By being both an artist manager and an artist coach, Maryam is heavily multi-skilled. At the head of Outsiders with an artist who is none other than sebjin, Maryam also has an artistic management activity which has led her over the years to supervise the careers of 5 artists of different backgrounds. While today she only manages sebjin’s career, she still responds and helps the artists who spontaneously come to her for advice ; with her artistic coaching activity, she directs and supports independent artists in order to reassure, help and support them in their music releases. And since she always has more than one trick up her sleeve, we’ve asked Maryam a few questions in order to better understand the journey of an independent woman whose primary mission is to support artists whose careers are about to take off.
1. Hello Maryam! Thank you for accepting to answer my questions today ! Before we get into the interview, can you briefly introduce yourself to those who don’t know you yet ?
Thank you to you for this invitation, it’s always a great pleasure to work with you ! And yes of course ! I have been a manager for 4 years, I have managed 5 different composers including a collective. And today, I exclusively manage sebjin, and in the meantime, I make myself available to independent musical artists of all kinds by offering them my artistic coaching services, and I’ve been doing this for a year so far.
2. I wanted to start this interview by talking about Outsiders, an entity that has grown to such an extent that it has in a way become like a second skin for you ! How did the project start off ?
The project was officially born in June 2018. It was an idea that Seb (sebjin), my partner and I had. At the time, we were very frustrated that the Future Beats events were slowly disappearing, because according to the music & live industry, it was a music genre that was not bringing in enough money. So instead of complaining about it, Seb and I created Outsiders to host Future Beats parties in Paris. We launched the organization directly with an event, without having built a community beforehand (which was very bold of us haha). It was a stressful but unforgettable experience. And then, we decided to promote the Future Beats artists, highlight them through our social media accounts, our compilations, single releases, our Twitch lives, and more.
3. And how has the project grown over the years ?
The project has grown into a community, a large family of independent artists, mostly passionate composers who need to connect with others who have the same ambitions and needs as them. That’s the beauty of Outsiders too ! No matter how different and strange your music is to some people, you will always be welcomed and we will do our best to give you a shoutout.
4. Today you are organizing beat battles with sebjin as well as listening sessions on Twitch, all of that on top of your “weekly fav’s” selections on SoundCloud : can we say that Outsiders has become a sort of collective over time ?
Not a collective per se, but more of a community as I said before. We try to create as many events as possible on Twitch (since we’ve been living in Montreal for over two years). We host them to compensate for the fact that we can’t do actual live events. We want to give artists a few challenges here and there, but also allow them to create strong connections with us. The goal is for them to feel confident enough to challenge themselves and show more of themselves. We really want artists to feel safe with Outsiders.
5. And was it through Outsiders that you developed your experience and your career as a manager ?
No not really. I started managing artists before I launched Outsiders with sebjin. It was when I was taking care of artists that I thought I could maybe take care of an entire community. I developed my experience from scratch, learning step by step from my mistakes, and I’ve learned through the various artists that I have had and through internships, conferences and masterclasses I have attended.
6. I would like to dig deeper in your management experiences & job. You have managed several artists during your career ; today you manage sebjin, an electronic music artist who has been growing his audience for several years now. At what point in his career did you step in ?
Yes, I have managed only composers of mostly electronic music. I started with GVLVXY, the collective that sebjin is a part of. It’s made of 7 artists (not only composers but also dancers, beatmakers, film directors…), it was an intense experience to take care of 7 boys, especially as a beginner’s experience ! But I only have great memories of them because it allowed me to be where I am today and especially because they trusted me and gave me a chance. And while I was working with this collective, I was also managing the solo career of sebjin. So we can say that I’ve started managing him since 2017, but officially I’ve been his manager since the release of his second EP eVi in 2018.
7. What are your days like as a manager ? What exactly do you do when managing sebjin’s career ?
First of all, I’m very lucky because I have a very independent artist, who is able to take the lead and to do things on his own. Obviously, he always tells me about his ideas and what he wants to do before doing anything to make sure it’s good for his project, that it’s strategic and that it actually ads value.
I really take care of everything about his career except his visual identity because he’s extremely good at it and I don’t have anything to teach him except to guide him in order to get the best out of it.
So I’m in charge of proofreading contracts, the whole administration part, and looking for new opportunities. I advise him, guide him, coach him, remind him of deadline and such, I tell him things to do before this and that. I also support him when it comes to his mindset, so I work with him at every step of his career development.
