Industry News Courtesy Of Hypbot                   

How to Build Buzz for Your Next Release (German Rap Edition)  

Images (7)Rap music has grown to be one of the most beloved genres of music. Over the years, rap has evolved to reach people of different nationalities and backgrounds. In recent years, rappers in Germany are selling more records than their US counterparts. What is the secret to their success and how can you build that buzz for your next album? Lukas Caminzind shares in this article tips to create buzz for your next album just like the Germans. 

Creating buzz for an album is not something that happens overnight. It is a process that takes careful strategy and execution. When thinking of your creative strategy, boldness is key. Maybe that means creating a twitter beef. Maybe you can have a funny viral video campaign. Maybe you can cross promote with another artist and their album release. Check out Lukas Caminzind's take on creating massive buzz for your album on

"Why so serious? I understand your music is important to you. But when you assume the same level of commitment from others… you’re expecting too much from your audience! Instead, make them laugh every now and then."

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The Difference between a PRO and a Publishing Administrator 

PRO_BlendGuest Post by Alex Bardanes on Songtrust Blog

I don’t need a publishing administrator because I’m already affiliated with ASCAP right? Don’t these two entities perform essentially the same function? Actually, they perform very different functions, but work together to achieve the same simple goal; getting you paid. But what does a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) actually do?

The main business of PROs is the collection and distribution of money for music that is publicly broadcasted or “performed”. The PROs collect licensing fees from radio stations, TV networks, gyms, airports, bars, live music venues, as well as digital sites such as Spotify, Pandora, Youtube, Rdio etc. for their use of music. Once these fees are collected, the PRO tracks and surveys all of the ASCAP or BMI licensed sources and pays the songwriters and publishers based on a percentage of performances for each song. This pool of money usually accounts for 30% of a songwriter’s annual income. To learn more about their tracking and payment system, click here.

How is that different to a publishing administrator? songtrust

Unlike a PRO, a publishing administrator does not track your songs and deal with a specific royalty type for a certain territory. They handle all business aspects of your songs globally. A publishing administrator will not only register your songs at your local PRO, but handle the registration of your songs at PRO’s around the world so that you are eligible to collect performance income wherever your songs are being heard. They will also make sure you are eligible to collect your mechanical royalties by affiliating you and registering your songs at mechanical societies worldwide. Up until now, a service like this was only offered to top tier songwriters with commercial releases; with Songtrust, independent songwriters are now able to collect additional songwriting royalties that they may be owed around the world.


GEOclubbing Presents A SoundCloud Weather Report [INFOGRAPHIC] 

CoverGuest Post by David Blue on

It’s no stretch to say 2014 wasn't SoundCloud’s finest hour. High profile defections, disappointing app releases, allowing labels to unilaterally kill tracks... oh my! These actions certainly raise an eyebrow, but we at GEOclubbing wanted to look beyond the buzz to see how SoundCloud usage is actually trending in line with recent news.

To do this, we used one of the best data sources available: Facebook events created by promoters, DJs, and musicians; looking specifically at how often links to are included. This method is especially potent because it focuses on the influencers who’ll make or break SoundCloud’s future, and indicates not only actual usage, but their willingness (or not) to publicly endorse the platform on a recurring basis.

Looking at the results below, it’s clear usage was generally flat in 2014, and that SoundCloud has some work to do.

We’ll be using this data to help guide our product development, but wanted to share it with the industry at large. Whether you’re a label thinking about partnering with SoundCloud, or simply an artist looking to post tracks, it’s always good to have the facts.

And for what it’s worth, we don’t think any of their problems are unsolvable, and are actually really excited about the future SoundCloud is working toward.


Music Licensing: An Insider’s Perspective 

ImagesGuest Post by John Steen 

I had a chance to talk with Adam McCants from The Music Bed on a recent podcast, and he gave me the raw scoop on how to get your music licensed. Adam works with major licensing opportunities every day and The Music Bed library gets over 2 million views a month, so I was very interested in what he had to say.First, he stressed that artists need excellent production quality.

