We met our former office neighbors Matches Music for some insights in the work of a two-piece music management agency, working with local Austrian talent like Ant Antic, Ogris Debris, Elektro Guzzi and many more.
Their experience in the music & live business makes them a sought after collaborator in the Austrian music scene. So, although their schedule is packed, Jakob – one half of Matches Music – found time to talk to us about the relationships between managements & artists, release strategies, music media and more. Dig in!
What is the best way for new talent to find and match up with management? Any Do’s and Dont’s?
This is a good one. I think the most important step is knowing if you actually need a manager. We get a lot of applications from bands and artists (and every single person in this field I have spoken to has confirmed this) that are just starting out, recording their first few songs, maybe haven’t even played any shows yet. There are a lot of cases when it makes absolute sense to have a management involved from the very beginning, but (and this might seem very obvious) before you ask someone to join your team and work really hard for you, make sure you yourself are committed to work equally hard, for extended periods of time.
When it comes to actually approaching a manager or management agency, it makes a lot of sense to not only send demos but also invite them to a concert you’re playing. Talk to them, get to know them, find out what other artists they’re working with, see if you would fit into their roster (from every possible angle: in terms of genre, quality, personality, opinions, etc). Ideally, the relationship between an artist and their manager is based on mutual trust, so make sure to pick someone you trust to represent you and who you feel comfortable talking to about anything.
Album release vs. track by track business. Do you have thoughts on that topic, and if so, please share them with us!
I think the key here is to have a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve with a release, and who you’re trying to reach. A lot of people categorically view the album as an outdated format that has lost its appeal in a world of ever shorter attention spans, and to some extent that might be true for certain genres, artists and audiences: by releasing a new single every two months you keep Spotify’s algorithms happy and make sure fans and media are always talking about you.
To be fair, that’s not a bad strategy – it shouldn’t be your only strategy, though. From a creative, artistic point of view, it’s obviously never a good idea to limit yourself within the boundaries of a certain format or medium. Some ideas and themes are bigger than a single, some concepts and messages you just can’t get across on an EP. From a marketing perspective, don’t underestimate the potential media impact of an album. While the album has certainly lost some of its media firepower (in part, ironically, due to the trend of artists and labels calling everything with four or more tracks on it an album), in our experience, the attention an album usually receives compared to a single or EP is still a huge factor that has to be considered when planning release strategies.
How would you describe the perfect form of manager-artist relationship?
As always when people are working together, the relationship between the artist and the manager depends 100% on the people involved, which is why there’s no such thing as a perfect way that will always work under all circumstances. What works very well for one person might not work at all for someone else. Sometimes a manager has to assume the role of a mentor, a close friend even, while at other times that might be not appropriate at all, and the manager is just someone who the artist talks to on the phone every now and then to plan the next steps. If you boil it down to the very essence, the one thing that all artist/manager relationships should build on is mutual trust and respect – as in any relationship, things won’t work out in the long run otherwise.
What is your experience with working with music media? Any pointers?
Unfortunately, the landscape of music media is increasingly thinning out, with a lot of websites and magazines experiencing decreasing numbers or shutting down completely. As a result of that, more artists are competing for attention from less media outlets, making it harder and harder to actually get through to the editors.
If you can’t afford hiring an expensive PR agency to take care of that for you, it’s always a good idea to identify a handful of blogs, magazines, radios that feature music similar to yours and that you actually follow yourself. After narrowing it down to a few key channels that way, try to approach them from every different angle: send them your music through their official contact email, think really hard if you have a friend who has a friend who knows someone who works there, maybe send them a physical demo or try to give them an actual phone call, talk to their editors on Twitter, etc. – the people you’re trying to contact might get hundreds of emails per day, so be persistent!
What are the most important factors in keeping a music release campaign smooth and effective?
- Make sure you have everything ready: masters, cover artwork, press texts, music videos, release sheets, etc
- Then (and only then) draw up a release schedule.
- Stick to the plan.
This might seem very obvious, but very often people draw up meticulously elaborate timetables for their release campaigns when they’re in fact still waiting for the mastering engineer to return the masters, or when the music video is still in post-production. There will always be delays on one end or another, so don’t decide on a schedule before you have everything ready for the release – otherwise you won’t be able to do things according to your own timings, and you’ll miss important opportunities.
How did you get into this line of work? Passion to profession?
At the risk of sounding a bit corny, I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we’re doing what we’re doing out of a shared passion for great music. We both have quite different educational backgrounds (David actually has a degree in economics and I have one in law), but at the same time both of us have learned to play music instruments at an early age and we have both been DJing and promoting concerts for over ten years now. Having accumulated experience, contacts and an appetite for challenges, we eventually figured out that we could actually use these skills and this know-how to help other artists advance their careers, so we sort of turned passion into profession.
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