Interview with Artist Manager Nick Grima

By Mick Michaels

Cosmick View: Hello, Nick! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thanks for taking some time out of your day to speak with us. It's greatly appreciated.
Nick Grima: Greetings and salutations from the South of Europe. Thank you so much for having me for this interview.

CV: Artist and band management is a complex business that often involves make tough choices and running the risk of being considered hard to work with or even coming across as "the bad guy" in certain situations. How do you balance maintaining your position of professionalism while able to remain genuinely compassionate and considerate regarding the artists’ career?
NG: Yes, it is considered a tough business and quite complex as well hard work is involved or as you clearly said coming across as ‘the bad guy’. I have been there and done that. As the saying goes ‘don't cry over spilt milk.’ The past is the past and everyday one learns from the mistakes done.

Moving forward, today I am more mature, experienced and do calculate options when it comes to signing any band/artist to my roster. To join my roster, artists must be experienced, have a good music industry background, are severely committed, hardworking and ready to tour at a moment’s call.

Moreover, many of the artists that are with my roster were introduced to me via an industry expert or I knew them since my early teens. I also sign bands that I’m highly invested in and love their music.

Professional bands do work hand in hand with their management and all options are put on a table and discussed prior to any action is taken. I am very lucky that all my bands are very easy to work with, down to earth and hands on. This makes my job much easier.

The quick answer to your question is to sign the right bands upfront after research has been made! Any management that has bands doing what they want…because they think they know it all or do not stick to plans or whatever the case, are a recipe for disaster! Managers are not babysitters. They are career developers.

CV: Is it ever the case where what the band wants is not necessarily what's in the best interest of advancing their career? With such a circumstance, in the end, who is ultimately responsible for making the call?
NG: I would refer you to the above answer where if any manager chooses the right roster upfront, the less problems they will be facing in the long term. Yes, there are always differences in opinions, but I tend to take the best out of opinions and move forward. Time does not wait for anyone and the same goes for the music industry. My MO is always the same: plan, produce, promote.

In the case of bands wanting to do it their way – there is no reason why to have a manager in the first place.

CV: What should an artist or a band expect when taking on a management company to tend to their affairs?
NG: All management companies have their own MO but I tend to stick with mine which is to plan, produce, promote. With my roster, I love to sign bands that have advanced knowledge of the music industry and do not need to be taught the simple basics. I also try to emphasize the T.E.A.M mentality where together everyone accomplishes more.

Once we have the basics set right, I start the day-to-day management which involves several aspects from developing to creating, recording, label and promoter shopping, licensing, marketing & sales, PR, merchandising, booking and whatever needs to be done to advance the band/artist career.

CV: How much involvement in “day-to-day” business do you expect from your bands? Or, is your position more geared towards keeping the talent primarily focused on their job of creating and performing?
NG: Mostly all the communication and day to day business are done by myself but I do also have bands that love to get involved from time to time, thus, their help is very welcome. All the artists I do work with are very productive and they’re always creating new music/songs to enrich their music catalog! Some of the members also do have side projects and are part of other bands.

CV: Without naming names, have you ever encountered an artist or a band in which you weren't able to work with? If so, was it a matter of perspective misalignment between the two parties or just pure disillusion on the part of the talent in your opinion?
NG: Any manager in the music industry gets the experience of having to break away with a band/artist throughout the career. Depends on the situation, sometimes different opinions. other times different goals. In my past I have had a couple of setbacks from artists where a decision had to be taken. Most of the time it ends up in breaking the contract and everyone goes in different directions. Once again here comes in handy when any manager does the research and signs the right talent upfront! At the end of the day, we’re all humans and we all make mistakes – it is up to the individual to learn from the past mistakes and move forward.

CV: For you, what does the perfect client look like? What do you look for when taking on new prospects?
NG: I believe that no one is perfect – everyone is prone to make mistakes including myself. Thus, I would invite anyone reading this interview to look at the bands I’m currently working with and learn as to what I’m looking for.

