Damon Atkinson Interview

 

The New Music Biz: Bands, Brands, Managers, & Tours

 

Lesson Info

Damon Atkinson Interview

Yeah, this is damon and I'm calling you damon because I renamed him dimon one day and half america calls him dimon adkinson and he's got a very interesting story that kind of that I'd like him to talk to you about I mean, he it started as hey can you see us? I can't see you ok, I guess we look good thanks you so this is a damon and he is living in nashville now but he has a very interesting story because he came from the artist perspective and hand has grown into now like, you know, day to day manager for some large artists and you know, david, you know when you you know you're in a band called braid and it's pretty well known and that kind of a scene which scene did you helped launch you know, would you like to be you know, I think what that term yeah, I guess yeah, I guess you know would be the term yeah, yeah so you know, he was one of the founder of the most seen and you know, when did you know you were playing and you were touring, you know, braid you know, you you had a did you d...

id you have a business mind or you're just hanging out in a band at first or was it just fun to be out on the road I think as a whole as a band we all just loved playing music as did I, but I always had that I was the one guy in the band that have that that management mentality you know, I was the one who made all of her own posters and t shirts and stickers and booked our own shows and promoted our own shows and made flyers and hung them up all of it that was me I was the one guy in the band that that did that which I think is what led me on to the path that I so so you know and that's one of things I think that I've seen in the band singers who said it's going to be one person that takes the lead as abandoned first before anyone else is around you you know, I think you know, I've seen so many bands where there's that one person you know you may have the one guy that just got there raging and party but there's always someone did you think you were gonna tour forever when you started the band? Well, I knew that I was going to tour forever although yeah, I'm not currently on tour, but I always assumed as I got out there the first time ever got on the road, I knew that's exactly even even from an early age side family members who are in bands and that's all I wanted to do but as the day I mean I hoped the band I was and I hope that we would tour forever but I just doesn't happen all the time. Okay, so how many years was it that you were in? You know that the band toured? I mean, well, I would say throughout all the different bands that I was in, I toured in a band playing music from nineteen, ninety four two, two thousand five so eleven years I played in bands before I started going in working for bands. All right, two thousand five you know, you've been out on the road, you travel around the country, you played every every city went around the world, you've been around in a touring and then in two thousand five what was your spark to go into, you know, the other direction was financial? Or was it? Yeah, I think there was just there came a time for me and the guys I was in a band with where we just needed a break and I had been doing some tour managing and what have you honestly I was trying to find I was trying to get the word out there that I was a drummer available looking for a band and nothing was coming up and then a friend of mine called and said, hey would you ever consider drum checking because I was a drummer so they figured I could probably handle at and and I said you know what yes because I was actually I was living in memphis I was working a temp job and I wanted to get back on the road so I said you know what? Let me do that and so kevin that was since vale in the first tour did with them was tased cast ok that's where I'm through as I was like sitting there going well how we first met that tasted chaos was a tour I produced and and you rode managed buddy and but he's grown into quite a businessman too and I wish I could get him on here to tell his story has he's evolved but but he was a handful at that point it wass yeah they were just kids that band they were just they were so young they're they're younger than I ever was when I first started toward and yes so they were they were living the life and they had a you know, a decent amount of success and on good tours like taste chaos and yeah that was it was interesting but it was fun but yeah tour manager a bunch of kids and what when you transition from an artist to the full you were you've been doing some of this on the road with your bands but you know did you did it really spark in your mind that wow, this is a whole different way to tour as a crew person than being in a band? Yeah, you know, it's funny is that there was two guys in the band myself and one of the guy where there was a point on the road we were talking to each other and we had been going out as support artists for other bands who, you know, we're doing pretty well and had crew and all that stuff with kim and I both looked at each other one day, we're like, you know what? If this ever doesn't work out for us, we should go the crew guys because that's what, that you still get the tour, he still had to be creative and you make more money than being in a band at least the kind of bands that were in we were making a lot of money, so and that's what ended up happening? Both him and I went different artists and we started becoming crew guys. So so psychologically you were, you prepared yourself, and I think a lot of people that that might be out there, maybe are musicians and everything and psychologically you did you put some thought into this, I think it's an important thing to think about because I've seen it go the other way where the band guy tries to switch over and still thinks he's the band guy and just doesn't have the responsibility the level of can't have that responsibility yeah, loading the gear and being on the edge of that kind of stuff, you know, right with shows over go, you know, start putting the party hat on when gear still need to be loaded like you have to and that's the thing it luckily for me and I'm being completely honest when I was touring as a musician, I we were party guys like we had our moments, but it was nothing crazy, so it's not like I needed to do that, but yeah, you're right psychologically prior to going out, I had already kind of thought that and I had a lot of people ask me because they knew me as a musician and a lot of people ask me, well, don't you think there might be a point on tour when you're like, you're really itching to get up on stage