Touchdown Management on how they took The Snuts to No.1 and their US plans for the band

Touchdown Management on how they took The Snuts to No.1 and their US plans for the band

The Snuts are celebrating a BRIT Certified Breakthrough for their debut WL after passing 30,000 sales.

The Parlophone-released album peaked at No.1 in April and now has sales to date of 30,188, according to the Official Charts Company. It follows last year’s Top 20 release, Mixtape, which has sales of 7,980. 

As well as the long-term label support of Parlophone, the band’s impact is down to the commitment and belief shown in the band by Touchdown Management’s Adam Harris and Callum Read (pictured, L-R).

The founding directors launched the company in 2016 and have built up a roster that also includes developing acts Grace Barr and Cusp. 

Here, Touchdown Management’s Adam Harris and Callum Read reflect on the success of the Snuts campaign, discuss their partnership with Parlophone and look ahead to the band’s October dates in the US, where they’re signed to Warner Music’s Elektra label…

You each worked in tour management and the indie label sector – why did you turn to management? 

Adam Harris: “I grew up playing in bands for years with the likes of Johnny Borrell and John Hassall, and eventually went on to get signed and make a record with Hugh Padgham. I got to work first hand with some great (and not so great) managers during that time before going on to work at various record labels. When I left uni, I was fortunate to get a placement working for Eric Harle at DEF when Royksopp were exploding with Melody AM and Moby was at the height of his fame. Seeing how those releases were planned and executed first hand, as well as the role a manager at that level played in defining those careers, was definitely an education. I have always admired the relationship between the artist and manager and the artistic and business dynamic between the really great ones. So much of what I did while running an indie label was essentially guiding the artists and helping them in every aspect of their careers, not just making records, so it always seemed like a logical progression. The difficulty for any manager is finding an artist who not only has the drive and ambition to succeed, but also the talent to back it up.”

Callum Read: “Before turning to artist management, I spent a good few years as a tour manager whilst Adam ran his indie label (we met when I TM’d one of his acts, Heyrocco). Like anything nowadays, you’ve got to have many strings to your bow and getting my foot in the door was like a crash course in the industry and artist management. When Adam and I decided to form Touchdown, we set the company up with no acts on our roster. We both decided that when the right act came along, they’d have to make us want to give absolutely everything in order to break them. That was something from our experience we knew would require 100% effort with 24/7 attention for a number of years. That act ended up being The Snuts.” 

How have your previous roles helped you in the new venture?

AH: “Running an indie label, you’re permanently wearing multiple hats, from product manager to marketeer to publicist etc. There’s a huge amount of mutli-tasking involved when you sign an act that nobody has ever heard of – from finding producers and studios for them, A&Ring their record to planning and executing the release. Nothing beats the feeling of securing their first national and international radio play and press, or the first time they sell out a venue. That knowledge and the ability to multi-task certainly helps when you’re working as a manager for an artist who’s just starting out. And having that insight is invaluable when you are working with an artist signed to a major or indie label. I think having been a musician for many years certainly helps too. So many people I meet within the industry have also come from that background, and it really does give you a very valuable insight into the mindset of an artist and how to relate to what they’re feeling.” 

CR: “It was clear even after a short while as a TM that my strength and passion (outside of the basic things like budgeting and planning – which can be an art form in themselves) was the actual personal management of artists, as people and performers. I had a good knack for making acts feel comfortable on the road – not just physically but mentally as well. The trick to that I found was in the timing of delivering certain info, and also finding the sweet-spot of exactly how much info to give an artist and the right time and way to communicate it. You have to be able to put on your artist’s shoes and speak their language, or you’ll have absolutely no chance of getting them to understand you. I think the reason Adam and I work so well together is because we’ve both come from working our way up through our own ventures, as opposed to having secure jobs in big companies. Sometimes it’s natural to carry the weight of that risk and pressure, but it also drives us on and we won’t stop until the effort that ourselves and our artists have put in over the last few years is truly realised. We’re just getting started!” 

