MBW’s World’s Greatest Managers series profiles the best artist managers in the global business. This month we talk to Jaime Zeluck-Hindlin, founder of Nonstop Management, whose clients are having quite a year. World’s Greatest Managers is supported by Centtrip, a specialist in intelligent treasury, payments and foreign exchange – created with the music industry and its needs in mind.
For a three-week stretch that started in March, Nonstop Management clients claimed the top two spots on the Billboard Hot 100.
That was thanks to Miley Cyrus’ pop smash Flowers and country crossover hit Last Night by Morgan Wallen, which were co-written by Nonstop songwriters Michael Pollack and JKash, respectively. Both tracks also currently sit in the Billboard Global 200 Top 10.
It’s a major feat for the company, which was set up by Jaime Zeluck-Hindlin in 2017. “This all started around the kitchen table as a baby company, with mostly baby songwriters. So to be there for that moment, and watch it all come to a head in the way that it did, it’s kind of crazy,” she says.
It’s also a major moment for Pollack, who claimed his first US No.1 after penning songs for the likes of Lauv, Maroon 5, Justin Bieber, Lewis Capaldi and Katy Perry.
There’s a further cause for celebration: Afro-pop track Calm Down by Rema and Selena Gomez, which currently sits at No.8 on the Billboard Top 100 and No.6 on the global chart, has a credit from an up-and-coming writer Zeluck-Hindlin is very excited about, Kiddo A.I. (more on her later).
Nonstop arrived after a career in publishing for Zeluck-Hindlin, spanning roles at Sony/ATV and Prescription Songs. That took a left turn when a health scare and extended (or normal, in some more family-friendly countries) maternity leave left her asking some big questions.
After giving birth to her daughter, and surviving heart failure, she had eight months to recover, and decided to take the plunge into starting a business.
Perhaps naively, Zeluck-Hindlin believed management would be similar to publishing — “I thought, songwriters will want the same thing. They want big cuts, they want important introductions, they want life-changing moments.” However, the reality of the job led her along a steep learning curve.
“What I didn’t realise is how important [the role of] a manager is. All of a sudden, you’re responsible for helping to build their team, you are with them in the trenches, whether it’s with their lawyer, their business manager, their publisher or whoever,” Zeluck-Hindlin says.
“You’re with them in every aspect of the business, helping to make decisions, not just about their songs, which is my favorite part. It’s way more big-picture. When a writer feels like they have a great team and they are getting the work they want, it’s the best job because you get to be there for it all.
“But I had to learn very quickly and I had to learn the bad from the good really quickly. I had known a lot of people in the business, I just didn’t know how they operated on the other side.”
Here, we chat to Zeluck-Hindlin about Flowers, her approach to management, the catalog sales trend, competition in music, and much more besides.
Flowers is The biggest song so far this year and Michael Pollack’s first No.1. Did it take on a life of its own? Or did you have a feeling it was going to be a hit?
In my career, we’ve been part of big songs but I have never seen something rocket to the top like this in the way that it did and that it continues to. Did we know it was going to be this big? Absolutely not. But what I do know in my gut is that when I heard the song, and I had the demo, it’s the only thing I listened to for a very long time.
When you hear a song and you want to listen to it on repeat, it must mean something, right? I talk to Michael, and all my writers, about this: when you want to listen to something that much, that’s how you know the bar is high. But every week, we’re mind blown. Michael, especially, is just enjoying this very special moment.
Aside from the quality of the song, are there any other factors that have gone into its success?
It was a perfect storm of the song and when the video dropped, it was so powerful that it also helped. People started making their own assumptions about the video and there was all this talk about [what it could be about].
These days, I feel like you could have an amazing hit song but what’s the story around it? What’s the narrative? What does it mean? What does it bring out in you? What does it make you feel like? I think people started reacting to the song mostly because of the way it made them feel. It was a positive self-love anthem that I think the world needed at the beginning of the year. That’s what made it skyrocket — every single person, no matter what stage of life they’re in, can relate to it.
When it comes to your approach to management, do you have any do’s and don’ts?
Always trust your gut. There are so many talented people in the world but who feels like your family? Who is not only talented but someone you want to take on into your life as your own? You have to have the same goals and the same values when it comes to how the business works. And you can’t work with someone if they’re not going to trust you. That’s when it all goes out the window.
Someone questioning everything I say has been a red flag for me in the past. I’ve parted ways with people because I was, like, ‘I’m here to guide and help you and if you think that I’m not trying to do that, if you think there’s any ulterior motive, that’s not what this is about’.
“songwriters don’t want yes men; they want people who are going to tell them exactly how it is and how things could be better.”
My values are also to be as honest as possible. People-pleasing is not something that you should do in this business with songwriters because they don’t want yes men; they want people who are going to tell them exactly how it is and how things could be better.
Aside from honesty, are there any other attributes that make a good manager?
Having good relationships with people in this business is everything. Knowing that you can pick up the phone and call someone because you have a good relationship with them, is everything.
