Lucas Keller | Managing the Artists Who Write Top 40 Hit Songs for Justin Bieber, Imagine Dragons, Selena Gomez

Show Notes

Are you utilizing your best skills and focusing on your highest and best use? Milk and Honey Management and A&R founder Lucas Keller has helped to manage some of the top songwriters and producers who write the hit songs for the biggest music artists on the planet, but it first took self-awareness to recognize that he would be a lot better off representing artists than being an artist.

Show Introduction –

  1. TWelcome onto The Thrivetime Show! How are you sir!?
  2. Lucas, my understanding is that you grew up in Greenfield, Wisconsin yet you dreamed of working in the music business and managing bands, when did you first have this dream?
    1. I grew up right outside of Milwaukee and I started playing guitar when I was 5 or 6. I really got into music and started promoting events in order to get my band in the show. One of the bands I started was called The Autumn View. I learned that I was more of an independent, I left the band
    2. 12-18 years old I was actually a DJ
  3. Lucas, from what I could find, you started out as a guitar player in a band. Why did you not decide to continue down this path a profession?
    1. I quit my band in 2002 and since then haven’t gone back. I realized the possibilities in management.
  4. Lucas, I read that after you attended four years at the University of Wisconsin, you were already managing a few bands. When did it first occur to you that your earning your degree really didn’t matter for what you wanted to do with your career?
    1. My freshman year I started managing a band from the area. They ended up getting up getting a record deal and got to meet famous managers. Green Day, The Goo Goo Dolls, Etc.
  5. Lucas Keller, throughout your career, you’ve been able to achieve massive success, but I would like to start by asking you about starting from the bottom and where you believe your career first began?
    1. I went to work for Kid Rock’s manager in Chicago then went to a company called “The Collective”. We had Kanye West, Linkin Park, Enrique Iglesias and other big artists. Somehow I decided that my niche would be song writers.
    2. As a manager, I was thinking about the records so I started representing artists.
    3. I was connected to a lot of people from the midwest. I would check in with these super-successful people and was really close with them.
    4. Chris, who managed All American Rejects (Oklahoma Natives!), and I stayed in touch and he recommended that I talk to the guys at “The Collective”.
    5. Next to David Hodges’ Evanescence, Kid Rock’s Devil Without A Cause album is still one of the fastest selling rock albums.
    6. I went in without any clients and they really let me do my thing.
  6. Lucas, on your website it reads, Milk & Honey is a 21st-century hybrid entertainment management company driven by two important disciplines — A&R and Marketing. For the listeners out there that are not super familiar with A&R (artists and repertoire) and Marketing I would love for you to break down those concepts one by one. My friend. What does A&R mean?
    1. A&R – DEFINITION – Artists and repertoire (A&R) is the division of a record label or music publishing company that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists and songwriters. It also acts as a liaison between artists and the record label or publishing company; every activity involving artists to the point of album release is generally considered under the purview, and responsibility, of A&R.
      1. The old producer managers were like lawyers and accountants but not many people viewed them having value.
      2. The A&R guy is listening to sessions and putting together songs. It is figuring out the art of finding the differences from artists who are going to sit all on the same chart.
      3. The songs are the tail wag and the dog of the whole career
      4. We usually work direct with the managers
    2. I realized there was a wide open lane to represent artists and producers.
    3. A lot of the big producer brands needed someone to represent them.
    4. We have mainly represented artists in the electronic world and mostly DJ’s
  7. David Silberstein with Atlantic Records – A&R for Jason Mraz and Colton Dixon
    1. We will represent the song writers and the producers that write the hits for them.
    2. The way we get paid is we bring in our producers in to produce the records
    3. I was able to put Nick Jonas and Sir Nolan in a room together
    4. The way the subscriptions work:
      1. The subscription pays by what is being listened to the most
      2. It is cut up based on the amount of streams
      3. Bigger artists benefit from this
      4. The majority of the profit goes to the “Master Owner” also known as the record label
      5. The artists tend to get what is left
      6. $4,700 for every 1,000,000 Streams | 1,000,000,000 Streams = $4,700,000.00

Notable Quotable- Daddy Yankee’s Despacito featuring Justin Bieber was streamed 4.6 billion times over the span of 6 months ($23,500,000.00).

