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The Artist & Manager Relationship | #13

On this episode of Play the Music, Jeff and Mick interview Rebecca Sansom, founder and artist manager at Blonde Artist Management; and Celeste Krishna, pop-rock artist and producer.

First up, Mick interviews Krishna, who hails from Birmingham, Alabama, and whose song,Come On and Move Me,” was featured on NBC’s show “Good Girls.” During the interview, she talks about the differences between artistry and producing, how she chooses artists to collaborate with, her favorite (and least favorite) aspects of being both an artist and a producer, and what qualities make for a great manager in today’s music space.

Next, Jeff interviews Sansom, who founded Blonde Artist Management and has a background in broadcast journalism and independent filmmaking. Sansom discusses her perspective on artist management, how that role plays into an artist’s career and more.

Then, the four make their picks for FanLabel’s “Hot New Music” Best of Five Challenge.

For more on Celeste Krishna, visit her artist page on Blonde Artist Management, and follow her on Spotify and Instagram.

For more on Rebeca Sansom and Blonde Artist Management, stay up-to-date with the latest via Twitter.

Congratulations to FanLabel’s top players of the week!

  1. CK – Crystal
  2. Potato James – Lana
  3. Lisa616 Records – Lisa
  4. TSArban – Tyler
  5. GregMK – Greg

Click here for tickets to Celeste Krishna’s upcoming show mentioned during the show, taking place at New York’s Mercury Lounge on Thursday, March 19, 2020.



Jeff Sloan: [00:00:00] All right. Welcome to this episode of Play the Music. It’s the podcast focused on the music business and how charts work, how streaming works, how you make a hit song, what makes for a hit song. All of those kinds of things relating to the commercial side of the music business and Play the Music is a podcast in association with FanLabel, the cool new revolutionary app that allows you to open up a fantasy record label, pick artists and songs, play contests, test your ability to pick the next great hits on rise to the top of the leaderboards, earned some virtual royalties that you can spend in the FanLabel marketplace on really cool stuff.

Concert tickets, various other live event festival tickets, artists, merchandise. And other really, really cool VIP unique experience based stuff. This week, Mick Brege is joining me.

Mick Brege: [00:00:48] I am. Hi Jeff.

Jeff Sloan: [00:00:51] Great to have you, Mick. So this week we’re going to talk about the music business and a particular kind of relationship, the importance of artists management: how it fits in the scheme of the music business today, the importance of it to the artists, what the relationship is like with the expectations or like maybe even with some of the issues are that we want to cover and an understanding of how all that works.

Mick Brege: [00:01:13] I’m really excited to dive into this today.

Our guests are so, so very cool, and I was lucky enough to meet both of them last time I was in LA for music tectonics conference and I’m so glad to have Celeste Krishna and Rebecca Sansom.

Jeff Sloan: [00:01:28] Mick. Yeah. You get around. How do you get to all these places? You know, everyone we interview on the podcast, you know, you seem to have met.

It’s amazing. I love that about you.

Mick Brege: [00:01:37] Yeah. I think it’s, most of the time the people I meet, we meet talking in line for something, so it is just like, it is where I’m standing in any current place in time. It’s all just very serendipitous.

Jeff Sloan: [00:01:49] Curious nature. It’s your love of people. It’s your love of music. I know you go to these things and you work it. You work it. No stones left unturned.

Mick Brege: [00:02:00] I don’t have an agenda.

Jeff Sloan: [00:02:03] It’s natural for you. It’s seriously. That’s what I mean about your curious nature and just love it.

Mick Brege: [00:02:07] I think it’s important too, because.

You know, we talk about this a lot on the podcast. We’re in a kind of a time of a shift in the music scene, right? Like there’s a radical shift going on across the industry of how things are perceived in different ways to have different methods of output. And I think all of this is contributing to the way we interact.

Then how we talk to people and how we talk about the work. So I think, um, this is a really good time to be talking about the things we’re talking about cause everything’s changing. And I just love talking about that.

Jeff Sloan: [00:02:33] Well, listen, we want you to keep it up. You’re bringing great guests, great content, great subject matter of the podcast and beyond the whole FanLabel community experience of culture. And with no further ado now, since you’ve met these ladies that you’re going to be introducing us to today, why don’t you take it away? I know you want to start with an interview of a really cool artist and please introduce us Mick.

Mick Brege: [00:02:55] Yes. So, uh, first and foremost, I want to thank, uh, Celeste Krishna for being on the show.

So last, how are you? Thank you so much for being on Play the Music.

Celeste Krishna: [00:03:03] Oh, good. Thanks for having me.

Mick Brege: [00:03:05] Yeah, and just to give a little bit of background to our listeners today, Celeste is from Birmingham, Alabama and has produced and is a more or less a pop rock artist and covering just a wide range of genre here.

It’s a little bit of everything. Her music is described as an amalgamation of throwback and contemporary, and I know this really hits live too. If you get a chance to see Celeste live, definitely do. So her song “”Come on and Move Me”. It was featured on NBC show good girls, and here is a little bit of, “Come on and Move Me” before we jump in.

