Charlotte Abroms is a Melbourne based Music Manager at her own Hear Hear Group, guiding the careers of Australian acts Haarlo, Ainslie Wills, Gretta Ray (winner of triple j’s Unearthed High 2016) and Angie McMahon (winner of the 2017 Josh Pyke Partnership).
Charlotte commenced her career through co-founding music blog Large Noises, a result of combining her passion for digital together with love for music, creating a platform dedicated to filming high quality live performance videos with a focus on emerging Australian artists. Today she carries the titles Music Manager and Digital Strategist and has experience in producing online campaigns, copywriting, content creation, video production and artist management (phew!)
It’s blatant that Charlotte is a passionate, hard worker with a resolute commitment to the music industry; earning her The 2017 Lighthouse Award presented by APRA AMCOS to support her in future professional development. We are very glad to be able to share this insightful and comprehensive description of (a week in) the life of a Manager in the biz.
Here’s a week in the life of Charlotte Abroms!
This answer ended up being longer than I intended, I wrote it on the plane. I get thoughtful on planes.
You know those jobs that are like, “Great salary, generous superannuation, CBD location and amazing perks?” Well when you’re starting out as a manager, it’s more like “Low salary, no superannuation, lonely bedroom desk, a couple of perks!” As managers, the “perks” are why we do what we do. You get to form amazing human connections, meet interesting people, see your collaborative work come to life and see parts of the world with your job. At the moment, I crave a bizarre balance of movement and stability – management allows me to have a home base in Melbourne, whilst also evolving, learning about new cultures, languages, industries and seeing the world.
Management is creative and it’s instinctive, it requires a combination of artistic vision and commercial understanding.
One thing all managers I know have in common is that they are nurturers, they are clever and strategic but they are also sensitive – our underlying goal is an urge to bring out the best in people. Working in an industry that is founded on sensitivity can have its complications, but if I wasn’t so set on finding deeper meaning in everything and innately an observant thinker, then I probably wouldn’t be a manager. Music ticks all these boxes for me.
The premise of the job description involves being emotionally intuitive, encouraging and utilizing your varied skillsets.
In my personal experience, my end goal as a manager is to find ways for people to connect with music the way I do. I always say I am an “art first” manager. Of course, you need to be able to make it financially viable, but management for me comes from a place of artistic passion before anything else. A manager is a facilitator of the artist’s vision, the responsibility includes listening to music, providing advice, forming a team, creating a strategy, doing the accounting, liaising with booking agents, social media, creating content, liaising with publicists and publications, selling tickets to shows, tour management, engaging labels, publicists, co-writers, travel agents, spreading the word about the artist’s music and having strategic and emotional conversations.
When I was about 14, I complimented a boy in art class for his drawings and he said to me, “Charlotte, you give way too many compliments.” Last month my friend was telling me about his band and I started suggesting ideas to him and he said, “I find it really weird how much you want to help people.” Both of these comments stuck with me, as a teenager and now in my twenties. I think the role of a manager is just that – helping people; helping the individual artist/band and then helping people on a bigger scale through music. Eventually, I would like to help people in a different way and I’m not sure exactly how just yet. It’s a personality trait that led me to live my passion and start a business.
If being involved in releasing music is going to soothe someone’s soul, make someone feel, change someone’s thinking, for the better – then that’s my job description in short.
Roles and responsibilities:
Here’s a list describing the fine and complex balance of music management. You must be:
- Emotionally sensitive to connect with music (Must also be emotionally strong enough to deal with tough decisions)
- Strong minded and assertive when it comes to protecting your artist’s vision (Must also be approachable and friendly to build a good rapport)
- Organised and efficient with good processes in place (Must also be able to go with the flow and let go of traditional process)
- Financially stable in order to make whim decisions that involve costly fees (i.e. travel) (Must also be OK with sporadic income)
- A creative thinker and an ideas person (Must also be open to constructive criticism and feedback)
- Social and a good communicator, with people from all walks of life (Must also be able to draw a line between social/personal relationships and business decisions)
- Able to cope with stressful situations (Must also be able to hide your stress and project a sense of calm when talking to artists)
- Open to traveling both locally and internationally (Must also be active in your hometown enough to grow your team and build a home story)
- Able to prioritise being fit and healthy, in your body and in your mind (Must also be OK with long hours, late nights, early morning and lots of personal sacrifices)
- Able to work from home when starting out (Must also be someone who doesn’t get disgustingly lonely working from home)
It’s a big week coming up with Angie McMahon releasing her first single and playing shows with Alex Lahey. While Ainslie Wills and Haarlo are working on the production of their next EPs and Gretta Ray is writing/recording and preparing for a Regional Victorian tour, Music Vic Awards ceremony and upcoming shows with Vance Joy.
I’ve learnt a lot about balance and have a good understanding of what needs to be done in order for the week to run smoothly. With the crazy hours that come with management, a big priority for me is my family and relationships in general, so I spent Sunday planning out my week and ensuring I can find a good balance.
