Holt Harmon and J. Parker Cohen w/ John Summit
Industry Spotlight: Metatone Management
Holt Harmon and J. Parker Cohen are getting on a plane to Los Angeles tomorrow. Thankfully, it’s an easy flight from Phoenix, Arizona, and it’s one of their last flights of the year. As the owners and lead managers of Metatone Management, these guys have done a lot of flying in 2022. A lot. Over the past 12 months, they’ve hit the road almost weekly to far-flung global destinations like Manchester, Ibiza, Miami, and Hawaii, supporting their clients John Summit, Ranger Trucco, Kyle Walker, and Deeper Purpose, among others.
Now they’re getting on the plane to Los Angeles to support Summit as he plays at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, opening for Kaskade and deadmau5’s first headlining show as their new collaborative project Kx5, and that is just one of many monumental moments for the Metatone roster in 2022.
With their work ethic, industry know-how, and passion for the music and the artists they work with, Harmon and Cohen have found the secret sauce as managers to guide their clients to their dreams, and that begins with an understanding that they are not the artists.
“[As a manager] your job is not to be the artist or decide things for the artist. Your biggest job as a manager ultimately is to be a catalyst for what the artist wants to achieve,” says Harmon to Gray Area over Zoom. “You should have the connections, you should have the resources and if you don’t, you should go out of your way to build those things so they can get to the place of it being all about the music.”
“If you can view an artist as a business, if the artist is the CEO, the manager is the COO because we’re helping set up all the operations,” Cohen adds. “We’re here to make sure that all of our artists’ careers are running as smoothly and efficiently as possible, and that sometimes means wearing multiple hats.”
Becoming a quasi-expert in several music industry sectors, including event production, A&R, marketing, and talent buying, is pivotal to their role because artists do so much more than write and play music. Harmon and Cohen became familiar with a universal approach to the music industry in their early professional years. Cohen worked for an event company in Scottsdale, Arizona, called Steve LeVine Entertainment which boasted clients like the Pheonix Suns and Hakkasan Nightclub. Harmon worked for a record label called Audiophile Music Group out of Dallas, Texas, which released early music from Franky Wah, Westend, Black V Neck, and John Summit. What neither of their roles allowed them to do in that early phase, though, was engage in their true calling: working directly with artists.
“We both saw the idea of growing talent as where our passion lies. Working with talented people and helping them see their dreams,” Harmon says. “We love working with people who have huge goals and maybe don’t have it all figured out, but have all the pieces.”
Many of Harmon and Cohen’s clients have worked with them since their careers began. Metatone Management became a business in March of 2018, and both Kyle Walker and John Summit have been with them since late 2018. Freak On has been with them since the beginning of 2020. All remained clients through the pandemic.
And as these artists’ careers grow, Harmon and Cohen are always learning more about how they can catalyze those pieces coming together.
The Metatone team w/ Deeper Purpose
First and foremost is communication. As their clients move between all the operations of the industry, Harmon and Cohen maintain a logistical framework that ensures all the pieces come together seamlessly while representing their client’s interests respectfully and professionally.
“Whenever strangers ask me what I do for a living, I basically just boil it down and say ‘Essentially I just talk all day long.’ I talk to people 24/7. Whether it’s our artists, or Holt, or our agents, or promoters, I’m just talking constantly,” Cohen says.
“Honestly, the best artist managers, they’re always available,” says Harmon. “That’s really what it is at the end of the day, you’re the ultimate middle man. You are where people come to look for answers on the artist side.”
As with any professional role, two of the most common answers they give are “yes” and “no.” The latter is a particularly powerful part of the vocabulary they use with their artists. At this advanced stage in their careers as artist managers, Harmon and Cohen are well-versed in the industry. As such, in working with artists who may not have it all figured out just yet, they have knowledge their artists may not. It’s their job to express their disagreement when appropriate.
“You’re a catalyst, but you’re not a yes man,” Harmon says.
“You have to have that trust between each other, and we’d like to think that all of our artists trust us enough to ask for our opinion,” says Cohen. “If it’s something that an artist feels very strongly about and we disagree then we have to figure out a way to communicate that effectively. It’s really about being able to share that vision and be on the same page and be able to communicate to get to the end result.”
The Metatone Team w/ Kyle Walker
This idea goes back to how they’ve curated their roster. Harmon and Cohen are fans of every artist they manage and want them to reach and exceed their goals. When working with a new artist, they often start the conversation at that end result and work backward.
“One of the ways that we like to communicate with each of our artists, and we honestly have done this since day one, is by reverse engineering,” Cohen says. “What I mean by that is you figure out where it is that you want to go, and then you work your way backward and reverse engineer what needs to be done to get to that point.”
This is a method Harmon and Cohen apply across their entire roster regardless of where an artist is in their individual journey.
It doesn’t matter that John Summit is at the point where he can play any festival in the world while other artists like Kyle Walker and Ranger Trucco are still working to that point. Harmon and Cohen know where these artists want to end up, and they throw their total effort into catalyzing the right opportunities.
“Ultimately your approach does not change,” Harmon says. “The mentality you’re coming at it with may change based on your level of experience, but everybody that you’re working with would hope that you’re constantly growing and becoming more experienced by the day.”
“It’s enjoyable to take a project from nothing to something and then from something to ‘Holy shit look how many tickets we just sold.’ There’s levels to this and the whole journey of it has been very enjoyable and equally challenging,” Cohen says.
In serving as managers to some of the fastest-growing artists in this newfound explosion of house music, Harmon and Cohen have gained immense, direct, professional experience on this journey.
They remark that the agents and record labels executives they work with have said they’ve handled as much in 18 months following the pandemic as many managers do in ten years. And watching their artist play the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is another golden goal moment for their team.
According to Pollstar, the Kx5 show at the Coliseum was the largest single-day concert headlined by an electronic artist ever in North America. John Summit was on that bill, and that was an opportunity Harmon and Cohen catalyzed for him.
Now that he’s had a taste, in 2023, Summit may add headlining the Coliseum to his list of goals. If that is the case, the world will know because the world will see it happen with the help of his team at Metatone Management.
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