      1. When we represent someone we tent to get paid 15-20% and we’re in their life doing A&R for them.
      2. Writes Share / Publisher Share Explanation:
  1. The writer share:  As a songwriter, you own both your writer and your publishing shares, but can transfer rights in the publisher share through a publishing deal.
  2. The publisher share: Under a publishing deal, the publisher of the composition is granted certain rights, and is then authorized to issue licenses and collect royalties in respect of that composition.
      1. People sign with us because we can get them the hits, get them in the room with people and make stuff happen.
  1. Ryan Tedder teams us with Downtown Music Publishing – Tedder’s songs were until now administered by other companies. In addition to being the frontman for OneRepublic, Tedder has produced and written songs for Madonna, Adele, Beyoncé, U2 and a variety of other artists. Billboard called him the “Undercover King of Pop” in a 2014 cover story that said he made $2.5 million in songwriting royalties the previous year. His biggest songs include OneRepublic singles like “Apologize” and “Secrets,” plus “Halo” (a hit for Beyoncé ), “Rumor Has It” (Adele), and “Bleeding Love” (Leona Lewis).”
  2. NOTABLE QUOTABLE – “Ross Golan is kind of the mayor of songwriting.” – Lucas Keller (Ross Golan has help to writer and release songs with the following artists: Maroon 5, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Lady Antebellum, Michael Bublé, Selena Gomez, Keith Urban, Ariana Grande, Flo Rida, One Direction, P!nk, Idina Menzel, Nelly, Demi Lovato, Jason Derulo, Meghan Trainor, Cee Lo Green, 5 Seconds of Summer, Linkin Park, Prince Royce, Snoop Dogg, Charlie Puth, James Taylor, Gavin DeGraw, Colbie Caillat, Andy Grammer, James Blunt, Big Sean, Travis Barker, Lukas Graham, Skylar Grey, Rixton, The Vamps and Icona Pop amongst others.)
  3. Lucas Keller, your company now represents some of the most successful artists, songwriters, producers, and mixers talent in the world, with a roster of clients who have amassed over 400 million records sold worldwide…What has been your process for gaining the trust of the top artists and ultimately working with some of the biggest music artists on the planet?
    1. We have delivered them the right writers and producers for years. We’ve changed multiple artists life and that has a lot of weight. The label and the producers love us as well because of the revenue we bring to the table.
    2. We are a premium shop for hits and great songs.
    3. Everyone likes seeing the same people because they know that you will get quality from that person.
    4. People can reach us at [email protected]
    5. When we pitch songs to major artists we don’t give the name of the client. It helps us build new talent. People ask questions and I just want to know “Do you love the record or not?”.
  4. Lucas, my understanding is that you were able to attract Chelsea Avery to lead the A&R side of the company who prior to joining Milk + Honey, held the position of Senior VP of A&R for Scooter Braun Projects where she did A&R for Justin Bieber, Martin Garrix, Tori Kelly, David Guetta…what attracted her to join your organization?
    1. We’ve been friends for a while. She was running A&R and had a lot of success with song writers. We really wanted someone without the attachment of managing clients all day. She has amazing ears and we needed someone like that who could listen to the records.
  5. No producer management company in the US exports more songs to the international markets than your company Milk & Honey. What is your method for landing big artists and helping them to launch massive hits?
    1. We have an international department that travels around the world. They have set up our business in all different territories.
    2. Peter Coquillard- An all star veteran in the US music industry. Peter is the Senior Manager and Head of International at Milk and Honey Management an industry leader in the management, A&R and Marketing of Record producers and Songwriters.
    3. We have been able to have multiple hits in other countries
    4. It’s about realizing there is other homes for records than the U.S.
    5. Say you won’t let go was actually started in Germany. It’s because there are clients that are not just in the U.S. that are wanting to get out there.
  6. Lucas, as a former DJ it is mind-blowing for me to fathom this, but in the fall of 2018, your company had 7 client hits at once on the US top 40 radio charts. My friend, why do you believe that your firm has been able to achieve this level of success?
    1. It’s about representing the right people and the right creatures
    2. We’re probably at 46 clients and with the right people in the right rooms you can get really lucky.
  7. Lucas, from what I understand your company is privately owned with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and you have and office coming soon in Europe and yet you have under 15 employees. Why do you believe that staying lean and being able to move faster is a competitive advantage?
    1. I could scale to 100 employees and not make more money. I don’t want to do that. I never wanted the outside capital and we are growing at our speed.
    2. We have the ability to go to an office and listen to a record and that is invaluable
  8. Lucas Keller, I’m always curious about the daily routines of super successful people. My friend, what do the first four hours of your typical day look like?
    1. Sleep at 2:00 am
    2. Wake up at 7:00 am
    3. Walk the dogs
    4. Work out for 30 min
    5. Listen to records for 30 min
    6. I have to be on phones with the U.K. and Europe pretty early
    7. I’m at the office at 9:30-10:00 am
    8. Fun fact: Lucas now hates weddings.
Business Coach | Ask Clay & Z Anything

Audio Transcription

Lucas Keller is the founder of milk and honey management and he manages the hitmakers producers and songwriters that make the hits. You know,

Sure. Yes, yes, yes. And he asked Dr Nation on today’s show, we have an incredible guest who has founded a company that has now become one of the top a and R in management companies on the planet. This guy’s worked with perpetual hit music and headline makers like Nick Jonas, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, pit bull, flo rider, imagine dragons, James Arthur Dua, Lipa fifth harmony, Charlie puth. I’m out of breath, Wiz Khalifa, Carrie underwood and Kelly Clarkson, and many more. Lucas Keller, welcome to the thrive time show. How are you, sir?

