With their combined track record of 100M+ units in sales for their artist clients (including over 50M+ in sales alone for Linkin Park), Andy Gould and Rob McDermott’s advice is worth reading.
A few highlights from our program:
What Has Changed In The Last 2 or 3 Years In Artist Development?
The biggest trend is data. Developing acts don’t have much time to get a foothold before they are judged on numbers: streams, downloads, and accrued social media. As soon as a song starts to get spins on radio (terrestrial, Internet, cable or elsewhere), it’s immediately tracked to see how people are responding to it. But if you go merely by data and want a Top 40 record, data will tell you it has to be pop-urban, sung by a cute girl in a short dress to a big dance beat. Obviously someone forgot to tell Adele that, says Gould, she came out with an album of ballads that sold 10 times more than anyone else so it’s dangerous to rely too heavily on data. A good artist manager has to reckon with this and stay the course.
What Has NOT Changed? Human Nature
Technology and how we market has changed, but the way in which someone likes or doesn’t like a song hasn’t says McDermott. It may take time for a song to sink in. Sometimes you have to put ear muffs on. Don’t listen to the haters, he says, and if someone is trying to push you aside, find another lane. That’s what artist development is about.
Gould and McDermott come from the band business (Rob Zombie, Linkin Park, Pantera). “There is a huge market now for pop, urban and country which I find very similar to rock and roll, which is also very fan-driven,” says Gould, “whereas Top 40 is a bit more record-driven, this doesn’t always create [long-term] artists but they can enjoy big hit records. What we’ve done is always with bands.”
Defining The Artist
Gould challenges his artists and sharpens their focus as to where their sound would fit in today’s market. He asks, if you [the artist] were a radio programmer and your record came across the desk, what would you play right before and right after your record in today’s music? No fair citing oldies, current music only please. Similar question from McDermott: who would you open for on tour in today’s market?
“If the answer to this question is ‘we don’t sound like anyone,’ that’s OK,” says Gould, “and that’s a good answer. If it’s true, it will be harder and take longer to break the artist, but radio is what it is, TV is what it is, love it or hate it. Even online is what it is, you have fit in somewhere.”
As important as creating an image – if not more so – is building a community. Says McDermott to his artists, what does the world look like that you want to create for yourself? And how do you get to know people? “I tell everyone, INTRODUCE YOURSELF! You may not get an answer eight out of ten times, but those two times you do get an answer can make all the difference.”
Also, what is your personal taste, who do you talk to? Answers to these questions shape community, image and more for an artist.
On focus and “owning” one social media channel, you should have a presence on ALL major social media platforms. Instagram is great for rock and more visual, Facebook is an Instagram aggregator and skews toward an older demographic, Tik Tok skews younger. Make sure you don’t miss anyone. Under 30 is much different than over 30, and if you don’t interact every day with your fans, someone else will.
“I encourage my artists to be on social media all the time,” says Gould. “People I love who have their act together social media-wise are the Kardashians and Cardi B. They engage all the time with their fans. Those two are great examples of how to use social media in the best way.”
BFB (Before Facebook) Linkin Park band members were each tasked with getting five new fans per week. You need to know the first 500 people in each city where you perform by name, or at least 50, those are the starter crowd. And you need to know at least ten people in that city who can help you such as bloggers, radio personnel, press people, etc.
How To Build And Sustain A Long Term Successful Artist Career
Do good work repeatedly and then you’ll be fine. – Andy Gould
Co-Writing & Collaborating
Co-writing and collaborating to accelerate exposure is a must. This used to be frowned on, which is no longer true. Only one record in the last several years that’s hit #1 on the country charts was written by only one person, says Gould. And at the recent BMI Awards, the Song of the Year had about 9 co-writers and 15 publishers he added.
Developing A Professional Presentation
Gaining and refining performance experience is a must. Don’t be afraid to try things, experimentation is key says McDermott. Gould just signed Tempt, a band he’s excited about, “good-looking young guys who capture the spirit of Def Leppard and Bon Jovi, everything old is new again. They have so much fun on stage, it’s infectious! And they all have so much personality!”
Play-Listing: If, How And When?
Do this once you’ve submitted through their [Spotify’s, etc.] system, and only AFTER you have found and identified everyone you can outside of Spotify. Neither Gould nor McDermott are fans of “play-listing payola.” Instead, this is a personal business, the goal is to get to know these people [at streaming services and elsewhere]. Do they like your music or not?
