Interview by Melody J. Myers
When accidentally falling into artist management, Ella Gregg has achieved so much at such a small amount of time. Creating her own management company, 321 Artists, managing up and coming band Blushes, and while making an appearance at The A&R Feedback Centre at this year’s BBC Introducing Live, she’s taking every opportunity by storm and making big things happen. With her determined attitude, and big plans Ella proves that anything is possible, but also that we can stumble upon our calling at any time, or anywhere. Her story is inspiring, and hopeful. We chatted about all things artist management, Blushes, and so much more.
Before we start, I just wanted to say congratulations on everything you’ve achieved so far, it’s so inspiring! Thank you for taking the time and answering my questions. First off, how are you?
Thank you so so much! It’s always really strange when people congratulate me or say what I’ve done is inspiring, as sometimes I think we don’t really stop and realise what we’ve achieved, we’re all so focused on working towards the next thing, but if I sit and think how mad the past couple of years have been, I have achieved a lot!
I’m doing really well thank you! We recently unfortunately had to cancel Blushes’ tour midway through due to illness within the band which was gutting, but it’s only made us all so determined to work harder to come back next year with BIG things. So the excitement levels at the moment are high.
A lot of people must wonder what you do as an artist manager, what’s a day like for you on the job? Is it different when you are on tour, or is it the same?
So as an artist manager, I do all of the things you would expect – organising the band’s schedule, booking the gigs, being the voice of the band to others in the industry, dancing in the front row at gigs, working on new releases, but also just being a human being – going with them to doctors appointments, congratulating their personal successes, being someone to call on when things aren’t so great. Being an artist manager is basically being another member of the band, without playing in the band.
I always say that my job is to sell myself, before I sell Blushes, because if people trust me, they will trust who I work with. So most of my day is sending emails, it’s networking and introducing myself.
I’m not in a position where I can be an artist manager full time, so I spend a lot of my time behind a reception in a trampoline park. I’m very lucky in how portable being an artist manager is, I can access my emails from my phone, and all the assets I could need are all on the Google Drive app, so I can literally do everything on the go.
When we’re on tour, I can still work whilst we’re driving (unless I’m on Sat Nav duty, in which I am focused on the task in hand), but I do see gigs as a reward for all the hard work I’ve put into organising each show, so I do take some time away from emails and make the most of spending time with the band, as that to me is just as important.
You’ve become apart of The A&R Feedback Centre at this year’s BBC Introducing Live which is huge, how does this make you feel? From accidentally falling into artist management to being apart of something as big as BBC Introducing Live.
It’s absolutely ridiculous. I am extremely lucky. To me, I still feel as if I am constantly learning every single day, and when I saw BBC Introducing Live, I couldn’t believe that such an event had been put together, what a dream?! All of those people in one space, and I knew I could benefit so much from attending. I would never in a million years think I’d be considered to sit in a Feedback Centre, along with industry professionals from the craziest companies and labels and careers. I feel incredibly privileged to be trusted to be able to give emerging artists feedback and advice, because I know how vital that opportunity will be to them. It’s reminded me that there’s always someone watching what you’re doing! I’ve completely made the most of it already, and connected with all the individuals (153!) part of the Feedback Centre on Linkedin and social media, and have already organised meetings and had some interesting conversations.
What was it like being an intern at Secret Sessions? It really opened a whole new world for you, and introduced you to Blushes!
Secret Sessions is such a beautiful thing. For those who don’t know, Secret Sessions is a free platform for emerging artists, and they give artists live and sync opportunities. I was scouted by the founder of Secret Sessions when I was 17 to do an 8 week internship and after that period, I became the Community Manager and in the 18 months I spent there, I signed up over 1000 artists and gave many of them career changing opportunities. If I didn’t get that chance from Secret Sessions, would I even be in the music industry now?
Blushes was indeed one of the bands I discovered through Secret Sessions. I found so many gems through Secret Sessions, but there was something about Blushes which I just knew I couldn’t not explore further, and I’m so glad I did.
Speaking of Blushes who happen to be my new favorites, how did you become their manager? What’s it like working with them? Do we see an album coming out in the near future?
(Blushes are my favourites too). It’s actually quite a funny story, because I had absolutely no intention of becoming their music, or even working in the music industry for that matter. (I spent 5 years as a police cadet, and was convinced I was going to join the police force.) When I first discovered Blushes whilst I was at Secret Sessions, I was introduced to their manager at the time, who was interested in what Secret Sessions did, so I met up with them and went through it in more detail. After the meeting, they told me that they could really see my passion and enthusiasm and they wanted me to start working with Blushes under their management company.
