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  • Writer's pictureSydney Oberholtzer

Episode 5 | A Look Inside the Life of Artist Relations

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

EP 5 | Stories from an Artist Relations Professional from The Set Up Podcast | Behind the Scenes in Music

00:00:00 Sydney: Hey everyone, and welcome to another episode! Every episode, I invite you to tune in while I host a different guest to share their experience working in the music industry. We will be discussing the business of artist relations. My name is Sydney and this is The Set Up Podcast.

00:00:22 Sydney: Let me start by introducing you to my guest, Cory Lorentz. Cory has been the artist relations manager for Shure professional audio for the last 20 years. Thank you for joining us Cory. I attended a live podcast with guest appearances from emerging artists like Kaina at Shure's "for those who tour house" in Lincoln Park. And "for those that tour house" is one of the coolest places I've seen because it is a home essentially for traveling artist to crash when they pass through Chicago and is completely stocked with a recording studio bunk beds for the crew and equipment to use. Cory is part of the pro audio team and that means he builds relationships with artists and their team to provide the best equipment for their performances. So Cory, why did you choose to pursue artist relations with a brand like Shure,

00:04:21 Cory: I don't think that I came into this wanting to pursue it initially. I think I was a fan of the company and I pursued a PR job and I just sent the letter and a resume to Shure. I don't even know if they were hiring. I didn't care. I knew they were in Illinois. It was a 40 mile drive for me. Yeah, and I remember they called and I said I'll be right there. looking at this artist relations gig is like well, that's the rock and roll job and everybody talked about that job, but nobody wanted to do that job. You were always out nights and weekends if a show is in town, you had to go because that was before technology and social media and everything else, but you had to be out there. So I started to slowly do more projects with them, starting on this magazine that we used to have.

00:05:22 Cory: I would go out and I would start interviewing the engineers that work with some of the artists and then it became video interviews, but we would transcribe these interviews and put them into a magazine. So anyway, this book was the window into their world and it kind of really helped Elevate that relationship and then it really helped us sell the idea that we should work with artists and products.

00:06:22 Cory: My boss decided to buy a pizza place in Belize and leave the country and I had to take over artist relations. And when I got in, we were working with artists that were pretty dated. We weren't really talking to the right generation. I mean, this is a 95 year old company. We started bringing in more artists like Phoenix and Matt and Kim and and Cage the Elephant and all these other bands that were popping and we would just keep asking asking more and seeing what we would get and are more receptive to letting people use us and include us in their projects because we understood this is a valuable thing that we have and then all the sudden became the sexiest job at shure all over again.

Sydney: How did you develop a new relationship with artists?

00:07:21 Cory: We had an outside agency that would help us curate some of these relationships. It really becomes quite incestuous because a lot of people know a lot of people and the Engineers Bounce from one artist to another. They don't know who I am and I wasn't going to cold call everybody but I had this agency who had connections and they were starting to bring artist to the table. Then I think people started to know who I was in the business and so word spread people and I didn't know what leave another band and go to another band and so on and so forth, so I knew a small group of people. They can introduce two more people and I don't need this company anymore. But it was just one of those things that you once you get yourself in this industry and people know who you are and you're good to them, they're going to always bring you an opportunity.

Sydney: That's one thing. I've been finding out more is that this industry is so tight-knit it and once you have someone's back, they have yours. So once you develop those Partnerships with the artists and their teams, how do those Partnerships work?

00:08:57 Cory: You provide artists gear and they are going to provide assets. Let's call it a social media post a video or some sort of content that we're going to want from you like a meet and greet or maybe you're going to stay at the "for those who tour house." So once that happens, we're going to want to talk with the artists to make sure that they are on board with all that stuff. We're going to want to talk to production to make sure we're getting them the right gear that that, they don't have any questions with the gear. So everybody gets involved in this thing and you know, for us, we try to maintain a calendar.