As stated before, the artists that I’m after have to be experienced, have a good music industry background, are severely committed, hardworking and ready to tour at a moment’s call.

CV: Many bands believe that the right manager can be a game changer; bringing their career to soaring heights. How much of that is true, and in comparison, how much does that depend on the band and their overall work ethic and ultimately, overall talent?
NG: I believe that if you’re at the right time and at the right place, any manager can be a game changer to further the band’s career! I’ve heard stories and read interviews all my life where managers did miracles for their band. Once again, they were at the right place, at the right time! Sometimes it’s also destiny or sheer luck! It’s all about connections. If you have the right connections in place – you can get any band signed or play that major festival. Persistence is a key factor.

In my case, I do work with upcoming/emerging bands most of the time, apart from some of the bands that already toured heavily. Since the first meeting with the band, I do not promise anything except hard work, determination and to contact every label/promoter the band wishes to work with. Moreover, I have my own connections in the industry which some of them date back 20 years.

It is up to the label to sign the band or the promoter to give the band a slot on their upcoming tours/festivals. This business depends on third parties making choices! All I can do is introduce the band and open talks. The rest is history.

The music industry is a hard ball to kick!

CV: Is it ever too late for a band to seek management?
NG: In general, in life it is never too late for anything and, thus, if a band wants to engage a manager to take care and help them further develop their music career, they should go for it. There are several management companies out there who had huge success for their artists. So it’s never too late.

CV: How much has changed in the business since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic? Are things harder now than ever before?
NG: As everyone knows the pandemic brought a total disaster for the music industry in general. I was in constant communication with bands, promoters, industry experts, etc. Life is full of ups and downs so one has to turn an event like this into an opportunity.

From my side, I have encouraged my bands to engage their fans via all socials, do live streaming events, market and sell. As an agency, I also organized an online festival, Grim Fest, to help further promote the bands apart from several hundreds of mail shots and promotional efforts.

When it comes to bookings it is still slow but once all is over, we shall start booking and touring once again. We must stay positive and always look at the bright side. Our turn will come.

CV: With a growing artist roster, what can we expect to see coming from you in 2022?
NG: Currently my roster is made of 17 talent bands. Most of the bands had a busy lockdown where they have created new music which is due to be released in the coming months. We also had bands that already released their album during the pandemic. Apart from the music, music videos were created and are being released according to the schedule. Some of the bands already played live and we’re looking to have more dates as we speak! Promoters feel free to get in touch! We are very much looking forward to entertaining the crowds in 2022!

The represented bands are:

Æolian / Spain: Melodic Death Metal (Black Lion Records)
Align The Tide
/ Malta: Active Nu Metal (Cleopatra Records)
Black Therapy
/ Italy: Melodic Death Metal (Black Lion Records)
/ Greece: Melodic Death Metal (Independent)
/ Malta: Epic Doom Metal (Mighty Music)
Jet Jaguar
/ Mexico: Nostalgic Heavy Metal (Independent)
Lone Survivors
/ France: Progressive Metal (Independent)
/ Malta: Death Black Metal (Art Gates Records)
/ Portugal: Melodic Death Metal (Art Gates Records)
/ Canada: Blackened Death Metal (Season of Mist)
/ Finland: Melodic Death Metal (Inverse Records)
/ Malta: Ruinous Black Metal (Independent)
/ Ireland: Sludge / Doom Metal (Transcending Obscurity Records)
/ Czech Republic: Death Metal (MetalGate)
Two Face Sinner
/ Peru: Death Black Metal (Non Serviam Records)
Upper Lip
/ Malta: Nostalgic Heavy Metal (Pride & Joy Music)
White Walls
/ Romania: Dynamic Prog Metal (Independent)

Thanks again Nick for taking the time to share with our readers. We wish you all the best and continued success.
NG: Thank you so much for the interview and all the very best with ‘The Cosmick View’ magazine.

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The Cosmick Voice
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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, show host, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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