The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: MAD Ink PR owner, Melissa Dragich-Cordero.
With over 20 years of experience in the field, PR pro Melissa Dragich-Cordero has quite an impressive track record.
Entering the industry in the ’90s, she worked for cutting-edge labels like Rick Rubin’s Def American Recordings and the legendary Epic Records. These positions enabled Dragich-Cordero to work on PR projects for artists like Johnny Cash, Slayer, Incubus, Jeff Beck and more.
In 2002, Dragich-Cordero left the major labels to launch a firm of her own, MAD ink PR. Fueled by her extensive PR experience and creative promotional ideas, today she helps to drive the success of well-known acts like Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Phil Collen and many more.
We’re pleased to present to you the ever-talented Melissa Dragich-Cordero. Learn more about MAD Ink PR at madinkpr.com.
WiMN: How did you become interested in music as a child and what led you to a career in this industry?
MDC: I always loved listening to the radio and my older brother’s albums. He was way into the rock and metal world. So early on I was exposed to Van Halen, Rush, Guns N’ Roses, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. My older next-door neighbor introduced me to Queen and the Sex Pistols, and my mom introduced me to Elvis. My tastes have always been so diverse. Johnny Cash, Prince and Elvis meet Van Halen and The Clash…you name it! I really loved listening to the radio and going to live shows. My first was Prince’s 1999 tour. While in college, I knew that working in music would be much more fun than pushing computers at IBM!
WiMN: Prior to starting your own business, you worked for Epic Records as well as Rick Rubin’s Def American label. What did you learn from your time with these companies?
MDC: I learned so much from each. Def American was at the height of cool! My boss, Heidi Robinson, was the best PR person to learn from; so creative and imaginative. We had such a nice budget to do PR – the sky was the limit! The bios we did for each project were like pieces of art…the campaigns were so inventive and as exciting as the roster – Johnny Cash and Jesus & Mary Chain to Danzig and Slayer. I couldn’t have asked for a more diverse roster. I learned more at Def American than in any other aspect of my career.
Epic was where I built on that learned experience. I was able to work Incubus from day one, be involved with Oasis, Keb’Mo, the amazing Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani. I met an amazing team of people who continue to be my closest friends today. It was an exciting time to work in music…before Napster, music downloading and the like. Music was fun and innovative and the internet had yet to take over.
WiMN: What led you to creating MAD Ink?
MDC: I left Epic at the downturn and immediately took on Incubus as my first client. Starting my own company was never something I anticipated, but it’s been so rewarding on so many levels, both personally and professionally. I loved working at labels when it was good…but labels have changed with the industry and doing it for yourself is pretty liberating. It also allowed me to reunite with my former partner at Def American, Michelle Gutenstein-Hinz.
WiMN: What is it about public relations work that interests you?
MDC: Doing PR is ever-changing. You truly never know what your day will bring. It also allows you to be so creative with your pitches, press releases and presentation of an artist’s career. It’s exciting but certainly a lot of hard work.
WiMN: If you could offer an up-and-coming band one piece of advice regarding their publicity, what would that be?
MDC: Do your own homework, research and outreach! Keep making music – don’t wait for 10 songs to make an album. Put out songs, videos and personality pieces as often as you can. It’s so much more personal with fans these days, they expect it and want it.
WiMN: Tell us about some of your current projects you’re working on with MAD Ink.
MDC: We are proud to continue working with amazing icons such as Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Phil Collen of Def Leppard, John McLaughlin and X. We also just confirmed Berlin featuring Terri Nunn as a new client. In addition, we work with brand new artists like singer/songwriter/guitarist Rod Melancon, a very cool jazz fusion collaboration called Volto!, a NY alternative rock band Morning Fuzz and teen singer/songwriter Chase Kroesche – all of which are challenging and exciting as well.
WiMN: Can you share your experience as a woman in the industry? Have there been challenges?
MDC: There are challenges to every job. Early on, I’m sure I had a few people in the biz try to take advantage in one way or the other, but I always held my own. I think eventually you prove yourself, and stick around long enough, and they realize they can’t get one over on you.
WiMN: Any words of encouragement for women aspiring to enter the music industry?
MDC: Stick to your morals and convictions. Don’t let being a women or your age intimidate you to not follow what you believe is right. I worked my way up from an intern level and never regretted any step I made. It was always forward or up. I asked a lot of questions, read everything I was ever given to send out, and most of all, I listened and learned.