Find tour dates and live music events for all your favorite bands and artists in your city! Get concert tickets, news and more!

Jay Moss
Jay Moss

Interview: Jay Moss, Wasserman Music

238 0

This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Jay Moss, SVP, agent Wasserman Music.

Jay Moss makes something of an art out of subverting expectations that come with being in his mid-30s.

Over the past two decades, this Wasserman Music agent has crafted his own lane, a distinctive niche within a crowded market by refining a sound-world for himself.

Moss has been involved in music since high school, starting with a marketing and promotion internship at Sony Music Entertainment in New York, followed by management internships at B23 Management, and Team8, before eventually landing at  Flowerbooking in Chicago for a 5-year stint. Then onto The Windish Agency in 2014 which was acquired by the Paradigm Talent Agency the following year.

Now New York-based Moss is at Wasserman Music which operates as a unit of the larger Wasserman organization.

As Paradigm Talent had severed its music operation, Casey Wasserman stepped in to launch Wasserman Music a year ago on the back of Paradigm’s former music division.

Obsessed with music, and being down with deep house, techno, progressive electronic, drum and bass, electro-pop, trap, dance music, indie, and whatever else catches his ear, Moss views Wasserman Music, which has 300 employees overall, as an exciting development, an opportunity for him to work with forward-thinking independent teams.

At the same time, he recognizes that he has to still chase opportunities, form relationships, explore new territories, and be 24/7 committed in order to evolve the possibilities of his electronic-based roster.

And he knows that despite digital technology completely democratizing the music-making process, giving artists more ways than ever to share their works, that for them building a fan base, and a career, is as hard as ever.


But the challenge suits Moss’ temperament.

The clearest measure of his work ethic is his precisely refined roster of innovative artists who mostly set their own pace.

These include ODESZA, EVAN GIIA, Louis the Child, TroyBoi, Jai Wolf, Surf Mesa, Elderbrook, Big Wild, Ben Böhmer, EazyBaked, Ekali, Westend, Crooked Colours, Dr. Fresch, Emancipator, ford, George FitzGerald, Giolì & Assia, Kyle Kinch, Lane 8, Liquid Stranger, Luttrell, Maribou State, Mize, Phantoms, Ravenscoon, Sebastian Paul, and Two Feet.

As Moss mentions his artist clients, he speaks of how he firmly believes there is a unique ecosystem that is helping to build and nurture both the creative and the commercial opportunities for electronic music.

With the growth of on-demand and cloud-based streaming services; video-sharing sites, and with increased collaborations in hip-hop, rap, and R&B coupled with increased festival and club activity, electronic music has developed a distinct global identity for itself.

Hip-hop and electronic music have shared an equally beneficial relationship in recent years with each genre frequently taking inspiration from the other to create intriguing collaborations. These include EDM trap titan RL Grime being joined by Big Sean on his album VOID (2014); Skrillex lending production to The Game for “El Chapo” (2015); and the Chainsmokers and Bob Moses recently joining forces for “Why Can’t You Wait.”

The role of YouTube channels in breaking electronic artists is often sidelined by talk of commercial radio placements, and Spotify playlists. Millions of electronic fans discover new music through an ever-expanding network of YouTube curators who’ve helped elevate artists like ODESZA.

As a result, ODESZA has found traction in places beyond the clubs and the electronic charts. Their last release “A Moment Apart” debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 in 2017, spending 10 weeks on the chart, while the album tour included a main-stage Coachella performance, and mostly 5,000-plus-capacity spaces.

And ODESZA did it all without a radio hit.


Jay Moss will now explain how that happened, and what the duo’s next mind-blowing career step is.

Wasserman Music is just a bit over a year old after Casey Wasserman’s sports and lifestyle company acquired Paradigm Talent Agency’s North American live music representation business, and then launched a new agency with roughly 130 staffers, not only recruited from Paradigm Talent, but also from Madison House, AM Only, and WME.

