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The VELD Music Festival was an experience I will never forget. Far too often we look at the end result as fans of music, dope beats and amazing mixes. However there is another animal involved that lives behind the scenes, known as the Manager. For this A&R Talk I got the chance to interview the Manager behind SAVOY
[Jeff] What did you want to be when you were growing up as a kid?
[Adam] Well originally I come from a family of mostly doctors and lawyers. So that was kind of the traditional route for most people in my family, but you know as I got older, and in high school, I kind of got more into music and more excited about the music industry. Actually I used to follow the band “Phish” out on the road and that was kind of like my entrance into the music scene, which was just going to “Phish” shows and ended up doing some stuff for them on marketing and promo levels.
[Jeff] So you were kind of doing the street team work, for “Phish” ?
[Adam] Yeah exactly I was like 15 years old putting up posters. I grew up in Boulder Colorado and you know, it’s a pretty hippie area to begin with, so putting up posters for Phish shows, got a lot of respect around that town.
[Jeff] Was there a person in your life that had a drastic impact on your career choice? Or someone that may have pushed you or guided you into your career?
[Adam] No, not really, not so much. It was more of a geographical thing I guess. You know like growing up in Colorado, the music scene is so strong there you know? I have older sisters that would always go to shows and I’d always be pretty jealous about that. Growing up in that culture of, where you go to shows on the weekend and you know, it’s just a part of life. So it was more just like that. Rather than someone being like “you should do music” or anything like that.
[Jeff] Is there a story or incident, it could be crazy or ironic, or a day when everything went right, or a day when everything may have went wrong, but it represents the music industry?
[Adam] Yeah I mean like, all the time there’s always ups and downs and crazy stuff happening. I’m trying to think of a particular story that I can tell you of something interesting that’s happened, but you know. Mostly usually involves a lot of drinking and late nights.
[Jeff] Well as a manager I guess socializing is huge, right?
[Adam] Yeah that’s a really big part of it.
[Jeff] Yeah, so would you say like, if someone’s a drinker, or someone’s not a drinker, being able to socialize or being able to hang with other people, other execs in the music industry, would you like, I guess turn down drinks? Or would you just go with the flow?
[Adam] Personally I’m a social drinker so I don’t really drink. I think it’s more about just being there, being in the moment and it’s just like if you’re there then you can talk to people and you can experience it. But if you’re not there, then you can’t. So it’s more about being present, being there rather than like if you’re drinking or participating in that.
[Jeff] Right, being in the moment and being present. Being in the right place at the right time.
[Adam] Yeah I mean that’s a lot of the music industry, it’s just being in the right room, with the right people you know?
[Jeff] What is the most difficult part, from your perspective, of working in the music industry?
[Adam] Well actually I started working in the music industry when I finished college. When I was in college actually, I worked with a program for doing bookings for college events, events on the CU-Boulder campus, and I actually went on from there and was a talent buyer for a couple of theaters in Denver. The Gothic Theater, and then Red Rocks, and all that before I moved out to LA. So I kind of view it from both perspectives, when I look at my manger stuff, from the event buying side and the talent buyer side and then on the managerial side. Looking at it from both perspectives definitely makes it a little more interesting because, being on the venue side you can kind of see how venues treat shows when you’re dealing with multiple artists all the time. Then dealing on the manager side it’s like “well I know how these venues work and how they want to be treated.” You know so it’s definitely been a big advantage for me, in being able to kind of guide my career. Because I focus mostly on live touring and routing. We’ll get someone like Savoy, and they don’t have a hit song. They’re the type of group that tour a lot, they have a great live set up, their production, their lasers and lights are absolutely insane and out of this world. The way that they’ve continually been able to do it is that they’ve done their touring great. They’re about to go on a 40 day tour starting August 22nd, and just like being able to do stuff like that rather than have a song on the radio, or have, beatport number 1, is kind of where our focus is, and where my focus is particularly.
