Interview With Danny Reiner, Management Team of Tyler Shaw, Alessia Cara, Francesco Yates

Interview With Danny Reiner, Management Team of Tyler Shaw, Alessia Cara, Francesco Yates

In This Interview:

  • How the very first artist he got to work with was a global superstar
  • How he helped develop a 14 year-old, Francesco Yates, into a Platinum-seller
  • How he works to “efficiently” break borders and take his artists international
  • His thoughts on the most successful marketing strategies whether you have 1 fan or 100,000 fans
  • The importance of having a story behind your songs and brand to stand out, using Alessia Cara as an example
  • How they’re going about “re-launching” Tyler Shaw’s career, and released a “buffer” single in the process
  • How to go about building sponsorship deals that result in long-term partnerships
  • And much more!

Danny Reiner, Manager, Chris Smith Management/21 Entertainment

In this edition of Smartist Magazine: Smarts Behind The Artists we hear from 10-year music industry manager, project manager, marketer, and all around great guy, Danny Reiner.

Danny Reiner is on the management team of Tyler Shaw, Alessia Cara, Francesco Yates, and more, at Chris Smith Management and 21 Entertainment.

Tyler Shaw won the 2012 Coca Cola Cover’s contest which afforded him a single deal with Sony Music Entertainment Canada, which led to a second single deal, which led to a full album deal.

Alessia Cara won her first GRAMMY Award at 21 years old.

Francesco Yates got signed to Atlantic Records at age 16, his first album was produced by Pharrell Williams, and will be opening for Justin Timberlake’s 2018 “Man Of The Woods Tour” Canadaian dates this October, 2018.

Read on for our exclusive in-depth interview with manager-extraordinaire, Danny Reiner.

You have worked with over 10 clients since you have been in the business, who are they all?

Originally, when I started working at Chris Smith Management about 10 years ago I was basically an assistant working under the day-to-day manager for Nelly Furtado. That was my first real shot at any artist in terms of a working relationship

That’s wild.

Yeah. It’s a pretty crazy start. But that was the first one I kind of got my hands on within reason. Obviously, I was brand new. I was only 17 at the time and so they are not just going to hand their international priority clients over to a 17-year-old who has no experience. It was really interesting because I got to work until the end of that project for the album called Loose, which was the number one selling album in the world and the number one selling female artist in the world that year. It was really interesting to see exactly how things operated on a priority level on a global scale. That was my first real introduction to artist management, getting to watch how that kind of machine works.

And then from there I actually went back to school Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and I would come back as frequently as possible. I kind of crunched my timetable at the university into a couple days a week and then the rest was spent back in Toronto. And that’s when I was staring to work Fefe Dobson and Kreesha Turner’s project. I think those were my first real projects that I got hands-on on a day-to-day level and I was on the management side really I guess instrumental in being part of Fefe’s sophomore project in 2010 with her album Joy. That was the first time that I really had hands-on work on a day to day level versus an assistant, and as well for Kreesha Turner’s project.

Then that brought me to when we brought a 14-year-old kid named Francesco Yates into the company and I started working with him from pretty much day one of his career from the time he was discovered to the time we developed him and launched his first project. Then Francesco overlapped a little bit with Tyler Shaw who I actually brought into our management roster. At the time he was working with someone else, and we had worked together with his previous manager and go him into the mix. And then from Tyler Shaw, I think in 2015, I jumped on the road with Alessia Cara who had just signed on the management side.

Then most recently I … I don’t like taking credit for discovering people necessarily, I think the talent already exists and someone just happens to stumble upon it at the right time. Ryland James would be my latest addition to the roster and that’s an artist I actually found online and have been developing on my own and then brought into the management family as well. Those are the main ones that stand out to me. I have also helped Chris Smith on several other projects under his company including BestFan.com and digital projects. Other clients including Craig Stickland, JoJo, Tamia and Kat Dahlia.

You landed your internship when you were 17 years old at a pretty well-known Canadian management company that is also known internationally. What do you think you said or did to get them to take a chance on you at 17 with no post-secondary education yet?

