I met Griffin at Camp Spin Off in 2012, we were both attending camp for our first year. Griffin was very advanced and knew way more about DJing than a lot of the other campers. Griffin was very easy to talk to and outgoing and I could tell he had the passion and drive to succeed in the music industry. After camp I followed Griffin on social media and enjoyed seeing what he was up to. Griffin started posting a lot more about the artist he was working with and everything he was doing in the music industry. We always talk about our goals and dreams at camp so it’s always great to see camp alumni doing big things for themselves in the music industry. I wanted to start the year off with this new series to answer all the questions I had as a camper and who better to feature than one of our very own, Griffin Haddrill!
Since you attended camp spin off, what was your biggest takeaway from the camp that still helps you to this day as a manager?
I think Camp Spin-Off might have been the single most important place in starting my career in the music business. I wasn’t the most creative person, but I had an immediate connection with the idea of developing and marketing an artist. I was able to really connect with true creatives and surrounded by a lot of successful mentors at the Camp, especially DJ Tina T & Evil One. I went to Camp Spin-Off with the mentality of learning more about music and gaining “mad DJ skills”, while in hindsight my “mad DJ skills” were lacking I really built some amazing friendships. All the while, I realized that I liked being surrounded by creative individuals. That energy was pretty contagious.
What influenced you to take this route in the music industry?
I have no clue. I was managing Hookah Lounge DJ’s in Las Vegas running around to every lounge trying to get my artists $100 gigs… I quickly found that was a dead-end, I didn’t see a career for myself, nor did I feel fulfilled. I met a lifelong friend and client, Ronnie Paulo that was/is a masterful producer and started to dive into Dance Music and realized there was a whole new world in the record business. From there, I made a lot of mistakes very fast and started to realize formal business etiquette and how things work. From that point on, I was addicted.
What do you look for in an artist when deciding who you will manage?
I invest in people. I must sound like a broken record to close friends on the subject, but it’s true. The person defines everything to me. I really look for a “Go-Get-Em” mentality, I love when my artists call me and tell me some crazy idea (regardless of the odds against them to make that idea a reality) but they pursue and don’t stop until they accomplish that. That means everything to me, because I know that when times are tough they will pursue and when times are great they know what it feels like to be struggling and defeat all odds.
For example, one of my clients Felmax is a refugee from Venezuela… this guy fled a communist regime to the United States, was twice over homeless, and kept pushing to make his dream as a musician come true. Now, he is working in the studio with Platinum artists and licensing his music for the 2020 World Cup, Budweiser, and Infiniti all the while releasing his music internationally on labels like Spinnin Records. This guy is an inspiration to me, and he is not the only one. I have stories from each and every one of my artists that on occasion bring a tear to my eye. They want to win, and they want to win as a team.
A previous camper asked: What is your best piece of advice for stage presence?
I believe having a unique and engaging stage presence has become more and more important. Being a DJ has become a “norm”, the difference is becoming a performer. That is not meant to belittle the Disc-Jockey craft, because there is still a ton of art and creativity involved with mixing, song selection, and mic-work, but truly defining yourself on stage as a performer with fresh taste and a unique style is what keeps the fans coming back. The real question comes down to what makes you different? And why would people be interested in you? Those are pretty big questions and it’s easy to lose sleep overthinking the right answer (I fall victim to that), but if an artist can distinctly define themselves from the rest, then that’s what truly matters.
More directly, it might come down to things like interactive visuals, groundbreaking song selection, live performances, breathing fire, doing stand-up comedy mid-set because you messed up a transition… (lol Jameston Thieves). Whatever it is for the artist, as long as they can own it and rock it.
What has been the most rewarding thing for you as a manager?
I’m not sure if there is a single moment that was the most rewarding. It’s probably the combination of little moments. Some of my favorite being when an artist calls me at 3am to tell me how great their set went or when I see my artists put a roof over their head and food on the table from money they made in music – its sounds kinda corny but it’s good to know that hard teamwork and perseverance lead to that moment.
What is one key piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to be an artist manager?
- Listen more than you speak. Always ask questions, and never assume anything (I used to live in fear that asking too many questions or simple questions would make people judge my intelligence, but it doesn’t. If anything you are just empowering your ability to analyze the best decision possible).
- Make a lot mistakes, that’s how I learn, but never make the same mistake twice.
- Try and build a solid network of people in the music industry, but never make it matter more than the artist or product you represent (I know too many people that get caught up in their “connections” that they never get anything done).
- This is a pretty social industry, just remember to always remain professional – side note: ask for club soda and lime when you go out to social occasions, it could save you from embarrassment or making an empty promise.
- When good things happen there is enough “good” to go around – give credit to everyone thats earned it. When bad things happen, take the heat, own up to it and move on.
- Lastly, there is no formula or textbook to do “management” or “artistry” right, so these are just notes from my experiences and I definitely have a ton to learn. Take it with a grain of salt or completely trash everything I just said (it might not be worth much anyway) – the main thing is to create your own set of experiences and don’t stop doing what you love, no matter the odds.