Jeff Sloan: [00:04:04] I gotta tell you one thing. I’m in love. That sounds amazing.

Mick Brege: [00:04:10] It was crazy cause I don’t even think I put the two and two together. When we had first met Celeste, like it was just, it was wild and just like getting a trance and talking and for a little bit of background, we just met just on the sidewalk.

Jeff Sloan: [00:04:23] Celeste, welcome.

Celeste Krishna: [00:04:25] Thank you. Yeah, that recording sounds nice. I haven’t heard it in a minute. You can feel how analog it was. Never touched digital until the very end.

Mick Brege: [00:04:35] No, it’s so, so good. Do you feel like this being a little bit older work of yours too, compared to what you’re doing now, how do you feel that you’ve evolved as an artist from “Come on and Move Me” to today?

Celeste Krishna: [00:04:47] Hmm. Well, my first songs, most all of them I wrote just sitting at a piano or sitting with a guitar and while I was, you know, composing the melody words and chords kind of simultaneously. And then it was kinda like, who’s going to play bass? Who’s going to play drums? And that was kind of that, you know, kind of classic rock type approach to, um, production and bringing it to, you know, put, putting meat on the song.

And then, um, I love to dance, particularly love to do African dance, Congolese dance, and, um, have been doing that for years, like over a decade. And I felt like all those kind of soul songs, I liked them and they were, you know, these kind of folky tunes were great, but I was really craving having more, um, rhythm in my work and the ability to dance and, and more beat based music.

So then I started writing the beats and then I learned. About production in a computer, working with synthesizers, you know, working with sampling, um, different programming techniques and all that stuff. And then I kind of made a whole album around that process. It was very groove, uh, you know, dance music.

And then now I made a record called “”My Blue House”.” And it’s sort of as a merger of the two sounds, I would say. And then also some, something else, I don’t know where, you know, spaceship, just keep blasting off into somewhere new. So. I just kind of do whatever I’m feeling, I’d change it up, but I’m definitely way more of a producer, I would say nowadays, and it was back in the day.

Mick Brege: [00:06:23] I love that. So it’s really just his creative interest that leads you into where you want to go. How do you like producing over doing the, doing your own recording or recording yourself in your own voice? How is that different for you?

Celeste Krishna: [00:06:38] Well, I like to have a recording engineer there. Um, mostly when I’m doing, for example, singing because, um, then I can really zone in and focus on being a singer.

When I think of the production nowadays, it’s just much more about, um. For example, “My Blue House”, I made a demo, which arranged all the parts, drums and everything before I brought in the band and you know, the co-producers and the engineers to make the album. So it was sort of like, “Here’s the blueprint.”

Now it’s like, you know, build the house. Um, so that’s the biggest change for me is, is more just that I’m like, kinda like, I, I pretty much have the structure there before I bring people in, or at least that’s how I did my last record. I think as a producer, you don’t have to take that approach. You could be much more like, you know, just inviting people to play their vibe as well.

And I, and I do that too, but for this album, that’s what I wanted to do. But it was just much more like. What is this sound? What is the choice? What does the feeling of this song? How do I want it to feel? And thinking much more about, you know, the production than I had in the past where it was just literally like, Hey, who will play this song with me?

Mick Brege: [00:07:45] And when it’s in your head like that, and when you’re getting it out of you into the world, how do you, how do you make the decision as a producer from, “I need this person on a track?” How do you find those collaborators for you? What are you looking for?

Celeste Krishna: [00:07:58] So five years ago, I was like, damn, I’d never worked with women.

Um, unless they sing harmonies. And one of my friends used to play violin on some stuff, but it’s pretty much always dudes. And then I was like, “Man, I really want to work with women. I want to know that’s like.” So then. Well, he set the intention to work with female-identifying folks from my live show.

And through that I met a lot of really good players and musicians and also producers, and kind of started to just build a community around that. And that really helped me meet a lot of players. And then through playing shows with the, you know, sometimes one drummer couldn’t do it, play another drummer and try, you know, see who you know.

Getting different fields. You kind of find like, “Oh man, this drummer is perfect for this pocket, or this drummer is great for this pocket.” And kind of that type of thing. And then it’s very friends of friends. It’s like, “I need a drummer who can play something that feels like Tom Petty.” Or it’s like, “Hey, I need a drummer who can play like the ‘Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.’”

So for this album I actually ended up working with two drummers, um, for that reason, um, because when drummer I worked with amazing Camille Gainer Jones, who literally got off toward Diana Ross and came to the studio with us. And she just plays like things with sort of, Hip-Hop R&B type rhythms, um, just with such power.

And it’s, uh, it’s insane. And then another friend of ours, a friend of a friend, my co-producer, Adele, her buddy Luca from Lima, Peru. He had more of a jazz background and he, we worked with him more on kind of the, the rock and roll, if you will. Um, more pure, folky, I would say, kind of stuff. And, um, anyway, that’s just an example.

Mick Brege: [00:09:45] Right. And it sounds like the people that you work with are all coming from diverse backgrounds and sounds and bringing something unique to the table creatively. Would you say that’s one of your favorite parts of being an artist and producer is getting to work with them and kind of creating this scene?

