Industry Spotlight: Adam Lopez (New Age Media Management)

Hello and welcome to another week of music industry insight and advice here on the official blog of Haulix. We are happy you decided to join us this afternoon, as we are kicking off the new work week with a conversation with one of the leading young innovators in music today. He’s had a hand in developing multiple businesses in recent years, and he has yet to leave his 20s!  If you have any questions about developing as a writer/blogger in music, please do not hesitate email and share your thoughts. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Adam Lopez knew from a very young age that he had a special relationship with music. He could not pinpoint why it interested him so much, but as he grew he found himself endlessly fascinated with the ins and outs of music, as well as the people who made it their life’s work. Realizing this, he did what every high school student trying to plan for their future does: He applied for college.

Less than one full year into his college education Adam had a second realization: His passion for music was stronger than ever, but the path he was taking to get started in the industry did not work for him. He was ready, or so he thought, and he began seeking a role within the industry that would allow him to start working right away. Craigslist provided a solution, and before he could call himself a college Sophomore Adam was packing things into boxes with plans to leave school forever.

Years have passed since Adam took a chance on his own drive to succeed, and the results of that risk taking are as numerous as the number of people who now follow Adam across various social networking platforms. He has his own management company, as well as a hand in several other properties across the business, and he still has plenty more he hopes to accomplish in the years ahead. We asked him to share with us the story of his life, and Adam was happy to oblige. You can learn about his journey below.

The first time I encountered Adam Lopez I was staring at my phone and my initial thought was, “How does this guy have so many Twitter followers?” His name was completely unknown to me at the time, but it was immediately clear that the thousands of people who wanted to know his every update, which included dozens of my industry peers, seemed to know something I did not. Adam was brilliant, funny, and incredibly insightful about life in the music industry. Even better, he was passionate about helping it evolve. I reached out a few days later to make contact for this feature, and nearly half a year later it has finally come to fruition.

If you would like to learn more about Adam, please take a few moments to follow him on Twitter. Additional questions and comments can be left at the end of this post.

H: Thank you for joining. Before we dive in, please introduce yourself:

A: My name is Adam Lopez, I’m a talent manager, and I am the founder of New Age Management based out of New York.

H: Let’s start with the basics. Can you remember the first artist you were obsessed with?

A: Honestly, I bought my first uncensored CD when I was about 14 and it was by Wyclef Jean. That album is what really got me into music. I listened to that CD literally until it stopped working. Front to back, back to front, doing homework, whatever it was I was doing at the time in middle school I was listening to that album.

H: So now we know where you interest began, but are you able to pinpoint a specific moment or experience that lead you to consider the possibilities of pursuing a career in music?

A: I was actually incredibly fascinated by my first concert. I admit with some humility that it was Switchfoot, but I was probably about 16 at the time. I saw the excitement in the crowd and the people on the stage and it was just – when you go to your first concert it’s just unlike anything else. People in the industry, or at least me personally, sometimes take for granted the fact we get to see and experience live music all the time because it loses a bit of its luster, but to see your first show and see the band walk on stage while 1500 people cheer with excitement really grabbed me. It made me want to get people excited as well, and I guess that is really where this all began.

H: Did you go to college for music industry or business? What is your education background?

A: I went to college for about eight months studying music business. At that point I decided to step out on their own and I got a job offer to be an urban A&R at EMI.

H: If people come to you now and ask whether or not you think they need to go to college to pursue the music industry, how do you reply?

A: I probably tell them no. Organized education is great for some things. I don’t want a doctor to tell me they went to school for 8 months. It’s one of those things, especially in the entertainment space, that is a lot like swimming. If you’re going to jump in at 18 and try to learn to swim you’re going to wade around a while and then begin to figure it out. If you go to college to learn to swim you’ll spend a lot of time reading about how to swim without actually getting in the water. When the time comes to dive in the people who jumped in at 18 will likely be more advanced than you.

H: Let’s get back to your first gig at EMI. How did come together, and what can you tell us about the experience?

A: I actually found out about the job from an ad on Craigslist, believe it or not. I saw the post and was freshly dropped out of two colleges at this point (Adam also dropped out of community college) with a little bit of experience in the music space, but absolutely nothing to warrant someone hiring me for that job title. I applied and they got back to me in about 3 hours. It’s a little joint venture with EMI looking for help with embarrassingly low pay located in New York. I lived in Connecticut at the time, but I commuted to the city regularly for business. There was an interview process, which I came into the city for, and for reasons still unknown to me I got the job. At that point I was still commuting and barely getting. What I ate for lunch determined whether or not I lost money that week. What I learned in that one year though was more valuable than I ever would have learned in four years of college. It was really, really intense, and any mistakes were scolded. You could even lose your job.

So it was one of those things where I got to learn how the label side of things worked. I always knew I wanted to be a manager, but I knew I could stay at EMI for a year and learn who I would one day be negotiating against. I could learn what people at labels are looking for so I could tailor my future clients to match their desired prospects.

H: Were there any managers you looked up to as heroes, mentors, or guides?