It was such a gamble to be honest. Growing up I used to be the kid who would rip open a CD and scrambles through the booklet to see who managed them, who was their label and all those different things. And I guess it was the point where high school was ending, and a lot of my friends were going off to college or university and then the other half were returning to high school for a victory lap the 13th year

But I didn’t want to waste time like that but I also knew that I didn’t want to go to university right away. I kind of wanted to have some type of life experience or at least see if I can get an opportunity to get my foot in the door. Basically, what I had done is printed off a ton of resumes, put on my oversized suit that I wore to church and came down to Toronto for a day and I was like, I’m going to see everyone I could research on Google at the time.

I was going to see Universal, EMI, Sony and Warner and all those different labels. The intention really was, can I job shadow somebody for a day or a week or a month and figure out what jobs exist? because up until that point I always knew my passion lied in music and entertainment. But I didn’t really play instruments and I didn’t really sing. I wasn’t a performer necessarily.

I was just always so fascinated with the business of entertainment and music and I didn’t have a job at a record store or at a radio station as an intern. I never had that. I just felt like … I knew at that time my expertise lied more in the business side of things and I wanted to see how I can blend my passion and my skill sets.

So, coming in with a suit on an off day with a resume, everyone was kind of like, cute kid and like throw in your resume in that bin over there with 100 other resumes. I kind of felt halfway through the day I was kind of defeated but I paid for my bus ticket there and I had scheduled bus to go back to Waterloo.

I was like, I’m just going to do what I came to do and just hand out all 10 resumes. Coincidentally, the last place I went to that day was Chris Smith Management. I knew of them but I didn’t really know their stake in the big picture of the music industry, like how powerful Chris Smith was as a media personality and as a mogul in the industry.

When I walked into their office they were really the only company or the only place I visited that day that actually said, go sit in that room and wait and they were going to send somebody to speak with me. So that was already a bonus and they put me in the front office where Chris usually would do his meetings, and there were plaques on the wall and a GRAMMY sitting on a coffee table and something that just kind of watched me over and I was like, this feels right and I need to get this job whatever it might be

So, they sent in somebody who interviewed me, and I basically explained my experience I had like student council and sports and I was a team player — I tried to use all the keywords, again, just with the intention of hopefully job shadowing somebody. We had a great conversation for about half an hour and then they basically ended up by saying, okay, cool. You are hired! You are an intern. I didn’t know what that meant; I was 17 and I had only ever had like paid jobs at like fast food restaurants prior to that so I really didn’t know what an internship entailed. So they brought me on and the next day I had my first real day in the office and then on the second day on the job as an intern I was working at a Nelly Furtado concert in Toronto. It was a pretty wild time and it happened quite quickly, but I think the best thing that happened was they took a chance on me and at the time I sort of thought of myself as a wildcard

I didn’t walk in with all this credible experience that really applied to the job, but I think because I wanted it and because somebody opened the door and offered to give me an opportunity. I didn’t want to disappoint, and I really wanted to make the most of what was being offered and here we are 10 – 11 years later.

That’s wild. What was the coolest thing that you did for Nelly Furtado where you were like “holy shit”, since she was your first ever artist?

That’s a good question. Yeah, there was so much of that. Jeez. I should have a quicker answer to this but I haven’t thought or reflected on it in a really long time. I think for me watching her put together a Latin album was really interesting because she came out off of Loose which was like a global smash album, like it really just broke her out as a superstar artist. Watching her put together her Latin album was really cool just because she was now doing a full-length album in a different language and reaching new markets

Just in my mind until that point it was still focused on like, what’s cool in North America and if it’s not on radio here then it’s not cool. I think that was one of my biggest learning moments, to watch Nelly’s success in Latin markets and South America. You don’t realize how massive those fan bases really are and how loyal they are because you are just so used to, whats cool in Toronto? or, whats cool in New York and LA? So, it really reframed my mind on how this business works and how you can be just as big if not bigger and market beyond the borders of where you are from.

I think that was one of the coolest things and one of the biggest learning moments early in my career. Working with Nelly she was such a treasured artist in places outside of the country and you might see a sales chart or a radio chart but you don’t understand it until you see a live show with Nelly Furtado in, say, Mexico. It’s just a whole different ball game out there.