At first, I was helping them really informally just with their social media, and then after a month, I was asked to book their gigs. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I was completely out of my depth, I had never booked gigs before. Looking back, the first gigs I got Blushes were a bit disastrous (sorry guys), they just weren’t the best quality, or in the best venues, but I was still learning and I managed to book them a tour which I was pretty proud of.
During this time, their manager began to fade and I was starting to take on a lot more responsibilities when it came to the band, without really realising if I’m honest. Due to circumstances, their manager was no longer able to manage Blushes and I decided that, with the help of Blushes, I would step up to the plate and give it a go at managing them. Within 6 months, they had been played on BBC Radio 1 and featured by NME, appeared on London Live and BBC Introducing.
Being the founder of 321 Artists is an amazing accomplishment. Can you tell us the process of how that happened, and why you wanted to go about creating your own company?
That’s really kind thank you! When I started managing Blushes properly, I knew I didn’t want to manage them under someone else’s company and name. If I was going to manage them, I wanted to do it under my own name, and put my own stamp on it. So I knew I had to create my own company, and I’m so proud of what 321 Artists is, and it’s values, and what it will continue to achieve.
How did you come up with the name 321 Artists?
So I always knew I wanted to focus on emerging artists with 321 Artists, and I wanted it to be a platform that helped artists ‘launch’ or ‘accelerate’, 321 is like a countdown, to something launching, for example a rocket (hence why our logo is a rocket), or something accelerating with support, like a career.
When looking for artists to represent is there anything you look for in particular?
I don’t really look for anything in particular. I will always see the artist perform live before anything. If I stand during your set in complete awe, or you make me want to dance the room regardless of the people around me, you’re a winner. They’ve got to be unforgettable.
You recently did a talk at a school about being an artist manager, what was that like? I’ve noticed that there isn’t really information about what you can do in the music industry, (besides being in bands) is that important to you to share information like that?
I did! And I was absolutely terrified, but I remembered when I was in school, and when we used to have guest speakers in, I was always so interested, especially when they were young. I had a really great time speaking with the students, there were a couple of students who were actually in successful emerging bands, so it was really interesting to hear their perspectives. These students were 15-18, and it was so heartwarming to hear them asking questions about what I do, and what they can do in the industry. You’re completely right, I still don’t think I have come across every single career option in the music industry yet. It’s about listing the skills and hobbies you have, and I am certain you could link at least one to a role in the music industry. There definitely is more to be done in terms of education around the music industry for young people, it’s on my to do list!
What are you most looking forward to in your career/new year? Even if you’ve accomplished so much already!
Well next for me is Introducing Live so I’m hoping I make some new connections there, and learn a lot that I can take into the new year! Next year I hope I can start working with even more artists, especially when we launch a new avenue to 321 Artists which I am SO excited about! I’m so ready for 2019, and who knows what’s to come!
I read that you don’t particularly make a big deal about your age/gender when it comes to being an artist manager, although of course many people do. How do you keep your head up with all the ridicule women get in the music industry?
That’s completely true. I don’t see the need for my gender or age to make any difference when we are discussing an artist, for example. People can’t see who is behind an email, so as long as I remain professional and get the job done to a high standard, my age is irrelevant. I remain very focused and there has only been a small handful of times where I have felt my age or gender has been taken advantage of, of which I have always commented on immediately. I’m very strong willed, and not afraid of voicing my opinion when necessary. But most of the time, I just want to get the job done, that’s my priority.
What advice would you give girls/women who want to be in the industry?
My main piece of advice to anyone wanting to be involved with the industry, is to educate yourself, don’t be afraid of learning. Because the industry is a complicated thing, that most of us are still figuring out, so education is key. Networking is the most important thing, if you enjoy writing, find journalists on social media and drop them a message or email and ask them their story, ask them if they have any advice or if they know of any opportunities you can get involved with. Don’t be afraid to get yourself out there, ask questions, and ask for favours. Even if they say no, you haven’t lost anything, but you can definitely gain a lot from introducing yourself to the right people.
Thank you again for answering all my questions, Ella! We support you 300%, and we can’t wait to see what you do next!
You are absolutely more than welcome. Thank you for giving people the opportunity to share their story and voice.
Keep up with Ella’s journey here :
321 Artists :