This profile is part of Billboard’s Oct. 25 cover story package on the launch of Maverick, a new music-management consortium. You can find our full coverage right here.
Rodger’s main clients at Quest, Paul McCartney and Arcade Fire, were two of the largest arena draws this year and are poised for more big moves. McCartney has been quietly collaborating on new music with Kanye West and just completed a score for the popular video game Destiny; Arcade Fire became free agents after 2013’s Billboard 200-topping Reflektor — all its label and publishing deals are in play, the band having fulfilled its previous commitments. Lily Allen is Quest’s latest major signing, joining a roster that also includes Lykke Li, Mikky Ekko and partnerships with firms like U Rok (Tom Odell, Jess Glynne), Scruffy Bird (Kodaline, Lianne La Havas) and Stack House (Rudimental, Gorgon City).
Originally a musician (he played bass for early-1980s post-punk band Dif Juz, signed to the influential label 4AD), Rodger ventured into management through his friendship with Bjork, who worked with him from her days in The Sugarcubes in the late ‘80s all the way through her solo career. They parted amicably in 2011, shortly before the release of her app-based album Biophilia. “We’re still friends,” says Rodger of the Icelandic icon. “I’ve been the biggest fan of Bjork’s, but that was the one record I didn’t think was right for me to work. I have the utmost respect for her will to always do things her way, regardless of commercial implications.”
“Keeping up with the times. With Bjork, the first 10, 20 years of her career was my schooling. And now, working with artists who want to do completely different deals or business models, whether it’s Paul McCartney — who’s had a 50-year career for a reason — or Arcade Fire, who branded the date 9/9/9 with Reflektor, you’re constantly learning.”
“Don’t be afraid to fail, otherwise you’ll just never try anything. Sometimes artists make mistakes, and you just say, ‘I told you so,’ and work through it.”
THE NEXT GENERATION
“It’s still important to have the new acts, even though it’s harder to break them these days. Typically there are 18 to 24 months — from signing the act to breaking them to releasing them — where there’s no revenue at all. You’re talking advances [with labels and publishers], but really there’s nothing. But we still need to make sure younger staffers find acts like Rudimental, who’s an arena-level act in many countries and currently opening in the States for Ed Sheeran.”
IF I WASN’T A MUSIC MANAGER…
“I would be in the digital space or film and TV. I’d probably be trying to create some little startup like everybody else. I’d get involved with an MCN [multichannel network] or something. And I’m definitely looking forward to more in the film and TV space, which I’m actually working on right now.”
MYSELF, IN FIVE WORDS
“Loyal, driven, dependable, generous, thoughtful.”
This article first appeared in the Oct. 25 issue of Billboard.