The Role of an Artist Manager: An Interview with Maurice Laurin
Photo of Melanie Durrant, Courtesy of her manager, Maurice Laurin.
Maurice Laurin is a music manager and executive based out of Ottawa with over 17 years of music business history. Throughout the years, he has been credited with management, development, consulting and shopping a bevy of talent including Melanie Durrant, Tone Mason, Arthur McArthur, Midi Mafia, Frank Dukes, Mims and Boi-1da, to name a few. He's been involved in projects for artists such as Drake, Jay Z, Kelly Rowland, Big Boi, Tyga, Nas, Rick Ross, Ludacris, 50 Cent, Fantasia and others. Many of those records have gone on to achieve gold and platinum status. Maurice has also negotiated and secured major publishing deals for several of his clients. He is also co-owner of Canada’s most recognized online source for hip-hop culture: http://www.hiphopcanada.com
Q: You are involved with HipHopCanada.com and manage R&B/Soul and hip-hop artists & producers. What's new and promising in this genre, particularly in Canada?
A: As a co-owner at HipHopCanada.com, I’m always coming across great untapped homegrown talent throughout the country, from East to West. I’ve had some amazing success doing management for over a decade and in the last few years, I’ve witnessed winning stories like Drake, The Weeknd, Melanie Fiona, Classified, K’naan and a host of others. I can attest to the fact that more eyes are on Canada than ever before and it certainly doesn’t stop with artists alone. We have a new generation of young producers like Boi-1da, Noah “40” Shebib and T-Minus who have helped expand the awareness of Canadian producers on an international scale. I speak with many high-level executives on a daily basis and one of the common questions I’m asked is: “Who’s the next big superstar or producer from Canada?” People around the world are interested in what we have to offer. It’s definitely a promising time for our young up-and-coming talent.
Q: What are the challenges and rewards of being an artist manager?
A: In my case, the challenges I face differ depending on the client. When it comes to an artist, the challenges can be a wide variety of things. From finding the right producers/co-writers for a Melanie Durrant project, to gaining proper radio support in the Canadian market, to getting booked on the right tours and other key events necessary to showcase your artist on the main stage, these challenges can all be complicated at times. The challenges are different for a music producer who creates the backdrop for your favorite songs. Sonically, things change from time to time and one of the biggest challenges I face working with my producers is finding that balance between creative freedoms and staying current with the trends. It’s very important to find that balance in order stay true to the producer’s vision, but just as important to be able to sell their product to a potential artist.
As for the rewards, I would say one of the ultimate rewards that each of my clients share is the recognition or, more importantly, the appreciation received from the fans and the public. Even as a manager, I always get a rush when something I’ve been a part of is well received and people genuinely love the music. It makes you want to continue on.
Q: What makes a good relationship between an artist and his/her manager?
A: I have amazing loyalty with my clients and the only way it works for us is by teamwork, communication, honesty and education. I refuse to be the type of manager who keeps my clients in the dark in order to be in control. I know too many stories of artists who were not savvy enough to know what they were walking into and ultimately regretted the scenario they became stuck in. Besides helping them be creative, it’s so important to cultivate your clients and help them grow on the business level so they’ll be better prepared to understand the basics of how the music industry works. It makes them better decision-makers with the choices and options that come across the table throughout their careers.
Q: When is a new artist ready for management? How can he/she find a manager?
A: In my opinion, an artist needs to be patient and take the time to develop. They need to understand who they are and what their vision is. Hit the local circuit, try to meet people in the music industry and get some constructive criticism before you rush to find management. Once you’ve tested the waters, be honest with yourself, and you should be able to know if you’re ready or not. It’s also important to take your time when choosing a manager. Ask questions and do your research on any candidate that you’re looking at. And be careful about filling that important role with a “friend” or “family member” who really doesn’t have the necessary experience for the task at hand.
Q: How do you find new talent?
A: Experienced managers search and find talent everywhere. From YouTube, to word of mouth, to competitions, to talent shows, to websites likeHipHopCanada.com, I’ve found talent in many places. I met Canadian producer Arthur McArthur through an online beat contest when he was about 18 years old and have represented him since 2007. Another example: one of my business partners found a young singer named B Smyth on YouTube and went on to sign him through a worldwide deal with Motown/Universal in New York. In this age of technology and social media, if you create the awareness people will find you.
Author: Heidi Stock
Heidi Stock is the Founder of the 2014 Singer-Songwriter Mentor Experience, a contest accepting entries of original music from unsigned artists until December 22. Visit www.songwritermentorexperience.org Melanie Durrant is one of the contest judges.
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