What It’s Like To Manage An Up-and-Coming Musician

Being an artist in this world is rough—not everyone hits stardom overnight. It takes hard work and dedication, with lots of sacrifices made along the way. Poor Van Gogh chopped his ear off for goodness sake and still didn’t start getting recognition until after he died!

Ron Gallo is an indie musician who’s been climbing the recognition ladder for a while now. He wants to stay true to his art and not conform to the societal infrastructure that so many artists succumb to. However, though that may be the honorable route, sadly, society makes it freakin’ tough for you to grow if you do that—it just wants you to conform so badly!

Well, up-and-coming artist say no to conforming! Lindsey Gardner has been working as Ron’s manager for several years now and has grown with him from bar shows to larger venues, like playing Bonnaroo and Governor’s Ball.

BTRtoday chats with Gardner about how this process has been and what it’s like to help an up-and-coming musician, like Gallo, gain the recognition they deserve.

BTRtoday (BTR): What were you doing before managing Ron?

Lindsey Gardner (LG): I was running a company called Siren Sounds out of my apartment in NYC. We started with PR then moved more towards promotion. It was four friends and my dog Winston in my living room “office” every day. Full house, but the best learning experience I’ve ever thrown myself into.

BTR: What did you see in Ron that made you want to be his manager?

LG: The first time I saw Ron perform was with his band, Toy Soldiers, at Campfire Fest in upstate PA. I really loved their set. I asked him if they’d like to play some shows in NY, but it was their last show as a band. He gave me his first solo record, “Ronny,” and I listened to it on the whole drive home. His writing blew me away.

That record comes from a very different place for Ron, but it still stands strong in my opinion.

He’s got a unique outlook on the world, on how to make music, the industry as a whole. He’s not interested in trying to be “cool” and just makes the shit he wants to make. It’s refreshing. I was booking him in NY for a while and when I heard the new record, I was like this is it. Let me help you build this to something in whatever way I can. I dropped everything and now here we are.

BTR: Did you always see yourself getting into artist management?

LG: Through my PR days, I was lucky to work with some great managers across the aisle. I liked observing the process, the relationships all these roles play with each other. I never thought too much about it, but it just became a natural progression.

There’s a lot with management you just learn by doing and it’s been an interesting experience. I’m working with Chris Sunday (Bedlam Management) now, who is insanely good at his job. He’s taught me that no matter how much you’ve learned you still know nothing. It’s always an on-going process.

BTR: How has the process of managing Ron been—like, what was it like starting from booking small venue shows to booking larger shows like Bonnaroo & Gov. Ball?

LG: It’s a great feeling to put all you have behind something you believe in and see people start to take notice. The initial stages are the most difficult, getting people to bite, but Ron’s music really speaks for itself. So, once people understand what this dude is about, it seems to come pretty organically.

We’ve been lucky to get some badass people onboard who really get it and understand what Ron’s about. The people make the project and from New West, to Paradigm, to Sunday, to Black Rice; we’ve got a solid team.

Seeing Ron’s name on the Bonnaroo bill was exciting, but it was just the tip of the iceberg! It was a small reminder that our hard work was paying off and that there was much more to come.

BTR: What have been some ups and downs of managing Ron?

LG: Sometimes things don’t go your way, you don’t get a response you want, you fuck up, etc. It’s just picking up and moving forward, staying the course.

I’d say the most challenging thing for me has been balancing everything. We’ve all experienced a lot of changes this year. It has definitely been emotionally challenging, frustrating, and exhausting at times. It’s an all-in sort of deal and I’m grateful for the ups and downs. I just have to remind myself to step back and take a breather sometimes.

At the end of the day, I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished together and wouldn’t have it any other way.

BTR: What would you consider to be “hitting it big?”

LG: Just getting to the point where the artist is making a living from doing what they love to do. These guys just want to play, so it’s our job to make that a reality. No particular level is really “hitting it big” but as long as everyone is comfortable and able to do what they love to do, I consider that success.

BTR: What’s the next step for you?

LG: Great question. Who knows? I love what I’m doing now and will stay focused on it until it’s time to move forward. Overall, I hope I’m always able to work with people I love and respect, who really put themselves into their music, and for the right reasons. I feel incredibly lucky to have this experience and want to always feel this way about whatever I’m doing.

BTR: What’s the #1 aspect you believe someone needs to have in order to successfully manage or stay sane while managing an up and coming artist?

LG: Separation of work and self. Setting time aside for clearing your mind. When you’re setting your own hours, every hour can be devoted to work. This doesn’t mean you get more done—you wear yourself down and completely derail your focus. I still have to remind myself of this.

If you pour too much of yourself into whatever you’re doing, you lose sight of what you really want/need. It’s hard to remember sometimes but a little birdy recently told me, “you can always afford to take care of yourself—what else could be more important?”