Wass (Wasserman Music) originated from the remnants of Paradigm; and Paradigm was built by rolling up a lot of incredible smaller boutique agencies like The Windish Agency, Monterey Peninsula Artists, AM Only, Coda, and Little Big Man which was Marty Diamond’s agency. I think that everybody here has just a little bit of a different spirit than some of the other agencies. I think we are all a little bit more entrepreneurial. The culture here doesn’t feel like a corporate culture.

Even recently when I saw the CAA-ICM news—(“CAA Closing a $750M Deal for ICM Partners, consolidating major agency landscape”), and now they are talking of the Big Four going to be the Big Three (with UTA as well as publicly-traded Endeavor, owner of WME) I think that we like that we are not linked in with that group. We exist on our own interesting different level. Not as this small boutique, but we are also not a mega-agency that tries to be full-service, and that often sacrifices really good agenting. We are aware of our own thing, and I think that is becoming more and more evident with our one-year anniversary. We are not the Big Three. We are our own entity, and we have our own ideas for what the agency model looks like.

You not only can work even more internationally than previously, but you are able to work in a greater collaborative way as well. 

In your previous agency postings, you may have been the lone wolf electronic booker, but at Wasserman Music there are other electronic-styled agents, including Sahil Mehta, and Callender.

Callender has an incredible artist roster representing electronic artists RL Grime, Baauer, What So Not, Yogi, and Montell2099, and such notable rap acts as WondaGurl, Jack Harlow, and Kota The Friend.

Sahil recently joined Wasserman Music from Madison House where he developed a roster of primarily electronic music artists. Prior to Madison House, he worked at the Rogue Agency, and started his own boutique agency. Among his clients are Abelation, Chee, Ivy Lab, Khiva, KOAN Sound, Lab Group, Of The Trees, Supertask, TRUTH, Tsuruda, and Yheti.

Cal has an incredible artist roster representing electronic artists Baauer, What So Not, Yogi, and Montell2099, and such notable rap acts as WondaGurl, Jack Harlow, and Kota The Friend.


You now can ask, “Anything that we can work on together?”

Yeah, especially here in New York. The team here is just incredible. It is super tight-knit. The group in New York, and across the whole country, it is amazing. A lot of really great people, and really great agents.

You were smart enough to bring with you Stephanie Aristakesian, now based in Los Angeles, who started her career as an assistant at AM Only in 2015. She began working with you at The Windish Agency, followed by Paradigm where she became a coordinator in 2017. She has worked with you on ODESZA, Louis the Child, TroyBoi, EVAN GIIA, and Elderbrook. As well, she has also worked alongside other Wasserman agents on Kenny Beats, Bea Miller, Omar Apollo, Two Feet and Normani.

My Steph, yes. Absolutely

In just over two decades you have built up a marvelous roster of both rising and veteran artists, mostly in the electronic sphere, in effect creating your own laneway.

The roster has evolved through the years. I’ve always tried to find artists that are doing things a bit differently; that have a characteristic sound; and that I find myself wanting to listen to, and wanting to go back to listen to again. When an artist ticks all of those boxes, that is when it really clicks for me, and that is what drives me, and makes doing this after day not work.

I sometimes pinch myself that this is what I do for a living. It doesn’t ever feel like work. I feel very fortunate that this is the only thing that I have ever done in my entire life. I’ve never had any other real job. This is it. And my roster has been able to help support that.

You are 35, right?

Yes. I’ll be 36 in August.

In the music industry, there can be a strength in being older, in having a history and extensive contacts and having fought long-forgotten battles.

There’s definitely an old-school, patriarchal boys’ club element of the live music universe.

Conversely, there’s strength and power in being young, being open to new ideas and strategies, and collaborating with others in the industry climbing the ladder along with you.

Being so young you are transversing a laneway with a set of artists, managers, and other agents that your elders likely don’t quite grasp.

You’ve come up through the ranks with a different set of people close to your age. That’s a great place to be.