- Take a really long walk by the river
- Hang out with Mum
- Catch up on all emails
- Pack for early morning trip to Sydney
- Prepare Angie McMahon’s publicity for ‘Slow Mover’ to go live
- Wait until midnight for ‘Slow Mover’ and check all links work
- Up at 4am to send all publicity out for Angie’s single
- Online chat with Gretta Ray about writing progress (exciting!)
- Fly from Melbourne to Sydney
- Look out the plane window at the ocean, ovals, tennis courts, pools from above
- Arrive Sydney
- Meeting at triple j to pitch song
- Bump into one of my best pals at triple j (good chats!)
- Meeting with AWAL and Spotify
- Lunch with Ainslie Wills’ publisher
- Check in on PR for Angie
- triple j Unearthed reviews
- Added to Spotify Indie Mix Tape (cover)
- Added to Apple Music feature
- Lovely emails/reaction online
- PR requests coming in
- Head to National Live Music Awards Nominations with pal Tess
- Ainslie and Gretta both receive nominations
- Dinner and good life chats with pal Tess
- Catch up on morning/overnight emails
- Lunch with Ainslie’s publicist
- Work from friend’s office on Angie McMahon PR campaign
- Call with Gretta Ray’s co-manager in London
- Fly home to Melbourne
- Angie McMahon Tram Sessions goes live
- Continue on Angie McMahon PR campaign
- Creative conversation with Ainslie Wills on next single
- Book in all Gretta Ray travel plans (Tour Managing upcoming November trip)
- Pop into triple j Melbourne office
- Head to Ballarat for Angie to support Alex Lahey at Karova Lounge (with Sloan Peterson)
- Finalise Gretta Ray bookings/TM’ing
- Conversations with all artist’s booking agents on upcoming plans
- Angie McMahon gets added to triple j Unearthed FB page
- Plays on RRR, PBS, FBi, Unearthed Radio, triple j, community/regional radio
- Continue on Angie McMahon PR campaign
- Send and reply lots of emails (all artists)
- Head to Geelong for Angie to support Alex Lahey at Workers Club (with Sloan Peterson)
- Stay in Anglesea with pals Alex and Tim
- Wake up in Anglesea
- Celebrate twins turning five
- Play bingo with five-year-old twins, cuddle small baby, pat dog
- Jump on train back to Melbourne
- Listen to The Hold Steady
- Respond to emails
- Start packing to move house
- Go look at some house inspections with buddy
- Meeting re Angie McMahon next steps
- Hang out with cousin and his three babies
- Build Kinder Surprise toys together
- Dinner with pal Steph
Challenges and Accomplishments
Managing four artists/bands is a lot of multitasking. I was pleased to have kept on top of everything whilst there was a single out, and able to give every artist their deserved attention. I also ran a PR campaign for Angie McMahon and was super pleased with the results. Her first single ‘Slow Mover’ is really special to me so it was something I wanted to service myself. I also did this with Gretta Ray a couple of years ago with her first single ‘Unexpected Feeling’ – it’s a rewarding feeling to be able to personally send a song off to people who connect with it and then to see the results that follow and the wider audience connecting.
Highlights of the week
Being able to balance all of the workload, whilst also hanging out and having meaningful conversations with Tess in Sydney and managing to squeeze in a catch up with two sets of cute twins and their little sisters on Friday in Anglesea/Melbourne.
Lowlights of the week
It’s difficult to move house on a week like this! When you run your own business, there’s not a lot of help so I do rely on people like my lovely Mum and my nearest and dearest for support. I’m thankful to have a great network of friends to lean on an amazing co-manager in London who continually inspires me.
Words of Wisdom
Talk. No matter how strong you are – mentally and emotionally, it is good to confide in people you trust. In the early days, this is a role that can be isolating and if you internalise things too much, it can take one moment or one conversation to throw everything off. Talking about the struggles is so important and it’s totally OK. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you’re human. Sometimes I find comfort in people I barely know who are willing to open up and relate. There’s no better feeling. Not many people understand this industry but when you find someone who does, someone who is in it, someone who has experienced what you’re experiencing and gotten through it, it’s a beautiful thing.
Find yourself a mentor. I know it sounds dramatic, but it can be really tough at times. There’s not much structure, so make your own structure. Go somewhere to work. Be around people. There’s very little financial reward to begin with, but when you sell out your first show, or when you get the first exciting email, and when people start telling your client that they have affected their lives in a positive way, that’s the reward and that’s the best damn, deep and meaningful reward, I could ever ask for, both in my career and in my personal life.
You can see Charlotte at the Face The Music Summit during Melbourne Music Week in late November. Charlotte is on: The Manager’s Special – A slice of life with 3 of Australia’s leading artist managers.
What makes a manager? At times the fabric of the role can be manipulated to cover a cavalcade of definitions ranging friend, confidante, sounding-board, counsellor, business advisor or the decidedly less glamorous baggage-handler (to name but a few). The relationship between an artist and their manager is as unique as a snowflake, but no one would dare label any of these shrewd operators as such. With a combined roster that reads like a blockbuster summer festival, three managers spill the beans on arguably the hardest gig in the game.
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