Cameron Kaminski: An Interview With A Music Management Triple Threat
Today’s music industry is more competitive than ever before. In addition to the explosion of popularity in music festivals over the last few years, advances in technology has made it easier for artists to produce music and get that music heard. Production supplies and software is readily available to be purchased, making it possible to produce music in a bedroom rather than renting out a studio. Digital streaming services like SoundCloud, Spotify, and Bandcamp have made it possible for anyone to distribute their music across the globe without being signed to a major label. Even the smallest artist looks like a big deal on social media, equipped with their own official artist pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Though this is an incredibly beneficial opportunity for musicians in terms of reaching their audiences, it has also lead to an over saturation of the market. With so many people having access to these resources, it’s hard for the listener to differentiate a genuinely talented artist from somebody who has created an illusion of fame online.
The industry today is cutthroat, and if you can’t find a way to stand out you’ll never receive the attention you deserve. Some artists try and cheat their way to the top, buying followers to look credible and paying for an artist bio that makes them sound like the next legendary producer. Though this may deliver temporary attention, listeners will soon unfollow if the music doesn’t live up to the hype. Some of the most talented producers in the world right now are still undiscovered. The only thing that stands in their way of success is not their lack of talent, but rather their lack of recognition. So the problem stands, “how do I stand out when there are thousands of people doing the same thing?”.
While you can’t cheat success, that doesn’t mean you have to chase it on your own. Many of the people to be thanked for an artist’s success are found behind the scenes rather than in the production booth. The artist managers, booking coordinators, and the talent buyers. Cameron Kaminski is all three, and he’s damn good at it.
At only age 25, Kaminski plays a critical role in the music industry on the East Coast. Kaminski got his start while living in Washington D.C working as a booking coordinator for Closed Sessions DC. It was during his time with Closed Sessions DC that Kaminski gained experience and insight into the event organization process. Kaminski spent five years living in D.C before making the move to Brooklyn nine months ago. Kaminski currently functions as a co-owner and artist manager for Value Music Management and serves as Lead Talent Buyer and Booking Coordinator for Good Looks Collective in New York. As a talent buyer and booking coordinator, Kaminski curates lineups and buys shows throughout the city. The co-owner of Value Management, Kaminski co-manages artists such as ye., octbr, and Kill Them With Colour alongside his business partner and girlfriend, Christy Hayek. Kaminski’s artist ye. describes his manager as mad outgoing, super friendly, and very determined.
“He has had an incredible amount of influence on where I have gotten so far. He was incredibly essential in helping me make the jump from just a hobby to being more professional”, said ye..
As co-managers of their company, Kaminski and Hayek oversee label relations, public relations, budget management, and more.
Though Kaminski is currently established in Brooklyn, Kaminski roots reach back to Bainbridge Island here in Washington. His career has taken him all over the world, and interestingly enough, it started on the stage before moving behind the curtain.
1. Where did you get your start? Can you give me a little bit of background on how you arrived at where you are now?
CK: I got my start in music overseas on a Christian missions trip I took after I graduated high school. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing with my life, so I went on this trip that toured me through Europe. I was in Italy doing an assignment where I was required to write a psalm. I read it out loud for the people who I was traveling with and this man who claimed to be a prophet told me I had a gift for rapping. He pushed me to write a song and I did. It was garbage, but three days later I was performing that one song in front of like 75 people in a church basement. Ended up writing a few more songs and had the opportunity to perform in Italy, Spain, Northern Ireland for larger Christian events. I also recorded five songs in a castle in Germany.
I came back to the states and moved from Bainbridge, WA to the east coast where I continued to rap for the next couple of years. I bounced around from Maryland to Virginia and finally landed in D.C in 2012. I attended American University for one year before I decided school just wasn’t for me. D.C. is where I really started to get into music. I released two mixtapes and then decided I was going to start a record label with these three kids who had a lot of blind ambition as to what the process would take. The endeavor fizzled out and I ended up starting to help out with a promotion company Closed Sessions.
