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5 minutes with Oli Walkers

"I've wanted to work in the music industry since my teens, so its a dream come true"

We spent a few moments talking to Oli Walkers to learn about what he does at Roadrunner Records and how he got to where he is.

Hello Oli and thank you for spending a bit of time with us to talk about what you do.

Thanks for having me!

Roadrunner is a pretty big label. What is it you do there?

My title is promotions assistant and head of the street team. I help with the day to day running of the promotions department, so putting press schedules together for bands when they're in town on a promo trip or whether they're on tour. Right now I'm arranging interviews for Lenny Kravitz when he's in town next week and helping sort Mastodon club nights up and down the country around release date for their new album. Sometimes I'll accompany the bands on their press days as a representative for Roadrunner. And I also run the street team, so I set the tasks for everyone that is signed up to help promote the bands and gain as much exposure for them as possible through magazines, online and on the street as well so at independent record shops or at gigs etc.

Is the Roadrunner Street Team a new thing or has it been running for a while?

It's been running for quite a while yeah, I'm not sure exactly but I'd guess around 15 years.

What exactly does the Street Team do?

The street team is there to create a buzz about the bands online and on the street, to get spins on radio and emails etc in magazines. I set tasks for people to tweet or share on Facebook or email to magazines about certain bands or albums, hand out fliers at gigs or in their local indie record stores and clubs, however the vast majority of tasks is online. It is totally voluntary and I think it's great that people can spare the time to promote the music and bands they love. We have a Facebook page where people can come and chat and say hello etc so there is a great community and team spirit.

And what do the Team members get out of it in return for their hard work?

I have a box of goodies next to my desk that I send out bits and pieces from when people do lots of work for an album, or get a mention on the radio for example. It's go all sorts in there, tshirts, drumsticks from bands, keyrings, sweatbands, stickers, and promo CDs.. just little rarities that you can't buy I think are quite cool to have. Also when someone gets something printed in a magazine I offer them a CD of their choice. When we run club nights to promote a new release I'll sometimes need help from the team to make sure posters are hung in venues and everything is clearly visible for when the club starts, so I can offer out guestlist for them and a friend if they can help. When time allows in band schedules when they're on tour I try to arrange a meet and greet with the band as well as they love to meet the fans, especially those that have been spreading the word about them. Unfortunately there isn't much budget any more to offer gig tickets like they used to but on the rare occasion I have offered out tickets as a thanks!

How effective a promotional tool do you think it is? Is it better than the more traditional types of promo?

I think it's just as effective as anything else, I think it all helps, no matter what level, even at grass roots level, there needs to be a buzz about a band and an online presence to get the word out there. Social networks are a godsend as far as a free promotional tool goes. One click of a 'like' or 'share' button on a news article for example can then make that page visible to hundreds of people instantly, if all those people do the same thing it can go on and on.

How would someone get involved with the Street Team if they wanted to?

All they need to do is head to the website, apply, list the bands they wish to work for and away you go! Nice and easy! The website is and I go through applications nearly every day. Then when the opportunities come up for some street promo I'd recommend getting involved and getting stuck in because you can meet some great people, I'm still good friends with guys I met on the team a number of years ago! And of course if there's a chance you get to meet your favourite band at the end of it.

How did you find yourself leading the Street Team? Do you have a background in music or performance yourself or did you come from another direction?

I started on the Roadrunner street team over seven years ago and then worked my way up through the ranks. I grew up listening to RR artists so I have a massive fondness and almost loyalty to the label, I feel. I've also been in bands throughout my teenage years who had a DIY element to it all as well so it sort of went hand in hand. I started as a label intern at RR in January this year and was then offered something paid from May. Part of the internship was to run the street team under guidance, but in June the head of the street team of nearly eight years left the company so it seemed like a natural inheritance for me I suppose.

Are you enjoying the job? What is the best thing about it?

Very much so! It's a dream job in a way. I've wanted to work in the music industry ever since my teens, no less at Roadrunner, so it definitely is a dream come true! The best thing about it is all the gigs, that's a given, and to be able to turn a hobby and a passion into a job and do something you love for a living is great, I definitely look forward to coming to work in the morning as you never know what the day will bring. And the people, there is some amazing people and talented individuals in the industry, you can learn so much from them whether they're musical or not!

And the worst?

The long hours! It's not all glamorous! Working late nights and weekends sometimes can be a bit hard work, especially during festival season, but it's a given with the job. I think out of all the festivals I've been to this summer I've just about seen a double figure's worth of bands between them all because we're working with the bands in the press area arranging all their interviews. But then you get to party hard at the end of it... the pros definitely outweigh the cons!

Do you think that up-and-coming bands and artists could adopt the same kind of model to use for their own self-promotion?

I think so yeah. They need to create a buzz about themselves and maybe recruit some friends to do some groundwork for them to get their name about to start with. Once they've built the foundations hopefully it will grow organically from there. And of course they need to gig their arse off! You won't get a reputation for your band by just having an online presence, yes it helps in the grand scheme of things but they need to get out there and play to people as well.

Lastly, is there anything else you would like to tell our readers about?

Check out all the releases we have coming up in September, it's a mammoth month for albums if you're into metal; The Devil Wears Prada, Dream Theater, Staind, Mastodon and Machine Head! There is also loads of tours happening between now and Christmas from the likes of Opeth, Machine Head, Trivium, Black Stone Cherry, Alter Bridge and loads more! Also keep checking the the RR site for news updates as we have some super cool announcements coming up before the end of the year! And also, thanks for reading! I hope you've enjoyed what I've had to say. If anyone has any questions please email and I'll do my best to get back to you!

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