EDM Insider: An Interview with Clear Channel and iHeartRadio’s Adéllyn Polomski

adellyn polomski clear channel radio
Adellyn Polomski – Director of Artist Relations and Programs for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment

Everyone is familiar with the people who make the music; but what about everything else that goes in to creating the experience and bringing the music from production to your ears? Many of the faces behind the scenes often go unnoticed. We hear songs, love them so much that we buy tickets to events, attend the events, and leave with memories that will last forever; but do we ever stop to consider what goes on behind closed doors?

It is the executives, event managers, artist and repertoire scouts, public relation assistants, bloggers and everyone else that put countless hours in to scouting premium talent, curating events, and making sure the music reaches our doorstep. Having a career in EDM extends far beyond being a DJ or producer.

These are the real heroes of the electronic dance music industry.

One of the pioneers responsible for elevating the prominence of electronic dance music on radio in the United States, Adéllyn Polomski has already established herself as one of the most influential people in EDM. Her efforts continue to push the envelope when it comes to establishing channels for new music discovery and creating better quality experiences for consumers. Having recently spoke on the “20-somethings” panel at the EDMBiz conference in Las Vegas during Electric Daisy Carnival Week, Adéllyn continues to be an inspiration for those looking to pursue a career in the music industry.

We had the opportunity to chat with Adéllyn Polomski, Director of Artist Relations and Programs for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to discuss her career path, obstacles faced along the way, favorite artists, memorable performances, and advise for those of us looking to break in to the electronic dance music industry.

adellyn polomski edmbiz
The 20-somethings panel speaks at the annual EDMbiz conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

First off, congratulations on your recent promotion to Director of Artist Relations and Programs for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. Can you begin by telling us a bit about your expanded role?

Thank you! I previously managed Clear Channel’s EDM programming and initiatives, and I’ll be able to apply a lot of what I learned to my new role as Director of Artist Relations and Programs. I’ll continue to work with labels and artists every day but will also use Clear Channel’s assets and platforms to create unique promotional programs that connect our broadcast and digital audiences with great new music. We’re going to take partnerships to the next level using a combination of Clear Channel’s 840 radio stations in 150 markets, the digital music service iHeartRadio, the company’s growing number of live events and Clear Channel Outdoor’s out of home advertising displays.

What personal attributes do you credit with helping you get to where you are today?

I say this often but it’s important to be genuine. It’s obvious to everyone when you’re following your passions – and when you’re not. You can’t fake it in this business!

As you continue to expand your role within the company, what are some characteristics you try to embody as a leader?

As a leader in any industry it’s important for your business to have an open mind. The competitive landscape is constantly seeking new artists to break and experiences to provide, and we want to be the first to introduce it all to our listeners; because of the wide breadth of our audiences, there isn’t any room for narrow-mindedness. I’m always checking out new technology and events from around the world, and I try to expose myself to as much music as possible from a variety of genres. It’s a great way we can continue to provide the best programming, live events and digital products for our listeners, partners and advertisers.

What is your favorite part about going to work every day?

This is a tough one – what’s not to like? The great thing about my job is that no two days are the same. I work with great teams across the board internally, as well as world-class artists and award-wining on-air talent. But my favorite part is bringing it all together for our tent pole events like the iHeartRadio Music Festival, iHeartRadio Music Awards and iHeartRadio Ultimate Pool Party.

What is one significant moment that sticks out on your journey to where you are now?

My journey is full of great moments, but one stands out in particular: the first time I met Pete Tong in 2012. When I lived and studied in England I would listen to his radio show every Friday, when I was cooking dinner or before going out. His show got me excited for the weekend and it was a great place to discover new music.

After I started my first job at Premiere Networks, my mentor Jen Leimgruber told me that we would be meeting with Pete to see about syndicating him in the U.S. to reach new audiences. I knew right away that it would be the start of something huge. Now we’re partners in crime and we speak almost every day, and there’s never a dull moment.

What have been some of the biggest challenges in getting to this point of your career?

Some of my challenges are mirrored in the music and entertainment industry. When I started to build a dance music brand for Clear Channel, it was tough because there wasn’t an existing standard or even a platform that was capable of bringing this genre of music to a new audience.

Electronic music didn’t have a traditional radio format or classification that was understood in the U.S. Bringing electronic music to life on the radio and digital streaming is hard work, but definitely worth it because at the end of the day we’re connecting our listeners with great new music and underground artists that they didn’t have access to before.

Who have been your biggest influences, both personally and professionally?

Pete Tong will always be a big influence in my personal and professional life because he’s the pioneer of dance music radio.  It’s inspiring to share musical ideas, learn about new artists and even hang out with someone as iconic as Pete.

My mentor Jen Leimgruber is the first one who pushed me to take on electronic music at Clear Channel, and she continues to help foster my ideas and interests into a career. Jen helped me to understand that just because an EDM division didn’t already exist, it didn’t mean we couldn’t build one from the ground up – and now Premiere Networks syndicates Diplo and Pete Tong, and Evolution hosts a ton of radio shows for established and rising star producers.

What is a role within the industry that you see gaining increased significance as electronic music continues to grow and expand its’ reach?

Radio programmers will continue to be significant for artists of any genre.  Since radio is the No. 1 form of music discovery, programmers are able to introduce an artist’s new sounds to an entirely new audience if it’s the right fit for our listeners.

As electronic music’s reach grows, you’ll see more platforms and new avenues becoming part of our community.  With that will come an increase in “EDM professionals,” and I hope it encourages more young people and women to embrace their passion for the music and make a career out of it.

Describe the moment that you fell in love with electronic dance music.

I fell in love with dance music culture while at the University of Leeds in England. I was really into Indie Rock, but I was hooked on electronic music after hearing my first Boys Noize remix.

Leeds has an amazing music scene – I hosted a radio show on the student radio station and I featured local producers and interviewed them for our listeners.  It was a great place for me to start because not only was it my first foray into dance music but also my first time pairing it with broadcast radio.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

I’m constantly listening to new music so my playlist changes often, but my playlist right now has a few different genres: Boys Noize, Interpol, Migos, Zhu, Future Islands and Krewella are in rotation!

What is your favorite performance that you have seen to date?

In 2012 Swedish House Mafia performed at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. Their shows were always great productions, but they had a DJ booth that telescoped from the ceiling into the middle of the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The booth was a cylinder that was suspended from the rafters and it almost reached the floor, allowing everyone in the arena to see it. The graphics rotated around the outside of the booth and we timed colorful light-up iHeartRadio wristbands to glow to the beat, and the crowd couldn’t get enough!

As if that wasn’t enough, Usher came out as a surprise guest and he sang “Euphoria” with the Swedes on deck. It was great to be a part of that moment and to share it with millions of listeners and viewers across the country.

What is something interesting about you that most people would not know?

I’m an open book, but a lot of people don’t know that I played the harp for 10 years or that I always thought I’d be an equestrian. I didn’t make a career out of any of those things, but I would say I’m definitely in a great place!

The 20-somethings panel poses for a photo following their panel at the annual EDMbiz conference in Las Vegas.

So there you have it electronic dance music family.

A little bit of insight as to what it takes to pursue your dreams in the industry and a look in to one of the most influential leaders behind the scenes!

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