Outerloop Management is an artist management firm located in the greater Washington, DC area and central Los Angeles, CA. Their mission is to use their extensive industry experience to guide their clients to achieve personal and professional success. Based on open communication and long lasting partnerships, they establish a foundation with each client so they can prosper artistically and financially over the course of a prolonged and fulfilling career.
Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.
I am the President/CEO of Outerloop Management, an artist based management company based in Silver Spring, MD, (Washington, DC, area) with operations also in Los Angeles. In 2014 I started Outerloop Records and Crime Kitchen, an EDM label. I also partnered with Johnny Minardi from Self Titled management to offer producer management services late last year. I got my introduction to the music business through the Do-It-Yourself hardcore scene. I released my first 7” vinyl record as part of an Atlanta based collective in 1994. Shortly thereafter I moved to California and continued releasing records through my independent label, Phyte Records. Throughout college in Santa Barbara, California, I put on concerts two blocks from the beach, at a “venue” (it was literally the living room of our two story apartment) dubbed the Pickle Patch. Steve Aoki was my roommate and I helped him launch his now hip label, Dim Mak. I embarked upon my first European tour in 1995 as a merchandiser for Canadian straight edge band, Chokehold, and fell in love with touring. After graduating from college, I moved to Washington, DC, to join the straight edge punk hardcore band Good Clean Fun.
We were a true DIY operation, releasing our own records through Phyte Records and booking all of our tours throughout the world including the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand. My next career transition was into the world of tour management. The (International) Noise Conspiracy from Sweden called upon me to tour manage their first tour of the United States. I toured the world with them from 2001-2005. In 2004 my good friends in Washington, DC, punk metal band Darkest Hour got an offer to perform on the Ozzfest and needed management. I got the call and started managing then. By the end of 2005 I’d completely transitioned off of the road and was managing full time. Over the past 10 years I’ve spent countless sleepless nights and endless days working to build the careers of the artists I work with as well as grow my management company and expand my music business operations. I am passionate about educating artists and managers, often partaking in conference panels and most recently guru workshops for Kevin Lyman’s (Vans Warped Tour), The Education Institute. I graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies. I am an active individual who believes that the balance of mind, body and work are of the utmost importance. I’ve completed 7 marathons, play soccer regularly and just completed my certification to be a yoga instructor. I live in Silver Spring, MD, with my, Caroline.
What drove you to choose your career path?
As you can see from the history in the first question, it was more that one thing led to another. I didn’t set out to be a manager, but every step of the way I worked my very hardest to do the best job I could and connect with people I was meeting along the way. Each time a new opportunity presented itself I made a choice to go down that path.
How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?
Through connections with people during my time spent in the punk and hardcore underground, as opportunities presented themselves to work with people I’d connected with there, I did. Though I don’t feel as if I needed my college degree, as an employer of many young people I do think that going through the education system can allow them to develop personally and get a gauge for discipline and work ethic. I have always been an analytical person, and going through the many math, science and environmental courses I did taught me a number of helpful tools that I have used throughout my career. Many managers come into the job after having done something else in the industry. There are plenty of former tour managers (like me) who wanted to transition off of the road and were able to figure it out. Many of my contemporaries were A&R people, attorneys, journalists/PR people, booking agents, merchandisers or even people who came up through another management firm. Having an area of “expertise” before transitioning into management was very helpful, especially since the genre and size of artists I typically work with requires them to be on the road quite often. If I get a phone call from an artist on the side of the road in Idaho, Germany or even Australia, chances are I’ve been there. That allows me to relate to them, and understand what they’re going through before trying to help them out.
What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
Emailing, speaking on the phone and texting. I live in Washington, DC, and being a music business professional isn’t common here. Of course, when many people hear what I do they think it must be the coolest job in the world and ask what I spend most of my time doing. I typically ask them what they do all day and they say “email people and talk on the phone.” I then indicate that my job is much the same, except when they go home after work most nights, I then go out to a show a few nights per week. That said, I’m typically emailing, phoning and texting in order to implement the strategies we’ve adopted for our artists and our companies. There is so much that goes into managing artists now days. We are ensuring that all of their deals are sound, creating touring opportunities and working on social media and branding promotions. It can be tireless and endless but it’s also incredibly rewarding. As the CEO and senior manager at the company, I spend additional time managing the great team that we have to create the incredibly opportunities for our artists.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
That it’s much less work than it actually is. And that’s just within the industry. Outside of the industry the misconception is that it just involves going out to shows and hanging out with artists. That’s surely a part of it, but that’s after a full days worth of work. I feel that everyone in the industry, whether they be an A&R/label person, attorney, booking agent, PR person, merchandise company employee, tour manager or band member, should have to sit in the manager’s shoes for a week. Managers have to be able to speak the language of the artists as well as those of everyone else in the business, which is harder than it sounds. The one misconception I had earlier in my career was that the trajectory of an artist was a function of the amount of effort I put in. A good, hard working manager can surely alter the success an artist has, but if an artist is limited by their own work ethic or even the genre they are in (i.e. it has a low ceiling) even a great manager can only achieve results within reason.