Thank you, yeah. I feel like I am getting older, but I also feel that I am very young at heart, and I love that.

In an indirect way, you have benefited from COVID in that you and ODESZA’s manager Adam Foley were able to assemble an insanely ambitious tour behind the duo’s new fourth album  “The Last Goodbye,” being released July 22nd.

You and Adam began routing the run shortly after ODESZA’s last tour ended in 2019, and even before Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight had even begun working on the new album, you two put holds on amphitheaters, giving consideration to the handful of amphitheaters had played previously. — most with capacities between 15,000 and 20,000 — across the United States, and Canada.

Then you held on to these dates as the pandemic stretched on while Harrison and Clayton continued recording in their Seattle studio.

The result is a 30-date first North American run, launching July 29th with three sold-out hometown shows at the 17,459-seat Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.

Their last tour, across 35 shows in 2018 and 2019 in support of their Grammy-nominated album “A Moment Apart,” involving 6 semi-trucks, four tour buses, a string section and a 6-person drum line, sold 198,000 tickets, and grossed $9.1 million.

Harrison and Clayton haven’t been quite silent since their “A Moment Apart” tour ended. They released a collaborative album with Australian producer Golden Features under the name Bronson in 2020. 

Last year their  Foreign Family Collective label signed a partnership with the English independent record label Ninja Tune under which Ninja Tune handles the global release, promotion and distribution of the entire Foreign Family Collective catalog, including “The Last Goodbye.”

How nervous were you and Adam, along with various promoters and ticketing teams, when this tour went up for pre-sale in April, even though by the end of the day the tour was 80% sold?

I don’t want to say that I was nervous, but I’d probably be lying if I wasn’t. When I routed this tour, we had a lot of doubles; and I have always been of the mindset of being modest, and never counting your chickens before they hatch. So for all of the markets where we had doubled, we did one plus ones, and we didn’t get ahead of ourselves.

You started the pre-sale on the East Coast?

Yeah, when we first put up the East Coast the numbers were insane. We got into our doubles, and our second shows immediately. The whole thing was just blowing out. That is when we knew. But even still with the time zones, you go East Coast, then Central, and then Mountain. We were so nervous, “Is this really happening?”

Crunch time.

We were in the situation room all day, all on Zoom with Adam, the whole Live Nation team, and Ticketmaster. I think that everyone was a little bit in shock with how quickly things were going. We couldn’t keep up with the demand. We were trying to change our ticket prices to meet the demand as much as we could, and making sure that we were selling through as fast as we could in order to get to our second shows. I thought I was putting the guys in the right rooms with the right promoter, but I certainly did not expect it to go as quickly, and with as much force, as it did on that first day.

So many shows at amphitheaters today, whatever the genre, are with a bundle of acts. There’s not a lot of acts able to headline multiple shed dates in which they are the primary draw.

I appreciate hearing that and I agree. I will say that the other artists that we have on the bill with them are incredible and that is by design. I’ve watched many, many artists in the big shed world, and it’s about packaging. It’s about delivering the fan an amazing experience from the moment that they get there to the end.

The mix of opening acts set to join ODESZA on rotation includes Sylvan Esso, San Holo, Elderbrook, Ben Böhmer, and the Foreign Family Collective acts ford, Gilligan Moss, and NASAYA.

Sylvan Esso are no slouch. They are a big act. They are a big duo. They do 5,000 or 10,000 tickets in many many markets. They are repped by us at Wass. Jackie Nalpant is the agent, and she is amazing. I wanted to put together a compelling package so it really felt big and like it was an event. And it certainly doesn’t take anything away from ODESZA. But that was the goal, to try and really put something together that was the tour of the summer. That everybody has to be at.

You really did start planning this ODESZA tour just after the last tour ended?

Correct, yes. This tour kinda goes back to this boutique festival called Camp Nowhere in Dallas, and Austin that I helped start with Bobby Clay at C3 Presents. The first year that we did it I think was 2017 at Stubb’s in Austin, and maybe South By Ballroom in Dallas. It was with Louis the Child and a few others, and it sold out. It was small, with a 2,500 and a 4,000 cap. It was really special.