00:10:41 Cory: I'm not TMZ , I don't want the dirt. I want to talk about microphones and that's it. The artists were really engaged because this is a company that's been supporting them with gear and with support. It's a product that they use every single night. We started doing this thing called "made with motive." We go to some coffee house that wasn't quite finished being built yet and we did a recording session with Shakey Graves and that was really cool and then we'd end up in some guy's apartment that has a beautiful grand piano and we bring another band in there. We do one in an alley or a parking lot or a haunted theatre and they were just another way for them to engage fans.

00:11:41 Cory: There's a theater above the Metro called the "top note" that you can actually Google it and people have died in that theater. Before it was a men's club. It's always creepy. It's always Erie and the lighting's terrible, but we decided to do a video for Bea Miller up there. That's a cool place and I love those guys. I love that entire place and Bea had three friends there and they're sitting in in the chairs. There were Theatre chairs there and Bea's on stage with her drummer who is playing guitar and they did one of her songs and her friends just sat there with these gaping stares. So they really dug it. It was really cool to be a part of that and it was really cool because the artist actually liked that.

00:12:41 Cory: It was fun to be a part of that and we did a lot of those. If there's a bigger project or profile, then we'll bring our video team out. And those are the ones that we will travel for. We did one with Iron Maiden. I remember we sat down for breakfast one morning with one of the managers and one of the guys who was going to be taking over as the monitor engineer. They need new gear and I can do all this but I'd like to get some cool content out of it.

00:13:41 Cory: The entire tour, there's no sound check. We wanted to get some content from there and traveled to Florida for one rehearsal.That's the day and you're never going to see them on stage before a show ever again. I had to ask that question to the lead singer. I got the answer which was actually kind of funny. They don't want to fight, they don't want anybody to nitpick about their sounds, and they don't want to change the setlist. So here we are in this Arena in Florida including the crew and the wives and we got to watch the entire Iron Maiden show for 3 hours. I'm talking the whole thing with airplanes and the costume changes for 3 hours.That was their dress rehearsal. When that was over, we got all of this crazy b-roll and we got the interview.

00:14:38 Cory: It was two days of filming and then months later, the project comes to life. We found that instead of sitting with this artist for 30 minutes and doing an interview in the hallway. Give me 5 minutes. Give me 10 minutes tops. It's all in how you present the package.

Sydney: So who is your favorite artist to work with?

00:15:38 Cory: Matt and Kim. Matt got thrown onto a phone call because his manager just had no idea what Matt needed from Shure. Me and Matt started talking about how you should try this and just both being nerds. When they came to town, we interview with them and we became friends. They would send Christmas gifts and let me go to Lollapalooza. I think another one would be Henry Rollins who I knew for about 12 years now.

00:16:38 Cory: He never ceases to amaze me. He'll email me in the middle of the night "Cory- Henry here, in southern Sudan. " Our first interview, I had no idea what to ask this guy. But We talked for almost an hour and now it's like I can talk to that guy about anything. I had him come out and he talked to a bunch of Shure salesman. They're all freaking out and here is Henry Rollins trying to pump them up for the year. SM58 needs the brand ambassador.

00:18:01 Sydney: Do you have any tips of the trade?

Cory: You're probably going to have to be by yourself a lot and you're going to have to walk into a room and say hey how you doing? Not as a Salesman, but as just somebody who's there to help. Be welcoming and you're going to meet all type of different people that aren't going to be receptive to that. The artist relations manager is not just the guy who's going to go to the show and hang out in the bus and give out free gear. The artist relations manager is going to have to be accountable. They're going to want to see the investment. Also to be Technical and I think now more than ever, so you can troubleshoot.

Sydney: That is all really really great stuff. It was a pleasure having you. Thank you all for tuning in and if you like what you hear, please give me a call or subscribe to stay up-to-date on all the new episodes. Once again, my name is Sydney and this was The Set Up Podcast.

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