He regularly shoots down a multitude of submissions that are truly great songs, simply because the sonic quality is lacking. So if you’re thinking about sending something to a licensing A&R, make sure the production and mixing checks out after comparing to other professional mixes. Compare your song against other placements on the company’s site, or ask others for candid feedback.

Honest songwriting. If you’re writing music that is true to your heart, despite the cheesiness of that idiom, you really will write better stuff and increase your chances of getting licensed. If you love it, at least you have a social proof of 1 person to start out with. Some artists choose to write with a specific licensing opportunity in mind, and some artists just write for themselves. Either way can work very well as long as you are writing something that resonates with you.

Create unique moments. Songs with specific parts that hit you at your core, or change the mood of the song dramatically, are perfect for many independent films and ads. Try to write in a moment during your song that would fit perfectly with a film’s climax, shocking twist or somber scene. Basically, write something that evokes intense emotion.

WriteWrite constantly. Adam admitted that anything is licensable given that the sonic quality is well-done. The more songs you produce, the better chance you have of getting your song placed. Write for several genres, and constantly try new things. You never know what a client is looking for, and often the needs are extremely diverse.

You can be as successful as you want to be. Several artists make full-time livings off of licensing through sites like The Music Bed. Income can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars each month. The more time and energy you can dedicate to licensing, the better chances you will have of reaping the monetary benefits and increased exposure that often come along with these opportunities.

My conversation with Adam was encouraging because it gives artists the freedom to write music that is authentic to them and genre non-specific. What filmmakers and other licensing clients are looking for is emotion-evoking music with high sonic-quality. Those that can do this consistently and with a unique voice can benefit greatly from this major source of income for many artists.  

John Steen is an independent artist, blogger and podcaster based in Dallas, TX. To check out his podcast “Sound and Substance” for indie artists, click here. To check out his daily blog for creatives, click here.

Magic!, Leonard Cohen Lead 2015 Juno Nominees 

juno awards 2015The 2015 Juno nominees were announced on Tuesday with Canadian reggae-pop group Magic! leading the pack with 5 nominations, including for Single of the Year, Breakthrough Group of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Pop Album of the Year.

Following on their heels with four nominations, is dance-pop star Kiesza, who was recognized with nominations for Single of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Dance Recording of the Year, Video of the Year and veteran Leonard Cohen, who picked up nods for JUNO Fan Choice, Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Adult Alternative Album of the Year.

Three artists -- Hedley, Nickelback and Serge Fiori earned 3 nods each, with Hedley up for JUNO Fan Choice, Single of the Year, Album of the Year; Nickelback with JUNO Fan Choice, Album of the Year, and Group of the Year and Sergio with nominations for JUNO Fan Choice, Album of the Year, Francophone Album of the Year.

Performers on the slate for the Junos this year, include nominees Kiesza, Magic!, Shawn Mendes, Hedley and the Arkells. The show will be held on March 15th at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, and broadcast on CTV, though a host for the awards has yet to be announced. - via CelebrityAccess

5 Out-of-the-Box Band Merch Ideas Your Fans Will Love 

GratefuldeadBy Tyler Allen on Sonicbids Blog

Merchandise is a fun way not only to make some cash for your band, but also further express your band's branding outside of songwriting and album art. With touring, writing, and performing, however, merch usually takes a backseat to some of the more pressing tasks. Therefore, a band's merch table usually ends up looking pretty standard: a few T-shirts, a bumper sticker, maybe a keychain if you're feeling fancy. One thing's for sure: whenever you're generating your marketing, release, or tour plan, your merchandise should be an integral part of your overall strategy.

