Amber: Hi, welcome to The BusinessMakers USA coming to you from Nashville, Tennessee. And what’s more Nashville than music? Nothing; I’ll answer my own question. We’re here with Andrew Cohen and Jarrod Holley of Suit Music, a new company here in town. Thanks for joining me.
Andrew: Thank you, thanks for having us.
Jarrod: Thanks for having us.
Amber: We are so excited to talk to you about this because it’s obviously a very exciting industry. For people that don’t know a lot about it tell me, what does your day to day job look like at Suit Music?
Andrew: Day to day; every single day is completely different. I like to describe management as the brain center of an artist’s career. Every day we deal with the rest of the team that is everything from a booking agent to the publicist to the record label to the business managers handling all the money and the publisher handling all the song writing; all that stuff. We kind of help keep the – we keep the best interests of the artist at heart and we fight for them every day.
Amber: In all facets of their career?
Jarrod: Including their personal life.
Amber: So I’ve heard sometimes you also need a Psychology major.
Andrew: Absolutely, all day every day.
Amber: So as it stands right now today what is Suit Music?
Jarrod: We’re an artist development company with a management focus. So we want to find artists that we believe in, that we can get on board with their vision and help them grow their career to be successful for a long time.
Amber: You’re a new company so tell me about when you started and how did it happen.
Jarrod: We started the company because we said we had a complimentary skill set. So I grew up playing music and ended up going out on the road and tour managing and doing merchandise management so the live entertainment world is sort of where I come from. And Andrew comes from the record label side, so that fit together, you know, we really thought would make us a well-rounded management company and my passion was always in management.
Amber: So how did you gravitate to the country music capitol of America?
Jarrod: Oh jeez, I had a mentor who I was doing some work with who started working more out of Nashville and I told him hey man, I want to be in New York, I want to be in L.A.; and he very quickly was like you don’t; you don’t want to. And I had been out there for a handful of different trips over the years and was fine with it but I just thought that was where I had to be. I didn’t realize Nashville was so well-rounded and had such a big music community outside of just country.
Amber: But seems like maybe nicer people here.
Jarrod: It’s much nicer people and I think that’s just – that’s the community and the living situation is much different than in New York or in L.A. It’s just as competitive but people are much more likely to help you.
Andrew: It’s the kind of place where you bump in to people you work with everyday at lunch. You go to places – and there’s places that we refer to as like music row cafeteria; you go to the same taco place every day and you’re going to see the same people and the people you work with all right here. It absolutely is a community, it’s really cool.
Amber: So you’ve come a long way in the last year or so, recently y’all released a single for an artist that you’re representing.
Jarrod: We did.
Andrew: His name is Jackie Lee.
Amber: Jackie Lee, listen for Jackie Lee.
Andrew: There you go, absolutely.
Amber: Looks like he’s going to be doing big things soon. So how did you get from the start to the release?
Andrew: That was a lot of meetings, a lot of meetings.
Jarrod: With Jackie specifically that project was unique because he already had a team in place; he had everything. I mean he had a full team besides management. So we were the new kids on the block both as a company and as Jackie’s management. So I guess that process was just going around and making sure that these people understood what we wanted to do, why we were actually able to do it and just introduce ourselves and let them know we weren’t those managers that were going to come in and boss people around. It’s all about getting the team together and everyone going to achieve the same goal. So yeah, again, just a ton of meetings, a lot of showing face, a lot of strategizing.
Andrew: It’s such a people business, yeah. It was all about getting in, sitting with people and letting them believe that we could do our job and that kind of thing. And we are a younger management company, I mean there’s not that many that are our age.
Amber: That was my next question; what are some of the challenges it poses you think that maybe your younger years?
Andrew: We’ve seen how some of those challenges are also our advantages. I mean we are young so we are tech savvy. We are really in the community and I mean quite often you figure out that so many of the assistants are the gatekeepers here in Nashville and beyond, just the whole music industry and that kind of thing. Even having an organization like YEP where we’ve been able to help people land in their first jobs and things like that, we’re able to utilize a lot of those connections. And it’s just about being – we’re younger and single and out at the shows every night and that kind of thing.
We’re definitely very present in the community which, you know, the more established manager you might end up with, they might be a little bit more apt to stay home because they’ve had their success and they don’t – they can make the big phone calls but we like to be in the trench. We like to be in with the artist and we’re lucky that we want to go fight for them every day. We’re definitely into the artist development world. So I think those were kind of our advantages really.