What are your average work hours?
A work life balance is incredibly important. That said, I typically wake up between 6 and 7am and check email. Depending on what I want or need to do that morning I will spend as little as 30 minutes and as much as 3 hours. I am a morning person, so strategy for an artist is typically done in the mornings, or on the weekends, when the distractions of the business day aren’t present. We have office hours from 10am - 6pm, but I am often there until 7 or 8 dealing with people on the west coast. I am typically answering emails, texts and sometimes taking calls until 9 or 10 and sometimes later. I like to try to shut down for a short bit before bed. If there’s a show or I’m traveling, the hours can go well into the night.
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
A friend of mine who runs a very successful business once told me “figure out what you don’t like to do and figure out how to get other people to do those things.” At the time I thought he was saying it from a privileged perspective, having the money to hire people when I didn’t. However, I slowly began delegating tasks which were getting in the way of allowing me to do what I do best to grow my artists. My time is best spent strategizing how to grow the artists we work with and then networking for the opportunities to implement the growth. Touring is such an incredibly important part of developing artists, and doing the right tours in the right clubs with the right headline or support bands is a key to that. If I'm bogged down doing visa paperwork or updating a Facebook page, it’s time away from creating opportunities. I have fought incredibly hard and invested time, energy and money back into my company, investing in people who can help our artists get a leg up.
What do you do differently from your coworkers or peers in the same profession?
I am incredibly passionate about what I do. This is my life’s work. A number of years ago I realized that labels were down sizing and had less and less staff on board. At my own expense I hired people who could do sponsorships, endorsements, marketing and graphic design. I’ve tried incredibly hard to create a team environment within our company. We have a number of managers and I do my best to ensure that we all work together and help one another out. There are many companies with multiple managers who all operate separately from one another. I give it my all, every single day, and travel incessantly to ensure that I’m making the personal connection with the other managers, labels, booking agents, promoters and artists so they know what our roster and company are up to.
Do you have any advice for people who need to enlist your services?
You have to want it just as much as we do. The real work starts when you enlist our services. We are going to push you, but if you can’t rise up to the occasion and the opportunities that we present, they will most likely be for naught. Mutual respect is of the utmost essence. And, in this day and age when everyone wants more and more right this second, it’s helpful to remind ourselves that you cannot speed up time. Even the greatest music performed by the best live band has to have time to grow. There’s so much music out there and so many bands performing live. Eventually the quality rises to the top, provided those providing the quality are willing to stick it out until that time presents itself.
What's the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
Unrealistic expectations and people not understanding the business. I’ve learned so much in the 20+ years I’ve been doing this work, and so much about management in the 10+ years I’ve bend doing it. My favorite relationships are with engaged artists who are curious about how and why we do things, but there’s a limit to that. When an artist wants to know every phone call or email you sent on their behalf, you’d end up spending more time informing them then it would to have done all of it in the first place. We have proven what we’re capable of and never rest on our laurels. Mutual respect is of the utmost importance.
What's the most enjoyable part of the job?
Seeing the results of your hard work pay off. Whether it’s a chart debut of an album, an incredible live show, the premiere of a video or something else, it’s always a pleasure to have been involved with something that brings joy to the artists and their fans. I also travel quite a bit and meet great people. I really love the personal connection and that is a reward in and of itself.
What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?
As a service provider who earns money when our artists earn money, you can make anywhere from $0 to the sky is the limit dollars. As someone who develops artists, it’s often that for the first few years the monies earned from each artist go back into the overhead and staff of the company. As the artist grows and their overall incomes increase, it’s possible to begin generating decent money. That said, as a professional with 20+ years of experience, I make far less than my peers in my area. However, we’re always just one lucky break from all of that changing.
How do you move up in your field?
By doing great work, consistently, and networking with the right people. As the owner of the company, it will be tough for me to “move up,” so instead I’ve begun to expand what our business operations entail. We’re diversifying not only with companies but also with genres. It’s exciting and keeps us motivated. As a manager, if I can grow my artists careers that itself is moving up. Many managers and companies are viewed by their biggest artist. I like to look at the totality of their rosters. Even the biggest managers, ourselves included, have many struggles.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
Be prepared for a roller coaster! Go out and get experience elsewhere. Spend time at another management company, at a booking agency, record label, merchandise company or on the road. Meet people and cherish those relationships. Understand that the little things go a long way and that there is absolutely no shortcuts to the top.