We’re sitting down with leaders on the business side of the creator economy to get their best advice for creators looking to launch and develop their careers.
This week, we spoke with Jake Webb, founder and president of talent agency Slash Mgmt, for his exclusive thoughts on artistic vision, the importance of rights management, the potentials and pitfalls of Web3, and how managers can fail their clients.
Slash Mgmt is a talent agency and digital production company founded in 2019 by Jake Webb, a publicist with years of experience working with A-list celebrities and creators. The talent agency’s big-name brand partners include AT&T, Sephora, Savage x Fenty, Neutrogena, and Procter & Gamble. And its famous clients include makeup artist Nikita Dragun; dancer Pressley Hosbach; TikToker and chef Tati Mitch; paranormal storyteller Loey Lane; cosplay artist Snitchery; and influencer Princess Mae.
Webb said that he looks for clients with a strong vision, work ethic, and passion for their art. He said that people with those three qualities have a natural curiosity to keep learning and creating better content—even in the midst of temperamental algorithms.
“Especially now in this digital world, you have to invest so much on the front end to get to the level where it’s starting to pay off,” Webb told Passionfruit. “But the payoff is there. It’s just a matter of how much sweat you can put in to invest in your dream.”
On the flip side, Webb passionately argued that he sees one thing repeatedly get in the way of creator success: ego.
“There’s so many clients who let their ego get in their own way so that they 1) don’t listen 2) stop learning or 3) think that they’re bigger than the industry itself,” Webb told us.
Webb had other warnings to share, including for creators that don’t have managers yet.
Webb urged up-and-comers to understand the importance of rights management and long-term equity: “Listen, everything you’re doing might not be immediately monetizable but all that content that you’re creating is IP [Intellectual Property] and there’s a lot that we can do with it whether it’s now or down the line.”
When a creator starts to feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of brand-related emails, receives juicy deals for over $5000, or develops a strong social following of over 100,000 users, he said it’s probably a good idea to start looking for a manager.
“They can likely increase the rates from there and protect them more with the negotiations of the contract,” Webb said.
Webb also said that in terms of brand partnerships, creators should always consider the weight of their name being put behind a product: “Have you actually tried it? Have you actually experienced it?…Your audience can see that.”
Right now, Webb said he’s focused on staying on top of platform changes to help his clients navigate an ever-changing landscape. He also thinks rights management will be a pressing issue as people engage in Web3, and has opened an internal Web3 agency within Slash Mgmt.
Web3 is a term some tech folks have used to describe the forecast of the internet shifting away from big tech companies and toward decentralized social networks on public digital databases, called blockchains. Although Webb said there’s plenty of room for failure and exploitation with such a new space, he thinks there’s a lot of opportunity for creator ownership in Web3.
“Because Web3 is so VC [Venture Capital] and Silicon Valley, there are so many players theoretically that are not going to understand how to apply the technology correctly,” Webb said. “It’s truly going to be the entertainment people that connect the dots that actually see success.”
Webb continued: “That’s why I’m wary too. Over the next two years, there’s going to be a lot of failed projects. But the idea of what can be for artists to truly unlock creative agency and owning themselves is so important.”
For aspiring agents and entrepreneurs looking to build a career in the hard-to-penetrate world of fame and entertainment, Webb recommends focusing on building relationships at industry events: “Those are the people that are going to vouch for you and help you build your roster and create opportunities for you.”
He also stressed the importance of actually listening to your clients: “There are a lot of times that managers or agents let their own egos get in the way because they think they know better. But even if you sometimes strategically disagree with a client, you have to realize that talent are the CEOs of their own brands. You have to allow them to be that, and you have to let them make their own decisions.”
“Sometimes talent are very anxious and hesitant to communicate their needs and you almost have to pull it out of them. That’s why you have to be super nuanced and learn how to adjust to different types of communication styles, and focus on listening.”
Thank you, Jake, for speaking with us!
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A previous version of this post described Webb as CEO of Slash. Webb is actually the president of Slash Mgmt.
Update 9:43 am CT April 4: The Daily Dot removed Just Me Rod from the list of Slash Mgmt’s clients, as the creator recently left the agency.