Association ofArtist Managers

  • Jesse Flavell copy 406

28 May 2015

AAM Member Profile - Jesse Flavell - General Member

Your Name: 

Jesse Flavell

Membership category: 

General

State: 

NSW

Current artists on your management roster: 

Katie Noonan, Playwrite, KLP, Woodes 

Company name: 

Sum Management http://www.summanagement.com.au/

How did you get into management?

I didn't actually realise I wanted to be a manager at first. 

But it turned out to be the logical move.

 

 I have worked in pretty much all areas of the industry over the last 23 years.

I started as a musician/songwriter/producer in Adelaide, my band Crisp toured a lot with acts such as DIG, Skunkhour, DJ Shadow, Meta Bass N Breath and as well as unveiling the amazing talents of Sia Furler, we were also once of the first groups to push Australian Hip Hop.

I then worked with Sia some more in London as her guitarist and collaborator co writing and producing on her first major album and touring and promoting that release.

I decided to move back to Australia and transition to the 'industry' side of things as I had been getting more an more interested in that area.

Next up was a stint at Universal Music Australia in the marketing department working across a wide range of international projects. Memorable moments were championing debut albums by Amy Winehouse, Sia, Feist and Kanye West when they couldn't get arrested within the company.

A sideways move to run a small independent label turned into working on Good Vibrations Festival as head of marketing and curation.

 

For a while I had been looking to start my own business but hadn't known exactly what I would do..

An offer to curate and produce a concert in Perth for His Holiness The Dalai Lama gave me the platform to start my own business and in the course of that event I met Katie Noonan who was one of the performers. Katie and I got along well and had a lot of mutual friends and similarities - in one of our chats she asked if I had considered moving into management.

It suddenly made sense that management was the role where my experience as a musician, in music retail, in labels (major and indie) and in the live and nightclub area could all be used and actually gave me the perfect experience base to be a manager.

 

Everyone in this industry is coming to the table with a different agenda and I feel that my broad experience base gives me a better understanding of what everyone's individual perspective is.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in 2015 for artist managers and/or their artists? 

In a general sense, I think one of the biggest challenges is a lack of stability and the unpredictable nature of this business.

Getting the balance right so that you can sustain everything takes a while to sort..

I think we're in an exciting time where the business is changing and evolving pretty quickly and there is a sense of optimism about it all - for a few years there it was pretty dark and negative within the industry, but it really feels that this has turned around. So it is challenging - but also exciting - that to an extent the rules have changed and we can explore new avenues and opportunities and the world of being an 'artist' is different to what it used to be.

 

The size and limits of our market are also challenging for artists. Challenging for established artists as there are only so many territories to work within and challenging for developing artists because we are yet to work out an alternative to the make or break triple j effect.

One of my main points of focus with all of my artists is exporting.

 

One challenge specifically for managers, is that the role has expanded exponentially with the change of the industry and the rise of independence.

These days a manager might also act as a record label, social media manager, royalties accountant, publicist, web developer etc on top of the many other aspects of the role.

What is your hot tip for getting started in artist management: 

The most important thing is to get actual experience. 

One of the most important roles for a manager is to advise and guide their artist and to do this responsibly, you need to know what you're talking about. 
Do the work to understand the aspects of the business so you can look at the artist's career holistically.

 

Initiative is incredibly important also - you need to keep momentum going and often need to think creatively to solve problems, so you need to be able to self start and make things happen under your own steam. 

 

WORK ETHIC! I can't over emphasise the importance of hard work in this game.

You need to grind and you will realistically be on call 24/7.

I see a number of managers who've seen a few too many episodes of Entourage are into the party element of the job too much - you need to be consistent and work hard

What is your hot tip for helping/sustaining your artist management business: 

Self motivation is of upmost importance - particularly with developing acts. 

You need to be able to keep yourself focused and in turn keep the artist motivated and inspired to move things forward.

When there are frustrations, delays and road bumps, it is your job to get things back on track and keep everyone moving in the right direction.

 

Trust and relationships are of utmost importance too - be totally transparent and honest with your artists at all times.

If you make a mistake, own it and fix it.

The relationship will only really work if there is great trust and mutual respect.

You also need to respect that it is someone's career and life you are dealing with - act responsibly and without self interest in terms of building a career for them.

Take the job seriously and keep focused.

 

To keep things running you need a bit of discipline - you need to be the reliable contact for the whole team that communicates and responds and keeps an eye over all sides of the business

Balance is also one of the trickier parts to work out as you could feasibly work all day every day for your artists.. so find a way to get the balance right so that your personal life still works and you don't burn yourself out 

Name 2 people within the music industry who have helped you get where you are: 

I'll always be grateful to Katie Noonan - she planted the management seed for me initially and also took a punt on someone new to management.

Katie is a very experienced and intelligent human and I've learnt a lot working with her.

All of my artists have helped me in one way or another.

 

I also have a great (silent) business partner Rob, who is outside of the industry but very successful in the business world. 

He has helped me learn a lot about running a company, managing resources etc and is a great mentor.

 

 Also I need to give a shout out to my wife! This job can put a strain on relationships, especially when you have a family.

You're constantly on the emails, getting texts around the clock and travelling. It's not a job you can leave at the office and having a supportive and understanding partner has definitely let me get to this point.

What are you currently listening to? 

I'm lucky enough to be listening to unreleased new material and demos from my amazing artists!

Everyone has new material coming out soon and it's always so rewarding to hear it come together and surpass expectations!

I am also a voracious consumer of music and am listening to music all day everyday at work (and home). 

 

As a consumer, I love streaming delivery and have been building some playlists on Spotify which is a great feature for my nerdy 'make you a mixtape' habits. 

As a manager, I agree there is a lot more to be done to make the streaming platforms work for the rights holders (of course), but for me, on-demand streaming is undoubtedly where all media is heading and to fight against it is ridiculous.

 

Some other artists I have been listening to a fair bit recently include Sza, Nils Frahm, Galimatias, All We Are, Ray Charles, Lapsley, Christian Rich, Father John Misty and the amazing new Sufjan.

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