VP A&R, Epic Records
A 10-year veteran of the music business, Eesean Bolden has been involved with A&R for five years. He began his career at Capitol Records where he worked with Mary Lambert (“Same Love”), Silento (“Nae Nae”) and hip-hop-crunk girl group PTAF (“Bone Ass Bitch”). Last year, he moved to Epic Records where he is responsible for scouting, developing and signing new talent.
Have you noticed an increase in self-managed artists?
It does seem to be a trend. I see more artists managing themselves than before. But, it can be a full-time job. So I encourage them to seek out a manager when things start to get busy.
What function does a manager fulfill when an artist is signed to a label?
The best managers are liaisons between the artist and the label. They help facilitate the process so both parties can operate efficiently and equitably. Good managers not only look out for their artist’s best interest, they also understand how a record company operates and what it takes to succeed in the music business today.
Do you ever take on a manager’s duties?
I tend to find acts early, so about 90% of the time they don’t have a manager yet.
But, management is not my forte. I’ll give artists I’m interested in general advice and help develop them, but I also advise them to get a manager.
What are the challenges of working with artists who manage themselves?
It definitely involves educating them about the business. You also have to determine specific goals, which some artists aren’t so clear about. I need to know if they want to be a superstar or want to simply tour and feed a family.
What does it take to be a superstar?
The fact is most major labels prefer superstars. But, it’s a different approach. You can have a successful career without being a superstar. Superstars generate hit records and get lots of radio airplay. They also usually have a “star” quality about them.
Have you seen artists successfully manage themselves?
I have and they’re very driven. They learn everything they can about the business, but maintain a balance in their lives so they can still be a creator. They seek advice when they need it and know when to partner with an industry pro. •