So, you are a marketing manager and a project manager and a manager-manager, do I have that right?

(Laughs) Yeah. I feel like my title is just too ambiguous. When I started at Chris Smith Management, for about the first six to eight months, it was still just Chris Smith Management and then right at the tail end of my internship Chris launched 21 Entertainment Group which is more of a full-service entertainment company. It wasn’t just about music management anymore, it was like we were working on everything from fitness DVDs to working with celebrity chefs and social influencers and doing online campaigns.

One of the big projects that I also worked on under the project manager role was, I launched BestFan.com with Chris which is basically entertainment for a network that basically was one Canada’s quickest rising media outlets. We’d interview a bunch of celebrities and do cool video content and contests and everything that was kind of service to music fans. The platform still exists today, but I have stepped back and obviously have been focusing my efforts on my day-to-day clients. I guess over the years it’s kind of graduated from that project management to day-to-day management and I kind of oversee marketing for a lot of our clients as well.

Can you explain the difference between a product manager versus a marketing manager for some people that don’t know?

Yeah. I mean, I’m still trying to figure it out myself (laughs) but, project management, at least for me, is like stepping back away from one specific thing and looking at the big picture of everything I was doing and how the systems run within that company. It wasn’t enough to just think about press or performance contracts. If I’m looking at the big scope as a product or project manager.

The difference I guess in marketing is I’m looking at a specific thing. Hey, we have a single coming out, who am I speaking to with this single? Who do I have to reach? What market? It’s more specific, whereas … I mean, in both you try to keep in mind the big picture, but project management is more overseeing all the nitty gritty parts and systems of a project. Whereas marketing is very specific and at times can be kind of niche depending on what you are working on.

Let’s say you are handed a new client or get a new client to work with. How do you sit down and plan out a marketing process for them? What’s the first thing you do?

I think the best and most successful campaigns or marketing strategies start with the best and most clear understanding of who the artist is and who the audience would be. Whether it’s my own clients, or when I have speaking engagements, or when I’m speaking with young artists that I didn’t necessarily represent, one of the questions that I always lead with is, “who do you envision yourself opening for on a tour?” and, “who would open for you?”. Once those questions are answered by the artists you have a better understanding of who they think they are as an artist and where they are positioned in the grand scheme of things.

You can run into the challenge of potentially pigeon hole-ing people, but I think if you have got a fair understanding of who they think they are, it’s easier to kind of build around that. So, like, what are the obvious comparisons in the music? For example, I might have an artist who sounds like Shawn Mendes, and so I’ll ask, how do we speak to those fans? Or, maybe I have never heard something like this, but what can I kind of compare it to and build out and look at other fan bases and what’s working in certain markets. Plus, what’s working on the radio? What’s working on social platforms? It’s a combination of everything to be where the artist is at whether they have one fan or 100,000 fans.

You always have to understand at the end of the day who the artist is and wants to be and that helps you to kind of adapt and figure out your trajectory for where they are going in one year, in three years, five years as an artist.

Let’s talk about Francesco for a second because you started with him when he was so young and basically blew him up. How did the process work with him?

A lot of the time we spent developing. An artist of that caliber who has so much talent vocally and musically as Francesco, we wanted to hone in. Because this kid could do everything. He could sing a Josh Groban song really well or he could be rapping a 2 Chains song really well. The spectrum was so wide, so we were like how do we make an audience? Let’s first narrow down the music and figure out what is Francesco comfortably singing or performing and how do we melt it down – but not bring in down too much. We kind of wanted to hone in on the idea that Francesco is a pop artist, and he has got some ‘70s flare in him but he has also got some urban influences.

It was first about establishing a cohesive sound or sonic direction and then it was about, okay, this is a real unique looking individual and a unique sound, so it was also about timing I think was a big thing. We kept our heads down and continued the development process with Francesco for as long it took and then we dropped when it made sense.