Next year, we grew it a bit more.

Then in its third year in 2019, it worked really well to have ODESZA headline, and we moved up to amphitheaters — Austin360Amphitheater in Austin which is now called ​the Germania Insurance Amphitheater, and Dos Equis Pavilion in Dallas. Both shows sold out. Dallas was like 27,000 tickets, and Austin was 13,500.

I went to the shows, and it was incredible. The vibe with the fans was something unlike I had ever really seen at a dance music show before.

I remember standing at the very top of the back of the lawn at Dos Equis in Dallas with Bobby Clay, and with Anthony Nicolaidis, and Warda (Baig) from Live Nation, watching 13,000 fans on the lawn, and everyone else in the pavilion. It was like a little bit for everything. You had people dancing freely with their friends on the lawn, and super friends in the front row. That was the moment that it clicked for me. I knew right then and there that this tour that we are doing now was what I envisioned for the guys on this next cycle. I started talking about it with Adam, certain in the way that it had been paved by Phish and Dave Matthews and everyone else, all of the country stars that do the sheds as an annuity. No one in dance music had done it yet, but I felt like it really could work.

This is the first electronic group I know to do an amphitheater tour in North America.

No other electronic artist that I’m aware of has done it before. It is the first at this size. I did a small one with them in the boutique amphitheaters on the last album cycle but those are 5,000, 6,000 7,000 cap. Nothing like these. These are 15,000 to 25,000.

What was the reaction from ODESZA when you proposed such an ambitious tour?

It took a minute to get Harrison and Clay to buy into it. I think that they were really nervous about it. I think mainly because it’s not indoors. When you are in an arena you can control absolutely every aspect of the show. There’s no wind, no weather, right? Every bit of haze is perfect, and on cue. I think that they were really nervous about doing this, but I thought about the impact of the experience, the size and the scope of the tour, the statement that it would make, Many of these rooms are much bigger than arenas in those markets, and I thought that doing something different would set them apart, make them best in class, and allow us to take them a level up from where we were. A headliner in the dance music space ought to be a legitimate headliner across all genres. That was the main goal of doing it, and I think that we are getting there.

Even ODESZA headlining shows at Colorado’s  Red Rocks Amphitheatre in 2017, 2018, and 2021 would have been challenging.

Yeah, certainly. Red Rocks certainly has its challenges in being outdoors. You hear every year about the weather at Red Rocks in April when there was a fluke snow storm or even near June. So, being outdoors definitely has its challenges. but the risks to rewards on it is worth it.

It is expected that the tour will require a crew of 100, the drum line is returning, and the show will include visuals by their longtime live director Luke Tanaka, and creative director Sean Kusanagi.

ODESZA has avoided straightforward DJ sets since launching a decade ago. Their performances have become increasingly complex, and now feature live instrumentalists, a choreographed drum line, cinematic visuals, a lot of fireworks, stunning LED backdrops, multi-lasers, and reimagined thumping electronic beats soundscapes.

Yeah, absolutely. This production is going to be 12 trucks so it’s a huge, huge show. I think we are with 80 people or so on the road. It’s a massive tour.

In adapting the album “The Last Goodbye” for the stage it’s like creating a second album due to blending old and newer music into the mix plus visuals and fireworks. This is a full production, and ODESZA is leading the way for the future of electronic music productions.

Yes. The guys write the album, and then they practically write a second album which is the show. They take what they did on this album, and they figure out how to combine that with their entire back catalog to make a 90 minute show that is just incredible front to back. But it is almost as if they are writing two albums, one for the recording, and one for the live show.

In 2019, ODESZA performed shows in the UK and Europe – including stops in London, Paris, Brussels, Stockholm, Oslo, Hamburg and Berlin.– which marked the duo’s 6th European headlined tour. They also performed at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, and the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, and did dates in Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. Will they perform internationally on this new tour?