I know we were talking a little bit about this before we were rolling.

Celeste Krishna: [00:10:04] I cherish the time of writing and, and building the multi-track demos and like kind of preparing them all, but then when I started bringing friends into it and I, so the album is called “My Blue House” and my big goal was like, well, I want to make a space where people can enter even like the musicians, so listeners. And so I did a we a kickoff thing called the “My Blue House” family dinner in the spring. And I made, um, it was sort of ceremonial like a, I set a table, I made like paintings and invitations for people who had a program and there was like a blue playlist that was playing. Then I told everybody kind of their role in the house. So like my buddy Philippe, I mean, “you’re the handyman,” my friend Marianne, “you’re my playmate, my playroom,” my friend Adele, you’re my midwife. And they were literally – the guitarist, the pianist, you know, the co-producer, like they played on it then and anyway, we just had fun.

We had so much fun. Then we played and we went into the studio it was like, I had a team, I had a family. We did the vocals in a cabin upstate at the artist residency called aunt Karen’s farm. We had a house in the woods and like just a bunch of friends came up. We set up the mic in the den and we’re like cooking dinner and like, you know, having fun

Mick Brege: [00:11:33] And there’s, there’s so much creative work that goes into that. It is, so, it’s coming from somewhere really deep inside you, I imagine. And I imagine that’s like a really, really taxing part of the process is allowing this to come out and be creative in this sense. So what would you say a, being an artist, what are your, you know, working with this might be your favorite part – but what are your least favorite parts in today’s music industry of being an artist?

Celeste Krishna: [00:11:56] I’d say my least favorite parts are the expectation for the constant self-promotion. Um, the, the constant branding, constantly thinking of yourself as like some sort of a capitalist enterprise. Yeah, I that stuff like it is really hard emotionally as an artist, but me and some friends, like my friend Adele, she has a project that Rosie, we’re in and Blonde, Rebecca, her management company, we’re trying to do what we can to make the environment more nourishing for us as a community and like push back on some, some kind of like capitalist, patriarchal structures that really, you know, push the industry or the infrastructure.

Jeff Sloan: [00:12:47]

I just want to jump in. First of all, I love hearing about who you are and it’s clear to me that your music, I mean the word that kept jumping out to me as I listened to you, you’re an artist, you’re here. A real true artist and everything seems to be very authentic with you. Even down to how you described when we listened to your song at the beginning, right before the interview, your comment was, it sounds “analog” to me and I liked that. I mean, “analog,” you know, I know you were using that term probably more technically in that moment, but I think more broadly, it really stands for a more natural, you know, a kind of throwback, right? That throwback to the good old times when music was just made very naturally. And it doesn’t surprise me, by the way, when Mick, you asked the question about what parts are difficult for you being in the music business as an artist, and the answer was, you know, kind of the business side of being in the music business, you know, just kind of more broadly saying it that way. You mentioned branding, having to sell yourself constantly and so on. That tension between being an artist and frankly being in business, right? As an artist, those two things sometimes can be in conflict with one another.

They don’t necessarily go together. You can be a great artist, but not necessarily a great business person. And then there’s artists who have had great fame and success by really frankly, being better at the business side, maybe even than the music talent side. Right? And we see both sides of this equation.

So it’s just really refreshing to have someone on who comes from such an authentic place as an artist, as you do. Yeah. I love it.

Celeste Krishna: [00:14:18] Yeah. I, I mean, I appreciate that. And it’s true. I mean, I just, I’m doing this for the love and I love music and I love to make music and it gives my life meaning, and I hope that it can reach people.

And if I came away like from that, then I wouldn’t want to do it.

Jeff Sloan: [00:14:38] Yeah. Right.

Mick Brege: [00:14:40] And I love that you and Rebecca, your manager have this dynamic where you are creating a nourishing, safe space for artists and you’re going a way between making things and doing the work and figuring out the new business aspect of this is, this is kind of a changing environment and influx.

Can you talk about, from your perspective to Rebecca’s side before we talk to Rebecca in a second here, what do you think makes for a great manager in today’s music space?

Celeste Krishna: [00:15:07] I mean, this probably always makes a great manager, is they gotta believe in you and I suppose they wouldn’t be doing it otherwise cause it’s a very, you know, risky business.

So I think really believing in the artist and being a person who’s going to nourish that process. And also being somebody, for me, I care about the political ethos around the business partnership of like, “what are we doing in the world? What are we putting out in the world? How are we putting out in the world?”

And so the values of the manager for me are what’s most important. And Rebecca can tell you more about Blonde’s values. But, uh, I mean, I suppose I’ll say them. They’re respect, excellence and community. And for me, everything she does like really comes from that place. And so I’m like them with that, you know, that’s what I’m about to.

So that’s for me, like #1. And then #2 she’s just got to hustle.

Jeff Sloan: [00:16:11] One of the things that I know will be interesting to hear about is this very unique approach that Rebecca takes to artists’ management. You know, normally you’d think of artist management as pretty hardcore business, you know, earning those revenues and doing everything you can to generate as much revenue from the artist relationship as you possibly can, and of course promoting the artist and earning those revenues is part of the management’s job, certainly from a business standpoint, but we’re going to hear about Rebecca’s approach, which I think is really refreshing and frankly is working for her as it relates to generating really good business as well.