We had to go over it like song by song and it wasn’t enough to just say, here is this artist, here is the one song that defines everything you’re going to know about Francesco, it wasn’t like that. And sometimes you do have artist situations where the first song you are like, okay, I get this entire artist. But any one song of Francesco’s doesn’t necessarily fully explain the full body of work or the breadth of what he is capable of.

We knew that his strong suit was live performance. Anyone who would go to a Francesco Yates show, would leave becoming a fan. Like a big fan, and that was a big part of our initial strategy which was to reach as many markets as we can reach with live performances for social content, online and that kind of show case his performance and like his strength in that. That was a big angle for us.

Let’s say you have already done the artist development and you have got the sound, you have got the brand and maybe you even have a full album. What would you say is your step after that and maybe you could use let’s say Alessia Cara or Tyler Shaw as an example?

I think for each artist it’s different. Not every artist is ready to go to radio right away. Even though radio may not be in the same vein as streaming services anymore and everyone is in that streaming world, radio is still a very important piece of the puzzle. But if you are going to service something to radio, you have to do it when you are absolutely ready, it’s not something that you just go and take a shot at. You have to kind of be ready for what that is.

You have got to strategize and figure out, okay, what’s our first single? What’s the story behind it? I think a lot of people want to initially connect with brand new artist coming out, and if you only have one song available online, you really have to tell a story. With Alessia we went and put it out there that she was, not an anti-pop artist, but she was the “other” I guess is what we would call it.

We wanted to showcase that she was just an everyday cool girl that a lot of people, guys and girls, have always just really related to. That’s why she led with the single Here. Initially the label wanted a different first single but we were in line with what our client wanted which was put out  Here first. And it was actually meant to be something that we serviced to a bunch of blogs to kind of start the conversation about Alessia Cara and it took off like a wildfire and that’s when we eventually decided, okay, this was ready to be a single, people want this. I think we were at a time where everything on radio and out there was so polished and so perfect. I remember when she first came into our office. Not to necessarily to audition, but just perform for our team before we actually signed her as a client.

I remember she was playing a couple songs in the back of our office and she walked in and she had converse shoes that were roughed up and she had drawn on the top of the shoe and she strummed a chord and it was out of tune. She was just so perfectly imperfect at the time and it was so refreshing because often artists who came to meet us had that Colgate smile and perfect hair and presentation. She was just so interesting, and at the end of the day it’s just about her music and that was exactly what emulated in those initial campaigns in the roll out of Here.

That was what the song was talking about, and it was exactly what we saw in the back of the office before we officially began working with her. It was this “other”. This other character that we hadn’t heard for a while in radio and in a social setting. We played that out and kicked it off with a blog outreach. We reached out to a lot of blog news outlets and said can do a piece on this and we shared the song with them.

That kind of got everything boiling a little bit, and then we did a coast to coast American Radio Promo tour. We visited all the radio stations just to say hi. A lot of them wanted an acoustic performance and so it was really just about getting out there and familiarizing all the radio people or the important programmers with this new artist and what she looked like, and what her personality was like when you met her, and what she sounded like when she performed. And then it built from there.

We built up the PR strategy and when it got big enough on radio the song was already charting really well on iTunes and picked up on radio. So then we turned it around to a national TV performance and she did her first performance on (Jimmy Fallon). Then as things progress you kind of build it out from there.

But I guess for a new artist it’s really about figuring out the approach and building a concrete story is really important because as soon as things either pick up with your song or your career, people want to know all about your story and you can be making that up. It’s got to be something authentic and you have got to really iron it out exactly like this is who I am and what I’m about. If you don’t figure that out before things get going someone whether it’s a label or media themselves are going to tell you who you are or put out their interpretation of it, if you don’t know who you are.

When you released Here, was the whole album done?

It was done as far as we were concerned, but when Here came out they were still mixing the project. They had originally worked on the album in Toronto and then brought in a few heavy hitter producers (Pop and Oak) to kind of re-imagine some of the music. So the original demo version of Here didn’t sound like what it does now.

What about Tyler Shaw? I noticed your bio stated “re-launch” Tyler Shaw so what does re-launch mean?

