YouTube Music and the Music Managers Forum’s partnership programme, Accelerator, turns five this year. To celebrate, Music Week talks to four of the programme’s alumni about their journeys into the industry, their careers now and the future of the management sector…
SARAH MHAMDI - co-founder, Muise Management
With Shygirl and Cobrah among her roster at Muise Management, Sarah M is on the rise. Here, she talks business, expansion, electronic music and more…
Having built Muise alongside Shygirl, do you think we will see more artist/manager partnerships in the business?
“It’s hard to say. Not all artists are business-minded, but I always encourage them to get more involved in their own business to really understand how things run – nobody will do better than themselves for their own career if they really understand it. Technology has made knowledge and equipment so accessible that all that is needed is passion and goals. Running a business in partnership with a manager requires a certain kind of trust and it implements more horizontal dynamics. Both Shygirl and Cobrah reached out to me as they were tired of being told what to do and how to do it and wanted someone to support their vision and work alongside them.”
What’s been the secret to your success with your artists so far?
“Lots of very big brains put together [laughs]! It’s trust and communication. We’re in constant communication by text, pretty much 24/7 as there’s always one not sleeping. Everything is discussed and decided together, from retail concepts to be launched in five years, to the size of the font on a billboard, to the shape of the eyeliner on a press photo. It’s a very fluid way of working. I’ve never really liked long emails, it’s about setting the best process systems and bouncing ideas and letting the best people in each field get to work. Our teams are global and include creative directors from Australia and animators from Canada, everyone is up-and-coming and the best at what they do. The other tip is to know when and how to say no – trust the process and wait for the right opportunities.”
Are we in a fertile space in terms of emerging talent at the moment?
“Very much so. I love discovering new acts, they always have the most interesting ideas. I definitely have a preference for artists that make me feel uncomfortable in some attractive way, as well as those blending styles and genres to create their own universe.”
Is there a move towards a more diverse and equal future happening in the management sector?
“I have been very fortunate to have had a very positive experience in the music industry, working as a female and as an ethnic minority. I have known and have enjoyed working with many managers of all sexes, ages and ethnicities. From an external eye, the UK and the music industry have always been a leading example in terms of taking equality seriously – maybe because of how far back it started – and proactively setting up environments for everyone to be able to evolve with less and less prejudice.”
What can the wider industry do to help managers?
“Management can be very daunting because there is no rulebook. You have a duty of care over your artists and their team and that can often be forgotten in payments or credits. Selflessness is key and it can sometimes mean we forget to focus on our own businesses in favour of the artists. Support has been invaluable from labels, big corporations like YouTube, the MMF, promoters, lawyers and most importantly other managers. I think communication and check-ins are key – it’s about creating groups and meetings, sharing new tools, new contacts and new technologies as well as making sure everyone is mentally and financially sound.”
Click here to read our interview with YouTube's Lizzie Dickson.