That’s what I’ve based my career around and how I’ve trained my staff. Be kind and loving to everyone unless, of course, they do something completely outrageous to you. That’s how you’re going to get things done for your clients.
That’s how, if there is a problem, you can pick up the phone and call someone and just be honest and say, ‘How do we fix this together?’ You can’t really do that if you don’t have a good relationship with someone. There are always the wildcards — the situations you find yourself in that you have to navigate through, but you do it with grace and in the right way.
One of your clients, JKash, is also your husband. How do you navigate having both a business and A close personal relationship with him?
The hardest job I’ve ever had to do is probably to manage my husband and run a company, with all of it intertwined. We met making music together so that’s rooted in our love.
We have the same interests in such a big way, we love what we do and that is sometimes a really good thing because we talk about it and it’s great. But then it’s like, when do you stop talking about it and make time for your family? That’s been the hardest part of this whole journey, and I’ve been with him now for 12 years.
We’ve had to really set boundaries and be like, ‘We’re not going to talk about this right now. This can wait until tomorrow, we’re going to be with our daughter’. When there are 911 situations that come up, we have a team of people who I can reach out to and ask them to talk to Kash about it, even though that’s really hard for me! If we’re at a family dinner, I don’t really want to bring it up while we’re sitting with our daughter, unless it’s completely urgent or it comes up organically.
There was a point, especially during the pandemic, where it was like, what else is there to talk about or do? It was all mish-mashed together, there was no separation. Now, there’s a way that we need to structure our lives where we’re not talking about music 24/7 and we’re getting better and better at it every day. It’s a work in progress.
There’s been a lot of catalog sales in publishing over the last few years. What do you make of what companies like Hipgnosis are doing?
If the time is right to sell your catalog, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. If it’s with the right people, if you feel you’re getting the right amount for your hard work, you should do it.
When you build a beautiful catalog and want to sell it to be able to support your family or see your money upfront, rather than having it come in over the years, it’s a personal decision and every writer is different.
What’s the biggest challenge that you’re currently facing with your clients?
I want to make sure everyone is happy and show everyone that their paths are different and they’re all going to get to their north star in a different way. As a manager, you want to make sure that everyone feels like they’re having a great year or a great moment and by doing that, it’s aligning them with the right things. I want to make sure they feel like their songs are getting heard, placed or cut, or that there’s movement.
The hardest thing is that people compare themselves to others, instead of keeping their head down and doing the work to get to wherever that next place is. As a songwriter, that’s what you have to do. Otherwise, you drive yourself crazy, because your journey is completely different to someone else’s journey.
For me, it’s about managing the expectations of, ‘Why is this person having this moment and I’m not?’ It’s like, ‘Because the stars aligned this way and this person worked on these things at this time and it took six years to get here. Or it took one introduction that hasn’t happened for you yet, but you might need a different introduction that’s going to get you a different path.’
If you could, what would you change about the music industry and why?
I wish everyone was nice! Competition kind of has to be a big part of this, but I feel like it’s gotten worse over the years. Healthy competition is good but I’d like to see more people come together and support each other when peers are having a moment.
It all goes back to the relationship thing — I’d just like to see more kind people in the world and in the music business. There are a lot of them, but there are also a lot of scary people working in music. Sometimes I find it being very shark-y, in a way where it’s not fun. I’d like to see less of that, more honesty and good people just supporting each other.
Do you have any up-and-coming songwriters we should be keeping an eye ON?
Yes, Kiddo A.I., who did the Calm Down remix by Rema with Selena Gomez. I met her after I left LA and moved to Miami. I kept asking my husband, ‘Are we making the right decision by leaving the centre of the music business and moving to Miami?’ Then, within a month of living here, I met her and she has one of the biggest songs in the world right now.
She’d been working down here in Miami and hustling very hard for six years, mostly in the Latin space. She just wasn’t in the right situations with the right people. We met her about 18 months ago and started introducing her to the right people, putting her in the right rooms, and getting her way more into the pop space in Los Angeles. One introduction, which is the introduction that changed her life, was the one that got her the opportunity with Rema and Selena. I think she’s going to be one of the biggest female writers of the next generation.
What’s special about her?
She can do every genre. She can lean singer/songwriter, she can lean straight pop, she can lean rhythmic. She came in with a country idea the other day. And it’s all very fresh sounding.
Every time I get a song from her, it’s completely different to the one that she sent me before. I’m like, ‘How did you do this today and this yesterday?’ That, to me, is the dream when you’re working with a songwriter. I can put her in any room and every time she’s going to deliver. Finding her was probably one of the coolest things that has happened over the last two years because I think she is someone that’s going to change my life.
What are your future ambitions?
To continue to take writers that I work with to the place they want to be, to make sure that they’re always happy, and to maybe have a more balanced life while being able to do this job. And to one day build a really big publishing company.
A specialist in intelligent treasury, payments and foreign exchange, Centtrip works with over 500 global artists helping them and their crew maximise their income and reduce touring costs with its award-winning multi-currency card and market-leading exchange rates. Centtrip also offers record labels, promoters, collection societies and publishers a more cost-effective way to send payments across the globe.
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