Bryan Calhoun – the innovator
Founder, Label Management Systems
Bryan Calhoun was working for a major label when he saw the writing on the wall. The music industry was changing and he could either change with it, or get left in the digital dust.
“I decided that I need to branch out and effectively be able to help a growing market, which is the independent artist community,” he says, pinpointing the moment of the birth of his company, Label Management Systems.
Immediately Calhoun went to work on developing the Music Business Tool Box, a vehicle that takes indie artists through the step-by-step process of navigating through the music market.
“Because things are ever-evolving I’ll continue to make updates and provide more information as it becomes relevant [to] turn people on to new tools and talk about new trends,” says the Atlanta native. “There’s just going to be more and more people doing it on their own.”
Since founding the company in 2003, he’s provided new media consulting for artists like Kanye West and created the charismatic rapper’s wildly popular blog. He hopes to share the same services for indie artists.
“A lot of the music that I listen to is from indie artists and I just want to see bands that I love have a better chance of success,” Calhouon says. “So if I can help a few of them do it a little bit more effectively, it makes me happy.” –j.h.
Sound advice: “As technology continues to improve, it’s very inexpensive to record. It’s very inexpensive to market directly to your fans and now you can sell your product directly and inexpensively to your fans.”
Glenn Litwak – the negotiator
Founding Member, Litwak & Havkin
Glenn Litwak knows how to deal with difficult personalities. As the founding member of Litwak & Associates, Litwak has made a business out of smoothing over situations while negotiating top-level deals for established artists.
“I’m in the office 70 to 80 percent of the time, reviewing contracts, preparing contracts and negotiating deals in music, film and television,” he says, adding that one of his clients created a show on MTV last year called “Dance Life,” which was co-produced by Jennifer Lopez.
Litwak also recently negotiated a deal for Omarion for Sony Music Japan and also represents his older brother, Marques Houston and their longtime manager, Chris Stokes.
“The most fulfilling aspect of my job is being involved with clients [who] are involved in the creative process,” he says. “At the end of the day, when I’m finished with a deal, there’s going to be a CD, a movie or a television show that I had something to do with.” –j.h.
Sound advice: “It’s good to network while you’re in school and intern for entertainment companies and law firms. It’s more than just grades. You have to have the personality for it, and make people want to work with you. If you have experience in the entertainment business, [it] can help you have your own clients in the future. After you get out of law school, you’re probably going to just be working for someone else’s law firm for a little while. Meet people in the entertainment business and just network, network, network.”
Anthony Aymen Saleh – the visionary
CEO, Imagine Entertainment Group
As the founder and CEO of Imagine Entertainment Group, which works with writers and producers, 22-year-old Anthony Aymen Saleh, — a full-fledged partner of Grammy-nominated rapper, Nas — has proven that age really doesn’t mean anything.
“I started off doing teen parties in L.A., where I was born and raised,” he says, adding that the parties led to him throwing concerts. “The thing about being a promoter is it’s like being in Las Vegas. It’s [like] throwing the dice; sometimes you’ll win it all and sometimes you’ll lose it all in one night.”
So Saleh decided to take a safer route and eventually became a tour agent, working with stars like Missy, Busta Rhymes, Akon and Mario. Fate led him to a stint working for Nas, where he booked him on a two-week European tour and traveled with him.
“We built a bond and a circle of trust,” he says. “I physically went out there with him and a lot of agents don’t do that. After that my relationship developed into being more than just his tour agent.”
Handling everything from budget management to ensuring that the rapper’s creative visions are fully realized, Saleh, who has been with Nas for two years, is happy staying busy.
“I decided to get into the side of the business that you might not win big when you win,” he says, “but you don’t lose.” –j.h.
Sound advice: “Know that you don’t know. I think a lot of young people feel like they have to put on an act, [but] it’s all right to know that you don’t know. If you grasp that concept, it will take you a long way and people will respect you.”