top of page
  • Writer's pictureSydney Oberholtzer

Episode 10 | Artist Relations

EP 10 | Artist Relations from The Set Up Podcast | Behind the Scenes in Music

00:00:09 Sydney: You're listening to The Set Up Podcast. A podcast that helps you navigate new topics through interviews with the most creative minds in the music industry turning their experiences working behind the scenes into actionable advice you can us in your life no matter your background. if you're passionate in paving your own path and inspired to connect with like-minded professionals, hit the Subscribe button because we'll help you set up for Success at The Set Up podcast. I'm your host, Sydney Oberholtzer, and thank you for joining us another episode of The Set Up.

00:00:42 Sydney: Ryan Smith is an Artist relations manager at Shure. Essentially, He has been building relationships with artists and their teams for the past 25 years. He is the go- to audio guy.

00:01:42 Sydney: As an artist relations manager, is it all rock and roll like we think?

Ryan: It's a little bit of everything. At the Ryman, they have all types of artists. So it's definitely a huge Melting Pot of of amazing performers that both live here and some come through here. So it's it's really enjoyable to go out and watch shows and I still love going to see shows even after 25 years of doing this. There's just so many magic moments.

Sydney: I would have to agree with that. It's definitely one of my biggest passions getting to see artists. Why did you choose to pursue this career path?

Ryan: I was a drummer when I was growing up and if I wasn't going to be out on the road touring I wanted to be involved in the music industry in some way when I got out of college. I sent my resume everywhere and I finally got a call back from Shure. So my first position at Shure was a rush order expeditor.

Sydney: How did you make the transition from that role?

Ryan: About six months in that role, I was promoted to a customer service position. Every once in a while, I'd see this really tall guy walking around with really long hair and he looked like he was doing something really important. I know what he was doing and they described the role of artist relations to me and I didn't even know what that was at the time. He's the guy who goes out and and handles giving microphones to all these artists and getting these really cool ads that we do and getting interviews to the artist. And I said, well, if he ever needs help... I will be the one going for that job when the time came.

00:04:28 Ryan: The position opened I applied and thankfully got it. This was late 90s when the country music scene was exploding. We had a bunch of endorsers that were country artists and I was starting to develop a lot of good relationships with artists that were based in Nashville. So I put together a proposal to open up an office inside a rehearsal Hall where all of these artists were rehearsing and it took a few years and finally they bit down on the idea and that was in 2001. And here we are in 2020.

Sydney: And the rest is history. Do you remember your first Partnership that you have created with an artist?

Ryan: I remember the first artist I went to go visit. I visited at the park west, a group called Slaughter for the moment. The band was inviting me up on stage and showing them Wireless gear and asking if I can help them fix some of their issues. It was a really cool experience for me.

Sydney: how long were you there for a visit with an artist?

Ryan: Usually it involves getting there around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. I like to get there right before the artist soundcheck. And usually like to stay for the show and show my support.

Sydney: How many shows do you think you've been to throughout your life? And who would you say is the artist you seen the most?

Ryan: Probably have to be Iron Maiden, The Who. We work with The Who for over fifty years now. Judas Priest. So I've seen them quite a bit. Most of them are based here in Nashville.

00:06:2 Sydney: I saw Judas Priest when I was younger. My dad thought it would be a great idea to take his 10-year olds and nine year old to OzFest. I promise you that was probably one of the most memorable experiences I've ever had. I loved it and was also frightened at the same time.

Ryan: I think I had a similar experience first time going to Bonnaroo. That's a different kind of Frightening.

Sydney: How do Partnerships work?

Ryan: A lot of these Partnerships originated through the group either front-of-house engineer or monitor engineer. They usually know how to use our products out on the road with these artists. Through those relationships, We try to get content of not only the artist but nowadays, We also try to get content with the engineers And how they're using the products on the day-to-day basis. It's been really exciting to be down here and develop closer relationships with the people who live and work in the Nashville area. Not only the crew people but also the management personnel.

00:07:48 Sydney: What are some artists that you have been working with?

Ryan: Maroon 5, have been working with us since the first record. Luke Bryan has been with us since he was in the van and trailer days. We started working with Maren Morris a few years ago. So we're looking looking forward to everything getting back to normal so to speak so we can see more On the road.

Sydney: It just makes it more organic especially if they use your equipment.

Ryan: Yeah. I mean Rob Halford of Judas Priest has been singing into a Shure microphone since the very beginning and to be able to sit down with him and meet him for the first time a couple years ago and an interview with him and find out what an amazing gentleman he is. It was just such a gracious interview. That's how the relationship continues and develops.

00:08:48 Sydney: Are there any stories you'd like to share?

Ryan: Absolutely, eight years ago, I went up to visit Megadeth at a venue in Indiana. I got to say hi to Dave Mustaine before the show, but then after the show, I came back to the dressing room and he was just kind of hanging in there by himself and he and I got into about a 90-minute conversation about a whole bunch of different things and it was so relaxing and you know, I just hit it off and since then our families gotten together for dinner. I just went on the Megadeth Cruise in October, which was a lot of fun.