[Jeff] Ok, so-
[Adam] And I don’t know if that answered your question at all, cause I kind of went on a rant but-
[Jeff] Having history on both sides of a talent buy and as a manager, I would imagine you, you know, cause as a manager you’re fighting for your artist and you want to get the best for your artist. As a talent buyer, you may want to get the best deal for the company you’re working with to get the talent.
[Adam] Right, and you want the best show. And that’s one thing about me where it’s like, I’m willing to take risks on shows, where it’s like, we might not be making a ton of money but it’s going to be a show that is a great look and it’s a cool look, and it’s smart to do rather than a lot of these DJ’s where they just go after the money, and will play at this Vegas club for X amount of money, even if there’s going to be 5 people or 25,000 people.
[Jeff] With touring, I noticed a lot of the touring in North America, is it difficult to get into the International scene? Or is it just a different challenge?
[Adam] No, honestly, we have kind of waited on doing the whole international approach until we were a little bit more established in the US. You know, we looked at people, we looked at artists like Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, even though their music is very different than what Savoy is doing, I kind of put them in the same realm as where, you know, they tour constantly and that’s how they get big, and then they go over to Europe, and then they tour constantly over there and it’s like the same process. So basically, we’re waiting, we’re waiting for a couple things, but I would say European days, probably sometime next year, 2015.
[Jeff] Right, ok. So it’s continuously growing, it’s part of the plan?
[Adam] Yeah, and they have a booking agent for all of Europe and worldwide and we have plans on doing like an Australian tour coming up in 2015. It’s tough when you break into new markets, because you never know how it’s going be, because it’s like, a lot of times you’ve played for 10 people in a basement and it’s like why do we even do this? Or if you get a little more buzz going then you get a lot of cooler shows and it helps.
[Jeff] Right, cool. The Veld show was amazing!
[Adam] Yeah I wish I was there, I heard it was awesome.
[Adam] Yeah it’s great, you know with our grassroots approach, it’s going to be the type of thing where you see them live and that’s how they get their fans. It’s the type where it’s like, they pride themselves on their live shows and put so much effort into these sets and making sure they’re very different. And I’m sure the tracks they played are like no single other person plays them. The entire weekend, and you see like every other DJ playing 15-20 other peoples tracks and you hear them all day.
[Jeff] Exactly, sometimes you hear the same track over and over again.
[Adam] So with that it takes longer because, you can’t hit every city all the time. Before they play VELD, they didn’t play Toronto, or I mean, it might have even been since the last time they played VELD two years ago. Just because it’s so hard to hit every single market and just with get the timing and everything right. For Toronto we want to do unveiling our whole line set up with like, you’ve got the drummer with Mike, but you know with the full laser show and the full production, it’s crazy. But that’s how we have to grow markets. It’s the baby steps basically.
[Jeff] When and why did you decide to start Fashionably Late Management?
[Adam] Yeah that’s a good question. I was working at the Gothic Theater living in Denver, and basically I was going to… I forget what concert it was, but it was some concert and I ran into Ben from Savoy. I don’t know if you met him, the blonde one. And basically I was really deep into the talent buying stuff, making plans to possibly merge with a bigger talent company in Denver and he was like instead of doing that, why don’t we kind of start working together? I play music, I have a band, you start booking me and getting me shows. And I’m like, lets try something different. So basically it was me and Ben kind of working together and doing the Savoy thing, and starting up the management with him as my partner, so it’s been really cool.
[Jeff] So you had a friend, well you had someone you knew and trusted I guess, when you started the management company?
[Adam] No, I actually just met him on a whim while we were both at the show. I had never met him before, we were just out and friends of a venue smoking a cigarette and just started talking and were bullshitting each other. Just like a standard, we both work in the music industry first conversation where it’s like “oh yeah I know this person” and whatever but, just became friends through that so it was cool.
[Jeff] I guess that goes back to the right place right time?
