Kevin Calabro - Co-Founder of Indie Record Label Royal Potato Family, and Founder of Calabro Music Media on Running an Independent Label, Artist Development and More.

Ep.076 Cover (V2) Kevin Calabro.jpg

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The music industry is not a career, it’s a lifestyle. Kevin Calabro is a veteran of the business, whose passion for music connects everything he touches from the way he treats and works with his artists, to how fans experience listening to records. Along with Marco Benevento, he’s the co-founder of Independent Record Label, Royal Potato Family, and also runs the Artist Management and PR company, Calabro Music Media. He works with many amazing artists such as Living Colour, Marco Benevento, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and many more. In this episode, we talk about the day to day of running an independent label, songwriting, advice for DIY musicians, his philosophy on touring, and much more.

To learn more about Kevin Calabro, visit and  

Highlights from this Episode
[3:38] Early Record Collections
[6:02] The energy behind the music versus the math
[8:15] Current Projects and Background
[10:32] Standing out in a niche market
[15:48] Songwriting for artists in other genres
[20:51] Writing better songs
[23:35] Best practices for social media
[27:22] Creating consistent content
[29:25] Philosophy on releasing more singles
[30:24] Touring strategies for artists
[35:28] Creating a culture and a vibe for a label
[38:23] Choosing to work with artists as a label versus management or publicist
[39:37] The album release process
[43:16] Kevin Calabro’s team
[48:48] Process of filtering through emails
[52:40] Sending emails and getting more responses
[54:45] Getting to know Kevin Calabro
[59:32] Artist Stories

Quotes from Kevin Calabro
“It comes down to being able to stick around and staying in the game.”
“Real artists rise to the top over time.”
“Bob Marley was Jamin’!”
“A good solo in the middle of a generic song, is not going to do a whole lot for anyone.”
“It’s important to keep singles coming out, and dropping little things without having huge gaps in between projects.”
“Content is really important right now, more so than ever.”
“Every artist has their own trajectory of how it’s going to happen, and you just have to be tuned into it.”
“I’m envisioning everybody who buys our records, listening to records the same way I do.”
“Be freaking smart about what you send.”

Links to people, places, and things mentioned
Joan Jett
Neil Young
The Allman Brothers
Grateful Dead
Muddy Waters
Howlin’ Wolf
Royal Potato Family
Calabro Music Media
Oliver Wood
Tinsley Ellis
Marco Benevento
Chris Robinson
Grayson Capps
Larry Coryell
Willis Alan Ramsey
The New Yorker
The Office (TV Show)
Corey Glover from Living Colour
Leslie Mendelson
Eric Krasno
Phil Lesh
Marcus King
Aaron Neville
Stanton Moore
New Orleans Jazz Fest

Kevin Calabro’s Definition of Making It:
“Being able to do what you love, with the people you love, is everything.”

Related Articles & Episodes:
1. Neal Casal of Chris Robinson Brotherhood - Episode #043
2. Corey Glover of Living Colour - Episode #047
3. Leslie Mendelson - Episode #057
4. Oliver Wood of the Wood Brothers - Episode #070
5. Mark Samuels of Basin Street Records - Episode #069

Keep in touch:

Host: Chris Goyzueta (Chris G.)
Producer: Jason Trosclair
Executive Producer: ONElive Creative Agency  
Music: Emily Kopp


Mark Samuels - Owner & Founder of Basin Street Records - A 20 Year Journey and Counting as an Independent Record Label Featuring the Beautiful Sounds of New Orleans

Mark Samuels - Basin Street Records

You can also listen to this episode on iTunes | Spotify | Stitcher |

Longevity is the word that resonates the most with me when it comes to building a successful career or being an entrepreneur. Creators - musicians, songwriters, filmmakers, artists, producers, etc. are all entrepreneurs and therefore business owners. I find a lot of entrepreneurs that get really impatient three to four years into their journey. Often times even sooner. We want things to happen right now. I’ve been there myself. One of the lessons that took me the longest to learn, but resonates the most with me today, is to look at a career in terms of the long-term picture. Yes, it’s important to seize the day and live every day to be as fulfilled as possible. However, in reality, we spent most of our time on the journey to our goals, then actually at the final destination itself. Most of us are going to live to be over 80 years old. If you have “success” in your 20’s, what happens for the next 50-60 years? What happens when you run out of money?

