Talking With Producer Manager Zach Katz

by moe on March 16, 2009

producersweek

zackkatz

Producer Manager & CEO of Beluga Height, Zach Katz

Firstly, can you introduce yourself a bit and tell us what it is that you do?

My name is Zach Katz. I am a music manager and CEO of Beluga Heights, a record label and publishing company I have with my partners Jonathan “J.R” Rotem, the producer, and his brother Tommy Rotem, who is our A&R.

My background started about 12 years ago, when I became a music attorney. This was around 1996 or so. I did that for about 3-4 years. I liked it, but never really found it to be my passion. I always wanted to be more creative.

I had an opportunity to get in on the management side, which is really what I always wanted to do. I did that for about 5-6 years; I managed a lot of artists and producers, and through that I met J.R, and he became my only client.

Going from an attorney to a manager seems like a bit of an odd jump; how did that happen?

It’s funny that you say that. I guess from the outside, I can see why it seems like an odd jump, but I gotta tell you, most of the people I went to law school with – no one really wanted to practice law.

Maybe it was just my particular group, but a lot of people had intentions of getting into the music business and the film business; and a lot of the people I went to school with, did so successfully. Not just in the attorney capacity, but also working in record labels, in a creative capacity, as well as in a creative capacity in the TV and film business.

For me, I’ve always been a creative person. I always knew that law school, and being a lawyer, would be a stepping-stone – and that’s what it turned out to be.

Who are you currently representing now?

I work with and represent one client, and one client only – and that’s producer, Jonathan “J.R” Rotem.

He’s definitely one of the biggest producers of the time; he was BMI Producer of the Year last year; a title he shared with Kanye West and T-Pain.

J.R as a producer keeps me very busy. He works with everybody from Leona Lewis to Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Rick Ross and Britney Spears.

Plus, we have our record label, where we have our 5 recording artists signed, and that takes up a lot of our time as well. One of our artists is Sean Kingston, who we had a lot of success with last year. We have 4 other new artists signed right now, all developing artists who we’re working on.

On top of that, we have a music publishing company, where we sign songwriters. So the entire operation is based around our business, and based around J.R as a producer.

Ten years ago, everybody you spoke to said they were a rapper. Now, everybody you speak to says they’re a manager, or they want to be a manager. What makes a successful manager?

To me, what I think makes somebody a good manager and what makes somebody successful in the music business – actually successful in life all together – is having a good focus, being determined, being willing to sacrifice, and having good people skills; meaning knowing how to network and have people want to do business with you.

Also, knowing who your client is – knowing what your client’s potential is and how to bring out your client’s potential.

And lastly, but far from being least, it’s about coming from a good place, and working with good intentions. Just being a person who gives just as much as he takes.

It’s very easy to get into the mentality of everything being “me, me me” and always thinking “what’s in it for me?”, but realistically, what makes the world go round is asking “how can I help?”

I think a combination of those things is what makes somebody successful.

When someone is first trying to get into the business, the main advice they hear is to intern or just hang around others in the business and learn. However managing producers is one of those jobs that’s really not discussed or taught anywhere. How can somebody get into that?

First and foremost, get clients that are truly talented, that are truly determined, that are truly hard working and that want to go all the way to the top.

katzquote001When you’re a manager, it’s not a salary job; you get a piece of the income that you bring to the table for the client. So you gotta pick very carefully who you put your time and energy into.

At the end of the day, if a person has self-limitations, or the person is not as creative or as hard working, you’re putting your time and energy into the wrong person.

With that said, you have to find somebody who’s very competitive. It’s more competitive than ever right now. There’s access for pretty much anybody to make tracks and produce at home. It’s really opened up the floodgates; it’s very competitive right now.

The most important criteria though, is finding someone who really knows how to make hot music; music that’s just undeniable.

At the end of the day, as many producers as there are out there, as many songwriters as there are out there; there’s always room for more that are just unbelievably talented, and who know how to make music that the masses love.

As much as I, or any of my associates may have our hands full with great clients, I think everybody’s pretty much always open and looking for new talent that’s undeniable.

So if you’re a new manager, make your life easier by finding somebody who truly has the goods; or somebody who nearly has them and you feel like you can bring them to that point. That’s number one.

Number two, continuing on the creative side, 5 years ago, we were all still selling tracks. People wanted tracks. Today, people don’t want tracks; they want records.

And the difference between them is that a track is an instrumental. People don’t want instrumentals right now. It’s a singles-driven market; it’s not an album-driven market.

People don’t want to buy a track and hope that they can find the right writer who is going to write the right record to it.

