In a series amid the coronavirus pandemic, Billboard is asking individuals from all sectors of the music business to share stories of how they work now, with much of the world quarantined at home and unable to take in-person meetings, attend conferences or even go into the office. Submissions for the series can be sent to HowWeWorkNow@Billboard.com. Read the full series here.
This installment is with Jonathan Shank, senior manager and executive producer at Red Light Management whose clients include MAGIC!, Maddie Poppe and Victoria Justice, among others, and who will be the recipient of the 2020 TJ Martell Trailblazer Award.
Jonathan Shank: There are no shows happening right now, but we’re busier than ever. On the non-traditional touring side we’re picking up a lot of tours and moving them to next year. On the artist management side, we’re looking at all different kinds of opportunities and releasing music. I’m managing Scarypoolparty, Maddie Poppe, MAGIC!, Laura Marano and Victoria Justice — there’s been no shortage of things to do.
Alejandro Aranda [Scarypoolparty] is an artist that has excelled during the quarantine. He’s able to produce different kinds of content and different kinds of streams without ever doing the same thing twice. He reinterprets his songs. He plays piano, he plays guitar and has been finding other music lovers and tastemakers to connect with. He understands that everyone is looking for touch points right now.
I think a lot of great music is going to come out of this time, because people are on their own, in their studios and creating great things. I believe that we are going to see a huge wave of incredible releases with people having to think outside of their normal wheelhouses. We’re really trying to focus our clients and our artists on using this time for being creative.
The family show business is going to come back strong in 2021. The advantage family shows have is the ability to do two or three shows a day and be a little bit more nimble in terms of implementing things like social distancing. It’s adaptable and still part of the core business.
At the same time, nearly all of the venues have to be open to touring, otherwise you end up with Swiss cheese in the lost cities. As an industry, we need to help these venues try to book local talent to grease the wheels. That’’s something that we can all do as an industry, to help these venues figure out social distancing and safety protocols. We want to make sure that when we do bring in a massive production, they are ready for us.
I am honored to be this year’s recipient of the TJ Martell Trailblazer award. We’re figuring out how to do it with a virtual component, which I’m really excited about. I think that having it online gives us greater shot of widening the reach of this event beyond L.A.
In the last couple of years, there has been a noticeable uptick in the homeless population in Los Angeles, and earlier this year I decided to produce the Homeward Bound concert series because I couldn’t really find other large-scale fundraisers that were dedicated just to homeless populations. My goal is to help people that are suffering from mental illness and substance abuse issues — as well as those that are not — to get off the streets and get whatever type of help they need.