Rebecca Sansom is the manager, Celeste’s manager, and Rebecca, tell us what a manager does broadly and then your particular personal take on how to do it right, how to do it well.

Rebecca Sansom: [00:16:57] I’m happy to be here. Yeah. Blonde is a management company and like Celeste was saying, we have three core values: excellence, respect, and community.

And to me that was really important. So all of my artists are going to produce excellent work and command respect, but being community-minded and driven is really important to me.

Jeff Sloan: [00:17:20] That strikes me as very unique. I mean, I would think that most management companies have, I said, you know, “What are your guiding principles?”

You know, I would expect to hear things like “Hustle.” You know, you know, creative business, you know, marketing, good negotiation skills, right? You know, good strategic sense. Those are the things that I would expect to hear. But to hear these other values really as guiding principles first and foremost. I mean, those are the ones you mentioned about your company.

That’s different, isn’t it?

Rebecca Sansom: [00:17:52] I hope it’s refreshing.

Jeff Sloan: [00:17:53] Well, it is. It is refreshing. Let me ask this very tough question. Does it work?

Rebecca Sansom: [00:17:57] I think so. Yeah. We’re really building something.

Jeff Sloan: [00:18:00] And how do you measure if it’s working or not, you know, as a management company, what are the guideposts by which good management is generally measured?

Rebecca Sansom: [00:18:09] Getting recognition, getting those “yes’s” from the universe, word of mouth and artists wanting to work with me. That’s what does it for me, and that’s happening constantly.

Jeff Sloan: [00:18:20] So let’s break it down a bit here. I mean, as an artist manager, you first have to go out and get an artist at a minimum or a roster of artists that you represent – either you are and where your firm represents. And tell us first about the nature of that relationship. It’s really a sort of a partnership because the compensation from that comes in the form of shared success, right?Break it down for us, just very generally. What’s the structure of that relationship?

Rebecca Sansom: [00:18:47] Well, for me personally, I was a filmmaker before a manager and I met Celeste and as a filmmaker, I’m drawn to captivating subjects, right? So I met Celeste, totally captivated by her, such a good friend. But then I realized she was making this amazing music and I had to get involved in some way. So I started documenting her and I ended up filming when she was recording her record from awhile ago. I made a short documentary about it. It got into a film festival and that’s how I supported her. And then I moved out to California and met another captivating subject who was M the Myth, um, started filming them.

And that really seamlessly transitions into representation. So I called and was like, “Hey, I’m kind of representing my friend who’s a musician. They’re amazing, and I just wanted you to know that I’m doing representation now.” And she was like, “I want you to represent me.” And that’s how Blonde became kind of a thing.

So it was just Celeste and M at the beginning.

Jeff Sloan: [00:20:01] I’m really intrigued by. Again, and it’s interesting, it’s consistent with the principles you’ve established for your company as being the overarching, you know, the guiding principles by which you go about your business and what’s important to you. But let me ask you, when you forge, just from a business standpoint, when you forge these relationships with artists, what is the structure, the business structure between you and the artist?

Rebecca Sansom: [00:20:24] Yeah, so it’s a monthly retainer and then a percentage of the gross sales.

Jeff Sloan: [00:20:30] Okay. So the artists pays you a month of retainer and then, and then the real reward’s, if you will, what everybody’s in it for from a business standpoint, is to share in those sales, the monthly sales.

Rebecca Sansom: Yes. Yeah.

Celeste Krishna: [00:20:43] It’s not just sales. Gross is everything. So if you get a sync license, then the manager gets that to some gross revenue.

Jeff Sloan: [00:20:49] Gross revenue that the artist earns. Okay, great. And in exchange, the management company is providing support, guidance, uh, you know, friendship, I’m sure a lot of handholding, no doubt, but also kind of the business side, again, tell me some of the examples of relationships that you’re trying to forge that result in the gross revenue that the artist and you share in.

Rebecca Sansom: [00:21:14] Well, I mean, that’s kind of how we met Mick. Going to conferences and music tectonics, that Rock, Paper, Scissors this past year was the main thing, but I was out there mostly for Sync Up the next day, a conference for sync licensing.

Jeff Sloan: [00:21:31] Well, what does that mean? Break it down for us. So, when you’re trying to generate revenue for an artist, what are the sources of revenue that you’re pursuing? Where do those revenues come from? You guys are working together, obviously it’s a partnership with a manager and the idea is you’re going after concert appearances, right?

Revenue from concert, live appearances-

Celeste Krishna: [00:21:52] Tickets, merch, sales, streams, and sync placements

Mick Brege: [00:21:56] We’re talking about relationships here too with the rest of the industry. I think something we talked about in LA, which was interesting as it extends to both you and Celeste, was the importance of earnest representation and the things that you’re doing through Blonde Management.

