Manager Spotlight: Thando Zulu

03 February 2023

The Manager Spotlight offers a small insight into the heads of incredible managers.⁠ This week in the spotlight is Thando Zulu!

How long have you worked in Management?

I’ve been in management since 2019.

Who do you manage now? 

I manage Aaron Taylor, BEKA, Joel Baker, JERUB.

Where did you find your first client and what inspired you to take them on? 

I first met JERUB at the Church I used to attend in Nottingham. I’d been helping run the Nottingham Sofar Sounds night so I had a foot in the industry and he brought me a song and said he was going to release it next week…I convinced him to give it a bit more time and we put a little campaign together and started from there really. JERUB was the first person who wanted me to represent them and I really believed (and still do believe) in his music and who he is as a person and a performer. That’s a constant source of inspiration for me.

What’s a good/bad day at work look like for you?

A bad day looks like a lot of self doubt and unanswered emails after the third chase. Invoices due to me not being paid yet whilst the invoices I owe are being chased haha!

A good day could have the same problems and same self doubt but my response to myself is to feel the insecurity and notice where it’s coming from and embrace the fact that I’m a human being and life isn’t perfect. That framing often turns the worst days into a lesson in laughter and enables me to get into a creative solution oriented mindset.

What has been the highlight of your management career to date? 

The highlight of my management career has been being invited on to the Brits Voting Academy Of Music Experts this year. When I got the email I got a rush of excitement. Mainly because it felt like a welcome to the industry moment where I stopped and looked back to realise I’m not just an artist manager in a vacuum but I’m also part of an amazing industry full of brilliant peers across different sectors and to be able to contribute to this ecosystem in this way feels like a real privilege.

What do you think are the big challenges for a manager in 2023? 

I think there’s often a lot of pressure to go towards a direction that you don’t fully believe in or that doesn’t fully align with your values. Whether that is pushing your artist to post more on socials even though you know it’s sapping their creativity or not pushing enough because of fear of seeming like a bad manager, or to go with a single that *insert industry stakeholder here* suggested even though you don’t think it’s a good idea but you want to keep them happy so just along with it…and there’s so many other examples I could chose…what I’m saying is that I think the added external factors including the economy, political unrest, social media demands, new technologies in music etc can create so much noise that it’s difficult to listen to yourself and remember why you’re a manager in the first place and live from that self-assurance…well that’s what I find difficult anyway!!

What music are you currently listening to? 

I’m really enjoying the new MARO, Marcus Mumford, Stormzy, Giggs, Jordy and Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn records. Also the Black Panther soundtrack is on repeat too.

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