Nicole Lipman is one of the hardest working people in the tri-state music business. She's also been one of the most successful. I recently got the chance to speak with her about her company, her artists, and the services she provides to her clients.
How and when did you first get into the business? Who was the first artist you worked with?
I majored in music management in college and after working for a few years in the corporate banking (yes, corporate banking) world after graduation I decided it wasn't for me. I went to grad school for my MBA and got an internship in New York City at a music supervision company. The intern that started a month after me was April Smith. All I had to do was hear her sing in the office one day and my outlook on what I wanted to do career wise changed forever. April had released her first album the same time I graduated grad school and I spent a lot of time helping her while I was looking for a full time job. April Smith ended up being the inspiration to start Hey Cole.
What services do you provide artists?
Hey Cole is a management, artist development, booking, licensing and promotion company. We are part of the National Association of Campus Activities (NACA) so our primary focus on the booking side is getting the artists gigs on college campuses all over the country. In 2010 we added artist development as a service we offered. I had been providing this to my clients from the beginning since I get invested in the artists I work with and want to see their careers move in the right direction. I structured what the company could offer and made different types of packages available to help artists in different areas of their career.
You've been able to attract many of the most popular artists in the area and often put several on a bill together. It's such a simple idea - create a great lineup of artists - but few people seem to do it. Any idea why?
I am not sure why more promoters and talent buyers don't put more thought into this. When a band plays a show they want it to be beneficial to their career in the long run. When you team them up with other great professional artists they can network and hopefully both gain fans from the other. It kills me when I book an artist and the venue puts someone on the bill that is in the complete opposite genre. It doesn't really benefit anyone in the long run. One show, 4 or 5 amazing acts that all musically fit, that's a way to fill the room. Music fans feel like they are getting their money's worth and the band's involved all have a positive experience.
Several of your performers make a push for college bookings. For artists that haven't considered going the that route, how can playing colleges benefit them? What's the best way for someone to break into that market?
The majority of artists I work with are focused on the college market. In my opinion the biggest benefits of college gigs is that you play a show for potential fans, make money and have an opportunity to travel to places you never thought you would go. These are potential fans from all over the country that attend colleges in each region. You make fans at a school in Connecticut but you may have just broadened your fan base to 10 additional states you have never been to. The money you make from these gigs can go towards funding your next album, doing a club tour or just paying your bills. It's a great way to become a full time musician. There are a couple ways to break into the college market. One is to find an agency that belongs to NACA (National Association of Campus Activities) and submit to become considered to join their roster. Another way is to try and do it yourself by reaching out to the proper channels on college campuses. If you build a successful college tour history, it will make getting an agent that much easier.
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
This is a hard question since so many great things have happened since I started the company. If I had to name just a few I would start with the company's first and second anniversary shows. The first at the Court Tavern was such a fun night with great artists and the second anniversary had a ridiculous lineup and was my first sold out show at The Saint. I would also have to say producing April Smith's music video for "Bright White Jackets" and helping put together the premiere at the Baronet Theatre was a big highlight. It's extra special now that the Baronet no longer exists. Other highlights would have to be throwing an official day party at South By Southwest, hiring my first full time employee, Kristen, watching April have the success she deserves and seeing the artists I have been working with for years grow as musicians.
What's the hardest part of your job?
Finding enough hours in the day. This is definitely a 24/7 type of job. I am available any time of the day or night for the artists I am managing and doing artist development for. It's hard balancing being on the phone with clients, colleges, talent buyers, etc and find the time to be on top of email, keep all the lines of business running smoothly and consistently bring in revenue. This is why it was such a great thing to bring in a full time employee to work along side me.
Who are the artists part of the Hey Cole universe and list any upcoming shows to promote.
The current Hey Cole roster stands at nineteen artists and one musical comedian and includes: Alex and Janel, Anthony Walker, Avi Wisnia, David Andrew Smith, ellen cherry, Frank Bressi, Jen Kwok, Joanna Burns, John Francis, Justin Trawick, Kailin Garrity, Kurt Scobie, Like Trains and Taxis, Matt Wade, Only Living Boy, Quincy Mumford, Readymade Breakup, Rick Barry, Status Green and The Crash Moderns.
You can see ellen cherry as part of Rick Barry's annual holiday hangover on January 1st at The Saint. You can also catch Quincy Mumford and the Reason Why on the same day at Starland Ballroom opening up for Badfish and Readymade Breakup is releasing their 3rd album on January 8th at Maxwells. Stay tuned for announcements on our 5 Year Anniversary Show and album release parties for Alex and Janel, Anthony Walker, Joanna Burns, Matt Wade, Only Living Boy, Quincy Mumford and possibly even more.
If you could work with any artist not currently on your roster who would it be?
Brandi Carlile... think I have a shot? Seriously though, now that we have expanded our roster to beyond the tri state area we are watching a bunch of artists all over the country to see how they progress. You never know who the next one will be.
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.