So it was everything from Celeste’s band being women-led to acknowledging that there are these difficult barriers that extended both at Tectonics and things that were being discussed, uh, around the time of these conferences that are existing in the music industry today. So how have you both kind of acknowledged and overcome these challenges that you’re saying that, that we’re talking about?

Rebecca Sansom: [00:22:31] So, Erica Rose has been like mentoring me this year and she’s been invaluable. She did manage Alicia keys for a long time. And just bringing back more of a spiritual aspect into the music industry, because at the end of the day, it’s music. It’s art that we get to work in and create, so it should be more holistic and spiritual and not toxic and like, I mean, to make it timely, the whole Grammys thing with Deborah Dougan, that’s a really good example of what we shouldn’t be doing.

Mick Brege: [00:23:09] Do you see some of these changes making their way rippling out through the industry now?

Rebecca Sansom: [00:23:14] Yeah, and I think that the diversity task force and another person, I look up to, Ty Stiklorius, John Legend’s manager who is on the diversity task force has been talking about how they send out, I think it was 17 points that the Grammys and the recording Academy should adhere to.

And instead of like implementing those things, they let Deborah go and get rid of this woman in leadership because she’s calling them out. But I think this is going to be like a groundbreaking moment to where it’s already happening. Like we’re feeling more empowered. Change is going to happen. Like it’s not going to stay this way.

Celeste Krishna: [00:23:52] I mean Me Too and Time’s Up. I mean, that stuff I think is, impacting women. And there are a lot of women in business. And like for example, one, my friend, she had has a, I mentioned her early bit earlier, has a platform that focuses on, um, documenting women who are engineers and producers because less than 5% of the music made is, has been engineered or produce by women, but that kind of misses the whole story, that there’s actually a shit-ton of women who are doing that. They’re just not getting recognized. And frankly, it’s pretty much, I mean, the truth is it’s you know, an older man’s club, um, people who have power and who have access to a lot of the resources in the music industry.

So, I dunno. I just, I definitely feel that in my community. I mean, with Rebecca and everything, we’re thinking about these kinds of things constantly. For example, I’m in my recording process, there were times where I worked with, there was a couple men that I’ve worked with in the past or, you know, there’s sort of an assumption that, “okay, you’re the artist, you’re the singer,” and then sort of look straight past me or kind of like, um, big dog me. Like there’s just this dynamic of like, “I’m the big dog here,” especially when there’s somebody who’s really experienced, cause I worked with some people who have like big names under their belt and, um, and it’s, uh, yeah, there’s sort of, I have experienced a tone where I don’t feel as valued and I feel like they’re totally looking past things like, Oh, just kind of like sing or some shit.

It’s sort of like, okay, there’s a moment where that’s happening. Um, then the challenge is, okay, lean in right here, or is it just like, I want to just get through my session and then I’m just not going to hire this person again? And just the history of like, my music career of has been, if I experienced that there’s sort of a dynamic where the person doesn’t treat other people with respect because of their position or because of just being like crippled by like privilege or whatever it is, like emotionally crippled. Then for me, if they’re not like people who are conscious or open to learning, then like they’re off, like I’m not going to work with them again. In music, I think I have the choices enough to do that, and I’ve gotten to the point where I’m having a lot less of that showing up in my artistic process because of how selective I am about the people who are invited in. In the business world, I’m a little concerned, um, because, you know, I, I’m, I want to leverage any relationship, frankly, that we can, but it’s sort of a question of like, how do you, for example, the Grammy’s, like, okay, if we want a Grammy, great.

I mean, they basically have an electoral college. I learned from somebody in the Grammys who’s, who makes my album, Elliot Shiner that, um, you know, all the people can vote for a song to win a Grammy, and then the people in the Grammys can basically be like, “No, that song can’t win because that song’s not good.”

Mick Brege: [00:27:29] if it totally takes the vote?

Celeste Krishna: [00:27:30]

Yeah. That happened with the song “Macarena” when I heard that, I’m like, man, and then I’m like, well, maybe we don’t – I’m saying how this stuff, but it’s like was when it was winning a Grammy, the goal? It’s like, I would love to win a Grammy because of, you know, the platform would be an amazing opportunity and you see artists like Lizzo, um, and like Solange Knowles and Jay-Z and Beyonce, like black badasses who are up there challenging the establishment and, and they’re saying like, “Hey, this is who I’m trying to inspire. Hey, black women are already Grammys.” Kind of like, “this is nice,” but like, I dunno.

I think there’s a lot of cool stuff going on there, even with huge artists.

Mick Brege: [00:28:14] Right. And, and you know, there’s so much work to do, but it does sound like these are the virtues that you hold, you know through Blonde Management – the vision of subverting the notion that, you know, kind of what you say, you have to look or act a certain way to make it.

Um, that’s, that’s, it looks like one of your, your tenants and what you, you both do

Rebecca Sansom: [00:28:32] I’m really proud of blonde and are kind of like you were saying, and I’m proud of our roster. Three of our artists are non-binary artists of color. Goldilocks, M the myth and Jose Rivera Jr., Celeste and Elisa and ions Hora so I’m proud of that.

I want to see more of that.