Tyler is an interesting story. He won the 2012 Coca Cola Cover’s contest which afforded him a single deal with Sony Music Entertainment Canada. That was part of his prize winning. And then that single did so well that they signed him on for another single and that one was By My Side and that one did well. Then after that they signed him for a full album deal.

As management, I had met him maybe December 2015 at a mutual friend’s birthday, and he was telling me about this project and asking me for advice and insight. We kind of kept in touch after we had met and we signed on as management maybe a couple weeks before his debut album came out. So the album was done and like we didn’t really have a whole lot of say but he was still green to the industry at the time. That debut album Yesterday did great things for Tyler’s career at radio and in sales. I think this new project and chapter in his career we really got our hands in on it and the music is more true to who Tyler is as an artist. which kind of goes back to my point about, knowing what your story is. I don’t think that anyone in that initial phase of Tyler Shaw’s career knew who he was or what he was about. All they boiled it down to was, that’s the guy who won the Much Music Coca Cola cover’s contest or they might have heard Kiss Goodnight and they are like, I know of that guy — but they don’t know his story

This new phase of Tyler and this album is more personal, more raw, more vulnerable, it’s more authentic to who he is as an artist than in the first project. I think a lot of people have taken notice that he is more confident in his lyrics and his musicianship and in his live performance. I think we have definitely stepped it up with him and it’s like, how do we change the minds of people who still think he just a Coca Cola Cover’s contest winner? We do not want that to be his claim to fame. We want people to realize he has had great success in this country, a Platinum single and 2 Gold singles on his first album.

We want to make sure that he is recognized and appreciated as one of our great emerging clients here in Canada or a great artist in Canada. And we are looking for international opportunities at the moment for him but, it’s just a new phase that we have really … I wouldn’t call it a rebrand. I think it’s actually just a branding situation because I don’t think people knew what the Tyler Shaw brand was before. I think once you have established a brand, people who sink their teeth into it know what it is and they know what that person is about or that artist is about and they can get on board with that. But until that moment happens, they might just be just a listener on the radio that … They might know a song or two but they are not really connected to the artist

That’s our big goal with this next phase of Tyler’s career and this sophomore album is really establishing who he is and what he is all about and letting people jump onboard with that.

We will be releasing [his new album] at the end of September [2018] and following that with a tour across Canada. The first single Cautious was released to radio back in late January and that song in particular — he didn’t actually pick that as his first choice for a single. But we had this discussion as a team with the label and him and management just about a bridging song to bring fans from the last project of Tyler Shaw with songs like House of Cards and Wicked. We used Cautious as a first single to bridge the gap between the old fans and kind of showcase what this new product was all about. It’s darker, but it’s still pop.

Cautious was kind of meant to be like a buffer, or a set-up single, as they call it, but it’s done extremely well for us. It’s a top ten single at two radio formats in Canada and it’s still holding on right now. It still pops well.

I see that you have also secured a lot of endorsement deals like Coca-Cola, Telus, H&M. Were you directly responsible for these or you had a part in it, and can you tell us how you helped land them?

Actually, coincidentally the meeting I took was with an agency. I find that especially here in Canada, unless you are on Shawn Mendes or Alessia Cara’s level there is not just a whole lot of opportunities just landing in people’s laps. I’m not the type of person to just sit around to wait for something to happen, I kind of need to go and get it or craft it myself.

Coca-Cola was a campaign that came to us through Atlantic Records I guess that was a couple years back with Francesco Yates. There was a commercial jingle they had him perform on and the campaign that year and we did a couple of events with Coca-Cola, including the American Music Awards red carpet. Back here in Canada we were like, the commercial is out but nothing was happening and so, we knocked on Coca-Cola’s door and kind of built out some other experiences with them. We did a couple of live shows and Coca-Cola inspired events here in Canada and so we kind of helped build those out.

Then in terms of the Telus partnership, that was an interesting one because we find that sometimes agencies are a little bit more hesitant and they don’t want to lose an opportunity with an artist. They don’t want to over ask, but they also have ideas in mind that they want to accomplish with artist for a set fee. So, WE Day had called us and said, hey, we are working with Telus as a big major sponsor on our WE Day tour this year and they are looking to have an artist perform a song during our program and then offer their voice to a segment right after a performance that relates to Telus and this current campaign that they are working on.