All bands should consider having two types of merchandise:

  1. standard merch that can be used all year, which includes old and new albums, standard T-shirts, logo bumper stickers, and so forth
  2. merch that's tailored to each campaign and centered around a particular track oralbum release

Think about it like a big brand's commercial campaign. Let's take fast food chain Wendy's for example. It'll run a commercial promoting its brand new Asiago Ranch Club sandwich, but it'll also have a standard commercial promoting Wendy's as a brand; not necessarily plugging a new sandwich, but just promoting the values Wendy's has and why you should enjoy the food.

You should be like Wendy's, guys.

Have material that's evergreen and can be sold year round, but also have your Asiago Ranch Club: that unique product that's hot at the moment and needs to be pushed. This can be something as simple as a T-shirt with imagery reflecting your new single, or something as intricate as a branded doormat to piggyback on your song about leaving your ex.

Mines-pressThat's the key, folks: sell merch that's unique to your work. This is going to vary greatly depending on your album, track, or brand as an artist. There still are, however, some standard ideas that hopefully can get your creative gears turning. Try these three on for size.

1. Old gear/materials with your autograph

I've seen plenty of signed merch do very well, especially signed drumheads and older posters. This is a genius move, as a busted drumhead is really just garbage, but when inked with your band's signatures, you can turn that trash into treasure.

2. Cassette tapes and vinyl

It's always great to sell limited edition versions of your albums – it's even great for restructuring previous albums, too. Take your work and get a limited quantity made in cassette and/or vinyl.Not only will vinylphiles love it, but it also brings back nostalgia for folks of the appropriate age. Also, more and more artists are creating tapes, and featuring a cassette as part of your merch is a fun and retro throwback for fans.

3. Stuffed animals

I recently did a promo campaign for a project called Bear Hunt, which led to the group manufacturing hundreds of "giant scary bear" stuffed animals. It was based off a figure from the album cover, and it did very well! They ended up selling hundreds of bears all at live shows. Was it odd to see adults carrying teddy bears at a live show? Yes. Was it ridiculously profitable? Yes. Bands have also made stuffed toys based on band members, which is also a cool and unique idea for merchandise.

4. Incense, lighters, or cigarette papers

Probably not the best idea for the kid's rock band, but a great one for reggae or jam bands because, let's be honest, this would fit well into that demographic. There are plenty of companies that make both of these products for bands, and it's a unique way to stand out at shows. This can be one of those "evergreen" merch suggestions if it fits your vibe and sound.

5. Merch for your work

As alluded to in my brilliantly clever Wendy's reference above, try to get merch that's based on your song/album. This is a great and simple push that furthers the importance of a song in a way that fans can interact with. Have a song about a breakup? Branded tissue box. Have a song about dreams? How about a pillow case with your band's logo and lyrics? I've even seen artists push "hangover kits" at merch tables, since they were known for being party bands. Think about what works for you and what's unique to push to your fans!

As a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more at

SoundExchange Bests Personal Record With $773 Million In Royalty Payouts In 2014  

SoundexchangeSoundExchange released it's 2014 year end numbers this morning, revealing a new record for the company of $773 million in royalty payouts to recording artists and record labels. 2014's total payout is up 31% from the $590 paid out to artist and labels the year prior. The fourth quarter of 2014 also brought with it a significant increase in distribution with more than 38,000 payouts totaling approximately $183 million. 

“2014 was a banner year for SoundExchange. Not only did we pay out more royalties to recording artists and record labels, but they now receive payments faster than ever after we became the first sound recording performance rights organization in the world to deliver monthly payments,” said SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe. “While 2014 finished on a high note, we look forward to continuing our success and growth in 2015 which promises to be even more exciting.”

SoundExchange experienced growth across the board in 2014. The company launched Project 72, a campaign to ensure fair pay for artists who recorded their music before 1972, in support of the RESPECT Act; represented the entire recorded music industry in proceedings before the Copyright Royalty Board to set rates paid by webcasters; introduced annual year-end charts naming the Top Streaming Artists, Top Recordings, and Top Breakout Artists; and welcomed Michael Huppe as President and CEO through 2018. SoundExchange was also able to forge meaningful partnerships with SXSW, CMJ, GRAMMYS, SAG-AFTRA, LOCKN’ Music Festival, and School Night that allowed for strategically targeted and better informed artist outreach. 