Jeff Sloan: [00:28:50] Amazing. And then the fact that you’re proud of it and these things are important to you. They shine through your business throughout, both in the artists that you select and the way you go about your business, what’s important to you, the values that are important to you and the artists.

You know, it’s it’s a really refreshing take on artist management, and we really appreciate you sharing your story and, and Celeste, you sharing yours. And now I want to get in to something that we can all agree on and that is how cool FanLabel is. And let’s jump right into this week’s FanLabel Five contests.

Let’s do some song picking. Have you guys been playing FanLabel?

Rebecca Sansom: [00:29:28] I love it

Jeff Sloan: [00:29:29] Cool, cool. All right. Very cool. So now, since you guys have been playing your experience, let’s see how good you are. What we do, we have a featured contest in FanLabel each week. And when we do the podcast, we have Mick and myself, and when Rich’s on with us as well, my brother co-founder of . FanLabel, but when he’s on the show, we all pick the songs that we believe are going to be the most commercially successful in the featured FanLabel Five contest. And this week we’ve got a Hot New Music challenge. So these are songs that are recently dropped and this is new music and we’re going to use our ear, we’re going to listen to the songs, and we’re going to pick the ones that we think are going to be most commercially successful over the next week based on the songs that get the most streams.

Okay. We’re going to run down each of the songs. Then we’ll go on the record and each of us, we’ll pick the song that we think is going to be the winner out of the five. All right. Let’s start with our first song. This song is called “Simmer,” and it’s by Hayley Williams. This is in the alternative genre.

Mick Brege: [00:30:46] No. Paramore it’s definitely not a Paramore sound.

Jeff Sloan: [00:30:51] Love it.

Mick Brege: [00:30:52] This is from her debut solo album “Petals for Armor,” which is actually dropping this year on May 8th. Uh, but yeah, Haley Williams, historically known as the lead singer of Paramore, and the band’s on a break right now, it’s been 15 years, and this is her first solo work, which is insane, but it definitely does not have that, that Paramore vibe.

Jeff Sloan: [00:31:14] All right. So that’s “Simmer” in the alternative category. Now, the second song we have as an option is a song called “la” by Kelsea Ballerini. Let’s take a listen. That’s in the pop country genre categories. Um. And that’s just a great sound.

Mick Brege: [00:31:45] So this is actually from our third studio album, “Kelsea” which is going to release this year on March 20th so that’s actually coming up and we love a homecoming queen.

We love a homecoming queen. We love Kelsey.

Jeff Sloan: [00:31:55] Great sound. Alright, third song that we have as an option is a song called “Chapter” by Christian Paul. This is in the pop category. Let’s take a listen.

They’re all really, really high quality – great music so far. Christian Paul is a 20 year old singer, songwriter based in Jacksonville, Florida. He’s raised on soul music, and you can hear those elements coming through. Just a great sound.

Mick Brege: [00:32:31] His influencies include Sam Cooke and D’Angelo, which I think are a great combination.

Rebecca Sansom: [00:32:41] Yes.

Celeste Krishna: [00:32:42] D’Angelo isn’t my influence. He’s my God.

Jeff Sloan: [00:32:44] Really?

Celeste Krishna: [00:32:45] Just kidding. I really do bow down at D’Angelo

Jeff Sloan: [00:32:53] Well, I can tell you this clearly it’s working for Christian Paul. All right. “Some Kind of Disaster” song number four by All Time Low.

Mick Brege: [00:33:13] Yeah. In 2003 they were in high school in Maryland and they started as a high school cover band, and then they became that pop punk group. So that’s insane. I’ll be first to go on the record to say that I narrowly avoided a pop punk phase, so I never had, I never had an All Time Low period, but I feel like everyone has at some point.

Jeff Sloan: [00:33:54] All right. Moving right along the fifth song, the final option is a song called “Boss Bitch” by a Doja Cat. That’s here in the hip hop category.

Mick Brege: [00:34:22] “Boss Bitch.” That’s right. It’s from the soundtrack of the Birds of Prey film that’s coming out with Margot Robbie. I am a huge Margot Robbie fan, and I really hope it’s good when it comes on on February 7th. I’m really looking forward to this. Okay. But we all know Doja from “MOOO!” and she’s just been absolutely killing it since.

Dojo has such such a fun vibe, such a fun sound.

Jeff Sloan: [00:34:47] Hey guys, we’ve got five amazing songs, all of which are probably going to meet with great commercial success, but our job is to go on the record and pick the one we think we’ll stream the most, have the most commercial success over the next week or so that this contest runs.

Now the big question here is who’s going to go on the record first? Who’s going to lay down the hammer here?

Celeste Krishna: [00:35:13] Okay. This is not based on my personal favorite. However, I think the country, Kelsea song would be the most like top 40 streams.

Jeff Sloan: [00:35:21] I was so interested to hear what you were going to say, but I have to tell you, and I want to go on the record of saying this. That’s my pick. But, not because you said it. That’s my pick, I’m right there with you, Celeste. That’s a hot song.

Rebecca Sansom: [00:35:39] I think we all have golden ears.

Mick Brege: [00:35:42] Rebecca, you’ve got to go ahead.

