Wallace Morgan

Wallace Morgan

Nashville-native Wallace Morgan is the creator and owner of independent management company MOXI MANAGEMENT.

After graduating from The University of Georgia where she studied music business and journalism, Morgan moved to New York. She worked at Republic Records in both the PR and marketing departments where she worked on projects such as James Blake, Julia Michaels, and Ariana Grande. 

Now managing pop artist Kat Saul and electro-folk-pop duo Misty Mtn, the 26 year old manager is continuing to create her own journey in the music industry by applying her strengths, drive, talent and passion for music.

In addition to her work as an artist manager, Morgan offers PR and freelance biography writing services and has created MOXI MAG, an online gallery showcasing a growing community of collaborators.

Photo credit: Karen Santos

Photo credit: Karen Santos

Introduce yourself - where are you from?

Hey Thread, thanks so much for having me. My name is Wallace Morgan. I’m 26. I run an independent management company called MOXI MANAGEMENT where I represent Kat Saul and Misty Mtn. I grew up in Nashville, currently live in Brooklyn, and am in the process of relocating to LA this summer.

What's your story?

Artist management is really more than a job for me, it’s a big part of who I am. All my life I felt torn between the creative side of my identity and the more strategic business minded part of my brain. When I started managing artists and running my own company, the two collided and everything clicked. As a little kid, I was constantly ‘playing house’ with various creative endeavors. For a while I decided I was a shoe designer, then a tap dancer, then a painter, an interior designer, and of course a pop star complete with “ticketed” karaoke events held in my bedroom to the robust crowd of my parents and two siblings (who were forced to attend). I homeschooled until fourth grade which gave me freedom to explore my artistic side. But during middle and high school, I became hyper-focused on sports and grades. I still wrote songs for fun and loved to write poems and paint, but I didn’t view myself as an artist. Nevertheless, music was always a common denominator. Even though I was (and still am) terrible, I loved to play my guitar and sing. I was so excited to get my license just so I could blast music in the car. And once I got to college I went to as many shows as possible. Music was always the safe haven - a place where I could celebrate, heal, cry, dance, escape, or just be. In school I was always intensely motivated to achieve. I had high expectations for myself and a desire to succeed. Yet I’ve always been a dreamer chasing after romantic ideas, feelings, and artistic expression. It took me a while to find the intersection of it all. I think I see the world through the eyes of an artist, but my strengths are often best employed on the business side of life. I love to create, but what I really love is to be inspired by the art of truly GREAT artists. And the form of art that fuels me most is that of music. As a manager I get to bring my strengths alongside great artists with a shared goal of succeeding together. Along the way we get to utilize all forms of art - photography, graphic design, visual art, fashion, etc - to enhance the music and share it with a larger audience. It’s really a dream come true to do my job on a daily basis. The journey hasn’t been easy. Leaving a steady job to start MOXI when I was 24 was absolutely terrifying. I had no idea what I was doing. There’s been countless moments of doubt and anxiety. But the sense of purpose I feel, the people I’ve met, and the encouragement from friends and family has been so empowering. The story is very much still being written, but it has been especially fulfilling to find myself at the center of all the ups and downs from the journey thus far.

 

When did you decide to work in the music industry? What did your friends and family think of it?

It’s horribly cliche, but it was the moment I watched the movie Almost Famous during my sophomore year of college. From that point on I feverishly pursued the new ‘dream job’ of being a writer for Rolling Stone Magazine. I enrolled in the journalism and music business programs, wrote my thesis about The Beatles, and wrote my first journalistic feature on the history of rock in Athens, Georgia (home to R.E.M. & the B-52s).

 My family was hesitant at first. I definitely think it made them nervous (still does), but they’ve always been my biggest cheerleaders and have supported me every step of the way. I could not do it without them.

My college friends thought it was cool, because I got them free tickets to shows :) A lot of those same friends have now become loyal fans of my artists, and their continued support means the world to me. Now that I’ve been working in the industry for the past six years, a lot of my community is made of people who work in music as well. These people have become my lifeline. We all lean on each other in a big way. A lot of my closest friends are also entrepreneurs and artists, so we have a shared understanding and level of relatability that’s really special.

 

Could you tell us about your first experience in the music industry? What did you learn since then?

My first job was working as an intern at The Georgia Theatre. I hung posters, put beer and snacks in the green room, and once had to make a special run to get denture glue for George Clinton. While I worked there bands like Father John Misty, Alabama Shakes, Disclosure, The String Cheese Incident, Sleigh Bells came through to play the room. It was a quintessential first job and still some of my favorite memories.