Managers As Record Labels
Managers now are like record labels in many respects. Labels now create big pop singles and pop artists, they don’t build bands anymore and that’s because the financial model doesn’t work for them. Managers now have to become much more of a quarterback.
Strategy, The Right Kind of a Release: A Useful Formula
Don’t sell your first album or EP, advises McDermott, keep that to produce income. Own the first few things you do, and use income from that as your war chest, use that to get out there and win.
“I still like to do an EP, giving people a little extra music is good,” he says. “The problem is we’re in a per-song, per-stream world. Your money as an indie artist is made by generating enough activity around one thing so if you start adding 5, 6, or 7 things you won’t get the focus on one. The goal is to bring one song up, then put in another song, and then bring it up, so now you have two songs coming up, getting attention simultaneously. And I still like EPs, I like promoting one song, the first two are tied to three more songs, and I like doing that from EP to EP. Now you’re two to three months into a cycle. Now you have an EP out, I’d love to do that again and do another EP. If you’ve got all these fans going, it would be a really cool to then make a physical 10 or 12-song compilation album. People still DO want something hanging on their wall, so press up some EPs, etc.”
His formula looks like this:
- Focus Track #1: promote 6 – 8 weeks
- Add Focus Track #2: promote 6 – 8 weeks, keep attention on Track #1
- Add Focus Track #3: promote 6 – 8 weeks, keep attention on Tracks #1 and #2
- Add Focus Track #4: promote 6 – 8 weeks, keep attention on previous tracks
- Add Focus Track #5: promote 6 – 8 weeks, keep attention on previous tracks
- Create EP containing previous Focus Tracks: promote 6 – 8 weeks
- Repeat process with new tracks, continue to release EPs of 4 to 5 songs every cycle.
- Consider releasing a compilation of several EPs occasionally.
“If you’re in the major label game, signed to big or medium label, driving a record up the charts can take a long, long time. In Europe and in the UK it’s much quicker, here in US it can take 6 to 8 months to drive a record into the Top 5, even longer in country music. I do believe you can put other tracks out while you push one focus track at radio,” says Gould.
Independent Radio Promoters
Are independent radio promoters still used? Is the expense for country radio promotion about what rock is? Says Gould, “It’s way higher in country because there are maybe 70 to 75 rock stations if that, and about 168 country stations. So it takes longer and twice as much for that reason, there are just a lot more country stations. They are very much into the meet-and-greets, which I absolutely adore. It goes back to stuff I used to do. The object of the game is to get the artist in to meet the [radio] people and to get them invested in the artist’s career.”
On Creating Relationships
It’s vastly important to be gracious to people as you move up. “You never know,” says Gould, “one day the tea boy might be your manager or one day the receptionist might be running the company, so even if you’re doing it on a purely selfish basis [thanking people, giving small gifts], do it! Whenever I have band that gets an opening slot on another big band’s tour, I say ‘Find out what they drink, and get them a bottle of tequila!’ or whatever it is because it means something. This is a people business and you can tend to forget that.”
Word-of-Mouth Is Everything
“I will give a shout out to Tom George in Iowa who gets word out on these bands – great mouthpiece for rock, blogger, does blogs. To me, promotion is a mixture of everything. It’s great to have someone like that in your court, he just happens to be a guy I use now, you have to have people help like that to help move the narrative forward. BFB (Before Facebook) in the old days, in 2007, you found groups online, digging them up one by one, and got them to become fans. When Linkin Park got signed (to Warner Bros. Records) and before they made Hybrid Theory (debut album) their artist development strategy was that each band member had to find five people a week to become fans, to help them! That is what I tell my bands now. How? Talk to people! Some artists are scared to do this, and I don’t think they do it enough, getting pictures with fans, etc. It’s easy to do: “Hey, just met a new fan, say hi to Melissa!” it’s easy to post. That is the best and most fun way to interact with your friends. Everyone wants to have fun together, get together and do fun stuff. So let them do it! Word-of-mouth is everything.
Let’s say you find 50 people in each city, that’s 20 fans and their friends. If you can go out and meet people and network, then you start to slide into systems and you start taking off. Then modern technology and algorithms take over, then more and more people hear it. You just want people to hear something. Then they get to decide. Music is so personal, it’s got to hit you. It usually takes three songs for you to decide if you want to invest in a band … “maybe I’ll go see them play” – THAT is staying power. If a band has one big hit and the rest of the songs stink, that doesn’t help. The goal is, get to know people! If you’re only listening to your close friends and family, you’re not getting an honest opinion, you won’t get anywhere.