They will. We have plans for Australia, Europe, South America, and Asia. We are just getting started with this tour. There will be so much more next year and beyond that.

You already have many acts on your roster working internationally including Crooked Colours with an Australian and New Zealand tour that kicks off in Wellington, New Zealand (July, 28th) before a pair of shows in Auckland (July 29 & 30th). They’ll also play Perth’s Fremantle Arts Centre (August 19th) before shows in Brisbane (Sept. 2nd), Adelaide (03), Melbourne (09), Sydney (10). After which they will tour North America.

You also represent Berlin-based electronic music producer sensation Ben Böhmer who is one of the headliners of DGTL Festival’s ADE 2022 in Amsterdam across October 20th, 21st and 22nd. During the 6 events, there will be 45 house, techno and electronic acts with more than 25,000 music fans expected to attend from around the world.

So you work extensively outside North America.

Exactly. We always try to work our artists with a global approach. It is important not to get siloed just here in North America. We always try to develop global strategies. We want our artists touring the world. This is ultimately really important, and it’s a really big goal for me, and everybody here was Wasserman.

You work with Brooklyn-based EVAN GIIA who I first took notice of in 2016 with her debut single “Heat of The Moment.” with the New York-based duo MEMBA, whom she toured with last year.

She’s been smart doing collaborations too with the likes of Louis the Child, Kasbo, and the English electronic music production duo, Gorgon City.

Absolutely.

More recently EVAN GIIA had the electro-pop single“Blow The Roof” with Louis the Child, and Kasbo; and her single “Rabbit Hole” which is surely a pivotal track in her career.

I love hearing that. Yeah, she’s a star. I have been with her since day one. She’s brilliant. Her show is unlike any other artist that I have come across. It took her a minute to find her lane, I think. Her husband is her producer and one-half of MEMBA (In Sept. 2021 she married Ishaan Chaudhary, a DJ, and producer with Indian roots). She sings. She doesn’t really produce. At first, I think that she was, maybe, trying to go into the pop lane because she certainly has some pop sensibilities. Ultimately, I think that she has really found her calling in the dance music community. She can play EDC Las Vegas, and she can play Lollapalooza, and both equally crushing it. She’s super exciting. I think that she has a really bright future. She’s an angel, a really smart woman, and incredibly driven.

Generally, electronic music receives little commercial radio airplay in North America. Only a handful of stations pay attention to it, but there is HD, cable, Sand internet radio coverage—whereas electronic dance is heavily covered by radio stations in the UK, Holland, and France.

BBC Radio 1 in the UK has long led the way in the genre with support by DJs like Jeff Young, Peter Tong, Rob da Bank, Diplo, Annie Mac, Scott Mills, and Mista Jam.

Much of the exposure of electronic music today is driven by Beatport, TikTok, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, SiriusXM, magazines like DJ Mag, festivals, and artist collaborations.

Are these the vital elements to build out the careers of new and veteran artists?

Yes, and it’s a great question. All of those vary on such an unbelievable basis. Beatport is really important for DJs, for artists in the house, and techno and tech-house lane. How you chart on Beatport matters, and that is something that is tangible.

Beatport is a great way to promote specific artists.

Without a doubt. For some artists, it’s tremendous, right? And we see it. On the flipside, for some artists like ODESZA, Louis the Child, or Big Wild, it doesn’t matter in the least bit. It is not anything that matters with those artists, and their careers. Beatport is a very important metric, and tool for some artists, but that’s the same with TikTok. ODESZA is non-existent on TikTok. That is not their vibe. They are older. They aren’t the kind of guys that are going to be making TikTok videos whereas someone like Surf Mesa completely got his start and career launched on TikTok.

TikTok is now the most downloaded app in the world, but it is poorly evaluated by the industry in generating real success for music acts. TikTok can be a very organic way to market a unique story, but it skews to a young audience.

I totally agree.

I see great responses to electronic artist videos on YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, and other places.