[Adam] Yep, exactly. So basically I was like, you know I’m young, I was 25 at the time, 24 maybe, and I was like fuck it I’m going to move to L.A. and I’m going to do this full time. If event buying happens again or talent buying, whatever, I’ll do that but lets do this management thing full time and I’ve been doing that for the last four years.
[Jeff] So that jump, to say pack my bags and go to L.A., was that something that you were nervous about? Or were you just like “I’m going to follow my dream and just do this”?
[Adam] It was more so just like I had always lived in Colorado and I just wanted to experience something new. I wanted to try another city, I really wanted to live up in New York. It was either New York or L.A., were the two places for me. You know, the Savoy guys live in New York so a lot of me was leaning towards going there but I just made a trip out here and just kind of fell in love with the area and met the singer Heather Bright, who I’m not sure if you’re familiar with her, she performs on a bunch of Savoy tracks but she also has that track with 3LAU, the “How You Love Me” track which is crushing right now and she did Porter Robinson “Language”. So I’ve been working with her for the past three years and she’s kinda been helping me with getting through with labels, and just introducing me to everyone across the board. So it’s like, every day is a different journey. It’s really interesting, from living in Denver to living out here in L.A.
[Jeff] What is the biggest contrast?
[Adam] There’s so much more going on, so much more opportunity and in Denver, you kind of have to make it happen for yourself and there’s definitely a ceiling.
[Adam] Not talking shit about Denver, I love Denver. Disclaimer, disclaimer, I love my city, I love Denver.
[Jeff] But you just wanted to experience something different, I understand.
[Adam] Yeah exactly.
[Jeff] So what do you think separates your management company from, I guess, other management companies out there? What sets you apart?
[Adam] I would just say my passion. I’m very picky about the artists I work with, and when I find something I like, I put everything into it. This is my life right now and this is all I do. I eat, sleep, and breathe this shit. There’s a million management companies and I’ve actually been in conversation about possibly joining up with a larger management company, but that’s something further down the road. At this point, I’m just very young and excited about everything, and I have something that I think is really fucking cool and I’m just really fucking excited about it, and not all these people are. You get a lot of these jaded older people who just don’t understand the new music industry basically, coming from, not really growing up on Facebook but I was back on Facebook in 2004 with a college account. Having that at our fingertips, I feel like being someone this age we’re at an advantage over a lot of these older managers; because they just see it differently. The way I see things is completely different than the way… I’m not going to name a manager, but you know, a lot of the older school managers look at it. As far as free releases go, is a good example. I believe free releases are way more effective than putting up releases through beatport or through iTunes.
[Jeff] And why do you think that?
[Adam] I think the chances of getting someone to buy your track when they don’t know about you, or at the end of the day getting anyone to buy your track period is tough. It’s like, if you’re going to get a track there’s a million other outlets for you to go after it. Why not just cut that off at the base and be like, here it is for free. Then have it come directly from the artist to the fan, and cut out the torrent companies, and the fucking malware shit that’s like when you download these files like some of them have, you know? It’s like we’ll give you a 320 KB file and then it’s going to be the cleanest sounding shit that you’d have to buy for X amount of dollars. I just think that doing that, fans are excited to spend money on tickets, or not excited to spend money but are more willing to spend money on tickets cause they’re like, you put your heart and soul into this music and you give it out for free so, in return we keep this machine going by paying for your shows. A lot of these artists are making most of their money on advances and record deals and when you don’t do that, you know it’s like you have to make money elsewhere to stay afloat.
[Jeff] What are your thoughts on the music industry in terms of everything becoming more digital and social media based?
[Adam] I think it’s great.
[Adam] Yeah, I mean obviously the whole deconstruction of record stores, the whole vinyl business all going out of business and you know, there’s parts of it that’s sad but that’s just evolution of music. I imagine in 15 years the means of getting music are going to be completely different than they are right now. It’s going to be way more accessible and way more over saturated than it is now. That’s the only thing about it now, being an up and coming artist, it’s really hard to break through, the million of other artists that are trying to do the same thing. With the internet, they have the same amount of leverage. They might not have played VELD fest this weekend but at the end of the day if their tracks are hot, you have to compete with all of these artists. In that same sense, a lot of music does get lost with that because there’s so much music and there’s so much out there and you know, unless you know about an artist it’s really hard to find new music. You can follow the blogs but most of these blogs are posting the same shit.