Doing Great. Doing Great. That’s quite an intro

I was working. I was working at my breathing capacity to try to fit it all in and I failed there, but before you were big my friend. I want to start off at the bottom here. You grew up in Greenville, Greenfield, Wisconsin. Yet dreamed and work in.

Most people. Don’t know where it is. Near Sacramento. Most people believe me.

No. When you had this dream, I believe of working in the music business and managing bands. When did you first have that dream?

As I started playing guitar when I was when I was five or six and then started playing in bands and had the whole nine days old greenwich thing really bad. Me and I just A. I really got into the music and love of kind of like record making and bands and guitar and you still play Guitar for fun and uh, you know, and started to uh, you know, started to just play around in vans and eventually became a concert promoter and that’s really how I got into it. But it probably started my first band when I was seven.

When did you veer off and start promoting events as opposed to playing at events?

Uh, I started promoting events like in, in Illinois and Wisconsin and kind of in the midwest just as a way to get my band on shows. Funny enough it was kind of like, okay, if I fight, if I control the Shell and the venue that I can put my band on the show. I don’t think I realized that my bands, we’re never going to happen. But you know, at the time that was, I was going to be the biggest star in the world. So

now were you promoting bands before or after you began your illustrious wedding? Dj Career?

That was from 12 to 18. That was from 12 to 18 months for cash and school.

Yeah. Okay. Now when you were promoting these, uh, you know, promoting other bands and you still had your own band, what were, what was the clever name for your band? What was the name of your band?

Like a post-hardcore band. We went on tour a couple times. I got to see the country. It was somewhere between, kind of like the post email and metal thing and it was fun and I learned I learned everything I needed to know about a partnership and that I was a little bit of an independent and I quit my band.

So you quit the band and you went to the University of Wisconsin where you, you’re already managing bands while in college. When did it occur to you that maybe earning a degree really didn’t matter for what you wanted to do?

Well, I, my freshman year in college, I, you know, I, I started managing a band that she was like 2002. I started managing a band that I’m thinking it was kind of like from the area and then, you know, they got a record deal and got signed to universal music and, and I met pat back know Ella, who was the first manager I ever met in the business and at the time was kind of a famous manager and had green day and the Google dolls had all these big bands at the time and I just kind of immediately from meetings some of the people that ended up surrounding the band, I just said this is way more interesting than playing in the band. And did. I just realized like I had somebody explain, I don’t remember who explained it to me, but someone explained he’d be a lot better off representing a bunch of these guys rather than trying to just chase your own artist’s project. And so I quit my band in 2002 and I haven’t really played. I haven’t played since, uh, you know, in, in, in a band and have really been managing since 2002.

I’ll just throw this out there. I know you’re working with some big-time clients, but if you need someone who can play a cowbell, check this out. I a solid. You have achieved massive success now. Unbelievable success. And I know you’re just heating up my friend. You’re just, you’re just getting going here. But when, when did you land your first big management deal? Who is your first big client where you said, I have arrived?

I appreciate that. Yeah, I don’t know what the first big one really was. I kind of, you know, for, for me it was really like I, it was really more like the companies, you know, I, I went to work for kid rock’s, you know, manager in Chicago and then when I left Chicago I went to this company, that collective and I was the youngest of six managers, you know, in my early 20 [inaudible] early to mid twenties at the time. And we, you know, we had, you know, Kanye West and Lincoln Park and Peter Gabriel and Enrique Iglesias and I remember kind of just looking around and thinking how did I, how did I make this my first job in la? So it was great and that was kind of given free rein to sign talent and you know, work with work with a lot of big artists and I, and I just, you know, somehow along the way decided that my niche was going to be songwriters and record producers.

I was really the only person that was talking about hit songs at a and R and I think, you know, and have a really heavy management company, you know, in those days, which is like 2009, 2010 onward for a couple of years. You know, people weren’t really talking about records that was really more like save that for the label guy. Um, but as a manager, as a manager, I was thinking about that and I thought, well, you know, artists that could create hits were the most meaningful show. My way to get back into artist management was to represent the writers and producers. I think my first, first big client when I moved to La was David Hodges, who was in Evanescence is one of the biggest songwriters in the world and really successful guy. And you know, I probably represented him for about 10 years now. Spent a lot of hits together and uh, yeah, that was probably the first big one when I moved to La,

had just this unbelievable level of success. But you, you were working with the collective and people out there who don’t know the song writing industry, the collective, as you mentioned, represented, represented Lincoln Park, Kanye West Slash Peter Gabriel. How did you land that job?

So I was connected to a lot of people that were from the midwest originally. There’s like, this is this camaraderie amongst people from, from the Midwest, you know, and I, and I think that for a lot of the people that kind of made it in show Biz and Kinda made it out of town, there’s a lot of people that still have really strong connections back there. So I had like a lot of friends that were successful in La that I would check in with. And some of them were big managers or agents and you know, still still have that still have, you know, there’s probably 40, 30, 40 people in the music business from Milwaukee, Wisconsin that are, you know, 25 of them that are really successful that I just stay really close with. And we have that in. We have that in common Shidah there was a manager who was managing the all American rejects and a couple other artists who was having an amazing run named Chris.