How To Appeal To Fans: Create Aspirational Lifestyle, Be Fun & Infectious
Some say rock is dead and Gould agrees rock is struggling, but rock stars are what’s dead he says. “You need to have people who come out and entertain, not whine. Music is aspirational! When I was a kid, I wanted to be Mick Jagger because he sang Get Off my Cloud, Paint it Black and songs I related to. I also loved the idea that he left the gig in his Rolls Royce with three models, it’s the aspirational life style, like James Bond: guys want to be him, girls want to be with him. It’s the same for women too, look at the Kardashians and Cardi B. You want to BE that person, not necessarily because they’re making the greatest art, but because they’re having a lot of fun. Rock in last few years has become a little miserable, it’s not fun anymore. When you go to a gig and someone on stage is having a good time, that’s so infectious, then you are with them all the way. That’s everything. It’s got to be fun! The people watching paid really good money to see you, so you’ve got to at least appear to be having a better time or they won’t come back as often.”
“So get up on stage and be something that the audience ISN’T. When I go to a show, I think, ‘Which one’s the roadie and which one is in the band?’ My good friend, Rick Sales has this band Ghost. That guy has such a great presence and image of himself, he knows what he wants to be, he’s taking his dream and playing the Forum. It’s not based on monster airplay or record sales, he has something and his fans follow him because he is larger than life.”
A Tip From Sir Paul McCartney
People tend to forget the 10,000 hours+ that the Beatles put in playing clubs in Hamburg before they became an international sensation. “If you play hits 5 hours a night, 7 days a week and can’t figure out how to write one, you’re not paying f**king attention,” says Sir Paul according to Gould. “Pantera played covers, that’s how they learned,” he says.
Life Hacks, Secret Sauce, Time Management
This business is a “full-time hobby” says Gould. “I got into it because I love it, for the most part I still do. Thanks to mum and dad, I was always a music fan and it’s still great to hear good music and to be turned on by music that moves me. Scott Stapp from Creed has a new album out with a song on it called NAME about growing up without a dad and not wanting to make the same mistake himself, it will touch you even if you have a dad and it’s an incredibly powerful song. He’s clean now, I’ve never seen him in better condition and spirits than now, he’s writing meaningful songs. There is a horrible list of people we’ve lost, Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots), Keith Flint (Prodigy) and suicide is epidemic now around the world. So anyone who can write songs, which I believe Scott can and does, that tell you you’re not alone, that’s meaningful.”
McDermott does transcendental meditation.
How To Make Music More Marketable
“Just make it good,” says Gould. “People want to play me ten songs, but there aren’t ten songs that are great! Just find the three that are really good and if I like them, I’ll call you.”
The Biggest Mistake An Artist Manager Can Make
Never work harder than your artists. – Gould
I was lucky to be mentored by Bridgett Roy, she taught me how to set up a record, she was a great mentor. – Gould
Artists To Watch
Caroline Jones (produced by Rick Wake) is the best thing I’ve seen in a long, long time. She writes on her own, is touring with Kenny Chesney, going on tour with Zach Brown, her record is about to hit Top 50 charts. She plays many instruments, is up hours before I’m awake. She works so hard, she lost her voice doing so many gigs, sound-checking, meet-and-greets, going in the studio to record, it took a toll on her voice. Rock has gotten a bit bitter but country and hip hop artists help each other. What I like is that she makes me work harder, she puts so much effort into all her songs. Rob and I both tend to lean toward bands and artists with a strong point of view, no matter what it is. She has a licensing deal with Jimmy Buffett, he’s taking her on tour. He was one of the first to recognize the importance of branding – Margaritaville shirts and brands – and now he has Margaritaville retirement homes, it’s brilliant! CarolineJones.com, @carolinejones @CarolineJonesMusic
From Ashes To New
Migrant Motel @MigrantMotel
Tempt, @TemptBand #RockIsNotDead
- Always working, thinking about next steps
- My job is my habit. – Gould
- Returning calls. Irving Azoff is the best there is at calling back. – Gould
- Being present at night, you’d be surprised how much work you can get done at a show meeting people, having a drink, getting to know everyone. – McDermott
Best Career Decisions
Employing Rob and being my own boss (Gould)
Top Lessons Learned From Managing Artists
- Find an artist with a point of view – Gould
- Never be afraid to speak your mind – McDermott
Choosing An Artist Manager
It’s OK to outgrow people, says McDermott. Try to find someone who can move everything forward, if done right you’ll both move forward.