To further review the company's progress, check out their Q4 Digital Report.

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 9.24.41 PM

SoundExchange is the independent nonprofit performance rights organization representing the entire recorded music industry. The organization collects statutory royalties on behalf of recording artists and master rights owners for the use of their content on satellite radio, Internet radio, cable TV music channels and other services that stream sound recordings. The Copyright Royalty Board, created by Congress, has entrusted SoundExchange as the only entity in the United States to collect and distribute these digital performance royalties from more than 2,500 services. SoundExchange has paid out more than $2 billion in royalties since its inception. For more information, visit or

How Creative Industries Are Refining Automation For Discovery 

Digital-bgBy John Kohl, Leader and Founder of music discovery platform TuneGO.

Recent discussions around automation are centered on making sense of the mass of data that lives online. After all, there’s no reason any market shouldn’t take advantage of the wealth of information users leave behind on the Internet like golden breadcrumbs. A broad spectrum of industries, from entertainment to fitness to home décor, is using that information to help automate previously manual actions by making high volumes of content and information digestible and available for more informed decision-making. 

Admittedly, it sounds sterile – the term “data scientist” feels inaccessible to the everyday user, much less to the artistically-inclined who are naturally skeptical that science can ever replace art. Even to top industry executives – Amy Doyle, senior executive at MTV, was recently quoted saying she’d “leave the industry if it came to a place where talent is chosen by math and algorithms.”[1] However, automation isn’t necessarily out to replace human services, especially in emotionally driven, subjective industries like arts and entertainment. In fact, in the music industry, where there is nothing short of an abundance of aspiring artists with exponential content to share – and, in turn, for users to consume – automation has become a central tool for filtering data from numerous platforms to identify talent across the world. But, the key to successfully applying automation across countless services and industries lies in the details around maintaining critical human behavior and preference to enhance content discovery. 

Emerging Platforms

In the last few years, several platforms have emerged with the intent of effectively streamlining the numerous ways consumers engage with rising talent, as well as the ways artists share work with additional audiences and seasoned industry executives. Previously, launching a career in entertainment hinged in large part on who you knew, and who they knew. And although there are now a variety of tools to create and showcase their talents, artists still have the challenge of being heard or seen in a highly saturated digital market. With new platforms combining automated technology with human curation, it can be possible for seemingly anyone with talent to make the right connections.

Seeing a need in the film industry for greater transparency and accessibility to new screenwriting talent, a service called SpecScout was born. At its core, the platform aims to level the playing field for aspiring writers by showcasing the highest-scoring unrepped scripts right alongside the pros' with a unique automated scoring system decided by three qualified readers and automated algorithms for easy discovery.

This type of discovery works with the visual arts as well. Talenthouse has built a platform connecting big brands and entities with up and coming new artistic talent by creating a social community that produces captured data. Unknown artists have a unique opportunity to work with big bands, musicians, designers, and other established talents on projects through an open call for submissions, all based in the foundation of social engagement. In this way, brands and artists are able to create a symbiotic relationship, one elevating the other.

AnalysisNo industry has been more impacted by digital fragmentation and connectivity than music. Musicians have numerous ways to create and expose their music, but few means to gain visibility among industry executives. But now there are burgeoning services, created with the goal of redefining how new artists are discovered, and how connections are facilitated between aspiring musicians and top producers. The platforms that will succeed, though run on a data driven algorithm that analyzes everything from fan reviews to downloads, will always include human touch points that can make sense of the noise and facilitate the connections once the crème rises to the top. 