How did you discover The Snuts – what potential did you see in them?

AH: “I vividly remember getting a call from a very excited Callum, who had just seen them play in Edinburgh where they were supporting a band he was TMing and he was insistent I check them out straight away. I first got to see them live in Manchester and was immediately blown away. The songs, the performance and the confidence were undeniable and I knew instantly I had to work with them. People in the past have been quick to dismiss The Snuts as ‘just another indie band’, but all you have to do is listen to tracks like Elephants, Juan Belmonte, Coffee & Cigarettes and Sing For Your Supper to realise they are so much more than that. Their work ethic and ambition to create music that connects with people worldwide is seriously infectious.” 

Their work ethic and ambition to create music that connects with people worldwide is seriously infectious

Adam Harris

CR: “In a true fateful moment when we look back, they were a local support act opening for a band I was on tour with in Edinburgh at the time. This was back in April 2017. For a band at their level at that time, no one compared to what they could do live. They were immense and took their performances seriously. Getting on stage wasn’t an ego trip or a reason to have a party afterwards. They needed to get on stage to show the world what they could do, and they rehearsed their live set every day of the week after work in the early days. Seeing that dedication from the band made it easy for Adam and I to understand that they were ‘that band’ that we had previously decided we’d give everything for to break them.” 

Even a few years ago Parlophone were highlighting the band's ticket sales – how important was live to their growth trajectory?

AH: “I think we have a bad habit within the UK music industry of being fixated by lists or nominations for what’s hot and what’s not. So often the ‘hottest’ acts struggle to sell 20 tickets and its all hype and no substance. For The Snuts, they weren’t on any lists early on and went from playing 50-cap rooms to selling out Kentish Town [O2] Forum and three nights at The Barrowlands within 24 months. We realised very early on how special their fan connection was – even when they only had demos available on DSPs, they were playing to full rooms of predominantly young kids across the country singing every word of their songs back to them. They have built their fanbase from the ground up via live music and I’m not sure any other platform can replicate that kind of fan connection or loyalty. 

“You can spend a fortune on marketing an act and still not manage to create the connection with your fans that The Snuts have. It’s a very hard thing to quantify or replicate but the fan connection they create both on record and live is very special indeed. That said, when the pandemic hit, we had to act fast and find a new way to connect with our existing fans and, moreover, grow our fanbase. While many artists decided to stop releasing music during the pandemic, we decided early on with the band and label that we should do the opposite. By showcasing the true personalities and talents of this band during endless lockdowns, we have certainly won over a whole new fanbase.”

CR: “Live is the truest gauge to how an act’s fanbase is growing. You can get all sorts of acts who DSPs, radio and press tip off as the next big thing, but they often don’t have any real core fan base. The Snuts have a truly dedicated fanbase. They aren’t a cult act by any means, but their music (particularly live) carries so much emotion and soul that the right fans often fall deeply in love once they discover the band. Live (pre-covid of course) was important to the trajectory of the band. They spent the majority of the year in 2019 and early 2020 on the road. The most important thing for us was the conversion rate of new fans who’d discovered them at festivals and came back to see them again at headline shows a few months later.”

It's quite tough for bands these days, though some guitar-based acts have broken through. How did you do it with The Snuts? 

AH: “I’d go as far as saying that to be a successful guitar band in 2021 is possibly the hardest thing to do in the music industry. But as a team we worked relentlessly to keep pushing this band forward. The band have a saying – “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” – and it’s been like that since day one. Traditional media outlets were initially very quick to dismiss four working class 24-year-olds playing guitars as being uncool or not culturally relevant. There was a lot of work involved in convincing media this wasn’t just a ‘Scottish phenomenon’, hence why selling out Kentish Town Forum so quickly was a great moment. Ultimately, you can’t argue with tens of thousands of kids across the country singing every word of every song at live shows like their lives depended on it. If that’s not cultural relevance, I’m not sure what is.