If you can deliver them a hot track, that either has a great hook for a rapper, or a great full song for a Pop or R&B singer, then you’re in business.

So for all upcoming managers, I’d be looking for producers who also are songwriters, or who have songwriters nearby who they can collaborate with, to make records that you can shop, rather than for you to just have tracks.

That’s number two.

Number three, once you have a hot record, then it’s about pounding the pavement; it’s about networking, it’s about hitting up guys like me and bombarding people to let them know you have something amazing.

If you approach people in the right way – if you send them an email that comes from a place of humility, but at the same time focused, and they can tell that you respect their time; just tell them you manage somebody and ask if you can send them a record – they will actually listen to your record.

If somebody hits me up and says “Hey, I manage this producer, he’s also a songwriter. We don’t have just tracks, we have full songs or tracks with hooks. Could I send you one or two?” the answer is always going to be yes.

And that’s the way you get in.

But let me say this; if somebody gives you a thumbs up to send them something, it better be amazing!

A lot of people will bombard you to send you something, and then they’ll send you a folder of 20 tracks. I don’t want 20 tracks. Give me your best record.

You have one or two opportunities to catch my attention; send me your best record. So, it’s all about approaching the right people in the right way, with the right records.

When you’re a manager, it’s about being out there networking. All these record labels, not only do they have the A&Rs picking records, they have lower level A&Rs, they have assistants who are hungry, who want to strive; who want to make their mark in the building. There’s management companies, which have lower lever people whose hands you can you can put your producers music into, if you’re just starting out.

There’s enough access right now, and enough people who will listen, but you have to hit them with something that’s going to stand out.

Click here to  continue to Part 2 of my interview with Zach Katz, where we discuss beatmakers vs. producers, setting your fee, and placing your music in film, tv & video games.

{ 19 comments }

gwen March 16, 2009 at 10:09 AM

i read some interviews with him, this is the best one so far. he gives real advice here. thanx. when will part 2 be up?

Stacy G March 16, 2009 at 10:19 AM

Love it! I really like the idea of an online Producers Week on your site. It’s off to a great start!

Leon March 16, 2009 at 3:21 PM

Good info!!!!

Gary Gets Busy March 16, 2009 at 4:18 PM

Too many people say they’re managers but they don’t do anything. They don’t have an artist or producer who they can actually push. They don’t know anybody else in the biznes they can call to work with. They aren’t managers. But some of us have a few contacts and producers we can push but dont know where to go next. We’re stuck. What can we do?

Lamar March 16, 2009 at 6:51 PM

This was extremely informative, not just for musicians or the creative community, but for anyone who wants to be successful.

brian March 17, 2009 at 12:18 AM

cant wait til pt 2

JAS March 17, 2009 at 10:23 PM

GREAT INTERVIEW. NOT MANAGING PRODUCERS BUT I LEARNED A LOT! THANKS

FOLLOW ME
TWITTER.COM/ATLBEATBATTLE

“IF YOU DONT HAVE A PLAN, THAN UR PLANNING TO FAIL” http://twitpic.com/26zdu

Purple Chrome March 19, 2009 at 12:19 AM

My name’s “Purple Chrome” aka Seneca Malcolm (CEO of Purple Chrome Records, Inc.)

As an underground Bronx, NY Ghost-Producer/Singer/Songwriter/Pro Tools Engineer, reading this 2 part interview here is the TRUTH! I usually play the cut/background BUT sometimes you have to take on OTHER roles besides just “beat-making” -> for sure! I also humbly suggest constant networking with the “check writer’s” aka the people “behind” the artists & NOT just tryna bombard the “Superstars” on Myspace or Twitter lol…

*Get @ Me for: Sung Hooks, Songwriting, My Beats, & Engineering (Studio-Time)

Matt March 25, 2009 at 6:36 AM

I just had the incredible opportunity of meeting with Zach Katz today. You immediately feel his presence…he’s the real deal. His level of professionalism and genuine passion for good music is unrivaled..what a great experience, I’ll never forget.

Wade Chestnut April 15, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Thank you for the info. If I have one amazing track that I would like to send to be pitched. What e-mail can I send that to??

Wade Chestnut April 29, 2009 at 10:33 PM

And what would a good precent for a new producer to offer a decent manager be?

mourad elfarnawany May 19, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Is he on twitter? Hed be a good person to follow. I can only imagine the pearl a wisdom that Mr. Katz spits everyday

Nate Rimmel August 7, 2009 at 12:36 PM

Zach makes some great points. When artists contact me for consultations or music production, I generally ask them similar questions: do you have a potential hit record? have you released any product, if so, how many units have you pushed? People want a proven product. The problem is, since this is such a seemingly desirable industry to work in, everyone dubs themselves as a manager, artist, or “producer”.