Yes, absolutely. Every artist has a platform that speaks to them, and their fans and trying to identify that and really hone on it, and try to use that to your advantage, is really important.

There are so many different electronic sub-genres today.

It’s amazing, and they all have their own plays, and they have so much success. It’s a lot to keep up with. That’s for sure.

This incredible female duo that I represent, Giolì & Assia, they are about to be doing some big things. Their YouTube numbers are stronger, I believe, than on any other platform.

I’ve heard of them. Their 2019 live performance of “Diesis” on top of the active Etna volcano in Milazzo, Sicily has amassed more than 8.6 million views on YouTube. Another video from the same year filmed on a volcano on the Aeolian Islands has amassed 24.7 million viewers.

Italian DJ Giorgia “Giolì” Lipari, and Assia Nani were brought together by Facebook in 2014. Three years later, they formed their electronic-pop duo.

They live in Italy. They have a very big presence in Europe, and they make some incredible videos that have really grown on YouTube.

Hip-hop and rap when it started got very little love from the mainstream music industry so people like Russell Simmons, brothers Ronald “Slim” Williams and Bryan “Birdman” Williams, Puff Daddy, Suge Knight & Dr. Dre,  Kanye West, and others made their own rules.

Similarly, principal DJs in electronic music, starting with techno, house, trance, and acid house, carved out their world in a similar matter.  

Among the trailblazers have been Armin van Buuren, Maykel Piron, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Tiësto, Don Diablo, Martin Garrix, Oliver Heldens, Eelko van Kooten, Roger de Graaf, James Palumbo, Dave Seaman, John Digweed, Nick Warren,  Zedd, and Skrillex; and Canadians Richie Hawtin & John Acquaviva, Deadmau5, Vince Degiorgio, Nick Forucci, Robert Ouimet, and Gil Riberdy.

The great thing with electronic music is that without commercial radio, and with major labels less involved, it’s mostly indies involved, and practically everything is on the table. Artists and their management and agents working in the genre can do practically anything that they want.

We are trying to change the model which I find very interesting. They (many electronic acts) are not Tiësto. They are not Zedd who has got who knows how many #1s. I find the dichotomy between the two worlds interesting.

How do you transition DJs or EDM–based artists from thinking in terms of club gigs to focus on progressing as artists? That is a different step.

It is always interesting for me to see the different paths that artists have taken, whether it is commercial radio or oftentimes not.

A lot of the stuff that I work with tends to be more on the live side. It does not have commercial success and has never had anything at radio. There’s plenty of dance acts, Calvin Harris, and the Chainsmokers, for instance, who have. But they exist in very different lanes, and there are those dance acts that have had commercial success but they swim in very different circles than a lot of the stuff that I work with.

Interestingly, despite the enormous mainstream acceptance of electronic dance music, if electronic dance producers produce a major act, then it is perceived as a pop release; and if they do their own thing, then it’s electronic dance music with a more limited market. That’s so funny because a lot of pop acts today are being produced in a real electronic way anyway.

But there’s room for everyone, right?

Like the EDM world in Vegas is booming. The Vegas residencies are probably bigger now than ever and so much of that has to do with the commercial success of those artists. You don’t see many of my artists in Vegas. I think that Louis the Child is the first one that I’ve represented that has really had any viability in Vegas without any commercial success. We are trying to change the model there which I find very interesting.

Pasquale Rotella’s annual dance festival, Electric Daisy Carnival at the Las Vegas Speedway, has become a major Las Vegas economic engine, taking over the Strip every May while featuring the biggest names in house, techno, drum’n’bass, and other genres. Among your acts performing there this year were Ben Böhmer, Jai Wolf, and EVAN GIIA.

Over the years, a handful of electronic festivals have transformed the live-music business and become a vital revenue stream for the electronic industry.

These include Gary Richards’ HARD Summer; Pasquale Rotella’s Electric Daisy; Madison House Presents & Insomniac’s Electric Forest; Glow’s Moonrise, Baltimore’s longest-running electronic dance music festival; and Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan which debuted in 2008, under the name the Rothbury Festival.