[Jeff] So what do you think is the best way to stand out for an artist?
[Adam] I mean, marketing is key. I think having a good team around you, my whole thing is like every interview request, everything that we have it’s like, do it. You know? The best way to get the word out is by people getting the word out. We’re not going spend $20,000 buying Facebook fans and buying our way into the top 100 whatever list. That’s not how it works for “nowaday” artists. It works for the bigger older guys who have been around forever who are already established. Marketing is the main thing. If you have a good marketing team and you’re good, and you connect with your fans, the best part about Savoy is they love doing that. They love being on Twitter, they love joking with their fans. I’m not sure if they told you, we were out on the road once and they have this thing called Savoy hotline where they have fans call up and when they’re out on the road they just talk to them on the phone to kill time. On their way to Seattle from Boise, some girl called and was like hey, my house is off the highway from where you guys are going. You wanna come over and like, take bong rips with us? So we’re literally at some girls house and she invited all her friends over. So it’s shit like that, you know? It’s all about the human experience because that part of music is missing with all of the digital media and all the over saturation. So it’s like if you’re able to capture that on a national or international level, then that’s the main goal.
[Jeff] I think that connection you have with the fan, and then that fan tells their friend that this happened, you know, that snowball effect is more valuable than buying any friends on Facebook or whatever.
[Adam] And I’m actually good friends with the guys who manage Cruella and I remember one of the things they told me. This was right when they were about to blow up, right on the verge of blowing up. They were like every day, you need to respond to all of your fan messages. You need to hit up every single person, and just watching those girls up until like 4am just Tweeting their fans and being, just so fucking into it, and then seeing where they’re at now and they’re still doing that shit. I definitely took that as being valuable advice.
[Jeff] What do you look for in aspiring artists? Any specific tangibles, or anything like that?
[Adam] Yeah, I am actually focusing on trying to kind of get out of the EDM scene. I just signed Low Bounce, who’s a DJ out of Chicago. He’s fucking sick. He has an EP coming out here in a month, really dope. But you know I grew up in the jam band scene. With the live roots, and I kind of want to get back to that. I’m talking to a folk band out of upstate New York. It’s basically what I’m interested in. I’m all about live shows. I can listen to an album and I can be impressed by it, but I’m not completely sold until I go to your show and I feel the energy of the crowd. So that’s what mostly I look for. Are you a rock star, basically? Do you have that presence that people should pay attention to you? And it might take a while and they might never pay attention to you, but for some reason, there’s a reason that people should pay attention to you and I want to grow that. You know?
[Jeff] Cool, cool. And are there any music executives that inspired you along the way?
[Adam] Music executives?
[Adam] Ah, no.
[Jeff] Ok. Alright so I want to end this interview with two things. So I have this thing called something you love, something you hate, and something you’ll never forget. So I’ll start with the first one. So, what is something you love, something you hate, and something you’ll never forget?
[Adam] Ahh, hoo. I love traveling and going to festivals, and watching the crowds reactions when their favorite artists are on stage, and that whole, when you’re standing on stage and looking out to the crowd and just seeing everyone’s faces react to their favorite musician, there’s really nothing else like it. It’s a rush, it gives me goosebumps every time. Something that I hate, I hate bee’s. Shout out to Low Bounce, I hate bee’s.
[Jeff] And something you’ll never forget?
[Adam] Something I’ll never forget. I guess waking up every morning and seeing the flat iron outside of my house, outside my window in Boulder. Boulder, you’ve got to go there some time, it’s a fucking really special place and I miss that place with all of my heart.
[Jeff] It’s all good, it’s all good. Well that’s a wrap for the interview, thanks a lot for taking the time.
[Adam] Yeah man I appreciate it.