.
Skateboard Marketing Ltd owner, Munsey Ricci, is a former PolyGram Records executive who was the Director of National Metal Promotion from 1989-1991 and created the first metal department for the label and all affiliated labels, including
Mercury, Polydor, RooArt and London Records. Ricci also worked for the famed Combat/In-Effect Records in Hollis, Queens. Ricci was also on the editorial staff and collated the magazine for CMJ Media and a former syndicated radio programmer prior to PolyGram Records. Ricci spent 5 years as MD/PD for his college station WQCC while attending college.
Covering the entire spectrum of radio with syndicated, satellite, commercial and college metal. “It’s any outlet where a record can be heard” Artist development starts on the street, in someone’s bedroom on their stereo, or even a fan listening to something new in their car. Today a new band will have 20 fans, tomorrow they will
have 50. It’s all a stepping stone to bring something cool to the masses. It all applies to heritage artists as well. The only difference is they sold 2 million records to go with it. It’s about creating the new fan whether it’s for Motorhead and Black Sabbath, or for a new artists such as Misery and Straight Line Stitch.
The company’s staple roster consists of Motorhead, Overkill, Testament, Judas Priest, Ronnie James Dio, Black Sabbath, Exodus, Death Angel, Soilwork, Biohazard, Ozzy Osbourne, Sepultura and many others. Having worked with Iron Maiden, Morbid Angel, Agnostic Front, Crowbar, Nothingface, KMFDM, Metallica, Megadeth, AC/DC, Anthrax and Smashing Pumpkins. It’s a huge pleasure to be graced by talent on all levels. There is nothing better then getting on the phones in the morning and “Making something from nothing” Music is in the blood of every band, industry executive and fan.
1. First of all, congratulations on 25 years of Skateboard Marketing, that is an incredible accomplishment! Tell us a little about your start in the chaotic world of music?
I kind of started out like everyone else. When I was 12 and used to listen to a lot of my older sister’s records. I discovered a lot of cool bands. But one that hit me the most was Sabbath & UFO. When you’re 12 years old and hear Iommi and Ozzy, it just blew me away. At that point I was all about heavy and sludge. It wasn’t until I discovered bands like Diamond Head and that’s when it became all about the thrash. I was that kid going to the record store every week and buying stuff and waiting in line for tickets. I think the highlight of it all was the famed Metallica, Rods and Vandenberg show at The Paramount in Staten Island. It just became my lifestyle. The NWOBHM bands, there’s none that will ever top them. They wrote the book on how it’s done.
2. You have worked at some amazing places. Who were some of your early mentors?
When in college I was in a band and worked as a post prod engineer. It paid the bills. But moving into college radio and landing a part time gig at CMJ Media. That’s where I started to really learn the ropes and build my relationships. I wrote some editorial and put the magazine together. It’s all a stepping stone in the growing process. You plant the seed and see how fast you can grown from there. I was also MD/PD for my college station WQCC. That’s where I got to know most of the radio promotion nationals at majors and Indie labels. There was the daily ritual of sitting at my desk with a cigarette and pot of coffee taking music calls. I was also on-air from 11:00 to 12:00 Noon doing my show Midday Metal. I was especially big on bay area thrash and NWOBHM bands like Venom. It led to my first part time label gig at Combat In-Effect records. That’s when the label was based in Hollis, Queens. Home of Run DMC and also in the heart of the ghetto. Pokey from Leeway now Agnostic Front was my supervisor. It was a great place to be when you’re 20 years old. I learned a lot from Alan Becker there. But it wasn’t until 1989 when Tim Hyde brought me in for a meeting with David Leach, Dave Loncao and Drew Murray at PolyGram Records. They were the last of the majors not having an in-house metal department. So in September of 1989 they hired me. I worked 70 hours a week including Saturdays to put together a system that would work. We also had a great roster of metal and hard rock. Scorpions, Kiss, Onslaught, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony MacAlpine and Vinnie Moore. I was in my early 20’s and had the office and roster. Looking back, a major label was the place to be in the late 80’s and 90’s. You have the budgets and artists to go along with it. But that’s where I learned the gig and how to work the radio charts and make something move. It’s all about visibility when you have to develop a band whether it’s a heritage artist or a baby band. There’s a fan base out there, you just have to know where it lives and how to tap into it. Then a lot of changes started to happen at the company. I went to Mercury and Polydor became past of PolyGram Label Group. So Johnny Barbis and Sky Daniels said work Indie, you’re going to dig it. So in 1991 Skateboard Marketing was born. I set up in my apartment in Elmont, NY and hired John Larosa from WRHU.