When I think of success and longevity, I think of people like Make Samuels, owner, and founder of Basin Street Records. Not only is he focused on the longevity of his label, but also the artists he represents. He takes personal responsibility to wake up early every day, knowing he’s responsible for their livelihood, and their families livelihood. In 2017, Basin Street Records celebrated it’s 20 Year Anniversary as an Independent Record Label. The label features the wonderful sounds of New Orleans with artists such as Kermit Ruffins, Irvin Mayfield, Rebirth Brass Band, Jon Cleary, Los Hombres Calientes, Jeremy Davenport, Bonerama, and so many more. Mark Samuels, started the label in 1997 with the release of Kermit Ruffins - the Barbecue Swingers Live, which was recorded at the historic music venue, Tipitina’s. The labels second album, Los Hombres Calientes won a Latin Billboard Award, and the 2012 Rebirth Brass Band album “Rebirth of New Orleans,” brought the label it’s first Grammy win. In this conversation, Mark Samuels shares these and many more stories. You’ll learn how the label started, New Orleans culture, and many lessons on running an independent record label.

I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. Also, I hope you open yourself up to exploring different styles of music, and listen to the sounds of New Orleans. The sounds of Basin Street Records.

Get the 20 YEAR Anniversary Album featuring Kermit Ruffins & Irvin Mayfield.

Get the 20 YEAR Anniversary Album featuring Kermit Ruffins & Irvin Mayfield.

Highlights from this Episode
[3:02] Mark Samuels first concert experience
[4:00] The first time he picked up an instrument
[5:15] Moving from New Orleans to New York City
[6:52] First experience with the music industry
[10:42] Past and current mentors
[12:30] Getting started on the business side of the music industry
[25:35] Lessons learned from promoting concerts
[30:33] Deals and contracts
[36:22] Creating your labels vision and brand
[40:48] Running a label being based in New Orleans
[55:04] Advice for getting a label started
[59:31] Things artists should look for in working with a label
[1:05:16] The Grammy Winning Rebirth Brass Band Album
[1:08:40] Getting to know Mark Samuels

Quotes from Mark Samuels
“Figure out what things are important, and what things you can do better.”
“Speech, Debate, Creative Writing - no matter what you’re doing. Those are the things you should spend time on.”
“When you’re dealing with intellectual property, you can’t do things on a handshake.”
“When you have partners, you need to have an agreement about how you’re going to part ways.”
“You have to be prepared for disasters.”
“Get the accounting systems started from day one.”
“If you’re not going to run your business properly, don’t start a business.”
“If you have people that are going to count on you, outside of yourself, you better be prepared to wake up early and work, every day.”
“Learn as many different things that you can.”
“You’re going to need aspects of your career managed. Figure out what those are.”
“Ask to speak to the other bands that are signed to that label.”
“If you bring enough to the table, you’ll find someone willing to work with you.”
“It’s too easy to take a good picture on an iPhone, to have a lousy press photo.”

Links to people, places, and things mentioned
Wynton Marsalis
New Orleans Jazz Fest
University of Texas (Austin)
Delfeayo Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
The Police
Cutting Edge Music Business Conference
Generations Hall
Jeremy Davenport
Kermit Ruffins
Tom Thompson
Basin Street Records
The Barbecue Swingers Live
OffBeat Music Magazine
Justice Records
Rebirth Brass Band
Irvin Mayfield
Los Hombres Calientes
Jason Marsalis
Snug Harbor  
House of Blues New Orleans
Orpheum Theater - New Orleans
Jon Cleary
Henry Butler
Dr. Michael White
Louis Armstrong
Earl Palmer
Neville Brothers
The Meters
Dr. John
The Subdudes
Treme (TV Show)
NCIS New Orleans (TV Show)
Grammy Winning Rebirth Brass Band Album - Rebirth of New Orleans
“A Beautiful World” - 20 Year Anniversary Album
Haley Reinhart
Spinal Tap
22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al and Laura Ries

Mark Samuels’ Definition of Making It:
“I think I’ve made it! I have 4 amazing kids. With them, I think I’m leaving the world in a better spot, and I hope our music lives on forever.”

Get in touch with Mark Samuels

A Small Sample of the Sounds of Basin Street Records