We’ve stayed in touch and when I was moving out here I remember going to like. And then with a bunch of companies, I met with one of Irving azoff companies and a couple of those frontline management companies that I ran into, Chris. And he said, hey, you should, you should really come over and meet the guys with the collective. I think there were like 30 people there at the time. And it was really, I think known more as a TV film vertical. And uh, you know, they had just signed Lincoln Park and, and diminished seven volt and some others. And it was all really kind of starting to happen, so this his great timing and I kind of went in there without any clients and they kind of let me do my thing, which was great.

You’re talking about Milwaukee. There’s a quote that comes to mind. I’m going to cue up the sound clip. Let’s see if this goes over. Well, here we go. Let me queue this up real quick. See if this works for you. Here we go. So do you come to Milwaukee often? Well, I’m a regular visitor here, but Milwaukee has certainly had its share of visitors. The French missionaries and explorers were coming here as early as the late 16 hundreds to trade with the native Americans. Do you remember that scene from Wayne’s world where

totally. Yes, totally. Waynesboro by the way. I’m looking in my office assigned white guitar signed by Mike Myers and Dana carvey with the Wayne’s world sticker on it. I have to send you a picture of it. Okay.

Real quick. This is. We’re going to become fast friends. This is awesome. You Know Shep Gordon is.

Yeah, of course. Sure.

Yeah. I recently a member of his team reached out to see if he’ll be on our show, so shep’s going to be on our show. I’m interviewing Shep and just a couple of days.

Wow, that’s incredible. I mean obviously just what have you done at music, but beyond that in the culinary chefs. Schmidt, he’s a bit of a legend around town.

I don’t, I don’t really know him, but I see. I see Maria and I know he lives in Hawaii, but he’s, he’s, he’s here.

Yeah, I bet he’s a mystical creature. He represented Alice Cooper was his first big client and uh, my, I have one little, a connection to kid rock I can share. My wife was working out in college who was a cheerleader in college at Oral Roberts University and she’s out and she’s doing curls and squats, whatever she’s doing. And she looks to the right. There’s a guy with a Bandana and he says, no, he didn’t say that, but it was kid rock. So she worked out of this gym with a kid rock? No. Okay. So you’re.

Is this company upper cut. But like the guy showed record devil without a cause is still maybe next to my client David Hodges evanescence record. I mean, one of the fastest, longest shelling rock records. You know, there’s very few of those. Like Lincoln had a hybrid theory immediate when I was at the collective like was your ranch. Some of these rock bands had just had massive success and you know, I don’t know that you could tell anyone that they sell that many records anymore. I mean, it’s insane.

Yeah. Now this is where I want to get your take on this because you sensed that the music industry was changing. You sense things are changing and things are going to go streaming. Things are going to go, are going to go digital and rather than being run over by it, put our head in the sand and say the music industry’s over. You decided to start this company, milk and honey. When did, when did you have the idea to start the company and how do you help your artists get paid

version of it? Between the collective in, between starting this, I started this October, first 2014 and uh, but the idea was somewhere around coming out of the collective, I was thinking, you know, there’s, there’s just this wide open lane to represent songwriters and producers and use that to kind of have access to the, to the artist’s world show. I mean, so much of what we do is kind of the, I’ll still have people asking me like how do you monetize a songwriter who, or a producer or like how do you, how their money in that if they’re not going on the road. And I mean there’s such a drawn out answer to that, but I think we’re after for ears were really experts at that thing and I think from streaming, streaming master revenue to publishing and in mechanicals and performance revenue on that, on the radio and light sync licensing.

And you know, if you get some of these guys, like we have to have such big catalogs. Uh, it’s, it’s, it’s big money and then when you have a business representing a lot of them it’s even bigger. So, you know, I think what I realized is a lot of these guys, especially the big producer brands needed advocates beyond just a music publisher and so managers are really driving a lot of that conversation now, um, when we, you know, it’s a kind of a longer conversation, but that dovetailed into us representing artists about two years ago and we’ve so far mainly chosen to do that in the electronic world show. A lot of our lot of our artists are big djs. But um, so yeah, that’s, that’s kind of the short. And

because Ilan was busy today, we couldn’t get them on today’s show with you and I. Elan Musk says the acronyms seriously suck this justin acronyms seriously suck. So a lot of listeners are going, okay, you have a big a and our company. What does that mean? A and R, I don’t stands for artist’s repertoire, but what does that mean? What do you do

backstory of why I put it out there as an a and r companies? Because the old producer managers were as good as lawyers or accountants. Yeah, they would push paper and finished deal is to get, you know, to get songs done and released, but I don’t think anyone ever viewed them as having any real kind of value proposition. We, you know, younger guys and younger company, we’ve, we’ve always been really involved in making these songs happen. Some of them are incoming calls, a lot of them are us putting the artist in the room with the writer. A lot of them are off pitching a song and saying, hey, this would be great for your artist. And so usually the A and r guy is viewed as the guy at the record label. It’s not really viewed as the independent management company like us. Should they answer the question, the A and r guy is the person that’s putting together sessions listening to songs, you know, they’re being pitched them by managers and publishers.

