Mike Cubillos’ love of music began with snagging handfuls of free zines at local record stores and now the owner of Earshot Media runs his PR company in that same vein.
“I was a big fan of hanging out at the record store and grabbing whatever little freebie rag was sitting at the front door. Those were the blogs of our day,” Cubillos told Amplify. “That was how I discovered music and learned about the latest bands.”
Since print zines are a rarity these days, Cubillos looks to smaller media outlets to help introduce his clients to the music world.
“A lot of these blogs are tastemakers. They are discovering the talent before everyone else knows about it,” he said. “I see the importance of these bigger publications and I’ve established relationships with them. But to me it’s really that grassroots base that is where my heart is at pretty much.”
Cubillos began his career in the music industry as an intern for MCA Records and later with Zoo Entertainment/BMG. He dabbled in different departments in the beginning, including marketing and video promotion, before landing a gig as a publicist.
In his formative years, he was mentored by Hanna Bolte and Leah Horwitz, whom he greatly admired. Still, the corporate environment never felt right to him.
“I did work at a few different companies and I had a chance to see the way they ran their businesses. I was able to pick and choose what I liked about what they were doing and what I didn’t like,” Cubillos said. “So when I started Earshot, I wanted to run it like a music fan. As someone who still appreciated that aspect of discovery and authenticity.”
Now Cubillos has implemented that first-hand grassroots knowledge into launching bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Of Mice and Men, and The All-American Rejects.
Amplify caught up with Cubillos to learn about a few of his favorite shows throughout his years of discovery music.
Joe Jackson at the Wiltern in Los Angeles
Aug. 30, 1989
I was with my girlfriend (who is now my wife) and my brother and his girlfriend (now his wife). I’d always been a fan, mostly of his earlier “new wave” phase, but I remember being floored by the musicianship and the way he and his band reworked all the hits, incorporating elements of jazz, Latin, big band. Oftentimes bands just get on stage and play their songs exactly as they sound on the record, but to me the most memorable shows are when your favorite artists surprise you by tweaking things a bit – changing lyrics, incorporating covers into the set, altering tempos, etc. For some reason that show really stands out for me as an example of what a great concert should be.
U2 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California
June 18, 2011
I was with my wife, my best friend and his wife and a large group of other people. I wouldn’t say this was the band’s best show I’ve ever seen, but it was certainly one of the most memorable. It was late June, so summer was just kicking off and the weather was perfect. I remember getting a a bit choked up as we watched one of the biggest bands in the world performing songs that were basically the soundtrack to my high school years. Being there with a stadium full of people and with my wife and lifelong best friend, experiencing it together, really highlighted the beauty and power of their music and the communal spirit that comes from big stadium shows.
Green Day at The Forum in Inglewood, California
Aug. 25, 2009
I never considered myself a huge Green Day fan. Of course I respected the band and knew their music and appreciated many of their singles and albums like American Idiot, Dookie, etc., but they were never a band I would list in my top 10 or anything like that. So the day of the show, I was really tired from a rough day at work and I remember wanting to flake out, but we had been guest listed so my wife talked me into going.
They played for over three hours, barely stopping to catch their breath. Hit after hit after hit. I came away from the show with a new found admiration for the band. How can you not give credit to a group that has stuck around this long, consistently challenging themselves and writing great songs, most of which are now alt rock radio staples. It was one of those nights where the next day, you wake up with a smile on your face and can’t wait to talk to your friends about what they missed.
The Ramones at the Hollywood Palladium
Sept. 18, 1987
As a kid, The Ramones were for me and many others, like a gateway into the punk scene. Seeing them live after being a huge fan for so many years was definitely a highlight. Watching your musical heroes playing their short, fast, simple melodic songs about girls, pinheads and lobotomies in a live setting. What more do you need?
The Specials at Music Tastes Good Festival in Long Beach, California
Sept. 24, 2016
The Specials have always been one of my favorite bands so getting to watch them close out the second night of a festival that I was a part of was a huge highlight for me. They sounded great as ever and hearing all the old songs outside in the streets of Long Beach, surrounded by friends, colleagues and other like-minded fans, made it a show I will never forget. Once again, experiencing the power of music bringing people together for a night of great vibes, dancing and pure joy – it really doesn’t get any better than that.