Allan Siema is an artist manager at Simple Complex Music, co-founder and publicist for music platform Fave Sounds and developer of On The Come Up TV. We asked him to tell us about his various job roles for this month’s ‘Job Envy’.
Place of work
Artist Manager and Co-founder & Talent Scout at Fave Sounds
How long have you had the job?
I have been working as a manager for the last 10 years and a talent scout at Fave Sounds for the last 2 years although I will say that I have always been searching for talent through my platform onthecomeuptv.com. In total I have been in the music business for around 15 years. I have been learning and crafting away as one should in order to become proficient.
What does a typical day involve?
My typical day consists of reading books, meditation, setting my intention for the day as well as doing some exercise. This is how I start my day so that I am able to cope with the demands. Once that is out of the way, I will focus on following up on emails, unpaid invoices, music submissions, pitching my artists music to press, radio and generally any opportunities that I can find, which will benefit their brand. On top of that, I will have catch up calls with clients that I am working with to plan what needs to be done moving forward. I also will make sure that reviews are being written for my website onthecomeuptv.com and schedule them for publishing.
I will set aside some time to stop, eat lunch and rest before I continue with more work. My days are fluid since I work from home like many other people during the pandemic.
Highs of the job?
Getting a breakthrough on certain projects after working very hard on them for a while. The kind of breakthroughs that I am talking about are small decisive steps that lead you onto the next big thing. I have always understood that blessings come in sprinkles and the key has been to celebrate every single one of them til the mothership blessings arrives. For instance, I had been working on a radio campaign for months and suddenly I got an email from the BBC saying that we could have the artist perform live on air. I was ecstatic because it is very competitive and it felt good that I had persisted until we got the yes.
Lows of the job?
There have been many times when you work your socks off and you still don’t get the results you believe you deserve. Not everyone is going to see and feel your vision. Not everyone is going to want to support what you believe in. This can be heartbreaking at times but at the same time, it is character building. I have honestly had many years of failure and it has not always been great but my passion to learn and grow are key to keeping me focused.
How did you get the job?
I fell into the role of artist management/ general music business after realising that medicine was not for me. I began managing a dancer within reggae/dancehall. We travelled and won a competition, which ultimately boosted my confidence in the world of entertainment. It has been a journey of lessons and learning!
What did you do before this job?
Before I fell into music, I was a student working towards achieving a medical degree at the University of Sussex. I was doing all kinds of jobs as a student to survive. I was knee-deep in the hospitality sector whilst studying. Additionally, I was doing background extra work to keep the expenses paid.
How can we get your job?
You need to be passionate about music, have a thick skin, be generally very entrepreneurial and have an ability to network. This business does not give you handouts and nothing is ever the same. Things are always changing and you need to be amorphous to your surroundings within reason. One other key thing is making sure that you define your morals and values before you enter this business. It will save you from making the wrong decisions and steer you in the right direction.
Who are the people who’ve had the biggest influence on your career and why?
Many moons ago, I met an artist manager by the name of Alex Martin ( Becky Hill’s manager) while interning at Eliminator Expo; a music events management company in the heart of Shoreditch. I loved Alex’s transparency and methodical way of working. He was brazen and just on his A-game. He was gracious to me and has given me valuable advice in many ways over the years. I would say that subconsciously he influenced my direction and ever since I have been working hard to make sure that I achieve my goals. Other people that have influenced me would be Damon Dash, Richard Branson and Martin Luther King Jr.
Have you ever thought about going it alone?
Coming up in the music business as a young black man was not easy. It was riddled with inequities and so I decided to create my own businesses. My first business was called Ask Media Entertainment Group where I managed artists and ran a hip hop blog. I was not getting any job offers and no opportunities were coming my way to work for the labels that I had been enthralled about. I took my destiny into my own hands and started studying the business like I was back in the science lab. 15 years later, I am still self-employed and working to develop even more. Should an opportunity come for me to work within a label/management structure, I will be happy to pursue.
What’s the one bit of advice you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?
Plan your journey, visualise it and realise it.
Benjamin Franklin once said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
I cannot stress how important this is in growing and becoming successful both life and career-wise. Planning is like planting a seed that grows from the inside and then becomes apparent on the outside.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career to date?
My biggest mistake I have made in my career is rushing to work with artists because they have awesome talent. Talent is only 20% of the equation and unfortunately, I have come to understand that you need to really know who you are doing business with. You have to see what they are all about. You have to understand their mindset and know when to invest your time or not. I can honestly say that I am super cautious of who I invest my time with because it is the most valuable commodity outside of currency. Take time and do your due diligence on them and believe you me it will save you a whole lot of headache.
How would you like to see your industry develop over the next five years?
I would love to see more people win and be sustainable with their craft. I would love to see more black people in positions of influence in labels, publishers and booking agencies globally.
More equality in opportunities.
I would love to see the soul and blues scene invested in more than it currently is. It is truly an arena that has some incredible talent that can definitely create significant legacies.
Increase streaming rates for artists globally.
Introduce some form of independent committee like the Financial Services Authority to regulate all the facets of the music business. It is essential that we can make it a fair system for everyone involved.