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WO-MAN-A-GER: Twiggy Rowley (english version)

Twiggy Rowley lives in Los Angeles (USA) since 2016 to be manager of various artists. She currently works on the management team for Charli XCX. Last year, together with Charli and his colleague Sam, they created their own management company Project Gold, where they manage developing artists like Nasty Cherry (UK and USA), ELIO (Canada) and Daine (Australia).

In your own words, what is a manager and what do they do?

A good manager helps facilitate their artist’s vision. So the best managers often have the pleasure of working with the best artists as that’s where it all stems from – the artist’s vision. We work as a team to set plans, achieve these goals, evaluating and reacting along the way. Also good managers often end up being a friend, emotional support, trusted confidante and key person at all work (and often non work!) related events. We are level headed problem solvers, always advocating for our artists, and ready to pick up the pieces on a bad day.

3 tools or qualities that you find are important in a manager

Patience; reliability; honesty. 

If you could define it, what would you say is your management style?

Firstly, I don’t act alone. I do everything with my colleague Sam Pringle – we’ve known each other since we were 11 and went to school with each other and Charli. As such our management style when working on the project is very much based on trust, loyalty, respect and listening – Charli really has such a vision, it’s a pleasure to be inspired by working with someone like that everyday. When we take this to our own acts under Project Gold, I would say we keep a similar approach – friendly, transparent, honest, firm but fair. We are very democratic and always discuss every decision as a team with our artists. Also we are young managers and life long friends so I think we always try to imbibe some fun and a sense of British irony to everything we do – you have to be able to laugh at some of the ridiculous situations we’ve found ourselves in over the years. You can’t take yourself too seriously. 

How did you become involved in management?

Through Charli – we’ve been best friends since 11 years old. I’d always been an observer and supporter to her career when we were at school and she got signed at 16. Sam and myself were lucky enough to be invited on Charli’s headline US tour back in 2014 where I was in charge of the merchandising for the tour, and Sam was road manager. I was then hired by the management team and worked for a summer in London before moving to LA to establish their new US office with my old boss. In 2019, Charli moved on and understandably I moved with her – we now work with Brandon Creed on managing the Charli project and then look after our own developing artists. 

Did you have any examples of managers you looked up to?

It’s been so refreshing to work with Brandon Creed. He is everything we aspire to – firm but fair, respected but kind. He helps us set ambitious goals but is also a realist about what is achievable. 

What are you looking for in an artist? What are you looking for in people you work with, your team?

The best projects are when the artist comes with the creative ideas. Everything else then slots into place so much easier, and it’s about being smart with marketing, A&R ideas, collaboration ideas, brand partnerships, tour strategy. We look for people who have the same work ethic as us, and the same sense of humour. You’re spending every waking hour working or talking with these people so you’ve got to get along. 

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your line of work in management?

For me personally, it’s often a struggle to find the work/life balance. We give so much because we care and because your artists are working so hard too, but sometimes you have to be firm about where the boundaries are and knowing you can put your phone down. 

What are some of the biggest joys or gratifications?

For me, the most joyous moments where you really see and feel the efforts in practise are at live shows. Some of my most emotional experiences are at an artist’s show. Pride, joy, awe, nostalgia, empathy all come out at a good show. 

What are some of the challenges or difficulties that aspiring and up and coming artists face today? 

Cutting through all the noise on streaming platforms proves hard unless you have a team around you who can reach the right people behind the scenes. 

Could you share some tricks of the trade?

    1. Work as a team – you can’t do this job all on your own. It’s too draining. 
    2. Never go into a project or campaign without a clear plan. That plan will change by week 2, and that’s fine, but at least you have some flagpoles to aim for. 
    3. I would not advise living with your artists – Sam, myself and Charli all live together. It’s not for the faint hearted!

How has this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic affected you, your team and artists? How are you dealing with it and adapting? 

It’s slightly different for each artist. A more established act like Charli can weather this out more but for newer artists it’s trickier financially. A couple of our brand new artists hadn’t played shows yet so we are continuing as we would have done with online releases to build a fan base online and listeners at DSPs. For the band we work with, they had just hit their stride playing their own headline shows (600 cap in London and New York) and were doing really well each night on merch sales. It’s been tricky for them to have that cut short. On the other hand though, Charli’s live business will be seriously affected for about a year as we can’t play proper shows but the newer artists can continue with the same size venues they were going to be playing anyway – we’re trying to get European dates back on sale for the end of this year. 

Do you think this pandemic will have a long term impact in the global music industry? If so, how?

I think we’re going to feel it in the mid term – the next 12-18 months. Consumer appetite and ticket buying will be affected; audience’s psychology will be changed and perhaps a little more uncertain and timid about group events; artist’s will have a responsibility to keep their fans safe but also will have a desire to keep output and creativity high in changed situations. That said, for better or for worse, humans have a great ability to forget and I hope by my 30th birthday we’ll be back partying together at a festival under the sun somewhere. 

Some words of wisdom, recommendations or advice to managers, artists or workers that may be currently struggling within the music industry?

Stay calm and carry on. That’s very British of me. It’s a tricky time but we can still make and release music, we will be playing shows again soon, and everything else will start to fall back into place. 

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