Manager/film producer Andy Gould began his career at age 15 as the messenger boy for Chappell Music. During a routine delivery to George Martin’s prestigious studio AIR London, Gould inquired about work. With that, Gould became one of AIR studios legendary “tea boys,” serving tea for some of the most prolific producers and artists of the time. He was quickly promoted and eventually segued into the world of music publishing. He moved on to Radio Luxemburg, and then Screen Gems where he worked with Carole King, David Gates (Bread) and many other classic songwriters. Gould was sought out by CBS Publishing, and eventually joined the company in New York. During his tenure at CBS, Gould worked with Billy Joel, ELO, Kansas, and had hit records with Pat Benatar, Rainbow, and The Pointer Sisters. In 1983 he left CBS to join Worldwide Entertainment, co-managing Kool & the Gang, Regina Belle, and The Manhattans. In 1989 Gould, along with partners Walter O’Brien and Bob Chiappardi, formed Concrete Management & Marketing, the top rock management company at the time. At Concrete they built a solid reputation as the management force behind the some of the century’s most iconic hard rock, and defining the heavy metal landscape with bands like White Zombie, Pantera, Metal Church and Anthrax. In 1993, Andy Gould Management was formed in Los Angeles where he continued his successful relationship with Rob Zombie – a relationship that yielded several multi-platinum albums and 7 feature films. It was during this time that he partnered with Rob McDermott on the budding career of modern rock royalty, Linkin Park. Gould also achieved platinum success with Powerman 5000, Monster Magnet, Type O Negative and Static X. In 2001, Gould partnered with The Firm where he, and Simon Renshaw, ran the music division in the company’s prime. Gould continued to work with his own rosters, as well as working with The Firm’s impressive list of musical talents including Korn, Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Iglesias. In 2006, Spectacle partnered with Irving Azoff’s Front Line Management Group, where their co-management of Guns N’ Roses ushered in the band’s comeback. In 2010, Andy Gould reformed his own company, Spectacle Entertainment Group. Gould also runs a label partnership with Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) called T-Boy Records which will serve as an umbrella label releasing new music and albums from established hard-rock bands with major followings. To date, the label has released some of the more successful albums in recent years for Megadeth and Eagles of Death Metal. Gould has also planted his feet in the film world as a producer. Along with a 25-year management career with Rob Zombie, he produced all of Zombie’s films including the controversial and critically acclaimed Lionsgate Films House Of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. Gould also produced Zombie’s re-imagining of the horror classic Halloween (2007) which broke Labor Day box office records. Gould’s 7th feature film with Zombie, horror juggernaut 31, premiered at Sundance 2016. With years of experience and success, Gould has proved his elasticity in response to an evolving technology and media landscape, with his sense of humor and ingenuity firmly intact.A
Rob McDermott learned early in his career how to develop bands from their first demos and clubs from his mentor Andy Gould. Rob has worked with dozens of multi-platinum artists in various capacities, but is best known for his decade working with Linkin Park, selling 50 million albums, garnering over 25 awards including 2 Grammys, and selling out arenas and stadiums worldwide. Rob has built a reputation for planning and executing successful projects from developing multi-million dollar festival tours, creating fan communities around the world and specialty album events, and building non-profit organizations. Rob’s Mad Mac Entertainment currently works with YouTube creator 10 Second Songs (Anthony Vincent) whose Music 20 styles videos have almost 3 million subscribers and garnered 180M+ views, music artists Icon For Hire who have 160M+ audio and video streams and upstart duos Migrant Motel and Repenter. Also a rabid technologist, Rob has held consulting and advisory roles at Sparkart, the digital agency responsible for building Linkin Park’s digital empire as well as Tim McGraw, Bon Jovi, and UFC Community and e-commerce systems. Sparkart is home to projects as varied as the medical vaccine fundraising platform Immunity Project and blockchain ticketing agency Tari. Rob is majority owner of To11 Media Inc. who are re-imagining the legendary US hard rock and metal music brands Metal Edge & Metal Maniacs. Prior to Mad Mac Entertainment, Rob McDermott grew from intern to partner at Andy Gould Management / Concrete Management, Partner at The Firm, and President of Collective Music Group working with managers and artists ranging from superstars Dixie Chicks, Enrique Iglesias and Michele Branch to international rock acts Rob Zombie, Korn, Avenged Sevenfold and Slash.