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"For me, the bottom line is that I’m involved with the best executives of my entire career at Priority."
——Bryan Turner
THE LIFE OF BRYAN
Priority Chief Turner Prepares
To Kick It Up A Notch
Since its beginnings in the mid-1980s, seminal West Coast rap label Priority Records has managed to maintain both credibility and commercial viability. But now, founder/CEO Bryan Turner is reinventing Priority. In order to remain competitive, the label is staffing up and branching out, as Turner brings in key executives to fill top-level positions in promotion, marketing and A&R for a multiformat assault. On the occasion of the release of the Top 10 debut album from Lil’ Romeo, longtime hockey fan Turner faced off with HITS’ resident puck-up Marc "I Love Ice Too…In My Cocktails" Pollack on his new team, what it’s like being part of the corporate world and where Priority is headed.

On how the increasingly competitive nature of hip-hop has affected Priority:
Rap is completely mainstream today. When you reach that level of saturation, you’re in the same Pop game as everyone else. I need MTV and BET to play my videos. I need the staff and the support that artists want to see. When they look across the street and they see label X getting 25 spins a week on MTV and 60 million listeners on radio, they expect that for their records.

On how being a part of EMI has changed things:
One of the drawbacks of being in a corporate world is having to answer to others. They call the [controversial] shots now. Every single day it’s some kind of negotiation. It’s very time-consuming. The upside is if you’re able to maneuver the minefield, you can get the tools that you need to compete. I’m sort of caught in this mid-sized hell: I’m not small enough to be content with selling 200k-250k units on a project, but I’m not big enough to take Columbia or Interscope head-on.

On the new direction of Priority:
Obviously, rap is near and dear to me. But I can’t just survive anymore at this level by just competing in rap and hip-hop. We have to look to other genres. We had a hit at Pop radio with Sarina Paris’ "Look at Us." It looks like she’s delivered a second one with "Just About Enough," which we’re taking to radio later this summer. That has really opened doors for us at Pop radio. I brought in Tom Maffei to head up our promotion department. He’s from Arista and was trained by Richard Palmese, who’s probably one of the best ever. We also have Joey Carvello and Mike Whited heading up the Pop area, and they deserve a lot of credit for delivering the Sarina Paris record. Now we have Lil’ Romeo. What better artist to show Pop radio that we have what it takes to be successful at that format? Romeo is breaking down so many doors for us because we’re delivering it. We’ve got Svala, a beautiful 24-year-old Icelandic singer who’s made a record that Pop programmers are telling me is a home run. On the R&B side, I’ve got Athena Cage, who made some classic records with Keith Sweat. She has an album coming out in the fall. We signed a deal with Marilyn Manson and his Posthuman Records label. We also have a deal with Sharon & Ozzy Osbourne. For me, the bottom line is that I’m involved with the best executives of my entire career at Priority.

For the full interview, click here.

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