It’s laughable how little I knew then. And probably just as funny to think about how much there still is to learn. As an artist manager you have to wear so many hats. Some days I play booking agent, other days I’m the creative director, the stylist, the publicist, the A&R, tour manager, roadie - you name it.

When I first got to New York, my experience of the industry was completely different from my time at the venue. I went from a pretty laid back indie scene to working at high powered corporations like Rolling Stone and Republic Records. The environment was the polar opposite of what I had known up until that point. It was intense, and I had to step up to the plate. I had a boss who would always say “hurry it up Nashville!” because he thought I “sashayed” down the hallway. Needless to say, I quickly learned to speed it up and operate with a sense of urgency. I also toughened up. The music business is not an easy place to succeed, especially as a woman. I learned to carry myself with confidence and to work QUICKLY. Learn as you go. Ask when you need help, but if you can figure it out - keep moving and find the answer yourself.

Working at the label taught me a lot about PR and marketing - two skills I use every day with my artists. I also learned how to operate under pressure and maintain poise in high stress situations. Navigating the politics of the music industry, understanding the importance of clout and reputation in this business was also an invaluable lesson. It’s a constant learning curve, and I know I’ll be learning for the rest of my career.

 

When did you start managing artists?

I first started managing artists in 2016 and launched MOXI MANAGEMENT officially in August of 2017.

 

For those who don't know, what does a music manager do?

This is a hard question because it has many answers - especially in today’s ever-changing market.  More or less, the manager works alongside the artist. It is the manager’s job, in my opinion, to partner with the artist with a shared goal to see the artist’s vision come to life in a sustainable way. At MOXI I focus on artist development meaning I start working with an artist early on in their career and help them build out the project and the team. Building out the project entails executing a recording and release plan, developing the live show, honing the brand, growing the platform, and cultivating a loyal fanbase. Building out the team means gathering champions and partners such as agents, lawyers, publishers, labels, publicists, photographers, graphic designs, producers - you name it - who share a common belief in the project and want to be a part of it. From there, the manager begins managing the team and acts as a liaison between team members and the artist. The manager often acts as an advisor to the artist and as the strategist of the project. The manager acts on behalf of the artist and should always operate with the artist’s best interest as top priority.

 

What are you looking for in artists when working with them?

First, I have to LOVE the music. From there, I want to see the artist perform live. Then I need to get to know the person or people involved in the project. Management is more like marriage, less like a casual fling. You REALLY have to love each other. You have to trust each other and be like-minded. Understanding each other on a human level is crucial. There’s a synergy that can’t be forced with a successful artist/manager team. I work with artists who are not only talented, but who are also wicked smart. In 2019 artists have to be entrepreneurs. And I look for artists who WANT it. You have to be so hungry to make it in music. You have to have endurance, endless passion, and insane worth ethic. I also only want to work with good people. People who are kind, humble, and treat people with respect. And I’ve been lucky enough to find people like that who are also crazy talented and make me jump out of bed every day excited to see what they’re going to do next.

 

Kat Saul    Click on the artwork to stream Kat Saul’s debut EP “… From Unit 408”

Kat Saul

Click on the artwork to stream Kat Saul’s debut EP “… From Unit 408”

You manage Kat Saul and Misty Mtn. How did you discover them? What made you want to work with them?

Crazy enough, both Kat and Misty Mtn reached out to me via cold email. Moral of the story, ALWAYS CHECK YOUR INBOX. From there we met for coffee and got to know each other over the course of a few months. Signing both acts was an incredibly natural process. By the time we got to that point, we just knew :)

 

What do you like the most about Kat Saul?

Kat is fearless. Whether she’s writing in the studio or performing on stage, she will always take the risk.

She has this crazy ability of getting better every nano second. She’s constantly critiquing herself and adjusting to refine accordingly. And if she wasn’t such an insane writer, singer, performer she could easily run a Fortune 500 company.

Kat is a fierce, strong woman who has so much truth to speak and is unafraid to use her voice. I’m so proud of her already and cannot wait to watch her light it up for years to come. Her goal is to play the Superbowl, and my money’s on her.

What makes Misty Mtn stand out from other bands?

There’s no other act like Misty Mtn. They are carving out their own genre, not because it’s a contrived marketing plan, but because it’s who they are. Their musical chemistry in the studio and on the stage is totally undeniable. I could watch them play 500,000 times and want to see it again. Lucas is a musical genius. He is an absolute wizard in the studio. And Morissa can write and sing anything. Her melodies are effortless and she’s a total star on the stage. The two of them together are unstoppable. They operate seamlessly as a unified partnership. Their love for the music they make and the intention in which they make it breathes timeless depth into the project.

