Business

One Year In: Artist Manager Keith Hagan Has a New Job at Brooklyn Made

Keith Hagan
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Keith Hagan

The SKH music co-owner joined Anthony Makes' new concert promotion company early in the pandemic.

As the coronavirus pandemic enters its final phase in the U.S., Billboard is catching up with individuals we interviewed at the beginning of the crisis to see how they’ve weathered the past year.

This installment is told by Keith Hagan, the former SKH Music co-owner who was hired as chief strategic officer at Anthony Makes' concert promotion company Brooklyn Made Presents, which officially launched last July. As the U.S. looks ahead to the resumption of large-scale touring, Hagan is now focused on opening the 500-person Brooklyn Made club and performance venue in Bushwick, which opens Sept. 30 with two nights featuring Jeff Tweedy of Wilco

When the pandemic hit, I wound up shuffling around a lot of tours and pushing dates back, some of which I think are finally gonna play later this year, and then other tours eventually we just canceled entirely, because it was like, “Alright well, it doesn't make sense to do this tour the way we had it back then, so let's just rejig things and do it a different way.” So the first six months of the pandemic was canceling or pushing everything back.

The first live stream that I did was with Greg Dulli. Greg had put a solo album out on BMG called Random Desire, and it literally came out a month prior to the pandemic starting. He was going to be touring all last year on that record, and then when the pandemic hit, his plans got [put on hold]. But we did a live stream with Dice that was really successful. We pre-taped two shows at Gold Diggers in Los Angeles. And it really was the height of the pandemic, so we had to be really careful. We had to have people mask up. But it was fantastic.

For me personally, it's been an interesting year and almost a half. A very long-time good friend of mine, Anthony Makes, who formerly was president of Live Nation New York, and I were talking a lot once the pandemic hit. He decided to make a move and leave Live Nation and start his own company and asked me if I was interested in being a part of it which, knowing him the way I do, it was a complete no-brainer. I immediately said yes. Several of the artists that I've been looking after at SKH, they're going to be coming over with me here under the Brooklyn Made Presents umbrella.

I've been here since the beginning. My title is chief strategic officer. We initially announced the company last July. And I handled all the announcements for the company and sort of getting everything off the ground, as far as the publicity aspects of the company. When we started, it was me and Anthony. Then we started to add pieces from there.

We're seven [employees] but growing. There's a number of roles we're looking to fill. The big thing for us is the Brooklyn Made Club, opening September 30. We’re starting the club with two nights of Jeff Tweedy, and then two nights of Greg Dulli, and then we have two nights of Trombone Shorty. We're going to be staffing up quite a bit here the next couple months.

It's really, really busy. I think artists are dying to get back out on the road and play. One of the things we're doing specifically with Brooklyn Made Club, and I think why we're having so much early success here, is we're making really good financial offers to these bands to tour. When we put up our initial slate of Brooklyn Made shows -- you know, here's a club that is brand new and nobody's been into yet and nobody's seen, we're not even done designing the club right now -- people jumped on these tickets. Our sales have been very robust.

What I'm seeing across the board is, everybody wants to get out and work. People are dying to get out and tour. So I think from now until moving forward, god willing, if there's not another hiccup, it's gonna be really busy.

I'm in a unique position with this, where the pandemic forced everybody to sort of shut down and reassess. And for me, the good timing and the good fortune of Anthony deciding to launch this endeavor at the time was wonderful, and it gave me something immensely positive and exciting to focus on during what really was a very dark and scary time. A lot of these other concert promotion companies, they got hit back on their heels and were losing money hand over fist, and Anthony was in a unique position of, "Okay, well, that's not the case for me because I haven't started anything yet, so I can take this extra time to build it up.” I was very grateful to know that I had something really positive and forward-thinking to focus on every day.

It sounds a little cliche, but I do believe it to be true: We're trying to put the word "promotion" back into concert promotion. I think what's happened along the way for these big conglomerates is that it's turn and burn. And I think what we're trying to do moving forward is really put a lot of love and a lot of care into every artist that comes through one of our venues and to make sure that we sell the most tickets humanly possible for them and we leave no stone unturned to do that.

I can't wait to see where we are 12 months from now. We’re certainly going to be growing the amount of venues we're looking at, and the other things we're doing on a grander scale just in the music business as a whole. So I'm very fortunate, and I have Anthony to thank for that. I couldn't be happier.