A cultural conduit of sorts, Elliot Aronow has translated a life long love of music into a unique digital space. As Creative Director and VP of A&R for RCRD LBL, Aronow oversees the first and only completely free and legal curated music site. RCRD LBL has been instrumental in breaking acts like Passion Pit, Theophilus London, Kid Cudi and MNDR – primarily through evangelizing acts Aronow falls for and sharing exclusive MP3s.
Aronow’s growth in the music industry follows a familiar path – record store clerk to music magazine editor – but with an unusual twist on how to best introduce new acts to the music loving. blog reading public.
Our short profile of Aronow and RCRD LBL follows after the jump.
Elliot Aronow’s career in music started simply enough, behind the counter at Princeton, NJ’s famed Record Exchange. He says of the experience, “It was insufferable a lot of the time, because each staff member was allowed to play one thing during their shift. These guys, because they were looking for one great break, would make you listen to a 45-minute folk jazz record for just one part.” However, the opportunity to “think about music for a living” opened doors to new possibilities.
Soon, Aronow was harassing music PR firms in New York City, all the while writing about his favorite bands in the Rutgers student paper, and eventually landing a gig at the Fader. “I was an editor at the Fader for a spell, I always liked writing but I never envisioned myself as a music critic. I always felt my talents were better suited to discovering and evangelizing stuff I thought was really great. That was my editorial mission for RCRD LBL.”
Aronow shares that up until senior year of college he had little inkling of where life would take him. However, he was engaged in “a pre-internet, alternative music culture based on fanzines and people setting up their own shows.” And he found that, “I never wanted to be in a band or be a DJ. I got most enjoyment being around people who made music I liked. I never wanted to be a manager, but I felt I was a good asset just being a guy on people’s team. Now, I work with a lot artists I love and I’m not responsible for cash in, cash out. It brings me joy to be in the universe of someone who is creating.”
With RCRD LBL, Aronow brings his personal connections with bands to a wider audience. “It’s been a great experience to see your friends getting props and translating their work to real kids,” he says. The site is about pleasure of watching bands crossover and catch a wider audience. His short description, as if talking to his aunt, is that RCRD LBL is a cool free iTunes. “It’s a curated download site, I work with 5 editors who are all terrific, and through that diversity of voices we usually get 5-7 tracks a day.” The goal is to create something of value, “evangelizing the stuff that’s great.”
“Ultimately, we aim to resonate with the type of music fan that doesn’t know exactly what they are looking for but wants to get it from an attractive source.” Aronow’s looking to translate the DIY-approach of his punk fueled youth to the web… acting as the digital version of the 7-inch distributor carting records and ‘zines to shows across the country.
Sort of exactly what you might expect from a guy who’s favorite band at 18 was The Locust.
In addition to his duties at RCRD LBL, Aronow writes a food blog at Fool’s Gold.
Aronow wears a bespoke blazer and 0xford shirt by Brooklyn Tailors in the above photograph.