Why Art + Science Can Work Online

These automated-based platforms have developed in response to a steadily growing need for more refined discovery. For the past ten years, content giants and startups like MySpace, YouTube, SoundCloud, and Vimeo have established active hubs for artists to showcase and share their talent but – with millions of users uploading new content daily – it’s a saturated place where discovery can leave anyone searching for hours without making a dent. This leaves both industry professionals and consumers alike frustrated in their ability to efficiently find the metaphorical needle in the online haystack.

The goal is to solve for these issues, finding a way to cut through the noise by using automation to facilitate the discovery process for both industry members and every day consumers, while marrying that science with the art of human curation. The gut reaction for identifying and nurturing talent is still necessary, but these new services are making more data available to consider when searching for today’s top talent. However, an industry shift of this proportion can’t be met without roadblocks.


As with any new platform, adoption is a hurdle for automation and the crux for making it work. Introducing a new way to do anything takes time, but widespread adoption is make or break. Hand in hand with adoption is an artist’s success once they’ve committed to the platform. When artists can see that this is a proven path to obtain the guidance, opportunities, and development that they crave, they’re more likely to join. 

Of course, introducing such a scientific method to a creative field could be met with resistance and skepticism of technology replicating human emotion and preference. An algorithm can filter all the data available, and it still might not find the brilliant abstract artist without an online presence, who only shows at a few local galleries. It might not be able to produce the feeling of stumbling into a bar only to discover the next Bob Dylan. And, it really can’t pass off a new original script your friend’s co-worker spent a whole year’s worth of nights and weekends writing. 

Path to Success

Despite valid challenges posed, it’s definitely possible to see success with this model. As already mentioned, adoption is key, and contingent on producing notable stories of achievement and high profile connections to the project. Also important is getting the right people on your team. Having renowned industry professionals and influencers who can identify the nuances and the “it” factor of top talent attracts artists who are eager to work with them. 

Are human-powered, automated algorithms the future for art and entertainment? It certainly has a place, serving a need to easily connect a high volume of untapped talent with professionals across multiple entertainment industries. There might never be a perfect substitute for organic discovery, but these platforms are aiming to get as close as possible in the digital space. I'm confident they will become a new standard across the industry; it’s only a matter of when. Artists have successfully used these automation platforms to make this data work for them, taking advantage of the platforms’ connections with industry professionals and opportunities for additional exposure. The next few years will only lead to more precise data and results, as well as a rise in user adoption. Emerging artists will continue to inspire the industry to evolve, only now there’s undeniable data to help push new limits.

John Kohl is the Founder of TuneGO, the music discovery platform that helps elevate new artists and their music. 

[1] Chemi, Eric. (March 7, 2014) “Can Big Data Help Music Labels Find That Perfect Backbeat.” Bloomberg Businessweek.    


Why Are Artist Managers Taking Center Stage? 

1-yJlPpRI9p6CK-HuVvcp1rwBy Eric Peckham on

The evolving music industry is turning top managers into moguls—operating across media, tech and consumer brands The evolution of the music industry is putting greater power into the hands of top artist managers and transforming their firms—traditionally very small, behind-the-scenes operations—into miniature conglomerates operating across media, tech, and consumer brands.

The root of this transformation is the broader shift in power from labels to artists, and thus to artists’ management teams. The internet empowers artists with the ability to directly engage fans and distribute digital content on their own, a dynamic that has made record labels—whose deals usually give them the majority of an artist’s music revenue—increasingly less necessary for building a national, or even international, audience.

The whole EDM genre, which has been on fire over the last few years, has thrived largely without major labels or radio. In hip-hop, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (with manager/agent Zach Quillen) built a passionate fan base locally and online, leveraged that to run their own (profitable) tour, reinvested earnings to self-finance the production of the The Heist, and then went to labels only later with the negotiating power to strike a la cartephysical distribution and marketing deals.

Even in the more common arrangement of taking a traditional record deal—which remains the norm and likely will for many years—top artists and their managers have been faced with an increasing hand-off of responsibilities as the labels downsize their investment in developing artists (mainly because they themselves are tight on money). Management firms, talent agencies, and publishers are in response expanding to handle many functions that were traditionally label services.

