Finish Lines: Roy Martin-Smith

A portrait of Roy Martin-Smith.
Roy Martin-Smith

Roy Martin-Smith, Corace Drive, has been the sales and marketing manager at the Hard Rock Cafe Pittsburgh at Station Square since 2007. He does local marketing for the café, books group menus and private events and books entertainment events and bands. 

A 1988 graduate of Point Park University, he has worked in radio promotions for 3WS, where he booked the Oldies Celebration Concerts at Three Rivers Stadium. He also was director of marketing at the former Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheatre, where he started as a seasonal marketing intern. When he was promotions director at WAMO he worked on events with MC Lyte and Mary J. Blige.

What’s your favorite piece of Hard Rock Cafe Pittsburgh memorabilia? 

In 2012, we celebrated our 10th anniversary, and we got a memorabilia swap in a redec. I got the opportunity to suggest some memo that related to Pittsburgh—lyrics from Bob Marley, whose last live performance was in Pittsburgh; Michael Jackson, whose manager, Frank Dileo, was from Pittsburgh; a Warhol print of Mick Jagger signed by both artists. So many pieces in the café that mean so much, but the one I really love is the piece I procured and got on the wall—a yellow suit that Pittsburgh icon Donnie Iris wore for our anniversary show. He didn’t want to part with the original, so I thought what if I got him one to wear? The suit arrived late on Friday before the Sunday show. I had to get it altered on Saturday and he had it on that Sunday.

What are your three “Desert Island” albums?

Always a tough one for music fans. We tend to overthink it and we all go through phases with our favorite artists. I would say for repeated listening I would go with Counting Crows, August and Everything After, Prince, Sign O’ The Times and Barenaked Ladies, Gordon.

You’ve had a fun career full of music. What’s your best meet-and-greet story?

With my time in radio and live music, I have had many great, and crazy, meetings with artists from doing lunch with TLC at the Top of the Triangle to doing dinner with Art Alexakis at the Hard Rock, and hanging backstage at Star Lake with Culture Club. Some of my favorite meet-ups were with one of my favorite bands, Barenaked Ladies, whom I would meet every time they played in Pittsburgh. In 2007, I worked with Star-FM radio host Steven and Ed [Robertson]at the Hard Rock for a late night show. Knowing the guys who were doing transportation, I told Ed I would pick him up to take him to the airport, but I overslept after a long day and missed him. Shortly after that show, we went to see the band in Cleveland and he called me out during “If I Had S1,000,000.” Backstage after the show he said he had to do it. It was for sure a surreal moment for me.

What’s one big live music industry myth that you’d like to bust?

I have to say there are two. One, doing live music shows is not easy. It takes a lot of people, it is nerve-wracking and often not profitable. Most of us in the business find it to being like an addiction: you may walk away from it for a time, but you find yourself wanting back in. Second, there is no such thing as an overnight success. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get to where you want to be. A good local example is country star Gabby Barrett. Gabby first performed at the Hard Rock at age 12 for a charity event, I told her father to have her perform as much as possible to get comfortable on stage. She would do many performances at the Hard Rock. Her dad and I kept in touch through her development, including her American Idol time. She was dedicated and worked really hard. If you are in music, a singer, a player, even a DJ, do it for the love of doing it first, because that will always be there for you.