That’s when we really started to brainstorm and said, let’s build this out and make it a really special partnership versus just like a paid endorsement. We wanted to really build a partnership with Telus and Francesco at that time and so their whole thing was all about, we want to reach the youth audience and people who attend WE Day, and we want to encourage them to use their mobile devices to inspire change. Whether it’s going on social media and tweeting something about the event or filming a video for a fundraiser. Whatever it was, they want people to use their mobile devices to inspire change. Coincidentally, at the time, Francesco had a single called Call, and that was a perfect fit and we kind of built that in this campaign internally then presented it back to the agency.

We built out a landing page with MTV Canada and Telus and we got people to submit videos of them performing the song Call and it got to be part of this music video that went up online and was also playing in the arenas across the country that Francesco performed at during WE days. We wanted to create real impact and really build out that partnership for a long term versus a one off for our clients.

What would your advice be for someone looking to go and get an endorsement deal whether they are new and their artist doesn’t really have that much of an audience or whether they do have a large audience?

I find that it’s tricky because I don’t necessarily encourage people seeking endorsements specifically. I find that if your profile is big enough the endorsements will come to you, but like I said I’m not the type to just sit and wait but also I work with a roster talent. I might lead a conversation with a more prominent client, but walk away with an endorsement or a partnership for a different client. It’s just a matter of time and place and pick a thing that authentically works. Like I said, if you are looking for a quick one off, there is sometimes those opportunities but, I find the bigger payout comes both monetarily and in terms of growth for both brands, or both clients and the brands, if the partnership is authentic to the artist.

It’s about what they believe in and can get behind. If you drink Coca-Cola everyday, then go for it. That’s obviously who you are going to reach out to. Or if you are an artist who like to blog back stage then maybe you want to reach out to like Go Pro and film stuff on tour like tour diaries or whatever it might be. Coming with those new ideas to the agencies, in cases where they may not have thought of it on their own and realize your client or brand reach can pay off in big ways. That’s a great way to lead that conversation with these brands and those people you need to contact aren’t always so forward facing. Show your value and the locked in audience that you have and how engaged they are.

The contacts aren’t always forward facing, but I found using LinkedIn is a great outlet or going to events and networking, word of mouth recommendation and things like that are always a helpful way to approach the right people.

It’s one thing to go into a meeting and say we have this idea and it’s another thing to go in and say, hey, look we have been tour for a couple weeks. We have been doing these video blogs backstage using Go Pro equipment and the fans seem to really like these content pieces online. This is the engagement we already have, we would love to work with you and build up this idea and continue and get more products to do this. Or give away the product that we are using to shoot these video blogs. That’s just one example.

Where do you see the future of artist management going?

 I didn’t think honestly when I started as an intern that 10 years later I would be in artist management and 10 years in a decade and I’m still learning and working to become a better manager. Because you can be a great point person for one client let’s say I’m the perfect manager for Tyler Shaw, that doesn’t mean I may be the perfect manager for the next client. But I have really learnt a lot from working with wide range of both male and female, experienced and new artists. I learned so much from even one of my current clients The Philosopher Kings who have been around over 20 years, I just learned so much about longevity in the business.

But in terms of managers … I guess we are almost ready for a new wave of young talent and I’m not even saying, you know … Chris has been around for a long time and has done incredible work, but I’m excited to see a new wave of new managers pop up. We’re starting to see a lot of these, like Chance The Rapper’s manager, Pat Corcoran is under 30. Andrew Gertler, Shawn Mendes’ manager is also under 30. It’s not necessarily about being young, it’s refreshing to see new faces and hear new names doing incredible things. We all learn from one another.

I really respect Chris Smith’s legacy and ability to continue building international stars. It would be one thing if he only ever managed Nelly Furtado, but he was able to duplicate that success with like Alessia’s career and then do it many times over with several other clients on our roster. I love watching that and I hope that I’m able to do the same thing in my career. I hope to see a bunch of new managers do the same thing in their own careers. I love healthy competition and I love to just watch people grow in the industry.

