Welcome Chris Pizzolo, an entrepreneur, musician, and writer from New York City, running his own company – the Immediate Family record label. We discuss the rise of his company while also playing music that’s close to his heart. Read more about his journey down below:
For those of you who don’t know what you do can you explain a little bit?
Yeah for sure, I am a small business owner in the music industry. I own three businesses, Immediate Family Marketing where we provide digital marketing and social media promotion for artists, Immediate Family Records which is a small vinyl record label, and Fluid Magazine which is a new online magazine set to launch later this year.
How did you get started?
I have always been fascinated by music and the music industry. I remember playing shows when I was 13-14 years old in NYC playing spots like CBGB’s Kenny’s Castaway, and all these other old NYC clubs and being fascinated with the way the venue was run, or the idea of a promoter booking a show. I went to college for communications in Upstate New York at SUNY Plattsburgh and when I came back from college I had an internship at a booking agency called Moodswing 360, and was able to become a roadie (and eventually tour manage) a blues artist named Popa Chubby. I think my years with Chubby are really what laid the foundation for my life ahead.
What were some of the biggest projects you’ve worked on?
I feel like all projects I work on have the opportunity for a big moment, but some of the more noteworthy people // clients I’ve worked with are The Pilgrimage Music Festival, Steve Jordan, Cody Simpson, Bootsy Collins, Love Rocks NYC, and the Jazz Foundation of America.
Why and when did you start the Immediate Family record label?
I started the label earlier this year. It wasn’t my intention to start a label, but there was an opportunity to release a record that I loved as a teenager by a band called The Bicycle Thief, so I jumped on it. As I started to promote it and talk about it, people around me really liked what I was doing so it created the opportunity for more projects. In late October we will announce our second project, and we are currently working on securing our third project for early 2021 now.
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My earliest memory of this record was getting into the passenger seat of my best friend’s Nissan Altima in 2006. I was about 18 years old. Fast forward 14 years and today I am proud to announce that we’re putting out the 21st anniversary reissue of The Bicycle Thief’s acclaimed 1999 album You Come And Go Like A Pop Song. PRE ORDER at the link in the bio. The album will be available on September 21st, 2020 – the 21st anniversary of the album's original release. Only 500 copies available of this incredible package. Each vinyl will be info y’all numbered in a special foil numbering for authenticity. Learn more about everything included in this Limited Edition Deluxe Vinyl at the link in the bio.
Did you have mentors in your career?
I sure did, Popa Chubby was probably my first real mentor. He taught me the importance of touring, and never giving up. I remember we had issues on the road and I would be the young kid suggesting that we cancel a gig, and he would just kind of laugh it off and say, “there’s no way we are cancelling the gig. People paid to see us, we’ll be there.” In addition to Chubby, I would say Wendy Laister, Tony Barsamian, and Linda Carbone were other big mentors in my life and career. Wendy introduced me to more people in a year than I would have met in a lifetime, I’ll always be grateful for that opportunity. Tony Barsamian owned a small newspaper and gave me a chance, and he taught me how to sell. I always thought of selling as this dirty thing, but he normalized it showed me the value in it. Linda Carbone and I had and have a really dynamic relationship. She took a big chance on me a few years ago and pushed me to think about how to own and manage a business that I had never considered before.
Some notable acts your company has worked with include Cody Simpson, Steve Jordan, Robert Cray, Pedrito Martinez, and many more. What is the most important thing you look for when working with new talent?
On the marketing side of our business, the most important thing we look for is an opportunity. We ask ourselves, “does this artist have an opportunity to grow? Do they have an opportunity to lean into their narrative and win more than they were prior to us getting involved?” If the answer is yes, then we get excited – because ultimately at the end of the day our job is to be creative and we are really good at that.
What has been the most memorable moment of working within the Immediate Family record label?
I think the most memorable moment so far with the label was the Zoom chat with Bob and Josh. I don’t really get star-struck but in that moment I kept thinking to myself, wow you’re on a zoom chat with two of your heroes as a teenager. That was really rewarding and beautiful. When we saw other people’s reactions to the video as well, that sort of reaffirmed the whole thing.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned this past decade?
You have to be adaptable always. I think this year alone has really made that apparent. But in the last decade as social media trends change, as technology evolves, you have to be able to roll with it and use it to your advantage. There will always be someone that knows more than you, and there will always be people that you can teach – but you have to be sharp and on top of your game always.
Where do you see your label headed in the next 5 years?
I think the label has an opportunity to be something really meaningful. I see the label being a hub that combines meaningful partnerships with artists around a physical product. I want to be able to take a meaningful body of music and turn it into a beautiful physical, tangible, LP. I think with everything that’s going on in the world right now, we could all use a hug, even if it means just hugging your favorite 12” LP record. We want to help with that.
What advice do you have for anyone interested in starting to start their own label?
I would say go for it! Don’t be discouraged by the hurdles, and make sure you pay attention to all of the costs. The better you can forecast your expenses the better you can manage your expectations.