‘I don’t handle conventionally – I handle spiritually…’

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MBW’s World’s Best Managers sequence profiles the most effective artist managers within the international enterprise. Right here, we communicate to David Benveniste, supervisor of bands together with System Of A Down, Korn, Deftones and extra. World’s Best Managers is supported by Centtrip, a specialist in clever treasury, funds and overseas change – created with the music business and its wants in thoughts.


There are two sorts of individuals on this world: those that assume rock is lifeless, and people who have met David Benveniste.

As a result of the supervisor – recognized to everyone within the enterprise as Beno – is such an enthusiastic evangelist for all issues rock and metallic that spending just some minutes in his firm could be sufficient to persuade even essentially the most cynical, rock-is-all-over naysayer that the style isn’t just alive, however kicking onerous.

And Benveniste himself resides proof of rock’s continued vitality. Since guiding System Of A Right down to international stardom on the flip of the century, he has constructed one of many heaviest, loudest artist administration empires on earth.

The roster for his Velvet Hammer Music & Management Group reads like a fantasy Obtain / Welcome to Rockville line-up; in addition to SOAD, he additionally reps Korn, Deftones, Alice In Chains, AFI and has simply signed Avenged Sevenfold.

Throw a stick at any moshpit and also you’ll nearly actually hit somebody sporting one in every of his band’s T-shirts.

Benveniste grew up as a type of rock youngsters in Beverly Hills, attending the infamous 90210 Excessive Faculty (he quips that the present’s Brandon Walsh character, performed by Jason Priestly, was based mostly on him) and turning into a Sundown Strip scenester by the point he was 15.

As hair metallic gave method to grunge, Beno was impressed to hitch the business. After school, he and a pal had a go at managing a pioneering rap-metal act referred to as Correct Grounds. They signed them to Madonna’s Maverick Information and whereas, in the end, the band didn’t make it, a few years later they did tip Beno off about “these 4 Armenian guys in North Hollywood taking part in loopy heavy music with time signatures you’ve by no means heard earlier than.”

A few conferences later, Benveniste was so satisfied of the band’s significance that he persuaded his father that, fairly than pay for him to go to regulation college, he ought to lend him $15,000 so he may “work out how you can make them the largest band on the planet.”

That band, in fact, was System Of A Down and Benveniste Jr quickly made good on his promise. His Dad had his a reimbursement simply 18 months later and, following the discharge of their 2001 traditional second album, Toxicity, which triggered a riot in Los Angeles when 10,000 individuals turned as much as a free album launch gig, System turned the most popular band in metallic.

The Velvet Hammer secure now reverberates to the sound of a number of bands, each simply as influential. Alongside the way in which, Benveniste additionally pioneered digital advertising and marketing methods together with his StreetWise Ideas & Tradition company and arrange publishing and recording pursuits. He even initially signed the not-very-metal OneRepublic to Velvet Hammer for data, having seen them play Apologize at LA’s Key Membership (“I used to be like, ‘If this isn’t a success, I don’t know what’s!’”), though they solely hit paydirt afterward Interscope.


These days Beno balances artist administration with sidelines as an actual property investor and artwork collector, however his dedication to rock is each bit as intense because it was within the days when, on the peak of nu metallic mania, he very publicly feuded with Fred Durst.

All of it kicked off in 1999 when Benveniste signed alt-metallers Taproot to Atlantic from beneath the nostril of the Limp Bizkit frontman, who was additionally an Interscope exec on the time. A livid Durst dropped SOAD from the Household Values tour in revenge, however twenty years on, Beno can giggle about it. “I like scrap, so it was enjoyable,” he grins, “However we’re all pals now.”

Such metallic machinations would most likely not make the identical waves nowadays, however Benveniste insists rock music can nonetheless regain its former cultural cachet.

“I’ve by no means as soon as felt that rock is lifeless,” he laughs, as he settles down to speak to MBW in Velvet Hammer’s art-strewn LA workplace, not removed from the Strip the place, as a teen, he used to blag into the Whisky a Go Go and the Rainbow Bar & Grill. “That’s a cliché, a tagline. If I’ve something to do with it, we’ll get again there, that’s for positive…”


MANAGING SYSTEM OF A DOWN MUST HAVE BEEN A STEEP LEARNING CURVE…

I used to be simply on the hustle. I bear in mind going into early web chatrooms on a bit dial-up modem and writing, ‘Has anyone heard of SOAD?’ They have been like, ‘No, what’s that?’ ‘Name this quantity…’ They’d name my quantity and I’d play the music down the telephone, then ship them a tape.

