In a new guest blog feature, 20 year old Ella Gregg shares her experience of being an artist manager, and her journey to get there…
I began my career as an artist manager at the age of 18, almost completely accidentally.
Since the age of 15, I have always had an interest in emerging artists – listening to music by artists who people had never heard before, like knowing a secret that no one else knew. Through social media platforms such as Twitter, I was involved in a community where new artists were fighting for your attention and craving your support, and I began heavily supporting the artists I had discovered who I knew were worth supporting and putting my time into. I would promote these artists on social media and, without really knowing, I became a semi-guru in new music; artists would then start asking me to promote them in the same way I had promoted other people.
At the age of 17, I had just finished my A Levels and, after being a police cadet for 5 years, I was adamant I was going to take a gap year before joining my local police force. However, this didn’t go to plan. In the Summer of 2016, I was approached by artist development platform Secret Sessions, run by Harriet Jordan-Wrench, to join the team as an unpaid intern for the Summer. My role would be to invite emerging artists to join the platform which gave them the opportunities to apply for live shows and sync deals that the platform had on offer. I would have input in curating the secret live shows and choosing artists who would be appropriate for the opportunities we had available. To be able to have such an immediate and beneficial part to play in artists’ careers was incredible and I was completely in love with my job. I stayed at Secret Sessions a lot longer than just the Summer, scouting and working with over 1000 artists in 18 months.
Working and discovering new talent every day meant that I was going to come across gold dust and I did so in a band called Blushes. Their music was incomparable and I spent hours watching videos and listening to their music in awe. The band put me in contact with their manager at that time, and I set up a meeting with him for the next day. I explained what Secret Sessions did in depth and how I would love to have got Blushes involved, but instead he asked me if I would like to begin working for his management company, working alongside himself and Blushes.
So, at the age of 18, I began working with Blushes as their booking agent. I had absolutely no experience or contacts in booking gigs, but I wasn’t scared to learn on the job and I booked the band numerous shows, as well as their first UK tour. Within the first 6 months of managing Blushes, they completed their first UK tour, they had been featured by NME and their track ‘To The Bone’ had been played on BBC Radio 1. The great publicity and support from NME didn’t end there, Blushes have been featured in 2 separate articles since the first, they have been featured in NME’s 100 Artists for 2018 list, and they have had a 4 page spread in their magazine. With this confirmation that, hey, maybe I’m not doing too badly after all, I decided to set up my own management company and officially manage Blushes under my own name, with my own company – 321 Artists.
I’d be completely lying if I said it had been easy. Being a young artist manager with no experience is HARD. I’ve never made a huge thing of my age or gender in the work I do, but there have been many occasions where I’ve stopped and thought “Would you be speaking to me like that if I was 40 year old man?” because sometimes I feel as if that’s what it comes down to.
I’m in an incredibly fortunate position to be in such an impactful industry at such a young age, and I know I have a very long way to go, and a lot to learn, and I was very lucky with how I ended up working in the music industry. If I hadn’t been scouted, I don’t know if I would have been able to navigate the different avenues to get into the industry. That’s why my aim with 321 artists is to work closely with colleges and schools, giving young people the opportunity to experience the music industry – helping the next generation
of photographers, journalists, producers and artist managers to find their way into
the music industry.
Huge thanks to Ella for sharing her experience with us! Find out more about her company 321 Artists here.