Updated: Apr 29, 2022
The Art and Science of Artist Management
Dave Cronen has spent four decades as an Artist Manager, seeing around the corner to help shape artists' careers, plan album projects, orchestrate record releases and tours, formulate marketing and merchandising strategies, and establish and expedite long-term career goals.
From Virgin to Rough Trade, Play It Again Sam (PIAS), and Grand Royal Records, then Trust Management to guiding the careers of hundreds of revered artists who have influenced popular culture (The Beastie Boys to Johnny Marr, Ash, We Are Scientists, Dexys, and Baxter Dury), working with artists who have received Ivor Novello Awards, Oscar nominations, and NME Godlike Genius Awards, and mentoring the next generation of artists, producers, and entrepreneurs at the Academy of Contemporary Music.
Dave Cronen, Studio 3, RAK Studios, St John's Wood, London.
The manifesto for nurturing the talent of artists is:
1 Dedicated work ethic and Do-It-Yourself sensibility.
The DIY sensibility is critical in how you approach your work by pulling up your sleeves and just doing it, combined with a strong work ethic, are the "must-haves" because you've got the responsibility of managing someone else's career, over and above your own, and that comes with serious responsibility, persistence, and care, often resulting in doing whatever it takes to make things happen and get them over the line.
"When we did "The Only Way Is Up" by Yazz and the Plastic Population, it became a smash hit in the United Kingdom and the second best-selling single of that year. We were literally sitting on the sidewalk of the warehouse at Rough Trade's Collier Street Headquarters in London, putting the 7" vinyl records we'd just received from the manufacturer into record sleeves we'd received from the printers. We spent hours putting them together to get 50,000 units shipped every few days at its peak to the record stores."
2 Time waits for no one.
Take a long-term view because it takes time for artists to develop their craft, to cultivate a fanbase, and to build your business. Be ruthlessly focused on creating strong material, develop the artist as a unique talent and brand, build fan engagement through focused marketing campaigns and social media, and optimize monetization opportunities through royalties, performing live, selling merchandise, and licensing.
"Lead by example with a bias for action, willingness to experiment with new opportunities, accept failure and learn fast to keep innovating and being relevant."
Dave Cronen, Mat Bancroft, and Jonathan Burns experimenting with Microsoft's HoloLens mixed reality device to envision the future of music making. Studio 3, RAK Studios, St John's Wood, London.
3 Be empathetic to see through the eyes of the artist.
Hold yourself accountable for your actions by having a social conscience and empathy for the artist and their artistry from seeing the world through their perspective, by putting them authentically at the heart of what you do, and how to make a difference by truly understanding and synthesizing their desires, grounded in honesty, transparency, and trust.
"Because you are putting the life and work of an Artist first, make smart decisions by prioritizing and committing to working with artists who's artistry you truly love and can stand behind with conviction."
4 Build teams that make history.
Foster a creative atmosphere that provides autonomy and space, is liberal, inclusive, and meritocratic, yet is entirely focused and motivated to expedite the mission. It starts with a big idea and a shared vision; then, the team works through the details to develop the big picture. Applying creative and critical thinking, operating with agility, and activating networks and ecosystems at scale in the pursuit of making the impossible possible.
"It was a constant elating feeling that equated the belief in the ingenuity of the artists’ music with being part of a skilled, diverse, and committed team drawn together by a unified energy and common purpose for the greater good by bringing their art to market, which had a direct impact upon popular culture and musical history."
"Creativity in the Digital Age" shoot. Studio 3, RAK Studios, St. John's Wood, London. Left to right: James Fisher, Ben Thornley, Dave Cronen, Mat Bancroft, Roy Sharples, Jill Furmanovsky, Steve Franklin, Olly Wiggins, Malcolm Smith, and Jessie Deol.
5 Communicate with clarity to generate energy and drive success.
Provide clarity by synthesizing complex concepts. Generate energy by inspiring optimism, creativity, and growth, and deliver success by driving innovation and tenaciously pursuing meaningful outcomes.
"The music industry is a relationship business where your word matters. Therefore, the ability to communicate with clarity and inspire enthusiasm and commitment with people is critical to building and maintaining relationships at all levels to deliver success."
Dave Cronen, Mickie Most's office, RAK studios, St John's Wood, London.
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Music composed and performed by Iain Mutch
Founder and CEO of Unknown Origins, a creative studio on a mission to save the world from unoriginality by unleashing the power of creativity. Author of "Creativity Without Frontiers: How to make the invisible visible by lighting the way into the future."
Photo credit: Brian Smale
Attitude. Imagination. Execution.
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