Big Beat Records &
Head of Digital at Big Beat Records
Director of Digital Marketing at Atlantic Records
Bachelor of Marketing
Full Sail University
After college I started interning at Yoshitoshi Recordings, an amazing underground house/tech house label in Washington D.C.. I worked non-stop and came in on my days off the first month but it worked and they fired the current label assistant to hire me a few weeks in. When Cyrus Bader, the label manager at the time left a year or so in I got his gig.
Yoshitoshi was such an awesome place to start because it’s small enough that you can’t avoid having your hand in every part of the business. We did a lot of licensing to different labels and I was negotiating all of the single and remix deals which I really enjoyed, so when Tiësto’s label, Musical Freedom, needed another hand, part of the gig was to help with the mound of licensing requests going in and out and I was happy to jump into something I think a lot of people don’t like because it’s not the “glamorous” part of the industry.
After a year at Musical Freedom where we’d been working out of Complete Control Management’s office in NYC, who at the time were managing Tiësto, a position opened up doing day to day management for Dada Life, Tritonal and a couple other acts and I decided to try my hand at management because I was dying to learn from Toby Benson who managed them. Dada Life was just getting started at the time and Tritonal was transitioning to a more mainstream electro sound so over the next few years we didn’t sleep much but accomplished some amazing stuff, and I moved from NYC to LA. When Toby left to do his own thing I took over managing Dada Life. Complete Control had created a joint venture with some other management companies, so I also helped with the management of the Awful Records crew from Atlanta, 88rising’s first steps in artist management, to name a few.
But I was really missing the East Coast and mentioned it to my mentor, Cyrus Bader, who had hired me at Yoshitoshi and brought me to Musical Freedom, and as it turned out, a position had just opened up in Atlantic’s Digital Marketing department handling Big Beat’s roster. I had never imagined going to a major but when I talked to Paul Sinclair, the Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy & Innovation for Atlantic, and Blake Foster, the Head of Marketing for Big Beat it was a no brainer. I’ve been here for two years now.
Coming from management has been a massive help in the same way that going from indie labels into management was. I understand both sides and I think the artists and managers appreciate someone at the label who knows where they are coming from and maybe isn’t just saying they know to get something through the door. One manager we work with calls me after long weekly calls and goes “Shaw, you were a manager -- you know what I mean, help me explain it to them,” and I’m happy to do it because I know it helps them trust the label which somehow is still a problem with artist/manager/label relationships. If you signed with the right label you should be able to trust them; their interest is in your success.
I like things about both and think at those times at which I’ve done both, in my life they’ve been right. The high and lows in management are more extreme. That was amazing in my mid-20s when the mix of glamour and grind was super fun and fulfilling but I started feeling burnt out while living in LA. Not to say that’s the only way to be a manager but for better or worse, that’s how I did it.
I came to a major label at the perfect time in my life and I was ready to learn about the inner workings of things. There’s so much to this industry that unless you’re at a major label you really don’t get to see and since coming to Big Beat/Atlantic I’ve learned more than I could have imagined. Every day I’m here I learn something and think to myself “oh shit, had I known that 5 years ago I would have done everything differently.”
Digital advertising has gotten so interesting and its importance snowballs as things grow and shift with social media. It’s wild to me how people still don’t get that things that look/feel organic are the way to go. I could show certain people engagement numbers for days and they still send me over-produced social content with a ton of text over it because they decided five years ago that was the move. Heads up: it’s not.
Consumers are smarter about what they see online than some people think; they can tell what’s fake or insincere right away and will scroll right past it. Engagement and awareness mean way more than clicks to me.
I wouldn’t say the younger generation is at an advantage if you’re looking at the big picture. They have a more natural fluency but that can be learned and it’s only one part of the game. It’s an important part but I think a lot of the younger generation come in thinking that’s the whole thing.
Our artist roster ranges from established global acts like David Guetta and Galantis to emerging acts like Whethan and Ekali. I see that range as a massive strength. Most of all, though, it’s the team here - it’s stacked: Blake Foster (Head of Marketing), Matt Engelman (Head of Sales), Jordan Frazes (Head of Publicity) and Gina Tucci (Head of A&R), are all top tier, both in experience and passion. We have the resources of a major but the feel of an indie, and that’s pretty rare.
The artists, but the pit crew is hugely important because, like most things, it’s a team effort. Spotify obviously has a ton of control at the moment but this is an industry where we’ve seen that power shift a few times.
At the end of the day whether parts of this industry want to accept it or not, it’s about the music and the artist behind that music. They go hand in hand and without both, you don’t have shit.
Actually listen to experts and the extended team you’ve built around you. Look at the data. Trust real numbers and experience. Vibes only get you so far. “Cool” has a shelf life.
Women get shit done and diversity is a strength. Like every other industry, there are some dinosaurs who don’t get that but that’s to their own detriment. Let’s just let them die out while we focus on our hustle.
I want to say some fancy professional thing but honestly, it’s the two times we broke Guinness World Records with the Dada Life team. First one was “World’s Biggest Pillow Fight” and I was so stressed I considered eating a cigarette because I thought it would work faster and I didn’t have time to go outside. We had to unwrap 5,000 pillows in a couple hours before the show and I ended up calling the guy who sat by me on the plane on the way there to bring his friends to come to help us in exchange for a table and bottle service.
Guinness takes things super seriously and a rave is NOT the place to pull these off but for some reason we did it twice. The situation around the second one was truly insane. There was a brush fire in the hills that you could see from the show grounds and we had to evacuate the campground. But somehow we got through that weekend and put on a crazy show, pyro and all (shout out to the San Bernardino Fire Dept for being so exhausted they let us shoot fireworks off next to an active brush fire).
We then had the terrible idea of walking the Dada Life guys from the stage through a 15k person crowd to break the record of “The Most People Dressed As Fruit” but we did it. I’ve never been so stressed out and exhausted but also never been that proud.