Closed Sessions really took me under their wing and showed me how shows worked from the inside out. I decided that I liked the feeling of putting on great events for people and introducing them to new music that I loved. It was then that I realized that I didn’t want to be on the stage as a rapper anymore. I worked with the Closed Sessions guys for about two years before Christy introduced me to ye. who she had found on Soundcloud. Christy has found all the artists we work with, best A&R in the game. From the moment I heard ye. the mindset became that of a manager. That kid is like my little brother now, and I can’t wait to see where he ends up. Now just over a year later our family has grown to include ye., octbr, Kill Them With Colour, and Mosie.
2. You grew up here in the Seattle area on Bainbridge Island, did your upbringing in this community play any part in the career you decided to pursue?
CK: Growing up in the Pacific Northwest is what got me into conscious hip-hop. It certainly influenced the music I listened to. Mainly on Macklemore’s first album The Language Of My World and Blue Scholars is what I listened to. God I hate the new Macklemore stuff, it makes me so sad man. Outside of that, my family pretty much only listened to country music and Christian music. I always loved listening to tracks that made me think or feel some passion about something. But in terms of the field I’m in now, I didn’t get into that until I moved to D.C. in 2012.
3. I understand you used to be a hip-hop artist (Lyrx), how did this play into where you're at now?
CK: Lyrx is what really opened my love for music and expressing myself. It taught me a lot about being myself. I went through lots of phases to try to create what other people wanted to hear, only to look back and realize all those failures pushed me to understand this industry. It’s imperative that you stay true to yourself. If you don’t you’re gonna have what you’re working on and this passion becomes a job.
4. Do you have any major influences or role models that lead you to pursue this path?
CK: I had the opportunity to intern for Jay Rogovin over at C3 Management this summer. Jay is Head of Electronic Music over at C3 and works with the likes of Gramatik, Autograf, Goldfish, G Jones, Eprom and a slew of incredibly talented artists. Getting to watch the way he handles his clients was awesome, and learning that it’s all about how much time and effort you put in was invaluable. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t put effort into your clients they won’t succeed. It’s as simple as that. But in terms of who lead me to pursue this path? It was definitely my Co-Manager Christy. She’s the one who introduced me to all of the artists we work with, and has pushed me and supported the dream of ours for almost two years now. I wouldn’t be anywhere without her.
5. What is your favorite part of your job(s)? Anything particularly rewarding?
CK: Oh man, I love every part about these jobs. But the most rewarding feeling is knowing that the artists I work with are happy and the people listening are enjoying the content. Whether it’s my own artists or throwing shows to curate new experiences with other artists. The artists really do all the hard work. They create the magic I’m just here to spread it as far as possible. Seeing people react positively to our artist’s stuff is incredibly rewarding because I know we truly have something special.
6. What are some of the most difficult parts of your job(s)?
CK: The most difficult part of the job is dealing with rejection. Whether its labels, blogs, or promoters, there is always someone who doesn’t see the vision. I’m learning to keep hopes high but expectations low. You just keep pushing through the mud until you get to where you want to be.
7. What do you believe is your greatest accomplishment?
CK:I would say my greatest accomplishment was this past summer at Camp Bisco. I was able to get ye.,
octbr, and Kill Them With Colour all on a lineup together and they absolutely crushed it. Watching thousands of people dance to our little family was something I’ll never forget. In terms of my musical accomplishments, I got to open for Chance The Rapper in an Arena one time. That was pretty cool I guess.
8. If you had any piece of advice for somebody looking to pursue a similar career path as yourself, what would it be?
CK: My advice would be don’t get into management unless you truly love the artist you’re working with. This isn’t easy. It’s a lot of late nights trying to build connections through shows, emails, and meetings. It’s putting your neck out there for someone else. If you don’t truly believe in the project it’s a hard and gruesome sell, and let’s be real, it takes a long time to be profitable in music. If the content is there and you believe in it then you will be successful. It’s all just a matter of timing.