Ramble On: John C. Hughes on New Beginnings


Soooo, where’s Lost in the ‘70s/’80s/’90s been? Has that Hughes character been slacking off? Well, not quite.

It may be fairly obvious from my 400+ posts about the subject, but I’m a music junkie. Hardcore, even. That’s why when a new job opportunity presented itself, I not only jumped on it, but I pretty much grabbed it in a headlock until it cried “Uncle!”

I’m the new Senior Director of Online Marketing for Rhino.com. Cool, right? It’s a dream job for me – surrounded by other music freaks, I dreamed of swimming in pools of New Order and Monkees reissues, living happily ever after. I started last Tuesday with a head full of ideas and a smile on my face.

Then the layoffs hit.

In case you didn’t hear, some of the Rhino staff was laid off last week. Talk about a rough first week on the job. Not fun.

To top it off, after the layoffs the internet went nuclear with post after post eulogizing Rhino – “RIP Rhino,” “Rhino Records Is Dead,” etc., etc. Now wait a sec, here – there are more than 100 people still in this office that’ll disagree with you on that, especially me. Not only is Rhino alive, it’s kickin’.

I’ve spent a good portion of my working life in the music industry, starting with my first job at the age of 16 working at Kamm’s Record Shop in bucolic downtown Elyria, Ohio, and I can honestly tell you, hand to gawd, the new Rhino.com which launches next month (I got a sneak peek!) is going to be one of the best things to happen for music fans like me trying to get great tunes, expert info and get it easily from musicologists I can trust (and there are plenty left here, believe me!). I’m not supposed to let too much slip here, but since you Popdosers have been my friends for so long, I’ll give you a little taste of what I just saw: The new Rhino.com is going to feature better quality digital downloads than anywhere else online, and that includes torrents, iTunes, Amazon, you name it. No lie. Don’t tell anyone though – that’s our little secret, k?

Another rumor making the rounds is that Rhino is abandoning physical releases. Nope. In fact, I just saw that Rhino Handmade has even more releases on next year’s schedule than we’ve seen in years, plus there are plenty of new box sets coming, so put those minds at ease and clean out those ears – great things are on the way.

Those are just a couple of things in the pipeline – I’ll check back in a week or so and give you guys an update. Thanks to Jeff and the rest of the Popdose crew for letting me ramble and thanks to all of you for your support. Great things are ahead – trust.

The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of John C. Hughes. Content published here may not be approved by WMG before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of WMG.

  • http://www.kenshane.com kshane

    Thanks John. Rhino is one of the last great labels, and we certainly wish you well. I was one of those who sounded the death knell, and I hope that I was wrong. Time will tell, and we look forward to hearing more from you.

  • kingofgrief

    I'd never be able to envision a world without Rhino. Thanks for the pep talk, Mr. Hughes. Long may you all press on.

  • tdolbyfan

    thanks and best of luck out there. Looking forward to the new material.

  • http://johnozed.com johnozed

    Good luck!

  • Thomm

    Sorry, John. I can't imagine what it must've been like to start a job at a company you revered, only to find so many people let go just as you started……but the reality is, all those physical product releases you've mentioned in yor post were envisioned and executed by many of the very people who were let go…they were the staff “musicologists” you seem to think the website will have on hand to answer questions about the Monkees and New Order (and you'd all better bone up, since the questions will come…) Whether or not those excellent archivists decide to return as freelancers with no company benefits……while well-paid executives pay mortgages and earn their bonuses on the backs of their hard work…is their business…wanton outsourcing is still a shameful business practise and increasingly the way of the world these days……..but that's for an even larger discussion.

    The truth is, most of the genuine, catalogue-aware music fans who were left at Rhino are now gone, largely leaving 10th-generation corporate hires who are cynically exploiting the legacy of the label while being completely out of touch with their core customers…….no one will be fooled because you cannot outsource that sensibility…..it comes from actual people with passion…..who have their own community outside the corporate offices of Rhino…….Rhino was just lucky to borrow them for a while…..good luck with this new version………

    It also must be said that your post is in extremely bad taste…there are 40 people out there who have just lost their jobs. You, sir, should wipe the smirk off your face and give a little thanks to them when you get your next paycheck.

  • mojo

    Pretty easy to pipe off there, anonymously.

    We're proud of John, and we also extend sympathies to anyone who's lost their job at Rhino or anywhere else. Many of us at Popdose are freelancers working way below full capacity, or full-timers/former full timers whose companies are also laying off people. We can relate, sadly, to their plight.

    My point? Don't blame John for what the economy's done to Rhino. Unfair. There was no smirking in the post, as far as I could see.

  • rick

    I am a former employee at Rhino and I have to say before I started working there, I thought it would be this great place of music and people( which it formerly was) what I came to encounter was place where people didnt play music, it was more like an accountant office – walking down the halls were quiet as a mouse. Cliques and corporate politics ran supreme. You had a president and GM constantly overpay artists for greatest hits packages and packages that would not sell that we already had too many of in the catalog ( rod stewart, mel b dvd, hip hop for kids, etc;)

    The head of marketing shouldnt have been the head of marketing- talk about no management skills and doing things the same way as always. You have your staff creating these marketing plans that no one reads or cares about and you handcuff your staff from being creative by taking decisions out of their hands with everything needing to be pre-approved.

    The international team was constantly plotting against the domestic team and making sure that if something went wrong they would have someone to blame. Plus it doesnt help moral when a woman on staff uses her sex to advance.

    lastly- the GM is always right and has a complex- never disagree with him, The president is non-existent, the cfo is a power hungry person who is only productive at the small picture ( expenses,etc;) with no big picture ideas to save the company.

    I could go on- but I will stop now. luckly I had a nice contract to pay for my misery at rhino.

  • jb

    so let me get this straight,some kid gets a new job with rhino while many get laid off.and i live close to the main hq and can't even get a job with all my years of experiece? amazing.just amazing.you know supermarkets are heiring kids to help people look for things? wtf,i mean wtf?

  • http://www.popdose.com jefito

    “Some kid”?

  • onetwoseven

    Whats with all these people from Cleveland's western suburbs?!

  • breadalbane403

    Congrats on the new job, Jon!

    Oh, and as someone who has no connection either with Rhino (except as an occasional consumer of their products) or with this site (except as a visitor), let me just say that I thought the tone of your piece was appropriate. I did not feel you were at all 'smirky' about your new job, nor did I feel that you showed a lack of respect to those laid off.


  • Bob

    I second that, mojo.

  • Pete

    John, was wondering what happened to you as your posts had totally disappeared…nice to learn it was for a good reason. Congrats and best of luck with the new gig.

  • Pete

    John, was wondering what happened to you as your posts had totally disappeared…nice to learn it was for a good reason. Congrats and best of luck with the new gig.

  • Pete

    John, was wondering what happened to you as your posts had totally disappeared…nice to learn it was for a good reason. Congrats and best of luck with the new gig.

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