Manager Spotlight offers a small insight into the heads of incredible managers. This week in the spotlight is Alexandra Idiart-Benavides!
How long have you worked in Management?
It’s hard to say because I feel like I was an “unofficial manager” for ages, before I fully embraced the role 2-3 years ago. I use the term “unofficial manager” because I was once the Music Director of a radio station and simply loved helping & guiding artists informally, with their strategy, marketing, and overall approach to their careers. I also worked for an independent label for 3 years as an A&R and Project Manager, but always felt compelled to get to know the artists I worked with on a deep and visceral level, like a manager would, to better understand how I could uplevel their career and stir it in a direction they actually desired.
Who do you manage now?
Lola Melita, an upcoming singer-songwriter from Montreal, Canada, now living in London, UK. I’m super excited about this project as I’ve accompanied Lola Melita since the very beginning AKA as early as her not realizing she had the talent to become a professional singer-songwriter. Her first single will soon be out and you can witness it all unfold on her Instagram.
She’s the only artist I manage for now. I’m not opposed to managing other artists, I’m just looking for that very clear gut feeling that screams “YES”.
Where did you find your first client and what inspired you to take them on?
Lola Melita and I were mandated to conduct social media interviews with the guests of a special event at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. A mutual friend had asked for our help. When I met Lola Melita, the human connection was instantaneous despite us being almost 10 years apart. We quickly realized that we had come so close to meeting each other on several occasions, whether through a mutual ex boyfriend or during a trip in Mexico where we were exactly at the same New Year’s Eve party. Just to name a few and without being too esoteric about it, these many coincidences were pretty startling. There was something serendipitous about that encounter which took on its full meaning the moment Lola Melita DM’ed me a video of her singing, a couple of weeks after the event at the museum. I asked if she had any demos, but she didn’t. She had never written a song in her life nor had she ever considered singing for real. I then asked her if I could attend one of her singing lessons, which she bravely agreed to. That day, the minute I heard her singing live, I knew that I was in it for the long run. She had and still has this depth of feeling which you decipher in her lyrics and hear in her voice. Each time, it’s as if she’s on the verge of breaking down but never does. She has a level of authenticity that you can’t fake and is courageously pouring her heart and soul out through her music.
What’s a good/bad day at work look like for you?
Without wanting to fall into a dualistic approach to management, I’d say a “good day” is hearing new demos, new songs Lola Melita is working on with different producers… That’s really the most exciting part! A “bad day” is reassessing and reorganizing our release strategy because of an unexpected global event like COVID-19.
What has been the highlight of your management career to date?
So far, since I’ve only officially managed Lola Melita, the highlight has been the continuous positive response of many music industry peers to her demos. Whether they’re in LA, London or Toronto, they’ve all expressed enthusiasm for the project and the desire to be made aware of the right timing for them to jump in. We’ll see how the industry evolves amidst our world’s reorganization, but I’m hopeful. On a broader note, l find meaning in helping artists unlock their creative potential and one of my highlights is to align my skills and drive to bring the musical projects I believe in to fruition.
What do you think are the big challenges for a manager in 2020?
Many are the challenges for a manager in 2020, like reassessing your entire year (and now perhaps part of 2021) because of COVID-19, but also generally speaking, staying updated with the latest industry changes. In many ways the music scene evolves at the fast beat of technological transformation and we need to be able, now more than ever, to foresee the evolution of the industry before new consumer habits settle in. You want (to try) to be a few steps ahead and surround yourself with trustworthy and clever partners who can guide you in the areas where you might lack knowledge. Although you can’t be in the know of everything, it’s important that you maintain a systemic approach to your artist’s project by understanding the relationships between each component. Like playing chess, you also want to know where you’re going (and why) before you actually make the moves. Another challenge that I’ve witnessed is that not every project should be thought about the same way. There are very tailored approaches and strategies we should come up with for each artist / band. Not only are we dealing with humans who do not want the same thing, but their music does not appeal to the same audience. Taking more time to listen early on and have in depth conversations about the artist’s vision and how we think we can help them (or not) should benefit the overall process and help manage expectations. I’m going to stop right here because I could go on and on…
What music are you currently listening to?
It depends on my mood, but today I listened to some Tom Misch, Celeste, Elaine, Jai Paul, Allan Rayman’s latest album (love the songs “Blush” and “I Talk To My Cigarette”), and even revisited some oldies by Simón Díaz and Nina Simone.