Two of The Seed Fund‘s 2015 Management Workshop alumni get on board this week to bring you detailed insights into the game of artist management. Jess Carroll (Hoodlem, Rat & Co, OCTANDAR) of Inmocean interviews Charlotte Abroms (Haarlo) of Hear Hear Group with spectacularly informative results, including great new music throughout to discover. Take it away legends.
Jess: Why did you choose to become a manager?
Charlotte: I started a website called Large Noises alongside musician Eliza Hull and music producer Jono Steer. People kept telling us we had a knack for scouting bands before they broke nationally and internationally. Through this, I ended up helping friends who were musicians; with their bios, their social media strategies, videoclips and writing press releases. When you spot someone with immense talent that you connect with, it’s an amazing feeling when you can utilise your skills to start spreading that and watching other people connect too.
The biggest kick I get out of management is sharing someone’s talent with the world. I heard Haarlo and fell in love, so I sent their music around to a few people and their debut single was added to MS MR’s Mixtape alongside artists like MØ and Aluna George. Suddenly, it was getting loads of plays and we were getting flooded with interest and enquiries and boom! I became a manager.
For me, it’s always come from a place of pure passion. There’s no agenda other than to want happiness and success for the artists I work with. I’m a facilitator of our combined goals and ticking them off is the biggest reward.
Jess: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
Charlotte: The most common piece of advice I’ve been given is not to blur the lines with your artists.
Personally, to be the best manager I can be entails getting to know everything about the artists I work with – what makes them tick, how they’ll react in certain situations and, on a deeper level, what’s happening in their personal lives.
My advice isn’t so much not to blur the lines, but if you have a connection that goes beyond music, like a friendship (which most artist/managers do), then don’t go in blind. Know that there might be difficult conversations where you need to separate the two in the future and talk about how you might deal with them upfront before you commit.
For anyone else who prioritises their connections/friendships over work, my only advice would be to be aware that you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable situation and I’d recommend only working with people who will appreciate and value that about you.
Jess: What has been your most positive experience so far?
Charlotte: Last year when I was at CMJ in New York, something shifted for me. I suddenly felt like I wasn’t pushing something anymore, the tables turned and people were approaching me. When I flew over, I filled out the landing card and listed my occupation as ‘Digital Producer’. On the flight home, I listed my occupation as ‘Music Manager’. I took a photo of it because it felt like a moment for me.
Glenn Dickie from the incredible Sounds Australia was sitting in front of me on the plane and it sparked a memory from when I flew to Sydney six months prior and met him to ask about showcasing overseas (which I knew nothing about). Cut to: all of us leaving a successful CMJ in the States. That was the first time I felt a real sense of personal validation as a music manager. It was like the dots connected and I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Jess: How have you discovered the artists that you work with?
Charlotte: It has always happened seamlessly and organically. I am constantly on the hunt for new music for my own personal listening pleasure. I love supporting artists. Sometimes I stumble across an artist that I want to film for Large Noises. This is a passion project we created to give musicians we believe in an opportunity to have a high quality video to showcase their live performance.
In one situation, I filmed an artist live and knew in that moment I wanted to manage them. In Haarlo’s case, Jono Steer gave me a copy of their debut EP and when I heard it, I wanted to get on board. We organised their first gig at Northcote Social Club and it nearly sold out. In that moment, watching what we’d created, I knew that I wanted to manage them. Every artist I manage has made me feel like time stands still when they perform.
Jess: What do you think the biggest challenge facing managers and artists is today?
Charlotte: Finances are a challenge. Having a budget allows adequate time to dedicate to the project, which is by no means a 9-5 job. It’s working on holidays, weekends, evenings, sometimes it’s 3am. When you’re an emerging manager, working with emerging artists, the biggest challenge is balancing paid work with building the project (which often doesn’t generate income in the early days).
It can be so demanding and unpredictable, only other emerging managers and artists seem to understand this. A lot of my friends outside of the music industry have been both confused and intrigued about what drives someone to work so hard for something that often has no immediate reward. It really is a strange concept!
Having finances allows the freedom to be able to jump on a plane and watch your artist play overseas if you need to. When your artist is working hard outside of the music industry to earn finances to put back into the project, it can also be creatively stifling for them. As a manager you have to be sensitive to this. It can be a catch-22 and is definitely a huge challenge to balance in the early days.
Jess: How do you think the industry has changed in the past few years?
Charlotte: The World Wide Web. I’ve noticed a major shift in the last few years with how artists find creative ways to get their names out there online, release music digitally and create content with next to no budget and often no team around them. It’s an avenue for artists to share their story. Fans connect with the personalisation of this.
If done right, digital platforms open up huge opportunities for artists and managers to work together to build something. Artists are more accessible. At the end of the day, connecting with fans locally and internationally is my main ambition for any artist I work with – and clever digital marketing allows this on a global level. I love that part of the job.
Jess: What does your average day look like?
Charlotte: At this stage we are working on Haarlo’s sophomore EP. It’s a really exciting time where we’re getting songs back from mastering, the band are choosing the tracks for the EP and still recording them.
This consists of building Haarlo’s team, responding to enquiries and the main focus is an overall strategy for the next 12 months and beyond. This includes planning which labels Haarlo aligns with, managing the production of their artwork/design, the format of their upcoming EP, a release strategy and heavy research into publicists, agents, labels and publishers who align. It’s exciting and I’m so fortunate to have adequate time to strategise and be proactive.
I am also contracting as a Digital Producer/Strategist, so it’s an invigorating balance which all seems to tie together nicely.
Jess: What international acts are you listening to?
Jess: What local acts are you listening to?
I’m also a huge fan of Xavier Dunn. I honestly think he’s going to have a massive career in this industry. We did a shoot with him for Large Noises on the weekend, and beyond his immense talent and his lovely team, Xavier exudes positivity and I think his nature alone will hugely benefit him. Listen to Scattered
Jess: What’s your artist working on at the moment?
Charlotte: New music is coming soon! This is Haarlo’s song Easier which was added to MS MR’s Mixtape where it all began.
Stay tuned next week for Jess’s individual take on the biz. Now enjoy Easier: