HotStar: Watsky

George Watsky may have had a YouTube viral video known as “White Guy Raps Fast” that is now approaching 25 million views, but when he first met soon-to-be manager Kevin Morrow, he’d performed one live music show.  One. Ever.

Oh, there were the West Coast poetry slams, the competitions, the HBO appearances on Russell Simmons’ “Def Poetry.”  But Watsky, for all the social acclaim, needed to convince Morrow, then with Live Nation, that he actually had an act that could sustain a career and, of course, sell tickets.

So Morrow booked a night at the Viper Room in Los Angeles and invited some labels, but didn’t otherwise advertise the Watsky showcase.

“It was packed to the gills!,” Morrow told Pollstar. “Guys in their third year don’t draw crowds like that, let alone guys on their second show ever. And all the labels came out. It was an amazing show. After that, it was off to the races. Let’s grab an agent and go.”

There was one agent that Watsky and Morrow were especially interested in: The Agency Group’s Peter Schwartz.

“Peter took a leap of faith with us, looked at the social numbers, and put out a tour,” Morrow said. “The tour sold out with no advertising. The next thing was to do a record, then do Europe, then do a followup tour. Now, it’s time to break.”

Morrow is now with Steel Wool Entertainment, managing Watsky, who is winding down a North American tour and preparing for a European swing.

TAG UK’s Sean Goulding says those shows are selling out as well – social media erases a lot of distance on this shrinking planet, after all. But it takes more than one jackpot YouTube video to make a career that spans years as well as oceans.

“As great as it was, that’s not really what he’s about,” Morrow said.  “You have to continue to put out quality content. But you also have to be able to play live. George’s live show is like nobody else’s I’ve seen.

“It goes from pure pandemonium where he’s walking on people’s hands, crowd surfing, fans screaming out every lyric, screaming his name, and then to a point where you can hear a pin drop. It’s truly amazing.”