Are you on Kelsea Ballerini chain train?

Rebecca Sansom: [00:35:48] I literally put a star next to that one.

Mick Brege: [00:35:53] You guys are all riding the Kelsey Ballerini. I think that from strategy that might perform, but like isn’t “Boss Bitch” in “Birds of Prey?”

Jeff Sloan: [00:36:04] I was going to say “Boss Bitch” was my second choice.

Celeste Krishna: [00:36:07] Personal favorite.

Jeff Sloan: [00:36:08] Yeah, and it’s in the hip hop genre category, which is always hot from a stream standpoint.

Mick Brege: [00:36:14] So I, every time I’ve been on, I’ve picked accurately, uh, not to toot my own horn here,but I’m going to put, I think I’m going to go out on a whim and put “Boss Bitch.”

Jeff Sloan: [00:36:28] Yeah.

Mick Brege: [00:36:30] Number one,

Jeff Sloan: [00:36:32] That’s a good pick.

That’s a good pick. I really am kind of bummed that Mick picked that song cause you have done like, I don’t know, like four or five weeks in a row now you’ve picked the right song and, and I think that’s a really strong pick.

Well, this is fun. Well, listen, ladies, it’s been amazing having you on. Great hearing both of your stories. Great hearing about the amazing work you’re doing, both on the artistic side of the music business as well as the business side. Uh, really refreshing approaches on both levels. And I’ll tell you what.

I’m a Celeste fan from here on out, that’s for sure.

Celeste Krishna: [00:37:17] Thanks y’all.

Rebecca Sansom: [00:37:22] There’s the Mercury Lounge show on March 19th,

Mick Brege: [00:37:25] Mercury lounge, New York. Thursday, March 19

Celeste Krishna: [00:37:29] The Spring Equinox

Mick Brege: [00:37:33] Where could we follow you both and where can we hear more?

Celeste Krishna: [00:37:36] For my music, follow Celeste Krishna on Spotify or wherever you listen to music, and you can stay in touch on Instagram.

Mick Brege: [00:37:44] And the Instagram handle is

Celeste Krishna: [00:37:46] @Celeste_Krishna with an underscore in the middle,

Mick Brege: [00:37:50] Correct. And also,

Rebecca Sansom: [00:37:52] Yes, please follow Blonde Artist Management on Instagram @blondeartistmgmt.

Jeff Sloan: [00:37:59] Fun stuff. Listen, Rebecca, the business world in general needs more people like you in it, not just the music business. What a refreshing approach to doing business.

Love it. Love it. Keep up the great work. Ladies, thanks so much for being on.

So we’ve got our picks on the record. Mick and what we want to do is review last week’s. Let’s take a run down of how we all fared in the last episode’s FanLabel Five.

You know, man, I had a good feeling until I saw the results. Uh, listen, I’ve been doing extremely well. I think I have had a run of five or six weeks episodes in a row where I picked the top song. I think my reign as King though is coming to an end as of this week because. Darn it. Mick Brege got involved. And mic now again picked the number one song and we also had on Rucker, Rosenberg last week, digital marketing strategist at ChartMetric. You guys both picked the number one song and that song was far and away the winner. The song was “Good News” by Mac Miller, at 7.3 million streams.

Mick Brege: [00:39:12] You know what? Rutger and I were scheming.

Jeff Sloan: [00:39:18] Here’s the clue. Rutger works at ChartMetric.

Mick Brege: [00:39:24] Right. And I work at FanLabel.

Jeff Sloan: [00:39:25] He gave you insider information. I know he did. I know he did, didn’t he?

And not only – to rub salt into the wound here, not only did you beat us, us being me and Rich with our pics, but Rich and I miserably failed coming in at number five. We’ll get to that in a second. Let’s run down the list of songs. Of course. Again, as we said, “Good News” at 7.3 million streams is the winner, and second place was “Diamonds”

Megan Thee Stallion and Normani had 1.7 million streams. Interestingly enough, both the songs in the hip hop genre. Maybe that’s telling us something. Maybe that’s telling us something. In number three, “Hall of Fame” by Gabby Barrett with 147 thousand streams.

Great song – country genre. Here we go from 7.3 million in number one, 1.7 million in number two, both hip hop categories. Number three, 147,000 streams. Huge jump. Big job. Amazing. All right. Number four, “Enough for Now” by Ethan Gruska and Phoebe Bridgers.

Mick Brege: [00:40:54] 133,000 streams is nothing to scoff at for an alternative genre with independent –

Jeff Sloan: [00:41:01] for sure. That’s a pretty good run,

Mick Brege: [00:41:03] I think. Uh, you know, both of them are standouts too, so not surprising that they did really well for an alternative release.

Jeff Sloan: [00:41:09] What’s going on here? The song that finished in fifth position is “Break my Broken Heart” by Winona Oak.

10,000 streams. Rich and I bought into this, we picked this as number one,

Mick Brege: [00:41:25] So I have to ask Jeff, does the number 7,290,000 ring a bell to you at all? Because that is how many streams I beat you by.