Sydney: Sounds very cool. It's awesome when you can mix pleasure with business.

Ryan: There's a lot of circle of life stories that I am very grateful for. The internship that I did, I got from a personal friend of the family and later on and he sends an email to My older brother that said you have to get your brother to sign this band. My son and I have been listening to them like crazy. Well, it was a band called Twenty One Pilots and me as a drummer, you watch Josh on the drums.. He's just so animated and I was immediately hooked. So I send a cold email to the management company and about three weeks later, I got an email back saying hey, we were thinking about reaching out to you guys as well. So let's get this going and this was about when the band was playing rooms of about a thousand people so they were starting to gain momentum and I went out to meet them here in Nashville, and I got to talk with the engineer and the band guy and we struck up a great relationship. Years later,They're at Bonnaroo and I'm looking on the Bonnaroo app going...Hey guys, you know that 16000 people have checked in to your show.

00:11:48 Ryan: There's a big show called The National Association of Music Merchants. It's The NAMM Show and for that show we decided to hire spinal tap to perform at our party. after their sound check, my wife and I were walking down the hallway and in the distance the manager and the three primary guys in spinal Tapper walking towards us. We meet halfway and the manager says guys want to go over and check out the trade show next door, "Would you mind escorting them over there?" And I'm going yeah, no problem and was funny because they weren't necessarily dressed up at that time. A lot of people up and down The Halls are doing double-takes and they're probably shaking their head. So I have to say that was that was one of the coolest things that I was a part of.

Sydney: Would you say that you were a little bit Starstruck?

00:12:48 Ryan: That's something that you have to learn to manage and put it aside to do this job. There's been many a times when I've met with somebody and you just learn how to talk with them. You learn how to ask the right questions. With some research before you are going to meet with them and just learn how to get into a conversation so that you don't get nervous. I certainly met people where I was like, okay, that was really really cool. We typically work with the audio coordinator who works with a lot of different vendors to bring in all of the wireless gear and we work with them closely to make sure they have everything they need.

00:13:48 Sydney: what is your favorite local spot?

Ryan: My favorite local spot and continues to be the Ryman Auditorium. I just absolutely love seeing shows there. It's such an amazing building and has such a great history behind it. I just I just love the shows there. I's not too big nor they're not too small or just right and when you get a great band in there and you have a great engineer that understands how to mix for that room. Most of the audience peers are all wood. And so there's a lot of reflective surfaces in there. But that building can sound amazing and I seen a lot of really great moments.

Sydney: I never been there and I have to check it out but my sister was there. She saw Phoenix there and she took my mom. Recently I have seen that you launched a new wireless headphone line with Adam Levine. How did that happen?

Ryan: I reached out to our department to figure out who would be a good candidate for the face of this upcoming campaign. They looked at a lot of different potentials, but really when it came down to it Adam was the best.

00:15:48 Ryan: He is a great candidate for this because he's done so much in his career. He has such a great attitude and he really wanted to be a part of this. It was great to to work with him and to get the content we did and have him as face of this campaign.

Sydney: How long did it take to create?

Ryan: Nine months or so. Our relationship with Adam has been pretty muchgreat.

Sydney: how has your relationship evolved?

Ryan: Whenever I've sent an email to his manager, The response time has been Lightning Fast even if it's just a simple reply he gets back to me usually in less than 20 minutes and that's amazing.

00:16:48 Ryan: They've always been very accommodating. The engineers that have worked with the group have always been great. So it's always been a very positive relationship and as their needs grew, we wanted to grow with them. When they performed on the Super Bowl halftime show, He was using the latest greatest wireless system from Shure so that's how we like to take care of the people who are good to us and growing exponentially.

00:17:48 Sydney: Are there any artist you have your eye on that You want to work with in the future?

Ryan: We looking at working with Luke Combs who's doing extremely well right now in the country market. I think that relationship is developing and hopefully that'll be happening later this year when he starts hitting the road again.

Sydney: It would be cool to see Shure creating a live stream series with artists like Luke Combs or ones that you've worked with. Do you have any last thoughts for the listeners?

00:18:48 Ryan: The thing that I can say is just to be nice to everyone you meet. You never know what they can do for you next week next month next year next decade. As far as my career path, learn the art of the "Hang" so to speak. Know that you can go in to say hi to a new artist or somebody you know about but have never met them at all and learn how to interact with them. A lot of them are very down-to-earth. I think a big thing to do is to just have a hunger for knowledge, know more than you're expected but more importantly, when you don't know it, it's okay to ask somebody else who does. I have an amazing support system of people. There's a lot of people who know a lot more than I do and I'm not ashamed to admit that.

Sydney: Being resourceful and creating your support system. Thank you so much for giving us a peek under the hood.

Send any topic recommendations or feedback to

Listen to the full episode at

33 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page