Acclaimed producer-engineer Ken Caillat launched ArtistMax in 2014 after his daughter Colbie landed a hit via MySpace with “Bubbly” in 2007. As a young independent artist, she faced a number of challenges, including how to mount a tour and the development of her stage presence.
Cut to the present. ArtistMax now offers an annual four-day-weekend workshop in June that tackles a range of industry issues. One challenge that became apparent early on was that many artists struggle with stage fright. ArtistMax helps them face and conquer these potential career threats and more through a range of interactive panels. Music Connection spoke with ArtistMax head Bridge Gardiner about the outfit’s unique approach to instruction, its keys to success and plans for the future.
“Colbie essentially blew up overnight,” Gardiner says of ArtistMax’s impetus. “She went from being Ken’s daughter to this superstar sensation and hit the road with the Goo Goo Dolls. Ken then realized that she had no formal training. He hired all of these people to go on tour with her—a vocal coach, a stage person, a stylist. He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to propel her career. But he wanted to give back. Through his company Sleeping Giant Entertainment, they put up this great three-hour NAMM event. After that, they contacted me because they wanted to do an actual boot camp.
“We help artists who are unfinished products get up to the level that they can perform, get bookings and make money,” she continues. “We’ve started a mini ArtistMax label, so to speak, so [when] a great artist comes in, we can propel them even farther. And we also work with a marketing company that can get them on Spotify playlists. We’re a one-stop shop for aspiring singer-songwriters.”
In an industry rich with educational options and opportunities such as Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Musicians Institute or, indeed, The Juilliard School, what sets ArtistMax apart? “We have a clearly defined focus,” Gardiner explains. “[What we offer] is very specialized, customized and small. Our panels are educational and as the host, I can pull what I need from them. A lot of it is determined by the workshop students. For example, Colbie spoke at one of the sessions about touring and merchandising. It’s interactive and not people simply talking at you.”
Since its launch, ArtistMax has continued to evolve and now offers services including artist development, stage coaching, songwriting and professional recording at L.A. studio Revolver Recording. The space was just upgraded with a $30,000 investment in ATC speakers and other such improvements.
Recently ArtistMax added A&R powerhouses Erik Isaacs and Nitanee Paris to its ever-expanding talent pool. Gardiner herself came to the company as a co-founder with a background in education as the former dean of Los Angeles’ SAE Institute. She says that one of the things she's most proud is being able to watch past workshop attendees audition for shows such as The Voice and American Idol as they mature as artists. “I’m proud of these kids,” she says. “I’ll see them perform and know they remember everything they’ve learned.”