Published on March 25th, 20140
With pluck and a wide smile
Shreya Naik was just 20 when she signed her first artist. Today, she works with prestigious venues all over India.
by The Editors | firstname.lastname@example.org
She was all of 20 when she started her own business – she had no money, no experience, and no team. “But I had a lot of confidence,” Shreya Naik (25) grins. “When I told my parents I wanted to start my own business as an artist manager, they were stunned. They provided me all the emotional support I needed before I took the first step – and that was the most crucial thing at the time. I started my business on Facebook.”
That kind of seemingly insane confidence, stemming from her stint in advertising and her “keeda for scouting and helping untapped talent” bode well for Shreya, who started Dream Makers Entertainment in 2011 and who did most of her initial work with The Blue Frog, Mumbai, for whom she handles live music programming today. “I can’t really say why I got into artist management exactly. Probably my background in promotion and marketing helped,” she says.
It could all have gone downhill for Shreya – she had no background in artist management, she had no inkling of latest music trends, she didn’t have a portfolio to boast of. “I had no idea of international music. As a child, I watched cartoons in Hindi,” she grins. “So I would be totally lost when musicians would discuss music. I couldn’t even tell the names of all the Pink Floyd band members.”
But, she reasoned, she could learn on the job. “The first artist I signed up was Nigel Rajaratnam. He was also very new. And the first place I sold my pitch to was The Blue Frog. They were really nice to me and quite receptive. My first gig happened with them and funnily enough, most of my work has revolved around them and continues to do so. Now, we work with all small and big music venues across the country,” she explains. She has managed artists like Vasudha Sharma (of Asma fame), apart from about 25 others.
Today, Dreammakers has a team of four handling different aspects of artist management, and puts up gigs all over the country. The company holds the reputation of being one of the best artist management firms in the country today.
On the job
Shreya brought her own creativity and empathy to the job – not having done any of it before probably helped. “I figured that you didn’t really need to be married to feel like a wife, you don’t need to have children to feel like a mother. I get really involved with my artists and I love to see them succeed. That’s how I work, at whatever I do – I just go out there and give it my all. And it works well for me,” she says.
Her inexperience could have tripped her up at some point, but she says she has lucky to “never have been caught.” She explains, “Of course, my unprofessionalism also showed up sometimes. I learnt to follow up a phone confirmation with an email. Then there were times when some of my artists suddenly left me for other managers. I’ve shed a lot of tears but I’ve also learnt so much.”
Why do it at all
Apart from the creative perks of the job, the monetary compensation is good as well. “Typically, an artist manager makes anywhere between 10 to 20 per cent of whatever the artist makes. But if the artist’s fee is huge, the manager must be open to taking a lower earning since the overall amount is larger,” Shreya says. “Also, you have to decide after a while how you want to do things – do you have a real find on your hands who can be the sole client you represent? Or do you need to have a variety of artists on your list? This is a decision you will need to make at some point,” she adds.
A person preparing for this profession must also do his or her research well. “An artist manager has to develop sound knowledge about the artist’s work, its strengths, the venues he or she will perform at, the best venues for that artist, the audience, the kind of music the venue is best suited to. The manager has to be on the ball constantly to produce the best results,” she explains.
She adds that a parallel profession for artist managers is music curation or programming. “Most artist managers are curators and programmers as well, it comes with the job. It is another avenue to make good money,” Shreya says.
Shreya is currently focussing on her new passion – decoupage, (an Italian art form that involves collaging on any surface), and she has started a new firm, Artsy Fartsy, for the same. “I’m surrounded by music all the time, so this is a good break for me,” she says, adding that she is currently scouting for graphic artists and doodlers. “It helps me unwind and explore my creativity. I’ve been backstage all this time, now it’s my time to be the artist,” she quips.
Shreya can be reached at email@example.com.
(Pictures courtesy Shreya Naik)