By Dave Foxx
9:35 Tuesday Morning – I’m feeling a bit weary today. Not because I was up late or didn’t sleep well, but I’ve been making promo magic for Z100’s Jingle Ball every week for the last seven weeks. I’m beginning to feel like I’m just tapped out. I’ve used artist drops, some specifically cut for ZJB, music montages, concert audio, winners screaming and every other idea I could come up with to make this show sound bigger and more impressive than any other concert ever put on, and yet… I still have two more weeks to get the job done.
11:47 Tuesday Morning – I just spent the last 45 minutes listening to recent hits from all the Z100 Jingle Ball artists. It’s an impressive collection. Between Lady Gaga, Pitbull, David Guetta, Kelly Clarkson, Hot Chelle Rae, LMFAO, Foster The People, Demi Lovato and Gym Class Heroes, we pretty much have the lion’s share of the biggest hits of the year. I’m still not feeling a fresh promo.
1:14 Tuesday Afternoon – Got an interesting email from the management team from Hot Chelle Rae saying the band has been in the studio all morning, cutting a special “Z100 Jingle Ball” version of Tonight Tonight. I should have it later today. Hmmm. I’m feeling a spark of an idea coming. I’ll definitely be looking for that email.
4:37 Tuesday Afternoon – I just heard the HCR track. It’s pretty inventive and my juices are really starting to flow now. I think I’ll let this gel in the back of my head tonight and get started first thing in the morning.
6:22 Tuesday Evening – The wife and I ran out to the airport and hopped in the plane, cranked it up and took off for dinner up near Rochester, New York. We talked about what we want to do for our next vacation on the way up, had a nice dinner and then flew back. The weather was starting to close in a little so I spent a lot of my time talking with Air Traffic Control and concentrating on flying the plane safely.
9:37 Tuesday Evening – I had a spark while we were driving home. LMFAO was on the radio with Party Rock Anthem and I was singing along, “…in the house tonight.” ZAP! On December 9th they’ll be singing that at the Garden.
6:55 Wednesday Morning – I got here a little over an hour ago and started culling through those hits I listened to yesterday. Sure as pop, there are a LOT of times they mention the word “Tonight.” I now have a promo for next week!
8:05 Wednesday Morning – Played next week’s ZJB promo for my PD, Sharon Dastur. High fives all around!
A little more than a “day-in-the-life” of Dave Foxx, CSD for Clear Channel/New York during the month of November, 2011. It’s actually a fairly typical way that my own creative process happens every week. Some weeks there is more pressure than others, of course. Some weeks, there is considerably less. Like a gymnast who works out every day, after you’ve practiced a move a thousand and one times, it becomes almost automatic, and that is exactly what I don’t want. I’ve been doing Z100 Jingle Ball promos for a lot of years and take a great deal of pride in making every promo unique.
I know a lot of producers who do exactly the same thing, but our paths to that ultimate creative place are very different. I fly my Cessna Skyhawk II to hold my mind away from the immediate need to create something. When I do that long enough and then begin the actual production planning, I’m in a place I haven’t been before, seeing and hearing things from the outside rather than in my warm comfortable place. My strongest creative juices flow when I’m not thinking about a project and then suddenly vector into it. Other producers I’ve known ride a bike in traffic, go to a party with loud music or otherwise engage themselves in something that requires their full attention while they’re doing whatever it is. They do not focus on whatever they need to produce until they stop the distraction.
Usually, it’s at that point that the magic spark really happens. Something triggers the mind to make a leap, a connection or insight into your project. This then becomes the driving force behind the entire promo or commercial concept. Remember that creativity is something you unleash. That something is there in every living man woman and child. It’s the point at which your life’s experiences touch on whatever you’re trying to pitch to the listener.
For me, the spark does not come from flying a small, 4–passenger piston airplane. That’s just a distraction, a way to clear my head. The spark comes immediately AFTER I fly the plane. My mind is coming back to reality at that point and I am slowly organizing my brain again. I turn on the radio and hear those magic words, “…in the house tonight!” and I am off to the races!
Well, just in case you haven’t already gone to the CD and listened to my sound for this month, let me invite you to do it now. It’s the promo that I dreamed up as I drove home from the airport.
Of course, by the time you read this, the concert will have long been a memory for our audience and I’ll be wracking my brain again for a new promo idea for our next promotion. Here’s the “takeaway” for this month’s column: I don’t know very many people who can truly be creative “on demand.” I sincerely doubt that many authors have come up with their best work when they’re sitting at a keyboard, trying to write the Great American Novel. Your best work never happened while you were sitting at your console either. It ALL happened in your head first, and I would guess that the vast majority of your best work happened outside the radio station, right after you did something that was not about radio. So, go distract yourself. Play a round of golf, get sweaty playing some hoops, go to a movie or out to dinner with some friends and then… watch the sparks fly.