Right now, we are working on an EP which will be released soon, and it’s a big project so there’s a lot of things to set up, to think about and to validate with the label. We’re very excited about this EP by the way, because it really takes things a step further !
8. If you had to give advice to an artist who’s looking to find a manager, what would you advise them ?
That they should choose a manager first and foremost based on their feelings with that person, even before considering their skills and experience. A manager is a partner, so you have to make sure you can blindly trust them and vice versa. Experience is easily acquired, trust on the other hand is not.
9. And would you say that it is essential for an artist to have a manager by their side ?
No, a manager is not essential, as an artist can be very successful and build their career without a manager. On the other hand, it is obvious that having a manager is a life-changing bonus. They allow you to focus on the whole business part so that the artist can focus primarily on their music. They’re also there to boost you up and get you going faster and smarter. And as we say in French : alone you go faster, together we go further.
10. Now, on top of managing sebjin’s career, you also work as an artist coach for several independent artists. It is not a well-known profession, which means that from a distance it seems closely related to that of a manager. What are the main differences between these two professions ?
The difference between being a manager and being an artist coach is that with the manager’s job, I take care of my artist’s entire career and I follow it every day and for years to come. I represent him, but I am also his partner as I said before, so we work together to develop his business, his career.
The job of an artist coach on the other hand is to advise and follow-up over a certain number of sessions per month, depending on the formula that the artist has chosen. If you need to work on a specific topic, we can do it over the course of a month, and if you need to work on all of the aspects of your career, we can work together for two months. There is no sort of engagement between the artist and me except during the time defined by the formula that has been chosen. I don’t represent them and I don’t do the work for them. I advise them, I support them, we look for solutions and strategies together, and they’re the one who put things into action for their career and do the necessary work.
11. I also know that you coach artists from all musical backgrounds : how do you decide who you are going to work with ?
I work with music artists of all kinds indeed, and it is really very enriching. As for who I decide to work with, I always make a phone call first so that I know more about the artist and that they knows more about me and the way I work. I then decide if the artist is ready to really invest in their work, which is to set up a new routine, to be regular and organized. I give a lot of work to do at home for them to work on their career and this work starts from the very first session, and I’m pretty strict with that. Because if the artist does not do the necessary work, they will unfortunately have no results. So I want to make sure I’m working with artists who are willing to put things into action and step out of their comfort zone.
12. And how do you support them ? How do you take part in the artist’s career ?
I step in when and where the artist think there is a need for help. I use my experience as a manager in order to help the artist. So it all depends on their needs and what they need to develop and to be supported. It can be preparing the release of a project, managing social media, administration, legal matters, personal development… it really all depends on what the artist is asking.
13. I also know that you have created many resources to help them develop their career on their own. Where did this idea come from ?
Yes, indeed, I have several free downloadable resources on my website. For now, there is a release checklist which helps you to not forget anything before releasing your music, there is also a list of 20 engaging story ideas and a list of 30 Reels ideas.
And then there is the Career Kit which is my biggest resource, this one is not free however. It gives you all the necessary tools you need to build a solid base in order for your career to take off and for you to see results in the short and long run. The idea came to me when I realized that many artists were very autonomous and did not necessarily want to have someone supporting them on a daily, or who simply did not have the budget to have access to a coaching plan.
14. And this “Career Kit”, how did you create it ?
This kit is a bundle of resources that includes a 6-month Instagram content calendar, a workbook to set up your branding, a guide to efficiently find media and playlists, and a press release template.
I really created it in one go. I was very inspired ! And I could do so thanks to the fact that I was able to study the needs of artists for over a year, so since I started offering coaching services. I’ve really put together everything that people ask me regularly in order to make a kit out of it and make it available to artists. It was a big task, I’m not gonna lie. I worked very hard without allowing myself breaks for a month. I didn’t want to drag this project out for 6 months. So, yes, it was intense, but I was very happy to do so. And I would definitely do it again !
15. Finally, last question : if you had any advice for an artist who doesn’t know where to start to release their music, what would you say to them first ?
The first thing I always say to artists who want to get into music is to start by releasing their very first single on SoundCloud in order to take advantage of this music platform which is also a social network, and that way they can develop a community. Many artists have seen their career take off thanks to SoundCloud. The fact that they took the time to create an audience through this platform allowed them to have an impact later on others such as Spotify, iTunes, etc. And on top of that, it allows you to learn at your pace how this industry works !
Maryam is to be found on her website (in French) as well as on her Instagram !