Um, you know, determining the sound and kind of the, you know, the Sonic Palette for the artists and really kind of, you know, it’s such a nuanced art really figuring out Kinda the, the sound differentiate between artists that are all going to sit on the same chart. So what are, you know, what are the nuances that make selena Gomez different than Ariana Grande, a different than bb rex, uh, you know, go down the list and kind of figuring out how to kind of carve up a lane for that artist and then make sure that they’re coming with hits songs. Um, it’s kind of loud. It is the most important part at the record label department at the record label, um, because, you know, the, the songs are kind of the tail wagging the dog and the whole career. So, uh, so that’s kind of what a and Rs and we put ourselves out there as a company that is doing independent anr. Sometimes we do it with the labels, not quite as often as we do it, you know, direct with the managers and the artists and bringing them songs. And yeah, that’s kind of the, that’s the answer to that.

I’m going to do a pop quiz and if I, if I painted into a corner and you decide to hang up, I will take that to mean that you didn’t like the question. Here we go. Person Number one, David Silverstein works with Atlantic, represents a nr for Jason Moran and one of my clients, Colton Dixon. And come to think about it. I think that, uh, uh, David Hodges, one of your writers and one of your clients over there at milk and honey, I think he wrote the last, uh, Jason Moran single. Have it all. So how do you match those two different entities are two different groups together. When Jason Mraz is being represented by David Silverstein and your, uh, representing a songwriter like, like David Hodges, how do you, how do you put that together? How do you connect the dots with Ron? Different labels and it has the artists get paid and how do you get paid?

Okay, I’m going to redefine. I’m going to answer the question to kind of redefine how that works. Just to be clear. So you know, typically like we’re not doing the A and R on any of those artists that you mentioned, but will represent the song writers and the producers that would have hips for them. So if I have a hit song for, you know, ed writes most of his own stuff with about six people. Um, you know, Justin bieber takes lots of outside songs from people chance the rapper. Right? So all of this stuff, um, you know, we had a, we had a record late last year with our clients share Nolan with with chance the rapper and Justin Bieber and a couple others. So you know, those are sometimes outside songs that are pitched. And so the way we get paid on it, if we’ve not been brought in by the record label, which like I said, we don’t, we’ll do more of soon, but we don’t do a lot today because we put our songwriters songs into play or we bring in our producers to produce the record.

And so, you know, if you have, if you represented, let’s say on that song you’re talking about, let’s say we represent all of the songwriters that aren’t the artists, um, you know, we’d probably represent 35 to 40 percent of the publishing on those records. And so we participate on either republishing ownership or a uh, or commission basis. And you know, like I said, sometimes they’re writing that song and we’ve just put the writers and producers in the room. Sometimes we’re pitching them a brand new song from a folder and saying, hey, this would be great for Demi Lovato. She should listen to it.

Did you guys work on that?

Oh yeah. That was our clients are Nolan.

He wrote the song and you connected the dots and okay, so now no brainer is a song that everyone’s downloading, you know what I mean? You’re driving, right?

I can’t quite take credit for that one. But there are songs like that, you know. So in the case of Nick Jonas Trellis, yeah, it was putting Nick Jonas and Granola and you know, and, and another songwriter in the room together, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of situations where it’s, you know, we had, we had um, a baby rex, I’m a mess. That’s where we get a phone call from the label and we put our producer and writer and they write the song, there’s a, there’s an infinite kind of list of list of those situations.

So here’s the deal, a no brainer. So I’m listening to jealous all the time. I’m streaming and I’m paying what I don’t know how much I pay for spotify, spotify, 10 bucks. So if I listened to a song 50 times or 10 times or I go to itunes and let in by the song, how, how, how does the artist actually get paid? Because the economics, the math, the subscriptions, the streaming, how does that work? How do you and the artists get paid when someone’s only paying 10 bucks a month and they can essentially here the song unlimited times

the way to subscriptions work with, let’s just say spotify for instance. The way the it works is the subscription pays out based on, you know, based on how many people you know, what’s, what’s being listened to the most. So if you’re the universal music group made up say 57 percent of listenership on spotify, that traunch of money goes up universal music group and then it’s cut up based company streams and that’s basically how that works. So the certainly people certainly, you know, the big artists, he, ed Sheeran’s yeah, the beyonce is and you know, big artists, you know, benefit from that, but basically on a, on a breakdown of a stream, you know, the majority of that is, you know, which has been a little bit of a debate in my world being a song writer advocate, the majority of that money is going to the master Hoa.

So to the record label and then onward to the artist if they’re in a, in an a recouped positions, what the record labels. So we advocated really heavily along with a number of other people to, to raise the rate that’s streaming services we’re paying songwriters given to give you like a breakdown of the economics because it’s not as simple as, you know, ninety nine cent download was on itunes. It’s about $4,700 for every million streams on spotify. So if you took a song like um, you know, if you took a song like James Arthur say you won’t let go, which is one of our songs, you know, you, you know, once you get to uh, you know, I think that song just hit a billion streams. He do the math,

you know, 10 billion downloads a huge artists and you’ve had 10 billion downloads. How much is that going to pay you? How we do the math on that?