and play drums as opposed to, you know, be on the sidelines and I you know, I said, no it's I did I separated that, you know, and I've never had that moment on tour where it's like, I really wish I was on stage, my life sucks because I'm not a net for me, that never happened. So this is so you know, you did this, trump, and then you transfer it over to a job with us? Yeah, how did that happen? You know, you know, when, when when was your you know, you know, you you, damon was our our operations person for the warp tour. He started working on work, too are in different roles, and he'd come out each summer with us, and it was very organized, it's one thing you always find with jamie very organized, very meticulous, you know, out on the road to keep the show is going, yeah, well, thank you for saying that, yeah, I guess what two thousand eight was my first year working, officially working that you hired me to be out on warped tour, and I think that a lot of that just came from living in chicago and sarah and kate at the four feeny office in chicago and two thousand seven that summer, I filled in while they're out in the road, and I just kind of, you know, watched, watch the office and help out they're so I think that's kind of how that got into that a little bit, but obviously you and people like sarah it's all something to me that you want to give me an opportunity, which was awesome, but yes, in two thousand eight came into work tour, and then two thousand ten, you hired me full time tio working for phoenix, so this kind of shows that relationship kind of thing, you know, positive attitude positive person may take that kind of rolande really? I think at that point, your job was to collect that kind of back in chicago, you were kind of filling a role wasn't on the road, and then he came to work with us and work with us a few years and relocated up to nashville, which, you know, I will highly recommend anyone who wants to get in this music space right now. Nashville is not a country town. I mean, how crazy is national right now for youthful energy in the entertainment space? But it's everything it's every even you know, I've only been here almost five years, and just the amount of growth I've seen in this town in five years is just mind boggling, but it's great for everything, every genre, and that growth is coming from, I think, from a way that people can live and have a lifestyle and not be so stressed out over rent, you know, you say l a new york everyone's to me on the new music space to be honest, I should probably work for the tourism board, and some people will hate me because I'm sending so many people in nashville, but it's it's a really creative, unique space for all types of music right now technology, the city's catching up with technology because about seven years, when I went go there, they were the people that was, say, country music was never going to be digitally distributed. They were so cd radio just seven years ago, and I went in their head on thinking I could change it and work with these artists, you know, and build a tour like warped tour for country artists, you know? And we had it was interesting we had eric church out there, we have brantley gilbert, we have florida georgia line hauling our barbecue around. Two years ago, I saw this transition coming sometimes you realize when you hit something so high hat on where like in front of it, but it kind of knocked three old school come knock me out, you know, took a punch, you settled in nashville and you're working on tele little where you're out now because I don't want to try to get off the road, you're getting a little more stable, maybe work with one artist and be, you know, so what do you doing these days? So I do day today per country artist I I'm happy to tell you who this guy named joe nichols he's been he's been in country for hey broke out about twelve, thirteen years ago, he said. Now currently with me on board, he's had two number one hits in a row, he said six total number one hits and he sold about three million records collectively, but so he's been out doing it a long time and he's managed by a company called triple eight management and it's really funny and I really want to tell the story I'm making brief, but how this all came up and this is, you know, once you get into this, you'll see once you start making connections like I've done with kevin and essentially I got this job through something that kevin had his hand in, which was the country throwdown tour, what she was just talking about the country tour that he had gone on for a couple of years and I was working on that well, we had a couple artists at this guy managed triple eight management, we had two of their artists out of the road, so I ended up getting to know this manager a little bit and fast forward to I've done before feeding, I'm actually on a plane going to austin to play a braid show, which is I still wait, I will come back and talk about how you back into place a music again but you know that right? But yes I'm doing that I'm on a plane and I run into this to the owner of the company and I hadn't seen him in about a year and he asked what I was up to a set of look for work whatever and he said he was looking for a day to day guy in nashville for one of his artists a couple days later we have a meeting couple days after that advised down austin meet the team and then I get higher and so where were you on your way down the south myself who asked no news is fun fun, fun apparatus playing a show on there and so but if I hadn't been going down there to play a show I had I wouldn't have met you know I've been on the plane with him and I probably wouldn't be a day to day manager I'd be doing something else but when and when they say day to day manager you know you've got your manager we talked about managers, tour managers big management companies usually have a day to day manager assigned to a certain artist so they have a big law roster of artists but as a datum they manager especially with a country ours it's traveling all the time he's got me everywhere you just briefly talk about like your role is a day to day manager yeah, I mean essentially what I tell people's anything that anything involving this artist whether the show offer a sponsorship deal travel arrangements, you name it, anything involved with with an artist it all comes through me it's all filtered through me. Everyone contacts me first and then I decide if I can either answer the question of my own orfanedes afford it on to someone of the record label afforded onto his actual manager. But when I'm on call pretty much all the time you know I have to organize and keep keep the artist calendar fluid and