What do Dr. Dre, Owl City, Roberta Flack, and Styx have in common? From their individual music styles, one would be hard pressed to find a common denominator .My guess was they are all famous artists in completely separate music genres with huge followings. But all four artists are or were promoted and managed by Ron Spaulding. Ron is currently the President of Fontana Distribution, the music promotion arm of Universal. Universal Music Group is owned by Vivendi Entertainment http://www.vivendi.com/vivendi/-accueil-en-, a huge entertainment conglomerate based in Paris.
What does all of this have to do with entrepreneurs? Mr. Spaulding runs what I characterize as a venture capital firm for popular music. He sees hundreds of artists, promoters, music studio owners, and agents each quarter. He and his staff funded $26 million dollars of music and marketing resources for over 100 different groups. Fontana funds the promotion, distribution, and in-store display for both retailers such as Best Buy or digital content on i-Tunes.
What did Mr. Spaulding talk about yesterday? He stressed integrity, curiosity, embracing change, and straight talk. He developed his contacts as a retail buyer of music for Shopko Stores, and was involved with retailors such as JCI, MusicLand, and Best Buy in Minneapolis. One of his heroes is Howie Long, who asked everyday what he could learn, or how he could improve his performance on the football field. He said we all should be open and vulnerable to others ideas and new methods. He reads voraciously and his recommendations include Soar with your Strengths: http://www.amazon.com/Soar-Your-Strengths-Revolutionary-Philosophy/dp/044050564X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332945743&sr=1-1
An inspiring book for business managers and individuals on how to achieve the absolute best by focusing on strengths and steering away from weaknesses and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success:http://www.amazon.com/The-Seven-Spiritual-Laws-Success/dp/1878424114/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332945921&sr=1-1
Mr Spaulding begins each day reading the NY Times, WSJ, LA Times, and USA Today. He worries about the sense of entitlement with teenagers and college students. He believes you must earn and learn to move up and stay relevant. It is not enough to know the right people, or have the right toys. “Dreams are the most potent driver for success. You cannot achieve success alone so you need to treat people with respect. You have to exercise faith too”. He is very clear with expectations for employees and business partners. “Everyone on my staff can recite our sales goals and key drivers for Fontana’s success”.
“I was so blessed to graduate from Monmouth College. I came from a background that did not encourage study at college or business as an occupation. It was a great leadership opportunity for me and I found out I did not want to be an attorney during my time here”. One of Ron’s greatest accomplishments was helping Hip Hop become a recognized music genre 15 years ago. His greatest challenge has been helping the artists and industry come back from the decimation caused by Napster and free file sharing. “We (the music industry) lost 50% of our revenues and the fight back has been grueling. I am proud to say Fontana has been one of the few profitable music publishers during the last four years with the growth of i-Tunes and digital publishing. Our international opportunities continue to grow and we plan to see exponential growth in the next 5-10 years overseas. The recognition that artistic material is intellectual property that deserves protection is growing in places like China. That means there is great opportunity out there”.
Spaulding majored in Government and Philosophy and was an ATO while here at Monmouth College. Part of his experience most valuable to Ron was his leadership opportunities. He served as President of the Pre-Law Society, Politics Club and ATO. Mr.
Spaulding has held leadership positions within the entertainment industry including Priority Records, Elektra Entertainment Group, and Warner Music Group. Fontana provides expertise and resources as the “best in class” operator for independent labels and artists crossing all music genres. His primary interests are golf, entertainment, motorcycles, new technology and business development.