It’s funny that you mention Electric Forest, which happened recently. I was out there with 8 or 10 artists of mine playing. I think that festival, sort of along with Bonaroo, can break acts. It is an amazing vehicle for collaborations. I feel that is the kind of festival that you see artists playing onstage with other artists, and doing interesting things. Special sets in the woods, and it is a very community-driven creative setting. For me, it is one of the special ones (festivals), and because of that, I see it time and time again with my artists. I have seen my artists, and some other artists break there. It is really about discovery because it is a real music festival.

So you see some of your artists collaborating with artists on your roster? Like, “What are you doing? I have a keyboard back in the hotel,” or “Come up onstage, and perform with me?”

Absolutely. That kind of stuff happens all of the time. More and more artists are looking to collaborate. Elderbrook, who I represent, every month he is putting out a new song with other big artists like Bob Moses, CamelPhat, or Rudimental. He puts out new music so often. He just did a song with Bob Moses. He did a song with Louis the Child. Also, Jai Wolf, whom I represent, just did a song with San Holo right before they played Red Rocks together.

Jai Wolf became the first Bangladeshi artist ever to sell out a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, in Colorado on June 8, 2022, with the collaborative one-off concert “Infinite Light” with San Holo, one week after the release of their collaboration “We Will Meet Again,” released via Mom + Pop Music.

If a musician is hungry, and they are serious about their craft, they will be curious enough to explore the divide between genres and audiences, pivoting one way or another, according to the relationships they build along the way.

And it can lead to breakthroughs.

For example, last year, Westend released a fresh take of Musique’s disco anthem “Keep on Jumpin” with CID,  a Grammy-winning producer, that was released on Lee Foss’ Repopulate Mars house label. The track peaked at #2 on Beatport’s overall charts for over 4 weeks and passed 4 million Spotify streams.

Westend followed up with “Get This Party Started” which peaked at #2 overall on Beatport and stayed in its Top 10 for over 3 months.

I love seeing that. I think it’s great when artists collaborate. It often goes back to those moments when they are hanging out backstage or they are on the road together or somewhere there’s that bond for that creative collaboration.

Before becoming an agent, you interned at several management companies as well as with a label?

When I was in high school, I went to public school in Great Neck in Long Island. I was in this really interesting progressive school called the Community School. It was a good public school, and my oldest sister had been there for English and Social Studies. In the middle of the day, there was a creative block for us. The thing that was really intriguing was that during the second half of our senior year, you had to find an internship that was five days a week, 9 to 5.

That’s how you became a marketing and promotion intern at Sony Music Entertainment in New York?

Yep. So when I was 17 years old in high school, and in the second half of my senior year, I didn’t go to classes at all. I went instead into Manhattan to Sony Music, Columbia Records, and I was there five days a week, 9 to 5, as if I was an employee. And it was incredible. It was an amazing first experience.

Working within a major label at such an early age must have been such an eye-opening experience.

It really was. It opened doors for me. Every time anyone asks me, any young college kid or anyone trying to break into the music industry, I always tell them, “Go and intern. Go and be an intern. Do it as many times as you can in as many different areas of the industry as you can to find out what you like.”

I learned from that (experience) that I didn’t want to be on the label side of things. But it opened the doors to a couple of management internships like with Brandon Schmidt (at B23 Management). He used to manage Interpol, and his assistant, when I was there, was Rich Cohen, who is now a big manager with Lord Huron and a whole slew of other acts (including The Gaslight Anthem, and Brian Fallon).

I remember when Rich left Brandon (to form Team8 management), and I worked for both of them every summer when I came home from Northwestern University in Chicago. Rich then had Passion Pit, and I remember sitting on Rich’s apartment floor trying to cut brand deals for Passion Pit with (musical instrument manufacturer) Zildjian, and guitar companies like Fender, and what not.