What’s next for you and your clients over the next year? What are you focusing on?

We are really busy at the moment. Our team is much smaller than when I started and so our team is probably about six people on staff but we have probably 12 active clients and all with projects coming out between now and top of next year. So, I see no sleep in my future and living out of a suitcase but honestly I think the big priorities for me are really encouraging and breaking talent here in Canada and beyond the borders.

I know there is so much talent in terms of artists, producers, songwriters and management and people within the label system here in Canada.  I’m not encouraging everyone to like get up and leave the country, but I definitely want us to be on people’s radar as competitive and credible people within the industry. There is just a lot of untapped talent up here.

For me personally, a big priority is launching or re-launching this new project for Tyler Shaw and bringing that to an international level. We are doing great things domestically right now, but I think we have a real shot here at international. And then definitely launching Ryland James. That’s a big priority for me because like I said, I found that artist online and similar to Francesco Yates, I have been developing him for quite some time. So, I just wanted to put a few more marks on the map in terms of, here is a great Canadian artist who is breaking out internationally or globally within the next few years.

What would you say is, I guess, the most efficient way to break out globally? Would it be DSPs and social media? Or you would go straight for team or record label?

With Ryland, internally we selected a song that we thought was stand-out and put it on DSP’s (digital service providers or digital service playlists). It’s such a luxury now, an artist doesn’t have to wait for a label. There’s so many streaming platforms and ways to get your music out there without having to go through the system. So we found great success with releasing that song. It got nearly 2 million streams and we never really gave it a real push. We never serviced it to blogs or media. We organically let it live and it shown us great results, and that’s when we started assembling a team.

It’s different for every artist. It depends on the nature of what you’re trying to accomplish. I try to approach it in a similar way like we did with Ryland where we put something out, an EP is always a great option, show 4 or 5 songs of what kind of artist you are. There’s less pressure it’s not like you’re racing to radio, you’re letting people show you by streaming numbers and comments, and engagement with the music. And they’re telling you what they like the most. It helps you for when you want to get a team, or prepare a full length project, you already know what people like from you. There’s chance and risk in that, but at the same time, in the development phase, just take as long as you need.

Like I said it’s all about time and place too. You could have the best album, but if Jay Z and Beyonce and Drake all release music at the same time, you’re not going to get a whole lot of pick up because no one is paying attention. Take your time and be strategic about when you want to put out your music and how much music you share. You don’t have to drop 10 songs out the gate. You can start with one, or a collection of 3 or 4 songs, and then pivot accordingly. I think is the best way to get things going.

And you can see on Spotify what people are listening to, then you can take that information into your planning.

Yes. Spotify, Apple Music and several other DSPs have such great analytics for teams to access now, so you can really study your fans and where they’re listening, how old are they, and when they’re listening. I mean it is the music business, if it was just as easy as putting out a song and letting it live, everyone would be doing that, but once you enter the music business you have to be strategic about it and pivot accordingly.

What has your biggest lesson been so far?

Patience. Taking the time to realize that artists are real people. When you’re doing really well, you’re in this work mode, and constantly doing stuff, and if you don’t take time for yourself, or learn to say no to something, or you just say yes to everything, everyone wears down over time. You don’t want resentment with your clients. You want them to feel like a normal person as much as possible, and you need to be inspired. Not just as an artist but also on the management side, you need to step away from things sometimes to gain perspective. It’s so easy to get caught in this whirlwind. Realize people are humans. Patience is really key. Really need to learn to mellow out and step back and make clear decisions. It’s too easy to say yes to everything and fill the schedule and go go go. And it can hurt you.

Big thanks to Danny for taking the time to share his and his artists’ stories.

Whose business do you want to know more about? Tell us at hello@smartbandmanagement.com or check out more interviews here.

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Jamie New Johnson
jnewjohnson@gmail.com

I started my career planning educational workshops with some of North America's top artist managers, then moved on to manage commercial radio and internationally touring artists independently. I'm addicted to learning and love sharing what I learn with you here.

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