As many in the dance music scene will know, Hardwell has come in at the #1 spot of the DJ Mag Top 100 for 2 years straight, and is occupying the upper-tier of EDM personalities at the moment. To get some insight into what goes on in his camp, we reached out to his manager, Anna Knaup, for an interview.
Hi Anna. What was the back story behind you becoming a manager?
I had already been an agent for a long time, and I currently have a booking company for that called Anna Agency, but about 4 years ago I felt that management was the next step for me, and so I started Sorted Management. Whilst I was a working solely as an agent, there were times when I’d inadvertently step on other manager’s territory, and they weren’t too happy about that, so I started my own management company to be able to move freely.
Your current artist roster for Sorted Management has the quite the superstar line-up? How did this happen for you?
It’s about looking for talent. I always liked to give talent a chance, and it so happened that these guys turned out to be very good.
How would you describe the job of an artist manager?
We map out the artist’s careers and look into future plans for where we want to be in a number years. That can relate to album releases, gigs, endorsements, press, marketing social media, etc.
Many of today’s artists that don’t have a ton of experience in the industry tend to lump agents and managers together. As someone who has worked in both fields, do the lines ever blur between being a manager and agent for you?
Well, I started Anna Agency in 1995, so next year will make it 20 years. I was one of the first in my country to be agent in the dance music genre, as most DJs didn’t even have agents or managers back then. So I had to fill a lot of manager roles in my early days, like talking to the press or looking into an artist’s future plans. But not so much anymore. I’ve been looking after Marco V for many years, and he didn’t have a manager in the beginning, so I did both jobs, though I only got paid for doing one, which was fine. That just made my job as an agent more interesting. Now that I’ve started Sorted Management, it feels like we can do full-time artist management, and I don’t work as an agent anymore, so the lines don’t blur for me. I have agents that work at Anna Agency, and I don’t find it hard to keep the companies separate.
Many up-and-coming artists today are unsure of when to bring a manager into their careers, and either act too late or prematurely. At what point do you think an artist needs a manager?
At a point where he starts to DJ a fair bit and puts out records that are getting noticed, and are charting. At that point, your career has some handles for a manager to work with.
Many people have no clue of how to even go about securing management. What would you be your advice them on how to reach out to a manager?
I would advise them to look at artists who they like and where their careers are either gathering momentum or are in full effect, and then check which management individual/team is behind them and reach out to that person/company and see if there is availability and a click. I have a lot of artists that reach out to me to manage them, and I have to turn a lot of them down. For me to start working with you, I really have to see the bigger picture. It’s important to me that artists have a unique sound and their own identity. I’m a cherry picker when it comes to that.
What are the biggest turn-offs for you when new artists reach out to you with requests to manage them? Are there any things that might discourage you?
Personality is a big factor. If our personalities don’t work together, management won’t work either. You have to like the artists you work with.
What tends to be the routine for you when managing a high-profile act like Hardwell?
It’s always different from day-to-day. Social media needs to be attended to everyday. We just wrapped up his tour, having done 34 shows in 18 months. Last year we had the documentary to finalize and premiere, which was unique, but things like strategies, music, touring, future plans, his radio-show and endorsements are recurring things. We have his album (United We Are), as well as his new show coming out in January, plus we’re planning his festival appearances, so a large portion of the focus is on this right now.
How important would you say social media is for an artist? Adding to that, do you think JustGo would be something both you and artists would find useful?
Very important. It’s vital, and it’s important that the artist does it the right way, and that way needs to be suitable to them, as an artist’s visibility is mostly web-based these days. As a manager it is my role to guide my artists giving them freedom and a platform to showcase their personality, whether that’s in their music or on their social media.
Yeah, it’s good to have one platform that gives you an overview for all your pages. I’ll look into JustGo closer, and will have my social media manager look into it as well. If it’s a place where you can manage and monitor everything, it’ll be great for us.