Manager Spotlight offers a small insight into the heads of incredible managers. This week in the spotlight are Callum Read and Adam Harris of Touchdown Management!
How long have you worked in Management?
Adam: I (officially) started managing artists 8 years ago but I had worked with various managers prior to that. Callum and I met around 10 years ago and immediately hit it off. It wasn’t until 2016 that we set up Touchdown together.
Callum: I got into management after being a tour manager from 2014 for various acts (Dream Wife, Hinds, Dr.Dog and many more). I loved having a knack for making my artists feel comfortable and take away as much stress from them as possible in order to perform at their very best. My passion to be artist friendly in my approach to many things, as well as my urge to ‘get shit done’ was the perfect combination to Adam’s ability to hustle in the industry and we’ve been happily working together since 2016.
Who do you manage now?
Both: We manage The Snuts and a new and very exciting artist called Grace Barr. We are also developing a new act who we are hoping to launch next year.
Where did you find your first client and what inspired you to take them on?
Adam: I was introduced to my first client, a band called Heyrocco from Charleston SC by a producer friend. The band were all aged 18 at the time and the music they were creating was something very special, they were also great performers and incredibly charismatic.
Callum: After 2016 when we formed Touchdown, every tour I did I always left wondering if I’d meet the act I’d end up managing and that’s exactly what happened. It took a while to meet or hear any act I liked enough to give everything to, which I knew I would as a manager, but then In April 2017 I remember being absolutely blown away in a tiny pub in Leith, Edinburgh by four guys (The Snuts) who were absolutely dripping with ambition and had these amazingly powerful and sentimental anthems – later those four boys became the guys Adam and I love like family and continue to do anything for to make them a huge success.
What’s a good/bad day at work look like for you?
Adam: A good day is delivering great results for you and your artists and team, whether that’s closing a deal, selling out venues, entering the charts in a good position or securing your Artist’s creative objectives. A bad day is pretty much the polar opposite of those elements that make up a good day. Because we work so closely with our acts, I think we feel the disappointments as much as they do when they happen and in this business you can never just switch off, there’s always something that needs your attention.
Callum: Management is so turbulent – for me, it’s hard to remember a totally bad day or a totally good day for that matter. Especially when you’ve got acts that are massively ambitious. The first thing we’ll do after something great is of course celebrate and acknowledge it, but often we quickly move onto the next thing and start preparing to focus on that. likewise if there’s some tough situations we’ve had to deal with, it’s all about resolving them, moving on and feeling satisfied with how they’ve been dealt with – sometimes that can be just as satisfying. Luckily for us we have a great team around us who are all so supportive and hard working, particularly worthy of a shout out is The Snuts’ superstar Tour Manager & Social Media Manager (Gary Williamson) who’s been so loyal and so hardworking for all these years.
What has been the highlight of your management career to date?
Adam: I’m fortunate enough to say there have been a fair few, especially with The Snuts. Seeing them develop into the formidable force they have become both live and in the studio. Whilst awards are lovely to receive, nothing beats seeing and hearing thousands of fans sing every word back to the band at a gig….especially when only 24 months prior that artist was playing to 200 fans.
Callum: Likewise to Adam, there’s nothing like seeing The Snuts and the growth of their live business over the last 3 years or so. Nothing makes me prouder than seeing them progress and I remember thinking to myself the first time they headlined a show and sold out King Tuts in 2017, ‘I wont stop working til this band are huge’ and every time we accomplish something as a team, whether it’s a sell out a show, or a charter release, I always remind myself that we’ve come so far and are going in the right direction.
What do you think are the big challenges for a manager in 2020?
Both: If you’d asked us that pre-March of this year it would have been a very different answer. The pandemic has thrown the live industry which is in many ways the life blood of the music business into the worst scenario it has ever faced. It’s devastating seeing Artists, crew and all those who contribute to making live events happen have their livelihoods taken away from them, not to mention seeing once very healthy business’ disappear through no fault of their own. It’s blatantly clear that socially distanced events are neither financially viable or particularly enjoyable for the fans, so whilst we have absolutely no guidance from the Government about how or when a staggered return to live can take place, we have had to be incredibly creative with how best to maintain momentum, exposure (and revenue). Yes livestreams and socially distanced shows have partially filled the void but in my opinion they aren’t the future. Nothing can replace how an artist connects with their fans through live music. Coming up with new ways to connect with fans and to develop new acts in the absence of live music is without doubt a challenge of mammoth proportions but at the same time it’s the manager’s job to continuously adapt to the ever changing landscape…can’t stop won’t stop!
What music are you currently listening to?
Adam: Mood dependant…today I’ve been alternating between Holly Humberstone & Fela Kuti with a bit of Beastie Boys thrown in for good measure.
Callum: New Bright Eyes album on repeat since last week and nothing else (super fan).