We had this record of children internationally, creating natural chatter about this loopy band. Then after they obtained their file deal at Columbia with Rick Rubin, Rick actually obtained it. [He knew] it wasn’t about radio, it was about tradition. It was within the contract that we wouldn’t even go to radio till the band had scanned 75,000 data.

We needed it to be saturated earlier than we went to radio, as a result of we knew radio could be frightened of it. Whereas if the streets have been thriving and people telephones went nuts after they obtained on the radio as a result of there was an actual tradition constructing, we might win. And that’s precisely what we did.



SOAD’S TOXICITY FAMOUSLY HIT NUMBER ONE ON 9/11. HOW WEIRD WAS THAT?

It was surreal. I used to be inexperienced and we have been all using a rocket, attempting to work out how you can steer it. All this political stuff was occurring, the band was out-of-nowhere enormous and we have been all overwhelmed with stimulus.

We have been enthusiastic about what was occurring with the band however, on the similar time, there was a listing of 100 songs that needed to be pulled off the radio and System’s was one in every of them… In the end, it introduced extra consideration to the band. We had this unbelievable piece of artwork and I simply needed individuals to listen to it – and the extra individuals heard it, the larger the band obtained.


AFTER THAT, DID YOU THINK YOU HAD MANAGEMENT CRACKED ON PRETTY MUCH YOUR FIRST GO?

Nicely, after I look again, nothing was simple with System. What makes them magic is there’s a fantastic pressure [within the band. Sometimes it works in our favor and sometimes it doesn’t.

Do I wish SOAD was more of a normal behaving, touring, record-making band? Yeah, I would love to have more records and more touring by this band. But they are who they are and, as difficult as it was, on the flipside it was the most special thing ever too.

What they represent musically, artistically and when they do play is so special, I guess it all works out. Because management is a very hard job. I happen to be extremely emotionally invested in the bands I sign. I don’t sign anything I don’t love, or don’t believe in. I’ve never chased money; I believe if greatness is achieved, money will follow – so chase the greatness.


IS IT DIFFICULT MANAGING SO MANY HUGE BANDS IN THE SAME GENRE? AREN’T THEY COMPETING FOR THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES?

It can be tricky if you don’t deal with it the right way. But that was always my goal for Velvet Hammer: to [represent] an important, influential and timeless bands of their verticals. Now we have bands that can play collectively and it’s a dialogue that we’ve got to have – do you need to play with them? If you happen to do, right here’s what we’re pondering, right here’s what the promoter feels must be the line-up, let’s discuss it…

Years in the past after I had Korn and Alice In Chains do a US tour, there have been some… prickly emotions at first. So the dialogue for each bands was about what it could imply and what it could yield. And, on the finish of the day, it was one of many biggest excursions each bands did.

They each killed it on merch, we bought 12,000 tickets a market, it was superb. It doesn’t go with out peril, however I knew it was the correct factor for each bands, I knew it was 1+1 = 3.


HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE?

I don’t handle conventionally, I handle spiritually, by way of imaginative and prescient, power, perception, hope and simply straight will.

If you happen to mentioned to me, ‘Beno, do me your P&L from the previous few years and your projections for subsequent 12 months,’ I’d fail. I don’t even know how you can do an Excel spreadsheet. However I can inform you, from day one we’ve been within the black. And it’s not as a result of I’m some CEO, it’s due to the artwork, the inspiration, the imaginative and prescient, and having the nuts to fucking say, ‘Hearth me if I’m incorrect.’


THAT SOUNDS LIKE A POTENTIALLY HIGH-RISK STRATEGY…

Every band deserves to have the most effective supervisor for that band. I like all of the bands I work with and if there’s a greater supervisor for the band, they need to be with them – that’s their profession, their life, their livelihood. If I’m the most effective supervisor, then the outcomes are going to be there. If the outcomes aren’t there, they’ll go. I stay on that edge, I don’t take something as a right.

I used to be managing Smashing Pumpkins for six years, we had an ideal run after which we broke up. Billy Corgan is healthier suited to a different supervisor. That’s OK. I like Smashing Pumpkins and I want them properly, however our cultures didn’t see eye-to-eye on what to do.


YOUR STREETWISE AGENCY WAS WORKING ON SOME HUGE ACCOUNTS IN THE ‘00S. WHY DID YOU WALK AWAY FROM THAT BUSINESS?

I got here into the workplace someday and had this loopy out-of-body expertise like, ‘I’m 35 years previous, I’ve 35-40 individuals working right here, I’m shedding my grasp of the inventive side of a being music supervisor, I’m speaking to individuals for hours a day about funds… This isn’t me.’