That internship with Brandon led me to Flowerbooking.

Flowerbooking was the Chicago-based boutique talent agency with Susanne Dawursk, and Tim Edwards that shut down in 2018 after a 28-year run. You were still attending Northwestern University?

Yes. I got there because Tim Edwards used to be Interpol’s agent. So Brandon was like, “Hey, you are in Chicago at Northwestern, you have to meet these guys.” I went to meet them. I remember I had a broken ankle, and I had to hobble up two flights of stairs when I went for my interview. That was in my senior year of college. But I got the internship.

You were still working as an intern at that point?

Well, I was still in college

At that point, Flowerbooking had been around for a while. Susanne Dawursk had started the agency while in college.

Yes. It had been around probably about 18 years at that point.

What were you studying at Northwestern?

I was in The Northwestern University School of Communication Nothing to do with music whatsoever. I started at the school in arts and sciences, and then switched to communications because I was failing Spanish, and that was a requirement in arts and sciences, but not in the School of Communication.

So I interned at Flowerbooking during my senior year, and when my internship was over, they asked me to stay on. And that led to me being an assistant, then being a junior agent, and then essentially being a rev share partner there.

I really learned a lot at Flowerbooking. Tim and Susanne were amazing agents and incredible mentors to me. I really cut my teeth there, and I learned from Tim, in particular. Just a ton about deals, how to cut a deal, and about routing. About the real interworking of being an agent at that level.

That led to me going to The Windish Agency in 2014.

Tom Windish opened The Windish Agency in 2004 following a seven-year stint as an agent at the Chicago-based independent booking agency, Billions Corp.

In the early years, Tom ran the agency out of the spare bedroom of his house in Echo Park overlooking the lake. While Tom worked upstairs in the master bedroom, the first floor had a giant dining room table, and some desks for agents to work.

In time, The Windish Agency expanded to Los Angeles and New York and repped Diplo, Hot Chip, Kid Koala, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Low, and St. Germain.

I think by the time I got there Tom was already in L.A. I was there with Latane Hughes, (former Surefire Agency agent) Evan Hancock, mid to early days at Windish.

You being at The Windish Agency led to working with Tom at the Paradigm Talent Agency, and then to Wasserman Music. In 2017, AM Only, and The Windish Agency formally became part of the Paradigm Talent Agency, after partnerships in 2012 and 2015, respectively.

Tom is renowned for his mentoring skills, and for giving his staff a lot of leeway.

I learned a lot from Tom.

When I went to Windish, Tom opened my eyes to this being much bigger than I thought. At the time, I had just recently signed ODESZA. But I certainly was nowhere close to the level that I am at now. Tom opened my eyes to the possibilities. What I could do that I hadn’t really seen before.

I would imagine that coming under the Paradigm Talent Agency umbrella further expanded your thinking even further.

Oh my gawd, absolutely. When I got to Paradigm, I went from trying to understand my one level to, “Okay, we are under the same umbrella as Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Phish, and Dave Matthews.” Certainly, Marty Diamond was always inspiring. Seeing what he’s done, and the level of touring that he operates at. Yeah, at each step of the way, I learned from different people.

Certainly, now at Wasserman with Lee Anderson (executive VP & managing executive, music), I feel that I have learned more from Lee than almost anyone. He’s an incredible leader and an amazing manager of people. I think that at this point in my career, I am trying to learn more about that level of the business to become better at building a team, and I am inspired by him. He’s a tremendous leader for us here at Wass.

Larry LeBlanc is widely recognized as one of the leading music industry journalists in the world. Before joining CelebrityAccess in 2008 as senior editor, he was the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard from 1991-2007 and Canadian editor of Record World from 1970-80. He was also a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record.

He has been quoted on music industry issues in hundreds of publications including Time, Forbes, and the London Times. He is a co-author of the book “Music From Far And Wide,” and a Lifetime Member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

He is the recipient of the 2013 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who have made an impact on the Canadian music industry.

Related Post