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July 1, 2016

Music business career path with Kate Cudbertson

By taking her business to New York, Adelaide native Kate Cudbertson is proving that if you can make it in SA, you can make it anywhere.

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  • Interview: Joshua Fanning
  • Pictures: Tron Lennon

After an international career in music public relations, Adelaide’s Kate Cudbertson returned home and began building her profile and skills as an artist manager. She’s developed a stable of promising local acts and is now overseas once more, building her future bit by bit.

CityMag: What does a manager do?

Kate: I’m definitely still learning what a manager does, and don’t think I’ll ever stop learning. You help pull together a team around each band in order for them to be as successful as they can be, make decisions that you believe are in the best interest of the artists, give feedback on their demos, deal with all admin, help with finances and budgets, help with their artistic development on artwork and branding, listen to their concerns, help them solve those concerns…the list goes on.

Who are your artists? 

PINES were the first act I started managing- they’re an amazing Adelaide-based electronic duo. They recently released a track, Calling You which took out #1 spot on Hype Machine.

Auguste is made up of two incredibly talented step sisters, who together create deep harmonic vocals and incorporate electro pop vibes. They have worked with the likes of Andy Bull and have a very exciting collab soon to be announced.

SKIES are the synth pop trio I trekked to the UK with when they were added to the official Great Escape line up. They’re a blend of such contrasting music tastes and personality traits that they somehow manage to all complement each other and create incredible music.

Stonefox is an ambient indie band from Melbourne whom I have been working with since the start of the year. They’ve been working very hard on new tracks which are soon to be released and will blow you away.

Why are you in New York?

New York is the hub of the world – the epicentre for youth and creativity. There are a lot of influential people to meet, opportunities that arise, and risks to be taken. I’m here to meet these people who are hungry to leave an impact on the world,  learn from failed and successful experiences, and take those necessary risks to embrace those opportunities that appear. I’m here to take my career to the next level, for the sake of wisdom, and for the sake of my bands whom continue to strive for excellence.

I felt constrained sitting at my bedroom desk in Torrensville looking at my whiteboard filled with to-do lists knowing the outreach was limited.

The music business in general is so global, it’s quite amazing.


Where is the music business?

The music world opened it’s doors to me when I was 18 and living in East London, where I met a lot of talented musicians and industry heads. I had a couple of years in between where I lost track of my passion but in the same breath, found new ones which gave me some vital skills needed to get back into music.

Now, I guess the ‘business’ is wherever I decide to base myself, which is currently New York. It’s just a matter of being responsive to my bands and committing to really early morning Skype meetings in my pyjamas, nursing a coffee whilst the band is gearing up for a show, drinking beer, eating pizza and arguing about which base is gluten free.

The music business in general is so global, it’s quite amazing. There’s so many layers and avenues you don’t realise exist. The amount of people employed during the creation and release of one track/EP/album still blows my mind. The world wide network of the industry is also incredible; surprisingly tight knit and the dynamics of it minimally differ from country to country, if at all. Obviously the United States is the hub of a lot of industries… but I don’t like to say that’s specifically where it is. Australia’s industry is just as hard and daunting to crack and the amount of incredible artists, bands and industry heads coming out of there is definitely catching the attention of the big dogs.

Do you regret not being born a couple of decades ago?

It definitely has it’s pros and cons but I’m leaning more towards no, I don’t regret not being born a couple of decades ago. The market wasn’t as over saturated as it is now, perhaps making it easier for the bands to get a break but as a young female managing four bands? Hell no. It can be hard to be taken seriously now, let alone two decades ago.

We just have to embrace the digital world we live in and be thankful for how accessible the rest of the world is to us now. I think it’s now a lot easier for independent musicians to be heard – the sophisticated technology we have allows artists to build websites, upload music, sell merch, record music, release and promote what they have created.

Yes, it’s hard to get a break and stand out from all of the other acts out there but when you do get somewhere it’s a great feeling and you know you’re doing something right. Baby steps.

Tell us about your recent trip to the UK.

It was amazing. Last year I self-funded my way there to attend The Great Escape with 5/4 Entertainment whom I was interning for at the time and was managing my first band, PINES. A year later I’m over there with one of my own bands at the same event and have an additional three bands on my roster.

It was the first time I have travelled internationally with a band that I’m managing so I was pretty nervous. I deal with nerves by being overly prepared and organised to the nth degree, which the guys found quite comical but were later very thankful for. We managed to survive the tour with close to no hiccups and came back with a stronger bond, a lot of inside jokes, endless banter, and most importantly trust.

Did you study at uni?

I didn’t study at Uni, no. Once I discovered this world in London I was looking into what I needed to study in order to be successful. Whilst doing this, I asked the people I was interning for what would help me and they were quite adamant I didn’t need a degree to break into the industry – some even bluntly saying it would be a waste of time and money. I’m not necessarily agreeing with them and saying don’t go to uni. At all. But it was never for me. I preferred the whole ‘hands on, throw yourself in the deep end and learn from your real life mistakes’ strategy.

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