“We are very fortunate to have a great label in Parlophone who have worked relentlessly. Nick Burgess [co-president] immediately recognised the talent and potential of the band and wasn’t afraid to buck the trend by signing a guitar band in 2019. So few artists these days are actually given the time to develop and grow but Nick and Mitch [co-president Mark Mitchell] understand how crucial it is for an act like The Snuts. Likewise, Nick wasn’t afraid to take risks with producer choices either and the band’s first ever recording sessions with Inflo are proof of this. It took the band way, way out of their comfort zones and in my mind created some exceptional music.” 

CR: “Generally the band are highly driven, which is a massive criteria for success. We take great pride in the way they present anything to the fans, whether it’s merch products, music videos or interesting ways to announce a tour etc. Musically, Jack [Cochrane] is a prolific and beautiful songwriter, surrounded by three very talented musicians. Joe [McGillveray, guitarist] describes himself as the condiments to Jack’s songs, which always cracks me up… but kind of makes sense. It would have been easy to play it safe and make a classic indie album, but The Snuts’ album WL hops across various styles song to song. I haven’t seen a new guitar act do that with their debut album until now, which is surprising.

“When I was growing up you stuck to one genre of music, dressed accordingly and that was your niche – things are different nowadays, your Billie Eilish fans are also listening to Bring Me The Horizon and Olivia Rodrigo. The Snuts are all about risk and pushing themselves to new creative levels, and WL was a great and unique answer to the question ‘what is a guitar band in 2021?’.” 

We have the belief that the band can be a globally established act within the next few years

Callum Read

How did you celebrate the No.1 album – did you have expectations for that result?

AH: “We certainly knew from our album pre-sales that we were in a healthy position and our focus was always on the top spot. When Demi Lovato announced a release in the same week as us, that’s when everything suddenly went up several gears and the sleepless nights began. We were literally working around the clock to do everything we possibly could to maximise our reach with this record. The band, us and the label had a big point to prove and it was backed up by their incredible fans. It was also great to see so many artists get behind the band, from Lewis Capaldi and Louis Tomlinson to The Vaccines and Biffy Clyro to name just a few. It felt like so many people were championing the return of a great guitar band, and to sell over 20,000 albums for their debut [in week one] definitely shows the ambition and, moreover, the intention of this band. The celebrations were pretty epic when we found out.” 

CR: “When we heard that Demi was dropping an album the same week as us, we knew that we’d have our work cut out – but we never stopped believing. To sell 20,000-plus records in your first week to beat a global megastar, just shows the power of The Snuts fanbase. A No.1 debut album was always the goal for us and we certainly didn’t want to let anything get in the way of that, so collectively we dug deep and managed to get there through the highs and lows of the chart battle.”

How can the return of live maintain the campaign?  What are the tour plans?

CR: “We have a debut No.1 album, that’s great, but of course now our goal is to ensure we keep working so that new fans discover the band’s amazing music – both domestically and internationally. We know how much live music means to music fans, particularly fans of The Snuts, so we’re really excited to get back out on the road. The schedule is busy – we have a full festival season planned, some unique acoustic and strings shows in September, followed by a US & UK headline tour. We’ve also just announced some support shows with The Kooks for Q1 next year.” 

What are the US ambitions for the band with Elektra?

AH: “Depending on the restrictions, we are meant to be heading over in October to play some shows. We are determined to make our mark in the US in much the same way we have started doing in the UK. If the band have to spend a year over there touring, then that’s what they will do. Gregg Nadel and Mike Easterlin [Elektra co-presidents] have an amazing track record of breaking artists, and I feel like we are going over there having laid a strong foundation for them to build on.”

CR: “USA is the next big step. We have the belief that the band can be a globally established act within the next few years and for us, this starts in USA. We’re working with Elektra already to ensure that we can make as much of an impact as possible when we head over in October.”

Click here to read our interview with The Snuts’ Jack Cochrane.

author twitter FOLLOW Andre Paine

For more stories like this, and to keep up to date with all our market leading news, features and analysis, sign up to receive our daily Morning Briefing newsletter

subscribe link free-trial link

follow us...