Peter Rosenberg is really late but just on time
Pierre Rosenberg is a busy man.
We can hear him from Monday to Friday talking about Hip Hop on The hot 97s Ebro in the morning and give hot sports views on ESPN radios The Michael Kay Show. He is also an analyst for the WWE, commenting on the pre-shows of their à la carte events.
A pioneer of Hip Hop audio content, he co-hosts the revolutionary podcast now titled Juan Ep is life with his accomplice Cipha sounds and gives his wrestling expertise on ESPN” Cheap heating with Stat Guy Greg.
In June, he released his first compilation album titled Really late and launched his label Real Late. The project includes appearances by Method Man, Raekwon The Chef, Ghostface Killah, Styles P, Smoke DZA, and Westside Gunn, with production by Buckwild, Graymatter, Buck Dudley, DJ Skizz and others.
I spoke with Rosenberg about his new label and his new album, his take on the pros and cons of music streaming and the future of podcasting.
My first question is, with your demanding schedule, when do you sleep?
Rosenberg: This is an excellent question. Usually I try to sleep from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. These days have been even better because I was working from home in the morning which is amazing. So I can sleep until a little after six, because we don’t really start until a little after six at Hot 97. So that’s been really cool. Some days I catch an hour in the afternoon but it all depends. I try to depend less on the nap. I try to take out the nap of my life and stay up and sleep earlier. But it’s difficult for me because I’m having trouble going to bed. So much is happening!
After years of being a radio personality you released your first album Really late. How did you curate the album and start your record label during the pandemic?
Rosenberg: Good question. It really worked because of the way I operate. Because of my schedule, I don’t really like going out late. One of the things that is difficult about working with artists is that they always try to go to the studio at times of madness. So with COVID, I took advantage of the fact that people were comfortable working from home or remotely and I think it actually worked to my advantage.
Not only did you release an album, but you also started your own label called Real Late. What made you want to become an entrepreneur in the music industry?
Rosenberg: I felt I was at a time in my life where I was a little less musically inspired. I got caught up in a lot of other things and realized that I was moving away from my original passion that brought me here. You know “the girl who took me to dance”, if you will, which has always been music. Music was a really comfortable place for me. So when COVID happened, I just thought ‘enough is enough. I can do it. “I had a few strokes of luck, I had a few things under my belt, I had rhythms that inspired me, I had the help of my man Mark Rosado, who is A&R of the project, and I was on my way, when I finally got started it was really a good time.
How did your years of experience in media and as a DJ help you during the album creation process??
Rosenberg: I think all the experiences I have gained have been helpful. But let me say this: it’s actually very difficult to explain the kind of role that DJs play. In certain periods of my life, I am just a personality. I do the show every morning. I’m just a regular Joe, who walks in, does a show, and talks about things. Then you have other phases where you are more deeply involved in the music of other artists. Artists who have relied on me to help me and who know that I am a fan. So you build relationships and as a result of building those relationships you see how others do things and you learn. I am 41 years old now and I am a fairly experienced person in the music industry. I had friends who made deals with majors and an independent cast. I have seen people be very successful and I have seen people have shortcomings. I have seen how people deal with relationships and how they do or do not do well. So I was able to watch a lot of them.
How long did it take to record the album? Were you there or did you work there remotely?
Rosenberg: IIt took about seven or eight months and I’ve never been with anyone. I got to watch Jim Jones when he was virtually recording his game, but I was never physically near anyone. Everything was done remotely. Then when we mixed it, I sent it to my boy Kenny, who lives in the middle of Texas. So everyone came from all over.
With your experiences in all aspects of the music industry, what are the pros and cons of streaming?
Rosenberg: It’s actually kind of a deep question. Everything has evolved with music thanks to technology. The advantages are that you can reach so many people. Some of the people who can check out my album are because they already have a streaming service, it’s much easier than if they had to go and buy the album in a store. So you have access to more ears. With more access, the entry bar lowers
But a downside is that you earn a lot less money. I was calculating how many times a person would have to stream your album for you to get $ 10. You talk about fractions of pennies on streams so you need a lot of streams to do anything so you would need a billion streams to make a profit. Now a lower bar means there is more terrible music on the market. The old barrier of entry made it so that by the time you heard people in the past, they were a little more developed. They don’t know what they’re doing. They are not good. They don’t know what they’re doing yet. We saw it with people who had no talent. They hadn’t cleaned up the street life yet, so they got into the game, but they’re still too connected to other things. While back then it could still happen, but very often by the time you signed, people from the label invested in you and had an interest in watching you.
What’s your favorite track on the album?
Rosenberg: No one has asked me that until now. It goes through cycles. There are songs that I have had longer and these are songs that are relatively newer. But I would say “Snake Eyes” with Ghost Face, Crimeapple and Jim Jones is one of my favorites. I was so thrilled it was done. Everyone is right. Also, it is produced by a good friend of mine Disco Vietnam, who is a big fan of Wu-Tang. Then there is “Next Chamber” with Method Man and Raekwon which is a banger produced by Graymatter. I have a really great affection for a lot of them, so I really love them all in different ways.
You are considered one of the pioneers of Hip Hop podcasting with Juan Ep, then it became Juan Ep Is Dead, now Juan Ep It’s life. For those who don’t know, can you tell us why the name has changed so many times?
Rosenberg: After DMX, Black Rob and Shock G died, it was on the podcast we were on that we had the conversation and we were like, “I don’t know about all this dead stuff.” It’s not the energy we want and rappers keep dying. Obviously, as we get older, death becomes more and more a part of everyone’s life. We’re just sick of the idea of mentioning death. So there, we changed him to life. We wanted to reverse the energy in the small way that we could.
Juan Ep is one of the first podcasts to focus on Hip Hop culture and Cheap Heat was an early and in-depth professional wrestling podcast. What do you think of the impact of the growth of podcasting on the two industries?
Rosenberg: It feels good to be a part of something at first, but it comes with frustrations and disappointments because we missed the podcast that is so dramatically changing our financial lives. But I’m glad you know that the things we’ve done got people to do game-changing things for them.
Since the pandemic, I’m currently having more fun doing both podcasts. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed them so much as I do now. I guess it’s because I am able to do them at home. It allows you to plan in a way where you don’t have to worry about finding yourself and taking that time. It’s so easy that you can focus on what we’re doing and create great content.
Although the two of you are far apart, there is still the same organic chemistry as if you were in the studio together.
Rosenberg: When it comes to Juan Ep, Ciph and I have a really interesting closeness. We don’t talk much during the week but we really catch up on the real things in our life on the podcast. Our friendship grew as we stopped working together every day. Even though we don’t talk all the time, we have maintained a closeness that we always came back to. It has always been a place where you feel good. I wish it was the biggest podcast in the world, but I like people who listen to fully understand it. We have people who have been down from day one and I am grateful for all of those people.
Now that there’s a subscription to the show on Patreon, do you think these platforms will be the future for podcasters to monetize their content?
Rosenberg: I do not know yet. I don’t have enough experience with this yet. We still have growth to do. What we’ve done is kind of a soft launch because we’ve kind of come back to doing shows. We do this once a week and we don’t do a lot of guests, so we didn’t even really make the Patreon super attractive. Recently for the first time we had an interview, where we cut it off after 20 minutes and said the rest is on the page. We have to start doing more of this and then I could pass judgment. But I like the idea that people can create podcasts on their own. I think the key is just to have something that people want to listen to and tap into that thing. Everything else will take care of itself.