Misty Mtn    Click on the artwork to stream Misty Mtn’s debut EP “Missed Your Call”

Misty Mtn

Click on the artwork to stream Misty Mtn’s debut EP “Missed Your Call”

What makes a good manager/artist relationship? What makes it work?

Belief in one another, mutual respect, and trust.

 

As a manager, what are the biggest challenges?

I think the biggest challenge is patience. It takes a long time to break an artist. Pursuing a career as an artist manager is borderline insane. The amount of time, hard work, emotional energy, and resources required is daunting. There are days when the mountain feels too high to climb, the tasks at hand feel too overwhelming, and the disappointments feel endless. It’s a marathon not a sprint, so you have to pace yourself. It’s easy to get tired, but the moment you score a win for your artist or hit a milestone together as a team, the race immediately feels more than worth it. It’s never easy, but it’s wildly rewarding. The main objective - don’t quit.

 

In your opinion, what makes a "good" manager?

Tough question because there’s a million ways to be a good manager. There is no right or wrong way to manage, but I do think that every good manager is a true champion of art.  If the integrity of the artist’s vision is the motivating factor driving the manager’s actions and decisions, you’re likely doing something right. Treating people with respect is paramount. Cultivating an authentic network of both creatives and industry professionals is crucial. And approaching objectives with a clear set of goals and specific strategies in which to execute the plan is key. Managers, whether independent or working within a larger organization, have to think like entrepreneurs. Good managers need to be proactive, resilient, calm under pressure, respectfully aggressive when necessary, and creatively strategic. Interpersonal skills are insanely important. Understanding the psychology of the music business is half the battle.

You graduated from the University of Georgia where you studied music business and journalism. How do you apply the things you learnt there to what you're doing today?

The music business program offered me invaluable foundational information that I use daily. Whether it be sussing through a production agreement, discussing publishing splits with writers, negotiating a sync licensing contract or routing a live tour, I am constantly referring back to what I learned during my time at UGA. And without the skills I learned in the journalism school, I definitely wouldn't have been prepared to launch MOXI MAG or offer freelance bio writing or PR.

 

How do you usually find new talents?

The underlying philosophy behind MOXI is the power of collaboration. The community of creatives that begins to naturally evolve when talented people start working together is pretty insane. I am lucky enough to have a network of wildly talented artists, writers, producers, managers, publicists, etc. We are constantly connecting one another with new artists and sharing the music we find. The amount of talent out there is pretty mind blowing.

You also do some PR and freelance biography writing services. What appeals you the most about it?

I love to write. I love to think strategically about how to share an artist’s story with a broader audience. And I love working with a diverse group of artists and artist teams. Doing freelance PR and bio writing allows me to do all of the above :)

 

What can you tell us about MOXI Mag?

MOXI MAG serves as an online gallery showcasing a growing community of collaborators. Through MOXI, I’ve met so many inspirational people, and I really wanted a way to spotlight their endeavors in a curated, intentional way. I have an amazing group of writers and contributors who have been key in making it possible. It’s just so cool to see people work together to share positive ideas, art, and knowledge with one another. MOXI MAG has really been a special part of the journey, because it serves as a catalyst for connection, growth, and offers a form of promotion that feels really genuine. The live events we do in tandem with MOXI MAG have really breathed life into the platform and brought people together - many of whom have gone on to be close friends and frequent collaborators.

 

What advices would you give to anyone who'd like to work in the music industry?

As an old boss once told me - working in music isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle. The music industry is 24/7, it’s competitive, it’s a long game, and you’ll probably work countless hours for free for a long time before you see success. So my advice would be - show up, work hard, show people respect, demand respect for yourself, take care of yourself, find your people, stay hungry, and enjoy the journey. The music industry is a passion industry. If you’re fueled by money, security, or comfort - don’t work in music. But if you’re energized by a challenge and put passion for purpose first - jump in and hold on tight.

 

In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?

Empathy.

 

What biggest life lessons have you learnt along the way?

Do the internal work to find your authentic self and then be unafraid to go out in the world and be you. Speak your truth. Stay humble. Put people first. Listen. Be honest. Fight for art. Operate with intention. Stay focused. Be mindful. Celebrate the little wins. And don’t give up.

Find out more about MOXI MANAGEMENT:

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