Sky and Johnny hired us on L.A. Guns and The Almighty. Then we picked up Overkill and Savatage from Atlantic Records. Capital EMI hired us on a few records. in 1993 we picked up Black Sabbath and Motorhead. By 1995/96 we had Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and select artists on Geffen, Elektra, Warner Bros and Columbia/Epic. We were nameless until a 3 hour conversation with Chris Payne from Reno. As I hung up the phone it hit me. Skateboard Marketing, it kind of stuck so I filed for trademark and charter then rolled with it. Who knew that 25 years later we’d be at this point in my career.
3. What are your three most heavy metal moments?
– The first is when Joe Riccitelli came down from Boston to do national. Him and Leach called me into the office. Joe said he needed someone to cover meet and greets and radio in the northeast for the Yngwie/Ronnie James Dio tour in 1990. He said go home and pack a bag. Meet the tour bus at 9:00 AM in front of the parker Meridian Hotel tomorrow. Don’t be Late! It was my first major tour being on the road. I was 24 years old.
– Also getting awarded my first gold record from Sky and Johnny for L.A. Guns Cocked And Loaded. That alone was a milestone of hard work and how to hammer your gig relentlessly.
– Then starting Skateboard Marketing Ltd. As an Indie, you have the freedom to work records for all labels in all genres of aggressive music. Specialty and metal promotion is very niche, you have to have a strong mind set and work ethic. If you’re lazy you will fail and fail hard. So having your own company is not only rewarding but it’s complete liberty. Looking at today, the reward is a staple roster consisting of Testament, Motorhead, Soilwork, Exodus, Slayer, Overkill, Doro, BLS & Opeth. Many of the heritage metal acts that have been at it for years. We have handled them since the 90s. We are North American representation for Napalm Records, Nuclear Blast USA, Singerman Entertainment and Niji Entertainment for Ronnie James Dio catalogue. We do a lot of records for eOne, Century Media and Prosthetic too. We also have a lot of newer bands such as Black Crown Initiate, Carnifex, Avatar
4. In an ever-shrinking music environment what keeps you motivated- what keeps you in the fight to expose great metal to the masses?
It’s not rocket science at all. Metal promotion is very niche so knowing where to target and project is how you make something happen. Metal hasn’t shrunk at all, actually it’s just as big as it was in 1989. The only difference is the industry is a lot smaller and there’s a different scene and new bands, that’s all there is to it. But many of the people we’ve dealt with have been at the gig for ions. Whether they are community volunteers or a PD at a major market station. All you need is a phone, a call sheet and knowing who to call. If you don’t know them then pick up the phone and call them. That’s how you make it happen, it’s just that simple. So we always make it a point to throw an anniversary part during the CMJ Convention in New York. Only this year we decided to do it during the Mondo.NYC Convention in September. We always have a private open bar and then a show. This year Blind Guardian and grave Digger are in town the same night. So after our open bar everyone will have 2 great bands to see. Besides we have a long relationship with Bobby Haber and Joanne Abbot Green.
5. We are launching a brand new platform at RadioContraband, Do you want to share a little insight about it?
Yes Steve and I spoke on launching Metal Contraband. There is a big gap in a viable chart with visibility of commercial, syndicated and college stations with stick. All we have is CMJ, but that’s not Mediabase nor commercial stations. So I am way excited to be part of launching something with Contraband. Not only for the credibility, but to give record companies and artists another outlet that means something for artist development. Through the 80s, 90s and early 2000’s we had a few spin based charts that held weight. As promotion people it’s our job to make something happen and fill voids where needed. That’s all I can say for now, The full press release will be public shortly, so we’ll have to keep the rest under lock and key until then!
6. You recently posted some photos of you volunteering after the September 11th attack. I was overwhelmed by the images. Would you share your thoughts on the experience?
There’s not really much to say, I am registered with FEMA as an emergency service volunteer. I was also a volunteer fireman for the house in my district from 2001 to 2003. So I have training in all aspects of first responder and fire rescue. I also had additional training in confined space and fast team operations at the volunteer fire academy. I haven’t been active since 2004. The time is Immense and with the gig, I just didn’t have the time to do it. But it was very rewarding knowing that you did make a difference. You’d be shocked to hear that 73% of fire houses in the United States are Volunteer departments. That also goes for the ambulance corps and the American Red Cross.