Industry Spotlight: Maria Ferrero (Adrenaline PR) – Part 2

Hello, everyone! We are excited to have you with us this afternoon. Today we are bringing back our Spotlight series for a continuation of our interview feature with Adrenaline PR founder Maria Ferrero. If you missed the first installment of interview, please click here to learn about the day-to-day struggles of running one of rock’s most beloved PR companies. If you have any questions about the content of the blog, or if you would like more information regarding the distributional services offered by Haulix, please email and share your thoughts. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

It may be hard for some of our readers to imagine a time before every song you could ever hope to listen to fit in a device less than half the size of your palm, but in all actuality those days are not that far gone. Before iPods there were portable CD players (with anti-skip protection), and before those we had Walkman cassette players that often doubled as portable AM/FM devices. For a brief period before tapes, we even had portable record players. They were clunky, but they allowed anyone to take their favorite 45s on the go, and it’s in traveling with her very own portable record player that Adrenaline PR CEO Maria Ferrero first fell in love with music.

When we last left off, Maria was telling us about life at Adrenaline PR and what others can do to find their footing in this business. Today we are finishing our coverage of her journey in music with a look at where she got her start, including her role signing the band Testament to Megaforce Records and having songs dedicated to her by Metallica. Her adventure in this business is unlike any we have heard before, and it’s truly been an honor to share it with all of you.

If you would like to learn more about Maria’s efforts in the music world, please make it a point to follow Adrenaline PR on Twitter. Additional questions and comments can be left at the end of this post.

H: The first job in the industry I can find for you is Director of Publicity and A&R at MegaForce records. What can you tell us about how you initially landed that position, and how the industry was different in the 80s compared to today? I’m willing to bet piracy was not a primary concern at the time. 

M: I was visiting a neighbor of mine a friend Gary Dopp in Old Bridge NJ I was 15 he said his neighbors were selling heavy metal records so I knocked on the door and met Jon Z, then bought a Motorhead album on clear vinyl. Then became friends with both Jon and his wife Marsha who had a 9 month old daughter – I started out babysitting, feeding and changing clothes for their child – I was still a kid myself. Then they started promoting concerts I would go, I  always felt comfortable like family with Jon and Marsha Zazula, so I would just hang out – then  they formed  the label (Megaforce), and I started out answering phones and opening mail. I  stayed and grew with the company for 13 years and signed Testament when I was 19, Vio-Lence when I was 21, and a cool NJ band you may remember from ‘Beevis and  Butthead’ called Nudeswirl –  I also brought in Ministry to the management side of Magaforce Records,  called Crazed Management. 

The industry is very different now, and for me its pivot point was  when CD Burners were introduced to the consumer – this was the first mistake and offered fans the opportunity to copy discs and steal music and to me the next step on that train wreck was napster and  other torrent sites. 

We need more  proactivity  to  this  piracy  situation  –  Haulix is a GREAT help to that plight. 

H: People may not realize this now, but MegaForce was one of the pioneering labels of the 80s heavy metal movement. Were you a bonafide metalhead prior to joining the team? 

M: I liked mostly hardcore bands like COC, AF and Cromags, but Sabbath and early Maiden  and  Priest were my heart.  It was my birthday one year and James from Metallica he did a shout out  from the stage and wished me a happy birthday dedicating Metal Militia to me and calling me Metal Maria – it  stuck, that’s for  sure – but I  love all music – Elton John, Janes Addiction , Bjork, Linkin Park  etc..

H: You move from MegaForce to TVT in 1996, and in the process transition to a Product Manager role. May I ask what inspired the change? You ultimately come back to the world of PR, as we all know, so I am curious how you felt about that role at the time.

M: I lost my job at Megaforce – they scaled down and laid everyone but one person off –  who  now owns  the label  actually,  but at the time I was a homeowner and was just recently engaged to be wed, so I was very scared, being unemployed. I was grateful to get the job offer  they were looking for someone to handle  their  difficult  client  – KMFDM-  (not difficult at all by  the way just very decisive) and  asked that Steve Gottleib let me do press too. It was my passion and talent and I did not want to be underutilized. I did get married and had an  unexpected tragedy of my husband passing away after 7 months of  marriage, which opened my eyes tot the fact life just happens, so you should follow your dreams – I always wanted to be  a chef so – I left TVT became a chef. Problem was 9 months later, after Culinary School, my second night at work I was hit by a  truck crossing the street – I recuperated from a broken rib and herniated discs, but the kitchen became a physically painful place for me (too many hours standing and lifting). So I got a job at E-magine Entertainment as PR then left to go to  Metropolis for 2 years then started my own PR firm in 2003. 

H: You leave TVT and have a few years away from the industry, then return to launch Adrenaline PR. What is the origin story behind Adrenaline, including the inspiration for the name?

M: I went to an astrologer and she told me I will work for myself in my home. I said no way, but she insisted that in Feb I start looking for a job because there were financial problems at the company where I  worked. I went away on vacation over xmas to Australia  –  then in mid January I got the  call – money problems – my time at the time company would end in February. I said “Wow” and immediately started Adrenaline – I named the company because of my own personal high energy and passion – It  just seemed to fit.

H: Who was the first artist you worked with as Adrenaline, and how did you initially convince them to sign with you?

M: I called a friend, Debbie  Abono (rip), and I told her I lost my  job… I was worried, but she said I would be fine. She called Gloria Cavalera, who hired me for Soulfly, then From Autumn To  Ashes, Lamb Of God, Zeromancer  and Superjoint Ritual, Dimmu  Borgir –  the  rest is history.

H: What was the hardest part about launching Adrenaline PR?

M: Making a difference for people, clients, employees, my family, myself etc.

H: Natalie will tell us a bit about joining the team, but I am curious to learn about hiring process from your end as well. When did you start to expand the Adrenaline team, and how did you go about finding coworkers?

M:  If someone is genuinely interested – I’ll hire them, or at the very least I will do my best to help them find a job.

H: I noticed in my research that you went to school to pursue a culinary education at one point. Can we expect to one day see a Maria Ferrero restaurant (which I’m currently calling ‘Maria’s’ in my mind)?

M: You never know, but it’s really hard work. 

H: There has been a boom in boutique PR firms over the last several years, but Adrenaline has managed to remain a dominant force in the publicity world. To what do you credit your continued success?

M: Passion, Drive, Accountability, & reliability.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.