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How Legends are Made: Artist Management 101

There have been many times while working for EDMsauce that I've had the opportunity to sit down with legendary artists such as Ferry Corsten, Markus Schulz, Laidback Luke and plenty of others. One must take a second to think, what made them legends? Of course, in most cases it's a melded recipe of talent, motivation, and hard-work, sprinkled with a little bit of luck and voila! This culminates into performances in front of hundreds of thousands of screaming fans over the years, and from the outside looking in, it appears to be a one man show.

Much like Houdini, though, things aren't always the way they appear. Behind all of the CDJs, glaring spotlights, lasers, and pyro, are the real heroes of the industry; the driving force of a merely unstoppable scene. Of course I'm talking about non other, than the talent managers themselves.

They make the world go round in the electronic music realm. They defy the laws of thermodynamics and bring order to the chaos surrounding tours, label signings, music releases, and media coverage.

I had a chance to sit down with one of these management machines with the intent to understand what goes on underneath it all. In the interview below we delve backstage, behind the scenes, where the grueling and non-stop work flow of talent management, rests on caffeine and #TEAMNOSLEEP hashtags.

Enter, Matthew Medney, current talent manager at After Dark Management and tour manager at Nocturnal Touring & Rooted Productions (NT-RP). Matt has been involved in the industry for about 3 years now and was able to share his experiences with us.

Q: What made you want to enter the busy world of talent/artist management?

A: It's a really crazy story, but I have to say I've always wanted to work with or around artists. The creativity, the passion, and the innocence of doing something because you love it really appealed to me. I've never worked just for a paycheck. I do this because I love it.

I originally started working in digital media with big artists like R3HAB, Laidback Luke, Life in Color, and Tommie Sunshine. From there, I met so many emerging artists, like KANDY (currently on the After Dark Management roster) and it all fell right into place. It felt natural and it's something that I take very seriously and I am very passionate about. 

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“There was one moment when I was able to see the look on Kevin's (KANDY) and his families faces when I was able to tell him he was playing ULTRA 2016. His mom began crying and it's moments like these that you simply cannot put a dollar sign on. It's a blessing to be part of an incredible team.”

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges along the way and what were some of the ways you overcame those challenges?

A: Supporting myself was hands down the biggest challenge. When you start as a manager in this industry, you aren't making as much as you would with 3 years of experience and a following. When the pay is less and the opportunities are fewer, being able to sustain yourself is the biggest hurdle everyone faces honestly. 

So many people ‘fake it till they make it' and there aren't as many paid and successful people as it may seem. Being able to support myself with other streams of revenue, and help from friends and family, was mentally the hardest part about the start-up process.

“When you're starting up, the stress is high, and the pay is low. You just need to stay true to your goals and stop comparing yourself to those around you. Stay focused and you will break through the mess.”

Q: What was the biggest learning experience for you and how do you apply it to not only your career, but management style overall?

A: The homie vibe. The industry is built on it. We all become friends, but you need to approach this like any other business. It's easy to get caught up in partying, because it's a party scene, but you need to make sure at the end of the day the contracts are in order and the paperwork is signed because there are some people, unfortunately, who give this industry a bad rep. You need to protect yourself, always. 

“But sometimes, you have to take that leap of faith and do handshake deals. In the end, if I can't vibe with a client on a friendship basis, we most likely shouldn't do business together. That's just how I feel personally.”

Q: Have there been any marquee moments in your journey so far that you would like to share?

A: Seeing Kevin, one of my best friends and client, play Ultra this year. It's a feeling I cannot even describe to you in words. Think about it, if you take on a client who becomes one of your best friends, and you work day in and day out with them to craft their brand, and all of that hard work culminates in an Ultra performance, what better reward is there, honestly?

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KANDY (left), Matt (Right) Photo cred: Dash Grey

“It was a crazy experience. I was wondering if Kevin (KANDY) could handle the pressure of Ultra and if he had the energy to do it. But when I saw him on stage and take the Mic, I saw a star. I watched him come out of his comfort zone and dominate the stage. It was as emotional and surreal as it gets.”

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KANDY Ultra 2016; 7-Up Stage Photo cred: Dash Grey

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KANDY, 7-Up-Stage Ultra 2016 Photo Cred: Dash Grey

Q: Wrapping up the interview, what kind of advice would you give young-up-and-coming producers and talent managers?

A: The best advice that I can give is don't do this if you're not passionate about it. I don't do this for a paycheck and I definitely don't do this to get girls. 

Lastly, put in your time and build relationships. That 4 a.m. bagel run, or that 3 p.m. soundcheck that you just go to to show you care, those are the bits that matter. Those are the relationships that will allow you to achieve your goals.

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Do this because you can't imagine in 70 years, reflecting on your life and knowing that if you DIDN'T do this, you would have regrets. This industry will consume you, for the good and bad. If you aren't totally invested, you'll never make it out alive. You'll waste your time and worse, the time of others.

Well there you have it, one of the most intimate, and emotionally driven interviews I've had the pleasure of conducting the past 3 years. If you're thinking about traversing the treacherous, but highly rewarding waters of talent management, keep this interview in mind along your journey.

 

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