It would be 4,700 by every millions or whatever that number is.

Got It. And Andrea you put on the show notes. Got It. Yep. Okay. So next question for you, Ryan Tedder, he’s a guy that I went to college with, Oral Roberts University and he actually detailed a couple of gigs for me with a DJ connection back in the day when I was in a bind. He sold me Mike [inaudible]. We were good buddies. Uh, Ryan’s a great guy, but he’s unbelievable. An unbelievable hard worker, you know, and he recently, I think it’s well known, well documented. He sold 170 song copyrights to downtown music publishing. How does, how does it feel like that work when somebody sells their rights to downtown music publishing or somebody, how do they get paid? How does an artist get paid?

Title one direction, one direction, one republic.

What titles?

Donald’s. I think that’s what that is. He’s selling his. He’s selling his publishers share, not his, not his writer share. So let’s say, how do I explain that? So you’re basically, you’re selling the publishing catalog as, as you know, you commonly knows somebody sells their titles and are publishing catalog. You basically get somewhere between a 12 and if your manager and lawyer are really good, 16 times multiple on what your, what your annual earnings are, uh, which is just called into anywhere. I mean, it’s net publisher share basically. So you’re getting, you’re getting a multiple on your publishing to never, you know, to get a big check up front and then to never see it again. You do keep your ascap or BMI performance check though. That’s always a little confusing for folks. Performance just means radio and airplay, you know, but, but so you do keep that check and you know, Dan has a great company and you know, one of the reasons you are discretionary about where you sell it is that you want to make sure if someone, a, has integrity to your copyrights and your songs, uh, because there’s still a representative, a representative of your work.

Uh, but additionally, you know, if they raised the value of the catalog, you’re ascap and BMI chuck go up. Um, and that’s good for everybody. So it’s a little bit of a misunderstood thing is somebody sells their catalog, they still have a financial vested interest beyond that check. Um, but yeah, people shall catalogs all the time. It’s a, it’s a big Nashville thing to do. So

downtown’s buying the rights to the songs he wrote outside of the band one republic

still, which is still huge titles

now. Have you ever worked with Ross Golan?

Oh yeah. He’s a good friend.

Okay. Ross does the podcast, which by the way, more people should listen to the podcast and the writer is. I listened to that podcast every day. That thing is hot. I want it.

You probably heard a lot of my clients making fun of me on the podcast.

Exactly. Here’s the deal. I have asked to be on the show. I think Ross has agreed to be on the show here. Maybe you can just kind of lean on him. I know he’s busy right now, this time of year, but uh, Ross is going to be on there I think first quarter of the year. Can you talk to me about when you work with a writer who is as talented and hardworking as Ross, what does the relationship look like between milk and honey, your company and someone like a Ross Golan?

I have to say, that guy’s amazing and he’s kind of positioned himself as the mayor of songwriters. Many has been one of the leading guys to push the music modernization act through, which is a huge thing for every song writer and kind of raising their royalties. Uh, but you know, he uh, he says something kind of funny, which I, yeah, which is worth mentioning in one of his, that he does an interview was no and Ella and he says, yeah, he says, he says, two years ago I won no BMI pop awards. He said last year I also won no BMI pop awards. He’s like, this year I’m the BMI songwriter of the year. And uh, you know, it’s kind of like a funny, just a funny commentary, unlike, you know, you can have nothing going on and then you can be the biggest song writer in one year’s time.

I say I think the world of that guy, but you know, when we, when we represent someone, you know, say we represent someone like that. It’s on a commission basis. So you know, you represent someone, you know, most managers charge 15, some charge 20 percent that’s on the gross revenue of what somebody makes. Some people get paid that while they work with you, some people get paid that perpetually forever. And um, and that’s what the deal side of it looks like. Um, you know, and then, and then we’re in their life as you know, doing a and are doing their deals on songs usually when they’re record producers. Um, you know, there’s a whole different set of deals and Sam Exchange and royalties and things that go into that. Um, but it all starts and you know, people don’t sign with places like milk and honey just to get their administrative setup, you know, they’re really here because we can get them the hits and put them in the room with people and make the records kept. And so that’s, that’s really the kind of the core of what we do as the creative side. Do you think we’re pretty great at the other stuff

going to come across? Like I’m a shameless homer for you and I am a shameless homer for you after doing my research, but it’s going to come across probably a little bit, Andrew. It’s going to feel a little bit like it’s like. So for our next question, I just want to ask, you know, I mean it’s going to come across as a little bit of shameless homer for you, but you have some of the biggest artists on the planet to absolutely love you and your clients and it got everything to lose at this point. You know, your reputation. It’s a onetime thing. Why do you think that that top artists trust you and andy and your clients?