I’m not a CEO, I’m not a tie man that talks about P&L and goes and meets with Chief Advertising and marketing Officers. I’m a music man. Put me within the studio, let me create excursions and logos, speak to the band about center eights and get down and soiled about advertising and marketing plans. That’s what I love to do.


WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO THINK ROCK IS DEAD?

They are saying that ignorance is bliss, proper?

I’ve been instructed for 20 years, ‘What are you going to do Beno? There’s no streaming and it’s all about SoundCloud and hip-hop and pop…’ However I simply carry on my path. Promoting 50,000 tickets the opposite week with SOAD and Korn in LA, that was fairly nice. Deftones are on the highway doing $30 a head in merch on a sold-out tour. The Korn and Evanescence tour is fucking blowing up, Alice In Chains…

Possibly rock is just not the speak of the city, perhaps the streaming world is keener on hip-hop and pop. Tremendous, I’ll take the lengthy win. I would like the tradition and the loyalty, the ticket consumers and the merch consumers.


IT MUST MAKE IT HARDER TO BREAK NEW ACTS THOUGH?

Oh yeah. That’s the one space the place there’s a sound argument that rock is just not as accepted.

After I began, you had KROQ in LA, arguably essentially the most influential station within the nation. Twenty years later I can hardly discover a guitar on KROQ. Followers need it however there’s a disconnect on their reviews that perhaps it’s not as cool within the fast repair Instagram world or no matter.

I may go on the KROQ playlist and identify 5 acts that may’t promote out the fucking Troubadour, whereas Deftones bought out the Greek Theatre in a single week at 6,000 tickets, and will have accomplished two. So what’s cool actually? Is cool promoting tickets, or is it when your pal says ‘Have a look at this image of this man with tattoos on his face?’


DO YOU HAVE A VIEW ON THE CATALOG RIGHTS SALE BOOM THAT HAS TAKEN PLACE IN THE PAST FEW YEARS?

Each band is completely different. Some are adamantly towards catalog gross sales and a few are like, ‘If the test’s sufficiently big and the associate’s proper, we’ll do it.’

We’ve checked out a pair, we’ve accomplished one and we’ve denied a number of. The great factor is, if I do my job and the band does their job, [the music] solely goes up in worth. I don’t assume there’s a rush. The worst factor that occurs is you retain an unbelievable catalog that’s an annuity.


IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT TODAY’S MUSIC INDUSTRY, RIGHT HERE AND NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

I want the music business would have a greater sense of artist improvement, the way in which it used to. Youthful artists don’t have as a lot of a shot as bands did 20 years in the past.

The necessity for immediate gratification [today] means generally it’s ‘Proper right here, proper now’ versus, ‘Let’s do it slowly and make it a profession.’

Artists deserve the {dollars}, the time and experience to create a long-term plan that serves them.


ARE YOU FRIENDS WITH YOUR ARTISTS?

System are household, they’re my brothers. [Korn’s] Jonathan Davis is one in every of my expensive pals.

I like my bands, however they employed me for a motive and I have to fulfil that and be no matter it’s that every band wants me to do. So yeah, we’ll go to dinner, however in 25 years of administration you’ve by no means seen me fucking wasted with my artists. That’s simply not what I do. I’m very critical about my enterprise and I speak to my artists about every little thing, from life to household to loss to music.

We’re very tight however my relationship relies on a code of respect and understanding and that’s what I’ve all the time stored. I’m not going out doing debauchery with them. I don’t imagine that’s what they employed me to do.


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DISAGREE WITH A CLIENT?

I’m not a supervisor who acquiesces out of worry; I’m a supervisor who desires to earn the belief of the artist. That takes time and having conversations that will not be nice a couple of tour, a music, no matter it’s. I need to be an asset to the band. I can’t sleep at night time until I really feel like I’m an all-star associate to whoever I do enterprise with.

It’s a lonely place generally; you’re out on an island and also you’re the primary to get blamed and the final to get praised – that’s what administration is! However dude, standing on stage watching 60,000 individuals go nuts at a pageant when one in every of our bands headlines, what extra would you like as a supervisor?

If I obtained fired right now by each one in every of my shoppers I’d say, ‘I used to be so fortunate, what a run we had.’


A specialist in intelligent treasury, payments and foreign exchange, Centtrip works with over 500 global artists helping them and their crew maximise their income and reduce touring costs with its award-winning multi-currency card and market-leading exchange rates. Centtrip also offers record labels, promoters, collection societies and publishers a more cost-effective way to send payments across the globe.Music Enterprise Worldwide

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