What it's like to be a music manager in Singapore
Managing local music talent is a long-term partnership that comes with its fair share of risks
Local singers may be getting more recognition now, but who are the people who take these musicians to the top?
Music managers do everything - from grooming singers and booking shows to devising marketing strategies and managing schedules - it is no walk in the park.
Most music managers, like Mr Dean Augustine and Mr Willy Tan, work through public holidays and weekends.
They don't even get to sleep very much.
And with a slowing economy, stronger competition and changing music consumption, the challenges facing them and their artists are bigger than ever.
"Unique" or "quirky" is a strong selling point in a small music industry, said Mr Tan, the head of content agency and talent management company Aging Youth. It is a strategy he uses to differentiate his artists from others of the same genre.
How musicians go viral nowadays has also changed the way managers market and position their talents.
"I always tell young artists to embrace their unique qualities because that goes a long way in a small market," said Mr Tan, 38.
For example, while "everyone wants to be on Instagram", Mr Tan said, his artist, electronic musician Jasmine Sokko, is quite low-key. It is this "air of mystery" that gets people interested, he said.
His company has hip hop collective Grizzle Grind Crew, which includes rapper Shigga Shay, among its stable of artists.
Managers keep their ears to the ground, relying on industry buzz, streaming services and gigs to lead them to their next big discovery.
And signing a new act comes with its fair share of risks - in fact, risk-taking is par for the course throughout the partnership, said Mr Augustine, founder of Cross Ratio Entertainment.
"A lot of money - sometimes personal savings - is involved to promote your artists and it can take a long time before you see the returns," said Mr Augustine, 43, who works with Tay Kewei and Project Superstar winner Alfred Sim.
Like most industries, the music market has been hit by the slow economy, with fewer bookings and lower budgets.
"This leads to situations where you ask - do you stick to your guns or accept a lower price from clients?" said Mr Tan.
For most managers, the working relationship with their artists is often a long process that sees the latter through multiple album releases, image changes and varying stages of popularity.
It is important, said Mr Augustine, to "not treat the artists like they are merely products".
"You're in it together with them."
Mr Dean Augustine and Mr Willy Tan, with Foundation Music director Kevin Foo and management consultant Audrey Lim will shed light on their jobs at a sharing session at Hood Bar and Cafe today.
- WHAT: Music Managers Sharing Session
- WHEN: Today, 5 to 7.30pm
- WHERE: Hood Bar and Cafe, Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street, #05-07
- COST: First drink charges apply