WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES
S T E V E S T R A N G E
MUSIC AGENT + PARTNER
Photograph by Aaron Gaiger
I. We need to talk more about the future of the business. If everyone depended on a label these days, we’d all be fucked. Don’t get me wrong, there are labels out there and they are trying their hardest. The business has changed. So you have to change with the business. And as an agent you have to go and seek new opportunities. Essentially that’s what we did with Queens of the Stone Age last year when they did Reading. We weren’t the bridesmaid, we were the fucking bride. Or as I would say, the fucking daddy. That answers that question.
II. I am for rehabilitation and building. I am for organic build, and I want to be quoted on that. I am for organic building, and building bands on rock rather than sand, because with that statement, it means that you’re actually building things properly, securely, and steadfastly. You’re not building on false foundations. The pop world can be a fickle market place, and very fast moving. You’re only as big as your next single. The Hip Hop world can also be fickle, as well as very money oriented, sometimes putting big unrealistic cheques ahead of thought out vision. But at the same time, you have to build acts that last for 10 to 20 years. The only way you can build things for 10 or 20 years is to build it properly. And build it stone by stone. I’m a firm believer of longevity.
III. The key to longevity is teamwork. It’s to have the right, proper well-rounded team. So you’re all united for the passion in the way and you are all fighting for the same cause, and you work as a team. Teamwork is the most important thing in my business.
IV. How do you achieve teamwork? You can’t achieve it by yourself. It’s very much led by the management. They can help you achieve that. As an agent, we’re only one part of the building process. If you can get the right team where everyone is likeminded, passionate, and talk to each other and help each other by building an act, then you have a foundation. For instance, in the early days, the press officer has an act that he knows is going out on tour, and he passes that information on to you and says, by the way, such and such is going on tour, that would be a great act for our band to tour with. That information is crucial because he will know it before anyone else. If you’ve got a great band, and you‘ve got great people that are working with that band, you can create monstrous opportunities because everyone’s equally passionate.
V. Longevity and loyalty go hand in hand. Generally, if you do a great service to someone and you build up a great relationship, a respect with the artist, then you can last for as long as you feel passionate. For example, there are bands like Ash, who I’ve been working with for 22 years. I’ve been working with them since they were 15-year-old kids, and had just come out of Belfast. I’ve had some very, very successful years with them, and I still do. I built them up in Southeast Asia, Australia, Japan, where they’re still a big artist to this day. In the UK, they’re going to sell out Shepard’s Bush Empire this time around. The venue’s up around the 1500 mark, which I think is a big testament to their hard work, good songwriting, and organic build. It all circles back to that word, longevity. It all comes back to organic build.
VI. You cannot turn a silk purse into a sow’s ear. You can’t polish a turd. Star quality is built within. It’s a personality. And then what you stand for, which is the songwriting. Combine yourself with these qualities and then you’ve got yourself a proper band.