A: I became interested in David Geffen at a very young age. Obviously he is pretty much the godfather of the music industry, but I was incredibly fascinated with him at a young age. Speaking more modern, I have been very interested in the efforts of Scooter Braun and Troy Carter. People who are not only innovative in their management styles, but also their ventures outside music. I’ve been very fascinated with the tech world as of about two years ago. The development of applications, cryptocurrency, and all that. I really want to be multi-fasceted. The music industry is place where it is incredibly difficult to make a buck, even if you’re working twenty-three hours a day, every single day. It’s also very fleeting.

H: You mentioned moving from Connecticut to New York earlier for work. A few years later you decided to step out on your own and ended up staying in New York City. What is it about the Big Apple that has you hooked?

A: I get this question from a lot of my west coast friends. What I have come up with is that Los Angeles is where the talent is, but New York is where the money is. It’s one of the financial of the world, and what business is successful without a great business plan, without great backing, or without having access to venture capitalists and those who really know how to handle a large amount of money. Being in the financial capitol of the world and being around all that makes you a lot less comfortable, and I think that is good because becoming comfortable can make you a bit sloppy and complacent. I love LA, but it’s a little more relaxed than the east coast. The east coast is a very high stress environment from the second you wake up until the second you go to sleep. It’s probably why I talk fast, because i am always in a rush to get to the next thing. It’s part of the New York mentality. There is this overhanging success that alludes a lot of people, but is still completely attainable if you take the right steps and that is something I have always loved. It keeps me motivated.

H: Can you tell me a little about the time in your life when you realized you wanted to start your own company.

A: I realized I wanted to venture on my own near the end of my time at EMI. I had a lot of great idea, and don’t get me wrong because I loved the environment at EMI, but a lot of those ideas were not being listened to. That is commonplace in the label world. You have a hierarchy in place, and there is an idea that ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,’ which I think is the entirely wrong mentality to have, especially in the music industry. You have to be innovative. You have to move ahead and take those risks. If you try ten new things and one of them works you will be remembered as a pioneer in this business. As someone who created something that changed the outlook of the entire industry. Since I was 22 or 23 that’s what I wanted to do in this industry. I want to change it. I want to take everything I have learned from all my time working at EMI and elsewhere and put it towards making a difference.

H: Without going too in-depth, could you walk us through a typical day in your life?

A: If I’m working from home then I wake up around 10, run 2 miles, take all my morning calls, and then break for lunch. Come back at it, take a team call to generate new ideas for both the company and industry, work on my own projects/ideas, then it’s usually around 10pm and I prepare for the next day. Hit the bed and do it all over again.

H: That’s a pretty busy schedule.

A: Yea, I like busy. I also like caffeine, but that probably has something to do with being so busy (laughs).

H: What are the biggest challenges facing you and your management company right now?

A: To be honest, the biggest challenge is responsibility delegation. As I said before it gets very tough because you want to be hands on with everything, but as anyone at any successful firm or business will tell you there is no way you can do everything on you own. You can never put the weight of the world on your shoulders and expect to be successful. So letting go of my brain child and letting other people else do something with it is very difficult for me. One of my resolutions for the year is to let the people working with me do more. It’s good in the long run, because there are people on the team who can do what I want ten times better than I would be able to on my own, but getting to the point that I am comfortable letting go has certainly been a challenge.

H: When people approach you about music management and the what they should do if they want to do it professionally, what advice you do you offer?

A: It’s a situation where if you’re not absolutely passionate about it there is no reason to even put your toe in the water. It’s one of those things that, as people have said before, it’s for people who are gluttons for punishment (laughs). If you want to get into it though I strongly suggest that you do it, especially if you’re young. It’s the kind of thing you have to wake up and work at every single day, and you have to be psyched to do that work. You shouldn’t punish yourself with work you will not enjoy doing day in and day out.

Also, understand that you are not going to be able to please everyone. Whether you’re a manger or another profession within the industry there will be times when you do not please everyone. I liken the music industry to high school. It’s much smaller than anyone going in would know, and you’re going to work with everyone at your level at one point or another. Everyone knows everyone and everyone talks. It’s all politics, especially in the label world. Management companies are often more willing to take chances on lesser known groups or projects, but it’s still a tight community. Once you’re in it you are going to be known by everyone in it. Do you best to make a good impression.

H: If you could change only one thing about the music industry today, what would it be?

A: I wish that bands worked more on understanding the industry and how it works. Development is the hardest part, and there really is no manual to the music industry, but I wish there was a way to train bands and artists on the inner workings of the music business. A lot of people take advantage of uninformed artists, and I wish there was a way to train people so everyone was on the same level.

H: What are you goals for the year ahead?

A: I really want to cross over into the tech space. There is a huge wealth of knowledge out there about it, and it’s always greatly fascinated me. So I really want to be a forward thinking company, and we have some great ventures rolling out in the future I think people will really like. I want to be the most forward thinking management company in 2014. People say that is a pipe dream, and maybe it is, but it’s one of those things we strive for every day. Even if we are not the best at the end of the year we will be amongst the best. We will be more innovative this year than we were last, and we will do our best to top that again next year.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.