I think it’s just we’ve delivered the right song writers and in the right record producers and songs for years and I think that there’s certain songs that if you look at them, it’s like nick jealous, jealous changes life. James Arthur say you won’t let go change his life and know Christina Perry a thousand years, changed her life. Like these are songs that kind of drive the whole career. So really, you know, a lot of the relationship. Sometimes it’s with the artist. I’m almost every time it’s the label and the managers that really appreciate this as well because if you look at the amount of revenue that comes from one global hit, um, it’s huge. So, you know, I think we’re known even if all the artists don’t know if everybody else in the business and then, and then many artists, but, but not all, you know, everybody else in the business knows us as a kind of premium shop for, you know, for, for hips and for great songs. And so, um, you know, I think that’s, that’s where our reputation comes from is that we’re always going to deliver the best, the best music. And then there’s like that thing of when you’ve been doing it a long time, everybody likes seeing the same names and faces because they know that you do good business and you’re gonna, you’re gonna deliver quality and make it easy, easy to deal with. So that’s the answer to that.

Let’s say someone’s listening right now and they’ve already written a song and it’s really good. It’s really good. It’s a well written songs. I remember Ryan wrote the song, uh, too late to apologize. Timberland hadn’t yet produced it, quote unquote, hadn’t yet added the beat. Hadn’t yet, you know, produced it to the next level. If an artist is out there listening and they have a song that’s good and it would have an MP three audio file of it and it’s good, but they want to take it to the next level. They want to. What is the way, how do you, do people just email the song to you or what do you want the artists to do? We do have a lot of musicians who listened to our show. What do you, what do you want them to do?

People listen to it, but you know, most of our business is unsolicited, but I think there’s still that thing of like, you know, new new people show up to town every year and new record, you know, new songwriters and artists show up and those become the future top artists. So, you know, for us we’re always looking for new stuff and we’ve developed a lot of tail and this shop in four years is broken a really significant amount of songwriters and producers. And so I think for us it’s, you know, I mean, one thing I do is, you know, in our whole company does, is when we pitched songs to major artists, we don’t pitch with the name of our client should nobody really knows. Like when you’re getting a strong for milk and honey, nobody really knows whether it’s coming from, you know, our biggest clients or a brand new clients. So we’ve kind of done that strategically because it helps us build new talent, you know, and the record guys liked to ask, well who did this and how many hits if they had and what have they done? And I don’t like to answer those, I don’t like to answer those questions, I’m just like, do you love the record or you know, so if we got a great record from somebody that was new, uh, we wouldn’t be afraid to, to pitch the record and potentially get in business with them. And Yeah,

you recognize that there is no management company in the world that is exporting more us hit songs to international markets than milk and honey. I mean, I think you know that. I mean, nobody’s doing it. Nobody’s dominating like you guys are. Why are you guys so successful at helping artists land international hits?

We have like an international department. So we actually have, we have a guy named Peter who spent the last 30 years of traveling around the world and you know, when, when people, when people started going to la, he started going to Beijing. So He’s, he’s been really well traveled and has set up our business in, you know, in, in all the different territories. And so much so that we have somebody specifically runs our company for China and you know, we put tons of records into, into Asia and have consulting deals with major labels in different territories. And for us it’s kind of like, it’s about realizing there’s other homes for records aside from the US. Our main focus is like if you started with sheriff focus is to help you have hits in the US. But you know, some of the biggest hits we’ve had in the last few years started in the UK and Europe, you know, we, we had two clients, three clients that no one wrote a rag and bone man human and the other one wrote a, uh, James Arthur C, you won’t let go. There was two of our other clients, those records, a lot of people don’t know, started out of Germany and they didn’t start out of the UK or the US and became huge global hits in. It was 2017 and um, you know, and, and that was because, you know, you have clients that are not just focused on working in the US but are focused on other, other markets, you know, I’m so are and I don’t think there’s really a territory that, that puts out main street music that we’re not putting music into. So

client hits there. We’re all on the US top 40 radio, which by the way, nobody does that. It’s thrive nation. If you’re out there saying, who else does that? Nobody does that. That right there is a knowledge bomb. Nobody is going to put seven client hits in the top 40 at the same time. It’s not going to happen. It’s just not gonna happen. So how did you do that?

I mean, so it’s really just about representing the rights, you know, the right people and the right creators. I mean we have some of the best songwriters and producers here. We have a, we have a really good artists business, but our heart forte is the show writers and producers and anr and show, you know, we just always, you know, takes, I think the modesty and humility to admit how much luck goes into that. But you know, we’re probably somewhere around 46, 47 clients now and you have enough enough people collaborating with enough people and getting the right records placed a, you’ll have a certain number of them on the charts and we just got really lucky in the last, last couple of years. So

you guys have decided to stay lean and milk and honey and you could become a bloated company. And you, you’ve been there, you’ve seen that. You’ve seen a company where it’s blown in and somebody who shouldn’t have the job, uh, has the job. Why have you guys decided to stay so lean?

