As a student at Hastings School of Law, Lawrence Vavra, otherwise known as LV, would throw concerts with his buddies. One artist he booked was the soon-to-become-legendary DJ AM. After graduation, LV made him his first management client and a career path opened. Along with partners Paul Rosenberg and Matt Colon, LV co-founded Deckstar, mushrooming his roster to more than 30 artists.
The Personal Touch
The best way to find artists is word-of-mouth. We have about 50 people on staff, and when something is bubbling, they hear about it. That’s the best way, not just finding them but also knowing someone’s willing to put their name on [something] before showing it to you.
This has extended to lawyers, agents and promoters. We have a kid named Deorro that we found because a promoter friend said, “Hey, there’s something about this kid, check him out.” So it’s still having a good network and the confidence to know there’s something there.
Fear Nothing and Introduce Yourself
Fear has to be an emotion you don’t feel. You can’t be afraid to ask people what they think, if they want to help you, what you can do to make yourself better. Be humble and take criticism. As long as you have your package together, start talking to people. A kid could move to L.A. and, if he goes out every night and does that for a month, he’ll get a meeting with a manager, who will lead to a meeting with an attorney, who will lead to a meeting with an agent, who will lead to a meeting with another manager.
The name of our company is kind of misleading, because of the first client being a DJ. That’s where the name came from. The company is diverse—rock, indie, electronic. The area I would love to sign someone is hip-hop. My partner manages Eminem and other hip-hop artists, but I’ve never managed a hip-hop artist.
The manager is an extension of the artist. We can’t work miracles, but we can take the artist’s art and shine a light on it. When I first came into this business, a manager’s goal was to get a major label to sign an artist and let them do all the work. Those days are gone. Now, your manager is everything, from marketing to putting out your records half the time. So the most critical decision an artist will make is which manager they work with, because you’re saying “This person is an extension of me.”
When I was young, the value of managers was primarily that they had relationships with label bosses and could get labels to spend money on a client or do more. Now, you have to act like the CEO of a company. These artists are like mini companies and you run them day-to-day. It’s become an all-encompassing thing. A manager used to be about connecting the dots. Now, you’re actually operating the dots.