Thursday, November 15, 2012

6 Questions with Todd Cassetty

By Tom Roland

In his role as Hi-Fi Fusion president, Todd Cassetty has established one of the most prominent digital marketing companies in Nashville’s music business. The firm has worked with the likes of Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts and Country Music Broadcasters, the organization that gave Cassetty his first music job. Hi-Fi Fusion is also responsible for many—well, most—of the vote-solicitation emails that appear during balloting season for the Country Music Assn. and Academy of Country Music Awards. Cassetty has expanded on his business, executive-producing numerous TV specials, including NBC’s 2010 Thanksgiving offering “Speak Now—Taylor Swift.” In his latest venture, he formed Cassetty Entertainment and signed Scotty McCreery as his first management client.

Why did you want to go into management?
It’s always been something I wanted to do. Management is the intersection of multiple experiences and skills, and the wearing of many hats, and I feel like I’ve done a lot of different things in my career so far. So I feel like it was the natural next step for me, and it really interests me. I’ve just been waiting for the perfect opportunity and the inspiration to take the plunge, and 
Scotty McCreery was definitely that.

Why did you want Scotty McCreery as your first client?
I’ve had the pleasure of working with him for about a year-and-a-half now in varying capacities through my other business ventures and have just really gotten to know him not just as a person—because he’s just a good, good guy—but also from a professional standpoint, seeing the fan reaction to him and his growth as a performer onstage, and I just think he’s firing on all cylinders. There’s so much opportunity out there for him, it’s exciting. I’ve been telling people, “A lot of 
times you stay up late worrying about things that are negative.” I stay up late worrying about all the things that we can do for Scotty, and it’s exciting and just energizing to work with such a talented young man.

What’s it like trying to map out a career for someone who still has to take midterms?
It’s a challenge, but a worthwhile challenge. He wants to keep one foot in the country music world and one foot in some semblance of a normal existence, and so far it’s worked well. You can do anything. You’ve just got to be creative.

Is there another executive or two that you think of as a role model in management? And why?
There are some great managers in this town: Clarence Spalding, Ken Levitan are all guys that I really respect and admire, and I think I’ve looked  at their careers from afar and thought, “That 
looks like fun.” So that’s a large part of what inspired me to take this step. They’ve taken some midlevel artists and turned them into A-level artists more than once, and I admire that.

Is there an artist or an event that inspired you to pursue the music business?
I’ve always loved music. My father [Tom Cassetty] was actually the manager of WSM [Nashville] back in the ’80s, so I grew up seeing some of the greatest country atists of all time perform on the Grand Ole Opry, and if that doesn’t motivate you, not much will. I remember having to go to the Opry on weeknights when he would be meeting with clients, taking them 
backstage at the Opry, and having to sit up late and watch Marty Robbins perform for an hour after the Opry went off the air. At the time, I probably didn’t appreciate that, but in retrospect, I got to see some amazing things at a very young age, and once it gets in your blood, there’s no turning back.

What’s the first recorded music you ever bought?
I’ll tweak it for you a little bit. The first I ever had, I won at a radio station remote, and it was the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” How ’bout that for a random answer? But it’s one of those 
classic records that I still love today. I remember getting to pick a record out of a bin at a radio remote. That’s the one I chose, and it was a monster. It was probably one of the first big rap 
hits ever, if not the first.

Scotty McCreery performs at the Sadie Hawkins Dance in Cranston, RI tonight

Net proceeds from this event will benefit the Big Brothers & Big Sisters of the Ocean State, based in Cranston, RI.