The Fast Track Fellowships program sent four Victorian music managers overseas to create new opportunities for artists at home.
In a field like music performance, where the focus is on the artist, it can be easy to forget about the people behind the musicians. With every song you hear and performance you witness, there is a team of people behind the scenes making the magic happen. Before a performance can even begin, for many, their opportunities start when they’re put in touch with a capable and enthusiastic manager.
In 2017, the Victorian Government funded the Fast Track Fellowship as part of its $22.2 million Music Works package. The Fellowship’s vision? To help Victoria’s local music industry build international networks. To make this happen, two of Victoria's brightest artist managers were given the opportunity to travel overseas to work at international music companies for at least two months, developing their skills, building relationships and setting the groundwork for future trade and business relationships.
Artist managers Charlotte Abroms (Hear Hear Group) and Guy Blackman (Chapter Music) were among the inaugural Fast Track Fellows, embarking on professional development opportunities the UK and USA respectively.
On the right track
Charlotte Abroms is a Melbourne-based Artist Manager who’s been a passionate advocate for artists for years. In addition to representing the likes of Angie McMahon and Gretta Ray, Charlotte established music website Large Noises to champion the music she was passionate about. As part of the Fast Track Fellowship, Charlotte travelled to the UK to work with Everybody’s Management — and found the experience more powerful than she expected.
“It was quite life changing in ways I didn’t really anticipate it to be. The biggest learning I took from it was to try and detach from the unnecessary pressures of the music industry.
“Having support around me - working out of an office with like-minded people, gave me a lot of confidence and helped take a bit of pressure off myself as a manager, and let me change my focus to emotionally supporting the artists I work with in
For Charlotte, that’s really what artist management is – supporting her artists the best she can. Of her job, she says “first and foremost my job is really to protect the wants and needs of the artist both professionally and emotionally”.
Her time in the UK also had some important tangible outcomes. Being in the same room as her artists’ UK and Europe contacts, the ease of travel around the UK and Europe and increased networks, enables her to conduct her work faster than ever before.
“Working out of Everybody’s Management meant that we were able to fast-track things. Gretta [Ray] came over while I was there, and finished her EP, and we were able to put a plan around [her EP], and organise a tour for her. All being in the same room [together] meant that we could get things done quickly.”
Charlotte and her team were also able to make invaluable professional connections that will benefit her current roster of artists, and other Aussie acts who will follow in their footsteps.
“We got a UK/Europe booking agent for Angie McMahon, Russell Warby, who is one of the directors of WME in Europe and he works with the likes of The Foo Fighters, The Strokes, Vampire Weekend. We’ve now planned [Angie’s] return to London.”
Of the Fast Track Fellowship experience overall, Charlotte reflects that it gave her confidence. “It was really reiterated to me when I was there that I was on the right track.”
Charlottes positive experience was shared by fellow Fast Track Fellowship recipient, Guy Blackman, artist manager for many popular Aussie acts including The Goon Sax and Laura Jean, and founder of long-running independent music label Chapter Music.
A veteran of the business, Guy has been a hardworking stalwart across all facets of the music industry. While Charlotte spent her time in the UK, Guy was paired with Fort William Artist Management in Los Angeles.
“It was pretty amazing to be able to live in LA for nearly two months. With the help of the grant I could get [accommodation] in Los Feliz, and was able to enjoy the city as well as the music industry.”
Just as Charlotte felt her time in the UK helped her feel like her skills were legitimised, Guy said his time at Fort William increased his visibility and credibility.
“By being based overseas, being on the ground in peoples time zones and neighbourhoods where they do business, [it felt like] people took me more seriously, paid more attention.”
The other music professionals
The Fast Track Fellowship program was facilitated by the Association of Artist Managers (AAM), a membership-based, not-for-profit organisation that protects, promotes, and develops the reputations and interest of Australian music managers - much like managers do for their own artists.
Speaking about the program, AAM director Leanne de Souza said, "Creative Victoria understood that investing in managers to build international networks returns tangible opportunities and growth to the artists careers. It was a smart move and a pioneering approach that effectively built pathways for managers and artists."
It’s no revolutionary concept that professional development enhances careers; time spent with people who you can learn from and be inspired by is invaluable. However, there is also a significant ripple effect well beyond the participating individuals. In the case of Guy and Charlotte, the opportunities they received extend to the talented musicians they represent and to our local music industry more broadly – and that’s worth celebrating.