He’s humbly suggested he’s doing his part to save the music business, but Gerry Galipault is doing something even more important: keeping it fun.
On this date 15 years ago, Galipault started Pauseandplay, a simple-but-effective online resource for just about any music release – physical or digital; brand-new or catalogue; vinyl or DVD – that you could dream of. Coupling a tireless work ethic (the result of years of work in the journalism field) with a unique, positive voice, Pauseandplay – named one of the 100 greatest websites by Entertainment Weekly – remains both an institution as well as a valuable voice to have as part of the conversation.
It’s no secret that Galipault’s unwavering enthusiasm for music and information (not to mention his embrace of new challenges – Pauseandplay is a constant presence on Facebook and Twitter) was a major influence on our own work here at Second Disc HQ. (The weekly Release Round-Ups would be nigh impossible without his guidance!) To commemorate 15 great years of Pause & Play, Gerry was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to share some of his secrets – and, of course, chat about music catalogue business, too.
Read on after the jump, and make sure to bookmark Pauseandplay if you haven’t already!
TSD: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, Gerry. In Internet terminology, Pauseandplay has been around for a very long time. When you started, did you think you’d still be going at it for 15 years? What’s the secret to your longevity?
GG: I figured I would be around in one form or another, but mostly as a writer; I just didn’t expect or plan for the site to morph into this massive CD release schedule. It was a pleasant surprise, in fact. As for longevity, the secret is my passion for music. I care deeply about keeping readers informed on new music, and they can sense my enthusiasm, thankfully.
TSD: You have an extensive journalism background. It’s easy to imagine how Pauseandplay has been influenced by that background – but how has the site influenced your “day job”?
GG: I started out as a sports writer then moved over to features and writing about music. I was able to hone my writing skills at newspapers – where you have to write concisely and on deadline – long before I started a website, so all that came in handy when I started Pauseandplay. Very rarely do my site and my “day job” cross paths now.
TSD: You’re a constant presence, not only on the site itself but Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media channels. What are some “tricks of the trade” to maintaining an online brand as distinct as yours?
GG: My father, God bless him, always used to tell me: Write about what you know. If you know a lot about something, whether it’s fantasy football or music, focus on that and build on it. That’s what I’ve done with Pauseandplay. When I started the site 15 years ago, there was no social media – I’ve adapted to the changes by embracing all these other facets of communicating with readers. Having a distinctive voice in social media is more important than ever, so I would recommend that for anyone starting out. Be the face of your site. Be an authority.
TSD: Do you find it hard to come at music as a fan, being so ingrained in its comings and goings in your professional life?
GG: I am and always will be a music fan; I’ve never ever considered myself a music critic. I listen to it all day long, it seems. And I grew up in a wonderful time – I was a child of the ‘70s, had an appreciation for the ‘60s, knew about the ‘50s, went to college in the ‘80s, became a full-fledged adult in the ‘90s, as a husband and father. I haven’t lost my passion for music.
TSD: The release schedule is never short on catalogue projects, be they reissues, box sets, compilations and the like. What are your feelings on everything old being new again, as it were?
GG: I love it. I’ve read where catalog sales are bigger than new music, and that doesn’t surprise me. I have a 13-year-old son who has little tolerance for today’s music – he’ll like the occasional new band like Foster the People, but he sees new music for what it is: cookie cutter, derivative. It’s funny to hear him say, “God, music was so much better than in the ‘70s and ‘80s.” If a 13-year-old is saying that, you know he’s not alone.
TSD: What gets you to buy a catalogue title? Nice packaging? Unreleased content? Hard-to-find content? Something else entirely?
GG: I don’t want an oldie but goodie simply because it’s been remastered and it’s the 25th anniversary of its release. I want some extras, preferably remixes, 12-inch versions. I’m not a big fan of live tracks…unless it’s The Who. They can make anything sound great live.
TSD: One of the most difficult things The Second Disc has worked for is raising awareness of catalogue titles in younger readers. As a family man who encourages broad listening with your kids, what’s the secret to getting young people interested in music that came out before they were even born?
GG: My son and daughter developed their musical tastes on their own, but I’m sure they were influenced by riding around in my car and hearing me play The Clash or Electric Light Orchestra. Personally, I wish I could pack up all my music and go from school to school, set up shop in a music room and tell students about rock history. I would play them a Chris Brown hit and tell them, “Listen to this. His voice is fed through Auto-Tune, there’s no soul to his music. The lyrics are boring and self-centered. Now here’s Michael Jackson, listen to him do ‘I’ll Be There.’ Now there’s emotion.” Hopefully they don’t take music away entirely from schools, so we can have a fighting chance to educate them about the people that came before Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen and Gotye.
TSD: Imagine you’re given free rein over any catalogue label you want. What are three things you put into action, be they dream catalogue projects or ideas for new kinds of product?
GG: I want Warner to give Rhino to me, because Rhino was the definitive reissue label in my book…Warner wouldn’t miss it, they’re not doing anything with Rhino, it seems. Rhino always did things right. I especially loved the way they would sum up a genre or a decade. No one today would touch Have a Nice Day: Super Hits of the ‘70s, Didn’t It Blow Your Mind! Soul Hits of the ‘70s or Just Can’t Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the ’80s. That’s what I would like to do: more compilations of hard-to-come-by hits.
Oh, and a Todd Rundgren box set sure would be nice.
TSD: What’s your favorite reissue or box set you own? What’s your favorite catalogue project released this year so far?
GG: Those Rhino titles I just mentioned are some of my favorites, plus I love Rhino’s Beg, Scream & Shout! The Big Ol’ Box of ’60s Soul, from 1997. Talk about great packaging; the CDs were tucked into cardboard 45 sleeves and put inside a 45 carrying case. That’s the kind of stuff I get excited about.
As for current catalogue projects, I really like what Paul McCartney is doing with his stuff. Ram, in particular, was a keeper.
TSD: Where do you see the business of catalogue music in the next five years or so?
GG: I see it having even more of the market share. Everyone’s getting their music instantly through their smartphones and computers. The only CDs being made, if any, will be box sets and other catalog projects.
TSD: You’ve said before (fairly, I might add!) that you’re doing your part to “save” the music industry. What are some things we can all do to help?
GG: This is something I’m going to do fairly soon: Buy a turntable. I haven’t had one in more than 20 years. I’m going to revisit my old vinyl, and I’ll show my kids the difference in sound quality. I really want my 13-year-old to hear “Whole Lotta Love” on vinyl and listen to the sounds bounce from left to right and back again through the headphones. Once he hears that, he may never go back.
Of course, I want more and more people to visit Pauseandplay.com. Buy your music through my site…maybe some day I’ll be able to quit my “day job” and do Pauseandplay full-time. That’s my dream.
TSD: Gerry, again, thanks so much for influencing all of us (especially at The Second Disc) with Pauseandplay. Here’s to another 15 years – and beyond!
Thanks so much, Mike…as always, you rock!