organize and that that's a lot of it to his organization and it's it's important but it's pretty much anything to do with the artists and also when you get to a certain level the big management you become the traffic cop yeah, for that artist and air traffic control and ultimately they probably got a lot of control to make certain this is. But then if there's a big to sign that sponsorship deal, you invented it you think it's a good thing you still take it to the owner of the management company to finally sign off on it? Absolutely yeah, that's it because because that'll get that'll get your ass kicked to the curb quickest in this business if you don't go to the boss once in a while you know you know you know something you don't have to ask can we fly him on this flight or that flight? He works with the artist and he makes all those and a lot of those decisions like that and it might be he could make it a string endorsement, but when those big deals get done that that are going to be long term for an artist or involve a lot more, you better make sure the manager knows what's going on absolutely yeah, but you're you're true love and passion was being a drummer yeah and an opportunity I came for you to reform years ago and how many shows a year are you playing now? You know, two thousand twelve we probably played you know, fifty shows maybe tops, which is a lot for us, you know? That's probably most you played since your reunion, right? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And, you know, it's probably just a dozen at max per year, but you know, we just released a record this year and it's the first record we've done in sixteen years and it actually it did well and charted and weird things but it's like I'm a day today manager I've got my hands full with an artist, so how do I find time to drink and play you've got to be really careful, you know and I think you're in a good position where they have given you a chance to go out place shows yeah, but if you continue to do fifty shows a year might be issue with your boss yeah exactly yeah and and I'm not alone on that I'm the only one working you know, as a manager but the bass players a school teacher and you know all that stuff that we all have regular job so that's a good thing is we made an agreement and said we'll only do it if we can all do it if it makes sense and if we can't do it we don't do it and there's a lot of shows that we we turned down because one of the guys can't do it and that's okay this is fun it's great to do it and I heard the word fun you notorious sometimes does not become fun well that's what happened? I bet you guys could live with each other's habits a lot more now that it's fun then when you had to be together on the road you get nothing exactly and that and that's what and that's what how to split up in the first place is because it became not fun and so we all were able to make the decision you know what? It would be fun if we did it again and so if it ever becomes not fun, we'll stop it's that bans before you know, on the road and they're bandaging having problems we had a band the under oath under not under oath who was with this one point and they weren't getting along on the road and I and I and I've been around and I told the band go home for a while, get away from each other for a little and they're a band that a lot of touring still ahead of him and then get it go back to the original garage you played in you see if you can still have fun together and once that fun it becomes the grind yeah and that you never know and that grind comes up slowly in this business so does grind couldn't come to you you could been on the run everything your day to day manager he still looks like he's you're looking maybe like you're twenty two now I know you're a little older now he's always had a baby face in this business, but you know where do you see yourself? You know you're in this business now you know you're in a good position I think in nashville connected down there, you know, everyone down there, you know you're pretty happy you get to be home all the time and you know, most of the time yeah, no, I do. I don't travel that much and, you know, a times I do miss troubling, but I'm okay being here. I made that decision to be here, and I found something that I enjoy. And and, you know, five, ten years from now, who knows if I'll still be a day to day manager? Maybe I'm become a full on band manager, maybe do something completely different. I don't know, you know this. I've done so many different roles in the music world from playing, attacking tour managing managing operations manager for your tours. Kevin, who knows? I'm ok if I do something completely different. As long as it's in the music industry, I'm happy because I've spent my entire life learning this and being a part of it. All right, well, so we have to wrap that up. The one thing is this. So you so your gypsy blood, which we could talk about is thinning out a little bit. Yes. You have to have gypsy blood to go on the road, but it could be it could be watered down a little bit so you can throw some roots in the ground because exactly.

Class Description

You can have a career in music – in The New Music Biz: Bands, Brands, Managers, & Tours, Kevin Lyman will show you how.

If you want to make a name for yourself and make an impact in the music industry – you have options. Kevin is the founder of the Vans Warped Tour, Rockstar Mayhem Fest and the catalyst behind an impressive range of successful projects and artists. In this class he’ll introduce you to your (many, many) options for building a career in the modern music industry. Kevin will talk to musicians about getting on festival tours and about operations jobs for people who are looking to get in on the business side. You’ll learn how to build and maintain a professional brand that will open doors for you and help connect you to the right people and expanding your opportunities in a constantly changing environment.

If you are serious about setting yourself up for a lifetime career in music you’ll want to watch this course. Kevin will set you on track for developing and sustaining a career that lasts.

Special Guests include:

  • Andy Biersack (Black Veil Brides)
  • Mike Kaminsky (Manager of the Summer Set and 3OH!3)
  • Jake Round (Pure Noise Records)

Reviews

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Beyond one of the greatest, if not the greatest, music biz courses I've ever taken. So thorough, with great speakers, and included such rich information. I truly appreciated and valued all that was said and all the hard work put into it. It was by far a class that's still worth talking about! - Tori Otamas