As a result of both trends, power is shifting into the hands of artist managers and their teams, who are at the helm of an artist’s whole operation as a business… which keeps expanding in scope.

Artists as Diversified Brands

An artist manager’s job description nowadays goes far beyond merely coordinating a musical career.

This is partly by force and partly to take advantage of new opportunities. Although there’s some optimism for earnings from streaming services to improve as their use becomes ubiquitous, revenue from songs themselves is no longer very significant in comparison to how popular the songs are and what album sales would have once brought in at that rate.

Music (and social media presence) is the heart and soul of who an artist is and where they devote their time, but its function from a business lens is just the starting point. It fuels a brand and loyal audience that are then leveraged for complementary ventures with more meaningful money-making potential.

Coordinated mostly by an artist’s agent, the live music (touring & festivals) boom has combatted losses in music sales and continues to see healthy growth—a unique in-person experience remains well worth paying for—but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

New forms of collaboration with brands are a central revenue source and require a broader business and digital savvy from the artist manager to envision and evaluate opportunities effectively. Traditional sponsorship deals remain standard, but in increasingly creative (and often complex) forms like Pepsi’s “tweet to unlock” campaign around Katy Perry’s Prismalbum, the Jay-Z/Microsoft collaboration for launching his Decodedautobiography, or AmEx’s interactive “Blank Space” app with Taylor Swift.

But there’s also an evolving shift toward longer-term, equity-based partnerships. Rather than “selling out” by slapping their name on lots of random products, artists are finding corporate partners whose brands genuinely complement their own, then working to help build the product/company over time and share in the upside, like Pharrell’s work with sustainable materials brand Bionic Yarn. If the artist manager has the eyes of a smart investor, equity-based deals can be dramatically more lucrative for artists: 50 Cent’s (estimated) $50MM stake in Vitamin Water, and Diddy’s 50% profit-share in Diageo’s Ciroc vodka, sparked wider adoption of the model in particular; Justin Timberlake’s stake in the relaunch of Myspace, not so much.

Especially after its recent $3B acquisition by Apple, Beats by Dre stands as the pinnacle example of a how artists might parlay their personal brand into their own startup companies

Most notably, as a step beyond equity-based partnerships, popular artists are increasingly channeling their personal brand into the launch of their very own companies, matching creative control with far more potential upside. Madonna’s launch of Maverick in the early 1990s (with music, film, tv, book publishing and fashion divisions) was an early incarnation of what really took off among hip-hop icons in following years (although she’d go on to add more fashion lines and an international fitness club chain in 2010 as well).

Jay-Z (Roc-a-Fella Records, Rocawear), Diddy (Bad Boy Entertainment, Sean John, Revolt TV), Pharrell (Billionaire Boys Club), Dr. Dre (Aftermath Entertainment, Beats by Dre) and others have capitalized on the opportunity to build successful companies rather than just being a marketing tool for others. Even in country music, Kenny Chesney co-founded a successful spirits company, Fishbowl Spirits (maker of Blue Chair Bay Rum), built from scratch entirely around his brand and audience demographic.

Artist Managers Take Center Stage

In this new landscape, top artist managers are full-scale entrepreneurs building conglomerates spanning media, tech and consumer brands.

One part venture capitalist, one part entrepreneur, a manager is on the hunt for “the next big thing” in music to invest their efforts in—informed by an increasing amount of data and knowing that inevitably most “investments” won’t be big wins (managers, by the way, get a roughly standardized ~15% of artists’ earnings). They’re in charge of launching those artists to become an internationally-known brand in the span of just a couple years and gradually crafting sustainable businesses underneath them.

