In the spring of 2019, Nashville-based managers David Conway and Dirk Hemsath, along with New York-based Matt Feldman, decided to swap their annual getaway to Coachella for an excursion to the Walt Disney World Resort. It was a business trip: Multiple industry members were there to watch Tate McRae perform two songs in between acts during a hip-hop dance competition and try to ink a management deal with the teen phenom.
“There were definitely a bunch of other awesome managers there that we were looking around at,” says Conway, a partner at Hard 8 // Working Group along with Hemsath. “And she performed under a totally nightmarish scenario: They rolled a computer out, and she had to just sing along with the MP3 without a monitor or anything. But her voice was stunning.”
Soon after, Conway and Hemsath signed on to manage McRae, who had scored a recording contract with RCA earlier in 2019. After a year of writing sessions, artist development and six sold-out shows in major markets, McRae was ready for a breakout 2020 — and even amid global lockdowns, she had one anyway.