Jeff Sloan: [00:41:35] Yes. The bell. It rings the bell. It rings. You and Rutger were in cahoots. He was giving you insider information from ChartMetric no less. Having all that access to that data. I don’t know. I mean, what do you do with that?

You got to admit one thing. Just tell me what you think of “Break My Broken Heart” as a song?

Mick Brege: [00:41:54] I mean, yeah, it’s fine. It’s a stock poppy song, you know? And I think it really just depends on the artist who in the time it comes out and how it’s being utilized.

Jeff Sloan: [00:42:04] Does it say anything about which type of songs get streamed?

Mick Brege: [00:42:06] Oh yeah, of course. I mean, I think it shows that, you know, you can have a song that sounds like it’s going to be at the top of the charts and it is 100% an execution and kind of what we were talking about earlier in the interview, it’s a little bit dependent on the how you approach advertising and marketing.

Jeff Sloan: [00:42:26] It’s the music business, isn’t it?

Exactly. Music business. Indeed. Well, there we have it. There’s the rundown, the breakdown of last week’s contest. Mick, beyond that, I know you and your team are hard at work on always making the FanLabel experience richer. And we’ve got some players that are killing it. Uh, let’s talk about both, you know, players that are really, really doing well and emerging as top players as well as any new features coming out on the app.

Mick Brege: [00:42:48] For sure.

So taking it back to FanLabel for a little bit. Number one Crystal CK back at number one with 1.4 million royalties, followed by Lana, number two, Potato Jams. Again, 1.4 they are about, it’s neck and neck right now. We’ve been watching these two go a go at it all week. You know, maybe ten thousand twenty thousand difference in royalty sometimes. So these are some of our top players. And then Lisa is back at number three. Lisa 616 records, 1.48 million royalties. And then Tyler, number four, TSR Ben 1.3. And it just goes down from there. So again, you have some of these top players who have been playing FanLabel for a really long time competing, but also jumping up and down.

And we’ve seen players who haven’t been in the top ever making their way up there too. And I want to give a shout out to, you know, some of the people who are new to the global leader board, like a IB which is, Lynn who has almost a million streams and she’s number 16 right now. I want to say.

Jeff Sloan: [00:43:50] million royalties

Mick Brege: [00:43:53] Yeah, million royalties.

It’s amazing. Climbing up there so you can kind of see exactly how this breaks down. People are playing, even new players are climbing and getting close to the top with the royalties that they have.

Jeff Sloan: [00:44:04] And you know what it says to me, not only are these people playing, these are people who love music and these are people who know music.

I mean, they are emerging as people in our community who really know good music and are tastemakers, they’re able to pick great songs. I mean, fundamentally you don’t earn royalties in FanLabel unless you can do that. So, that’s amazing.

Mick Brege: [00:44:23] We have such a diverse pool of genres, and artists and it is across the board. So people who are scoring that high, you have to have really good taste

Jeff Sloan: [00:44:35] Cause they’re likely playing every category. Now you can play, you know, just a single category if you’re really into country for example, or you can play across the board and play all the categories. That’s, that’s amazing. So that’s the global leaderboard. There’s total earnings across all playing from all time. And we’ve got some new features coming out.

Mick Brege: [00:44:56] Yeah. So we actually, we just launched an update.

Uh, many of you might have had the chance to check out what’s new, easier ways to take a look at your past challenges, Quick Picks. And of course, your Fantasy Contests. Uh, we’re continuously updating that and now it’s easier for you to keep track of what all the challenges that are happening in one place, which is updated by our content team.

So as always, take a look, add friends now, add your friends, get people involved and see how they’re doing and what their scores are. You have a nicer way to view metrics on, on your label too. So. If I’m nailing these Quick Picks every time, my ratio is going to be way higher than yours or Rich’s.

Jeff Sloan: [00:45:33] Absolutely. And you know what I really love? Um, we continue to enrich the experience, so that’s going to keep happening. But you know, what I see happening is a community of people that are really getting immersed in this as part of their way of life. You know, they’re really digging this FanLabel thing we’re getting lots of great feedback and we’re creating a culture. We’re creating a community of people that are serious about their love of music, and this is just another way to experience it, a deeper way to experience it. And it’s just really fun to see this whole vision and dream now becoming such a active and vibrant reality.

Mick Brege: [00:46:09] And those people love music as much as we love those people.

Jeff Sloan: [00:46:15] We do. We appreciate it.

Mick Brege: [00:46:16] So we love our fans of FanLabel, and we hope you continue to enjoy it. And of course, always stay in contact to us at

Jeff Sloan: [00:46:27] okay. All right. Right on. Thanks. Great show. Thanks a lot, and we’ll be back next week with more on Play the Music. Before we sign off, we want to thank our production team, Cara O’Bleness, Kristin Kujawa, Andrea Garcia, Daman Nallamothu, Ryan O’Bleness, and our engineer, Mark Pastoria. Download the FanLabel app from the Apple Store or the Google Play Store and play FanLabel today!

FanLabel Staff

FanLabel Staff

Enjoy great music and fun contests as you operate your own fantasy record label in the FanLabel app! Pick the songs you think will rise on the contest charts. Compete for the top spot and become a music mogul!