Kara Swisher interviews mega-managers Troy Carter (Atom Factory), Scooter Braun (SB Projects) and Guy Oseary (Maverick / A-Grade) at D11. Great example from Braun on artists as consumer brands: at the time, the #1 and #3 top-selling perfumes globally were both Justin Bieber-branded ones

The tools and strategy needed to break an artist into stardom in 2015 often look more similar to operations of Silicon Valley startups—social media buzz, extensive analytics and key partnerships. The more capable an artist manager is as a digital entrepreneur, the farther the artist can go without needing the support of a record label at undesirable terms. Thus it’s not just increasingly necessary but also preferable for the artist and manager to build out the management firm’s team and handle operations across music, partnerships, and new ventures themselves.

As the management firm’s capacity grows, it also makes sense for it to take on additional artists, given the economy of scale. The management firm becomes a whole funnel for launching new artists and coordinating their stakes across numerous ventures. They can plug their artists into a network of opportunities they’re pursuing and ventures they control, cross-pollinate fan bases strategically, and collaborate with their established artists to propel newly-signed acts into the spotlight (look at how Justin Bieber put Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” on the map).

The result of it all is a much more influential and—contrary to their historic place—high-profile role for leading artist managers within the entertainment industry and beyond. It also makes the choice of manager a much more important, longer-term decision for an artist than it used to be when labels did more of the work and managers were switched out like pairs of socks.

Artist Managers as Media Moguls 

If you extrapolate another step, what top artist managers (and their teams) are really becoming are experts in identifying, launching and operating creative business ventures. It hasn’t taken long for them to realize that they can apply their skill set beyond just musicians.

Within entertainment, social media stars, actors and other talent are getting added to management rosters: look at Irving Azoff’s work with comedienne Chelsea Handler and investment in Levitythe recent merger of Primary Wave and Intellectual Artist Management, or SB Project’s management ofTodrick Hall.

Tech entrepreneurs, in particular, are the new cool kids, and top artist management firms (not to mention talent agencies and labels) are interested in the action up north in Silicon Valley. Troy Carter (Atom Factory), Guy Oseary (Maverick / A-Grade), and Scooter Braun (SB Projects) all raised venture capital funds to apply their particular business savvy (for marketing, pop culture, media platforms and consumer trends) toward lucrative investments in startups like Uber, Airbnb and Songza. They’re still an anomaly in the startup world, fulfilling a new niche of “Hollywood VCs” and providing enough differentiated value to access some of the most competitive deals, typically invited in by the lead investor. Some tech investments are media-related but many aren’t—it’s not so much about strategic investments that impact their artist management responsibilities as it is about diversifying the types of creative, consumer-facing ventures their firm can advise and build a stake in.

As they get more comfortable bridging industries, several of these top management teams are also applying their experience in launching artists and advising startups to the incubation of their own tech products and consumer brands as a new revenue source (just like they’re doing for some of their established artists). Atom Factory co-founded Backplane and Pop Water; SB Projects incubated fahlo and relaunched British Knights; Azoff MSG has been on a buying spree across entertainment and media; and Red Light Management’s Coran Capshaw previously launched and sold e-commerce platform Musictoday. Each firm has even brought creative studios in-house.


This new model has the firms split between managing talent, launching new ventures and investing in outside opportunities, with each pillar tying into the others. It’s like an entertainment industry keiretsu with one management/investment team at the center of a network of interrelated businesses.

Not all managers can or will follow the same business expansion beyond what relates directly to their artists, but even that still requires a wider scope of business savvy than ever before—spanning music, tech, and brands. Agencies and publishers are adapting as well to handle operations that shift away from labels, even hiring their own radio promotion staff, and will be resources to small management teams that don’t yet have the capacity to handle such a wide scale of new responsibilities.

It’s still early in the game, but the evolving role of management teams will likely change the working (and perhaps even financial) relationship between artists and managers, leaving many questions about where labels fit in. This evolution finds top music managers well-positioned as a new form of media mogul.

For more from Eric Peckham, follow him on Twitter @epeckham

© 2011