To truly become legitimate, you have to invest in yourself. This means creating a perfect product, and honing in on your value. For artists, it’s the perfect album. For producers, the perfect submission disc. For managers, getting the artist or producer with their act together, and their product ready to shop. The #1 mistake I see artists and producers making is cutting corners. Master your music, pay for a certified recording engineer, make the PHONE CALL, not the email. Don’t save money on the cheap graphic design or cd replication. When I was young, my dad told me “Son, I don’t care what profession you choose. You can be a lawyer or a garbage man. But whatever business you decide upon, be the best at your craft.” If you don’t have the money, save up or get an investment. I have 4 artists who have obtained small business investments between $10k and $30k on an unsigned independent level, simply by asking around.

In the end, it all comes down to your intention. If you intend to learn, you will seek those who are knowledgeable. If your judgment and outlook is skewed by pop culture like many, you will find yourself sitting in the studio making music, and hoping to get “discovered”. Instead, talk to as many people as possible. Don’t stop asking questions, and know your value. As Zach states, if you know your value, you will be able to offer your value to those who have something that you want (contacts to important relationships, etc.) On one hand, it’s a bartering business in the sense that you must give a little to get a little. Favor for a favor. If you have no value, then figure out what value you want to have, and give. Then work your way toward honing in your skill sets. Whether you are a great networker, a great musician, singer, producer, manager or leader, find you niche and offer others value. No more being stingy with your music, or your talents. Remember the song: “Love is something if you give it away, you’ll end up having more”? Replace the word love with value. Now you have a key to success.

N8Beats
http://www.NateBeats.com
nate.rimmel@gmail.com

Gwendolyn Sims August 10, 2009 at 3:03 AM

Hello Zach
My name is Gwendolyn Sims, my son and I had the opportunity to meet with you by way of DJ Casanova. You sent my son a few tracks, and I know you were expecting more concepts from him. I wanted to get some fed back as to your thoughts about Buddy. It all seem to have fallen by the way side. What would be your advise for his future endeavors? I would appreciate your feed back when you have time. And, if you need to reach me personally by cell is (310) 735-3172
My son and I really appreciated the opportunity to have meet you, JR, Tommy.
You guys are awesome.

Caoimhín Mc Auley January 9, 2010 at 10:33 PM

Hello, My name is Caoimhín Mc Auley.I’m 16 and i’m from the north of Ireland. I was hopeing you could lisen to a track I produced and Freestyled the versus. I’m not looking for any record deals, or anything of that sort. I’m just chasing a dream! I want to make music of every genre and I was just hopeing you would take a lisen to my track. I did it about 8 months ago and to be honest I never liked it, the Rhyme was off beat a good but through it and it was the first track I produced and recorded and I was mad nervous. I was just hopeing yo would take a lisen and maybe just give me some advice. Thats all i’m asking nothing else so if you would have a lisen I would really appreciate it and if not well even give me an E mail to let me know. My E mail is ‘cevy_fcb_wc@hotmail.com’. Thanks and Peace and Love!

jordan kayyo boi george February 1, 2010 at 10:25 PM

17 age from the island of dominica thank’s i love your music and beats,and would love to rapi write and prodruce all track, need beats from u on any, when you get a chance check out my my space, thank, i would wanna send you a demo

jordan kayyo boi george February 1, 2010 at 10:46 PM

thank’s again, i would love to rap on one of your beats, i’m 17 year of age i live in the island call dominica,my name is jordon kayyo boi george i’v produce two records and lot of singles which i think will interest u, from my home studio i’m versilte with lyric, singing and rappin, i do reggae, R&b, hiphop, rap, and write, i spend hours honing this music that i love,you exposing my talent would be a great future for both of us,( my space : blackmarket 101) if you need a demo email me i will send it to u, or u can send me a beat and i can rap or sing over it and send it back to u, thank’s see u soon.. kayyo boi

popeyebeats May 2, 2010 at 6:15 PM

was going on.iam a producer from the mid west. that go hard on my music. i do all music dance hip hop r&b i do real music (i got hits) but i have to get my tracks 2 the right people.how can we do business with ? you can call me at 219 713 0391 i know a lot people say these but i can be the next thing with a lil help.

Justin Stirling April 17, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Thanks for the great info Moe!

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