The Road Cases: Artist Development Featuring Amos Lee Panel: From left: Kevin Morris, Manager Red Light Management. Lenore Kinder, Promoter, TMG/AEG Live. Zack Hochkeppel, SVP Marketing, EMI. Ray Waddell, Executive Director of Content & Programming For Touring and Live Entertainment, Billboard. Amos Lee, singer and Song writer. Perry Greenfield, Manager, Red Light Management. Joe Brauner, Responsible Agent, Creative Artists Agency. (Photo: Michael Seto)
Having a consistent team in management, booking, publicity, marketing and radio promotion paid off for Amos Lee in 2011, a year that found the aritist at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, playing the White House and several major festivals.
"Amos was invested in creating a great band and making a great record," said Red Light's Kevin Morris, one of Lee's managers.
"He came through. Without that, we're not magicians," Morris added, referring to the team that took the stage at the Billboard Touring Conference on Tuesday at New York's Roosevelt Hotel.
Morris and the Philadelphia native were joined by co-manager Perry Greenfield (Red Light), booking agent Joe Brauner (CAA), EMI senior VP of marketing Zach Hochkeppel and Nashville-based promoter Lenore Kinder (TMG/AEG Live).
Nashville played a crucial role in Lee's year, when the team rolled the dice and booked him into eh Ryman Auditorium as a headliner for the first time. The year also saw him make a transition from balancing headlining and opening act slots to doing festivals, healing tours and being an opener only in prime opportunities such as the Adele tour.
Lee said his best gig of the year was at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. That was a significant payoff in the plan.
Headlining is crucial, Brauner noted as a caveat, "but when you play a festival at the right time of day and people from all over the world who might not hear you otherwise, that's fantastic. When weather becomes an issue, you compromise your show." Lee's tour of festivals -- Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits and Newport Folk Festival were on the docket -- could not have gone better.
The early attraction for Blue Note and CAA was his live show, which they have capitalized on over and over. "His songs connect with people and as a singer-songwriter I can connect him with an audience in (the South)," TMG/AEG Live's Kinder said.
Besides the prime gigs, Lee shared tales of starting out, getting paid $25 and hanging up his career as a second grade teacher to do open mic nights. One of his earliest gigs continues to sit in his mind, a reminder that no matter how bad it gets, there was once a gig that was worse. He was once booked a swim club in Morristown, N.J., where he sat in a plastic chair and sang songs while kids swam and screamed. One person clapped, but mostly he heard orders being placed at the snack bar.
"Every shitty gig is better than that one," he said.
The year was marked not just by the 13-15 TV shows he did, but the fact that he played all but three songs from his new album.
"I'm all about what's onstage and in the crowd," Lee said. "I could care less about what we're doing before or after. It's always about how we're communicating onstage and with the crowd. You can tell when the artist is investing something."
Cheshire Cats: Billboard's Ray Waddell, Amos Lee, and Billboard Editorial Editorial Director Bill Werde before the Road Cases: Artist Development Panel featuring Amos Lee. (Photo: Michael Seto)
The Road Cases: Artist Development Featuring Amos Lee Panel: From left: Billboard's Ray Waddell, Joe Brauner, Responsible Agent, Creative Artists Agency. Amos Lee, singer-songwriter. (Photo: Michael Seto)
Amos lee (Photo: Michael Seto)