Manager Spotlight offers a small insight into the heads of incredible managers. This week in the spotlight is Kemal Ibrahim.
How long have you worked in Management?
Before I started my journey as an artist manager, I was a talent booking agent for 7 years, until the moment came when I had to take the jump. I have been managing my own artist for 4 year now.
Who do you manage now?
I manage two very different artists, Jean-Mikhael who is a Pop, R&B singer songwriter with powerhouse vocals and has an unapologetic stage presence; And Shocka, who is a conscious hip-hop artist, who promotes self love lyrical content and is also a voice for the mental health community, advocating the messages of positivity everyday. I feel very blessed to have them as my artists.
Where did you find your first client and what inspired you to take them on?
I went down to the Brit School showcase to see what was going on, with no intention of signing an act. About thirty minutes into the show, Jean-Mikhael walks on stage and starts singing. I couldn’t believe this boy’s vocal range. I found myself looking around the venue and watching the audience’s reaction. It was a moment that has never left me. After the show I found my way backstage. I had a chat with JM, scheduled a few meetings and the rest is history.
What’s a good/bad day at work look like for you?
As an artist manager your day is very unpredictable; It can change at any time. Generally, a good day at work is when you are getting responses to all the emails you spend hours on end sending and when you can see movement and growth in your artist’s career; whilst keeping them creative and true to their authentic self. A bad day on the other hand, is when you keep knocking on doors that aren’t opening just yet. But like they say in the theatre, ‘the one hundred and one audition can be the one that makes you.’ Which basically means I will never stop knocking on doors.
What has been the highlight of your management career to date?
I was very lucky to work very closely with DMX, seeing my artist Shocka standing on the red spot on TED Talk and the moment when Jean-Mikhael signed his first deal.
What do you think are the big challenges for a manager in 2021?
I think the challenges for 2021 has been the lack of live music events, keeping connected with industry associates as things have changed drastically due job loss and/or individuals moving to begin new job roles in new places. Reconnecting and rebuilding relationships again has also been a challenge and can be a long process. The pandemic has had such a negative impact on the music industry for many of us managers, but at the same time, has left me no choice but to become more innovative with the limited resources available and keep inventing ways to keep the artists engaged.
What music are you currently listening to?
I’m currently listening, Bree Runway- hot hot, Doja Cat- Planet her (Album) Jasmin Sullivan- Haux tales (Album) and obviously my own artist.