Sujit Kundu began throwing parties in high school, and from those early raves grew a production and DJ management company that landed a Top 10 hit with Shade Sheist. When that company disbanded, he kept the management side and rebranded it SKAM––Sujit Kundu Artist Management.
I was throwing parties as a club/rave promoter. I was doing the better parties in Los Angeles and DJs were like, “Why don’t you manage us?” It seemed like a cool thing to do, but we weren’t making any real money. It was 15% of $35. Not really going crazy over it, right? Then it evolved. Lil Jon, already a Grammy-winning, platinum-plus artist, reached out to me, and I thought, “Oh shit, this might be real.”
I wasn’t attracted to the music as much as the business. When I started it was a more house, techno, kind of scene. Music is cyclical. When that scene hit a lull and hip-hop was emerging, I didn’t know much about hip-hop. But I was listening to songs on the radio, so I’d go to the record store, buy a CD, look at the back and call managers to see whom I could get to my clubs.
Not There Yet
We’re the culture, so I wake up and go to sleep to it. Everybody I represent represents that as well. It’s great we can make a living doing it, but we didn’t set out to make a living. We didn’t know it was going to be what it is now. It’s just scraping the surface. We still have a long way to go. When people say, “Hey, congratulations,” it doesn’t resonate, because I don’t feel we’ve accomplished what I want to accomplish.
I’d like to see us with the big boys––CAA, William Morris—us recognized and competing at that level, doing arenas consistently. I want to diversify. I don’t want it to just be DJs. I’d love to see it evolve into a full-service agency.
You’ve Got To Be A Star
It’s the music business, so I have to see an ability for us to be successful financially. Fifteen percent of nothing is nothing. We have to feel like we can do something together. People mistake agencies or managers as a solution to their problems––“If I’m not working enough, I’m going to get a manager and that will help me.” It rarely works like that. I’m only as good as the talent. They make it so I can do what I do. Without them, there is no me.
A Matter of Trust
Usually, I don’t sit around and listen to demos. [New artists have] to come from somebody I know. Maybe the DJs, a club owner or a promoter—someone I work with or trust will tell me. If they say, “Yo, this is something you need to check out,” I might check it out.
The Dotted Line
I don’t really do contracts. It’s an open door policy. If they’re unhappy, they can leave. We take 15%. There’s not much flexibility around that, but an artist with considerable earnings can maybe negotiate that down.
We’re diligent, responsible and accessible. We reach out to everyone. Communication is key. But ultimately, it’s up to the artist. They drive their career; we make sure they stay out of trouble and get paid. I can decide what offers are good and which are not, but if offers aren’t coming in then it’s kind of a moot point.
People always ask, “Hey, who’s DJing tonight?” And I say, “Go to my website.” Nobody wants to do that. Finally, I decided I’ll make an app that will tell people if you’re within 100 miles these are the DJs who are playing. We took a stab at it, but during the time it took me to figure it out, all of a sudden there are Androids. That’s not something I planned for when I was doing an iPhone app. I use an Android, I’m the one who’s spearheading it, and I can’t even show it to you. We’re redoing our website right now and we’re going to take another crack at polishing the app.