In our first interview of this kind, we’ve shifted our attention from the artists to an equally important yet largely unnoticed constituency: the managers. Very rarely do those who work behind the scenes get the same level of journalistic recognition as the artists with whom they work, but the insight they have to offer can be just as useful to aspiring producers and agents who want to gain a more well-rounded knowledge of operating in the dance music industry.
For our first behind-the-scenes interview, we picked the mind of Charles Bellantoni—who has worked in management with the likes of Robbie Rivera, UMEK and Dirty South—and redirected the spotlight to the lesser-known inner workings of the industry:
Tell us about yourself, Charles. What makes you stand out?
Over the last year and a half I have developed my own boutique agency specializing in various marketing, digital and public relations services geared towards the electronic music industry. I have always had this drive instilled within me to be a leader/mentor/role model, and I honestly think through my work and dedication, more people are becoming attached to it. I have been able to consult emerging artists and provide respected services to leading talent whom I have also formed a close relationship with. It has been one hell of a ride thus far, and I am super anxious to see what the future brings.
Why did you get into the music industry?
I’ve always had a passion for music. Back when I was sixteen I would create music MySpace pages that received millions of plays and shares (if you’re from the Tri-state area, and you were born in the 90s you may already know me as “CHARLEYb”). After interning in a corporate atmosphere during my college days, I knew the whole 9-5 “desk, suit and tie” life wasn’t for me. It was time to follow my passion. So I went into nightlife working within marketing and PR for a nightclub venue in NYC, and from there dove into the artist/music side of the industry. Although both the music and the experience are equally crucial, I found more interest in working with artist management teams directly. I had a strong grasp on the paradigm shift within the industry where the music solely didn’t just sell itself anymore–there was now a call for marketing and out reach–and by marketing I don’t just mean the traditional flyer hanging out side of the venue. It was introducing to artists how they can connect with fans instantly around the world with music, touring events and announcements. Introducing to artists how they can have their music heard by industry leaders and media correspondents around the world with the click of a button. It’s impossible for an artist to keep up with their social media, email marketing, press, graphics (the list can go on) while producing and traveling. It takes a strong team to carry out all of the behind-the-scenes necessities that help keep their brand afloat—and that’s where I came in.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
Amy Thomson and David Lewis–both are extremely well respected within the industry for their hard work, array of services, global expansion and talented roster of artists.
What have been your top three career accomplishments?
Earning the title of Head of Marketing and Public Relations for Juicy Music // Robbie Rivera. Robbie is an amazing, authentic and genuine guy. When he took me onboard it was to only assist him with some social media and publicity for his track release “That Summer”. From there things snowballed, and before I knew it I was working day-in-and-out with him on all marketing and press related initiatives for both the label and his brand.
Becoming Tour Marketing Manager for Dirty South. I reached out to Dragan’s Manager Nima back last winter to see if their team needed help sprucing up their e-blasts. After demonstrating my skills once, Nima automatically believed in my ability to handle all e-blasts on behalf of Dragan moving forward. From there, I slowly began to show interest in taking on more responsibilities, which then lead to me manning up his world-wide tour marketing.
Launching my website and growing my overall client base. Most people within the industry pride themselves on the success of the company in which they work for. I respect the appreciation and devotion that comes with that, but they forget at times it is not their company. I on the other hand can confidently say that everything I have achieved under the charlesbellantoni.com umbrella, has been mine. It took a while, and was not easy to get here, but needless to say it has been a major accomplishment to look at my roster of clients I have, had or am still currently assisting, and know that I got there on my own.
What advice would you give someone who is reading this saying “I want to be in his shoes?”
I would say gain as much experience throughout your youth as possible. Go out, shake hands, network, show interest, intern/work for free (if you can) and soak in as much as possible. From there, reach out and establish new relationships–do not be afraid to show interest. Use LinkedIn as ammo! This platform really lets you network and connect with leading industry professionals on a much more personal level. People within the industry know determination when they see it, and you will be applauded for it tenfold. Now don’t get me wrong, there will be egos that may get in the way, but that goes for any industry. Don’t let the negative energy slow you down, use it as fuel. Be patient and good will come–a wise friend once taught me “never rush success”.