Jarrod: Yeah, and I think we’re – we’re in touch with the consumers that our artists are actually, you know, going to make fans out of. We’re not far off from that – from that age range by any means, you know? And like Andrew said, as far as technology goes, you know, we’re very tech savvy and we’re on all the social networks that all these country music fans are – or all these music fans are – so we understand where they’re getting their music; you know, what they’re listening to, why they’re listening to something.
Andrew: It’s the fact that like we’re not really held to the way things worked in the late 90s, early 2000s, obviously we’ve had so much flux in our industry over the years. And so I think the cool thing is we respect and love where the industry has come from and where we learned from it and things like that, but we’re also really open to where it might go next.
Amber: Understood. So if you had a dream client what would that look like?
Andrew: I don’t know, I think we’ve got a couple of them. I mean we’re, you know, biased. We had the luxury when we started the company we have a third partner out in L.A. that helped kind of get us started and be able to have the luxury to go find acts we completely believed in and that we love. So for us the development artists are the most fun. I mean they’re the ones that every day it matters what you’re doing; every day you’re together in it and trying to figure out how to make something work; how to get the world to know about this artist’s talent.
Jarrod: Yeah, I think it helps that you can actually create a real friendship outside of the business with the clients you’re working with. You know, I don’t want to work with anybody I can’t go grab drinks with or can’t go grab a non-business lunch with, you know? And fortunately, like Andrew said, we’ve found that in three clients and it’s been very fulfilling. And obviously we’re obsessed with the music and their artistry so that is helpful.
Amber: An important component of being in this business.
Andrew: We are super fans.
Amber: Hopefully you’re the number one fans.
Jarrod: Yeah, we are.
Amber: Yes, exactly because you’re going to bat for them every day.
Andrew: Every day. It doesn’t – sometimes it’s funny, people are like you really believe in your artists. I’m like it doesn’t feel like I’m trying to…
Amber: Well I hope so.
Andrew: I don’t feel like I’m – I don’t feel like I’m being salesman when I’m talking to you about how much I really like these artists. I actually believe in what they do.
Jarrod: I truly believe you will enjoy it as well.
Andrew: Right. That’s definitely the perspective we come from is that it is very much about passion. I think that’s the only way either of us have gotten anywhere in our careers has been based on passion. We could go do other things and make a lot more money doing anything else. I mean it is…
Andrew: Pretty much anything. You know, it’s a tough business, especially early on in your career. It is a business that you have to earn your way in to and the money’s not really glamorous early on.
Jarrod: And you really have to love it and have a hunger to succeed to get through those first few years where you’re not making a lot of money and the work isn’t glamorous at all.
Amber: As it seems a lot to the outsiders.
Andrew: Yeah, it’s funny, we both got to tour for so long that it’s funny, touring is very cool, I mean to get to go on a tour bus and live like that for a few months is just really cool – you got to do it for a few years. It’s really cool and it’s really cool to people that aren’t in the industry and then once you’re about a week into the first tour you’re ever on you’re kind of like all right, here we go again.
Jarrod: Absolutely, yeah. Friends will go oh my gosh, you were in Phoenix, I’ve always wanted to go to Phoenix, and then you were in Boston, I heard Boston is great. Well every day I see the same thing; step off the tour bus I see backstage at a club or an arena depending on the tour you’re on and that’s about it. Maybe I’ll see a city skyline if you have time during the day (Andrew: to go to the hotel) – right, exactly. I mean it’s not like you’re out there running around town meeting the locals (Andrew: seeing the sights), seeing all the cool stuff. It can be tough.
Andrew: So quite often that was the touring world but we did get to see such cool things. There were some really cool opportunities early on in the career. Especially we ended up on the road and that was – it’s really cool. You kind of – you hold on to those things because it’s kind of like you’re getting paid in perks.
Amber: I can imagine.
Andrew: But I was making like no money.
Amber: Well here’s hoping you guys make more money on the next venture.
Andrew: One day, one day.
Amber: And thank you for joining us today on the BusinessMakers USA.
Jarrod: Thanks for having us.
Andrew: Cool, thank you.
Amber: Thank you guys so much
Jarrod: Thank you.
Amber: Really appreciate it. And that wraps up our interview with Andrew Cohen and Jarrod Holley Suit Music here in Nashville, Tennessee for the BusinessMakers USA.
Jackie Lee is one of the artist’s Suit Music represents. Click here to watch a sample.
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