I can go scale up to 100 employees and not be making any more money and I can have a really fractured company with no culture. Like I just don’t. I’m 34 and I just don’t care about and taking somebody else’s money or outside capital to build it and we’re a service based company and we make money and I don’t really, I never kind of wanted the outside capital shall we were just building at our speed and you know, I think we’ll, we’ll probably add another 10 people in the next 18 months and continue to grow, but I think our ability to just kind of walk into somebody’s office and sit down and listen to music is really important for you to be, to be that nimble and it just becomes expensive and you can hire a lot of the wrong people and then expensive and we’re just not. We’re not interested in that. So

final question I have for you, you’re a very purposeful person, very intentional. Um, your life is not just happened to randomness. You work very hard, you shoot a lot of shots, you miss sometimes, but you really do take a lot of shots. How do you spend the first four hours of your average day? Yeah, what do you, what do you do?

Uh, I usually go a workout for like half an hour, which is a really recent thing. Um, I listen to music, I listen to records for half an hour in the morning, uh, but, but really these days I have to be on phones with, you know, the UK and Europe pretty early. Um, especially with our DJ business which has really expanded, you know, and we’ve got some big, big artists in Europe. A lot of that stuff starts pretty early and some of it’s really handled by our broker handled by our Brooklyn office. And so I don’t, I don’t have to do all of it, but there’s definitely early conference calls every morning a shite should I do a lot of that and you know, finite. I’m on with Asia and Australia, so there’s really no kind of time in terms of the phone. I’m in the office by 9:30 10, something like that.

What time do you wake up every day?

Up at 7:00 AM.

Got It.

Seven, two, seven slash 7:30 or seven to 2:00 AM every day.

You have been one of the most fascinating people that we have interviewed and I would, I would love to have you on the show again because I think your success is just beginning and you’re already here, man. I’m, I’m very excited for the fact that you have deejayed weddings blows my mind. How many weddings did you dj before

Kelly? One of them shocked that you were able to find it. Great knowledge of music history. It as a result.

How many weddings did you dj before you gave up the dark art?

I just know that I now hate wedding.


And I tried to never go to them, but I mean like, you know, how many, how many times did I play piano man or, or living on prayer or the outfield and just learned to hate wedding

personally deejayed over a thousand weddings. Yeah,

that’s it. That’s amazing. I mean I have just like


and I wish whatever, whatever version of being rich. Then I was like in school and making a thousand bucks a wedding and I was like, this is great.

We ended up having like add dj, so it was like a ultra grade. Then I realized I like this anymore. That’s how I sold the company. Then

I had way more amazing jobs as a kid than Dj. That was like the boring ones, so I just, you know, was what it was.

Well, Lucas, thank you for being on today’s show and we’re honored to have him.

Pleasure. Yeah, thank you. Appreciate it.

Jason. That was a show right there. Oh yeah. Was that a. I’ll tell you what, if you are somebody who is an entrepreneur right now or you want to be an entrepreneur, and what I want to ask you the following question, I want you to think about this question. Are you doing something that you can do well? Are you doing something? Are you doing? Are you, is your career? Is the task that you do something that you can do? Well, let me see. Let me give an example. Lucas Keller mentioned early on in his career between ages, what? Twelve to 18. He was a wedding DJ, right? But he was trying to start a band, you know, he was in a band trying to get the band going and he realized at some point, you know what, I’m never going to make it as a musician.

I’m not that good, but what I can do is represent artists and manage artists. And he started managing artists while in college. I mean, but again, if he wasn’t self aware, then he could have had a very painful life. Nothing’s worse than being a guitarist who’s not that good, who always has the hell gigs at the local vfw or the local lions club or the local, you know, know if, if that’s your gig. But you could be a a list manager. I mean you could be the best manager in the world or you could be stuck living a life as a mediocre musician. It’s so important just to ask yourself that question, am I doing what I should be doing? Am I operating at my highest and best use? And then, and then once you’ve figured out what is your highest and best use, you’ve got to go get experience doing that and you can’t worry about being paid.

If you listened to the podcast again, he talks about working for free, interning. These are things that are so important. I would just encourage everybody out there. Again, if your are really crappy guitarist, then you’ve got to get the heck out of that career and move on to something where you can be successful or if you’re an awesome guitarist but you’re terrible at, you know, getting gigs and managing yourself. Go find an a list manager, but don’t get stuck in the soul sucking cycle of being bad at something, but being unaware how bad you are at that something my friend. You just have to utilize your skills and operate at the at your highest and best use and you will be successful. My name is Clay Clark. You’ve been listening to the thrive time show on your radio and podcast download. If you enjoyed today’s show, and I know you did, I would encourage you to share it with a friend on a twitter. Maybe instagram, maybe facebook, email, text it to them. I would encourage you to share today’s show and if we have yet to meet you and would love for you to attend our next in person, thrive time show workshop. Go to thrive time Click on the conferences button. Find the best date that works well for you and we’ll see you at our next imperson two day thrive time show interactive business workshop. And now that any further I do three, two, one, boom.


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