In the wake of Jordan Feldstein’s passing, we are re-posting this interview with the late great artist manager who passed unexpectedly at age 40 Dec. 22.
The interview from October goes into detail about Career Artist Management and the company’s plans for next year, the international market and why Feldstein left his assistant’s job at ICM.
Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images) – Jordan Feldstein
at a Los Angeles Clippers game at Staples Center in April 2015.
Jordan Feldstein on Managing & Touring Maroon 5, Elle King, Miguel
With 20 years in the business under his belt, Jordan Feldstein, head of Career Artist Management and manager for Maroon 5, Miguel and Elle King, has managed to steer his company into an office at Live Nation HQ in Beverly Hills, Calif., as a subsidiary of the promotion giant.
Childhood friends with Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, Feldstein got his start taking over management of the band as it was reforming after a first album failed to gain traction and the group was not picked back up by its then-label, Reprise. Known by the name of Kara’s Flowers at the time, Feldstein said once Levine got him to listen to the band’s music, he was ready to quit his job at ICM and steer the band to stardom.
As Maroon 5 eventually rose into the stratosphere with its album Songs About Jane, which included hits “This Love,” “Harder to Breathe” and “She Will be Loved,” Feldstein went on to secure a partnership with overseas management company TAP. He also helped to establish the careers of artists that included Sara Bareilles and Robin Thicke.
Hailing from Los Angeles, a fun fact many colleagues might not know about Feldstein is that he is the brother of actor Jonah Hill and actress Beanie Feldstein.
He took some time to chat with Pollstar on what he looks for in potential CAM signees and the long-term benefits of touring globally as Maroon 5 unveils its latest routing which coincides with the release of the group’s next album, Red Pill Blues, due out Nov. 3 through 222/Interscope.
With WME’s Brent Smith working as their agent (along with CAA and ITB in some international territories), Maroon 5 had an average gross of $1.4 million dollars per show and average of 18,631 tickets sold, according to Pollstar BoxOffice reports for the last 36 months. (Interesting tidbit: their lowest grossing show listed in Pollstar’s records came in May of 2002 opening for Lucky Boys Confusion at Baltimore’s Ottobar where they earned a whopping $280.)
We got word from your people that you wanted to talk to us to what do we owe the pleasure?
I love Pollstar! I’ve read it the 20 years I’ve been in the business. I enjoy the publication. I’ve always liked reading your industry profiles and I always wanted to do one!
I’m sure it doesn’t hurt seeing Maroon 5 at the top of the charts all the time.
[laughs] It’s always nice when your clients are featured. I actually was always an avid reader though. I always loved your directories, that’s actually kind of how I learned about a lot of the business. It was a good resource.
Well in those 20 years we know Maroon 5 was your first big client, but we’re not sure at what point you came in. Where you there for the Kara’s Flowers days?
When I signed them, they were they were still called Kara’s Flowers but I wasn’t there for their first album. I was in college when that record came out and they had another manager. When I first signed them they weren’t called Maroon 5 yet.
So Kara’s Flowers’ first album was basically a miss. They didn’t get picked up by the label. And you come on.
They were on Reprise. They made a record with Rob Cavallo that was a very different sound at the time. Then they took a hiatus as a band. They all kind of did their own thing. Some of them went to college. They all did a variety of things and then they reformed a couple years later, adding James Valentine, the guitar player and re-grouped and created this new sound that would eventually become Songs About Jane.
You came on at what point?
I came on just before they added James.
So how did that discovery happen for you?
They had started demoing, [but] they didn’t know what they were going to do. They were looking for new people. I was working at ICM at the time in New York as an assistant, and me and Adam reconnected. He wanted me to come hear the music, so I went to hear the music and I just fell in love. I was ready to quit my job and start managing them. Not even knowing what management was at the time, but that’s what I did.
So one thing with Songs About Jane was that it took quite some time for people to catch on, right?
The band was passed on by every big label. We ended up signing with an Independent called Octone that was independently financed. We took a long time to build it up. The band toured one year with virtually no radio, just starting with some alternative and AAA airplay. Then J Records picked it up, the old Clive Davis label. Then we went with “This Love” and it kind of exploded from there.
What would you tell other managers whose clients miss the mark on their first album?
If you really believe in something, you’ve gotta see it through. There’s plenty of examples, Alicia Keys, the Jonas Brothers, I can probably name 10 others that have failed with the label and gone on to great success with others. If you believe in the artist, stick with it. There’s not much more to it than that.
So several years after Maroon 5 blew up you founded CAM in 2005.
Maroon 5 gave me the opportunity to then go out and develop some new talent, establish talent. The idea was never to build something enormous, but I like the idea of trying to diversify some of the things we work with. Our idea is to work with people that we believe in. Songwriters and players who have something inherently commercial about them as well.
You’ve now signed Miguel, Elle King,
We’re not good with pre-manufactured artists. No disrespect to these artists, but we’re not really into people who dance. We’re more with people who play instruments and write music at their core and are a little bit quirky. They’re not the prototypical, what you would think from a pop artist, but are commercial in their own right. But not the protypical commercial artist.
Michael Rapino has said a lot of Live Nation’s goals for the future involve moving into new, international markets. Flattery aside, Maroon 5 has been doing exactly that for years. What have you learned from the experience?
Look. The music first and foremost has got to be melodic enough that the lyrics don’t necessarily matter. That’s another thing that most of our roster speaks to. The music is inherently quality enough and the melodies are strong enough that it’s not based solely on the lyrical content. That’s an important component the kinds of acts that will work on the global level.
Yeah, we make a point to try to take our artists everywhere. Even though you can spend multiple years – as Maroon 5 did – losing money or breaking even in a lot of those markets, the band really took the time and invested in spending time in a lot of places that were not easy to get to, in order to build a business around the world. And that’s the philosophy that we have with our entire roster because we’ve seen it work.
Have you seen the benefits of investing in international routings?
We’ve been seeing that benefit for years and years now. It’s allowed us to not have to continually tour the U.S. over and over again.
One of the biggest things when I get artists that are established with other managers is a lot of them have over-toured the U.S.
A lot of that is probably due to the fact that they haven’t developed other markets and therefore have a need to tour the U.S. over and over again and have atrophied because they have over-toured the market.
And the U.S. is getting more and more competitive in terms of entertainment, what with new artists popping up and new Netflix shows all the time.
Entertainment dollars is a competitive market and there’s only so much free time out there. It’s not easy. But the live concert experience is the one thing that, thankfully, I don’t think it can be really be recreated online yet.
Without going into detail, you have been caught up in the Hollywood drama and headlines before. Can you speak on what it’s like to go through that?
I mean, what I’ll say is it’s never fun to be in a situation where you’re getting attention for something that’s not positive. It’s allowed me to have more perspective for my clients when it happens to them and more empathy.
Is it helpful having family members and friends in the business, who understand the lifestyle to a certain degree?
I don’t think you can understand what that’s like until you’re in it yourself.
So what does the next year look like?
This an exciting year for us. We signed Chromeo, who we’re really excited about, who will be having a record in the first quarter of next year. Miguel, we’re super excited about Elle King, and Maroon will all be having records. Obviously, we want to continue the success of Maroon 5. We believe that Miguel, who has a record in the near future, is an artist who has infinite potential to build on the great success he’s already had. Elle King has a similar story with a record out in the next 6-8 months. She is someone who we had great success with the last record and we can take to another level.
We’ll just continue to build upon the roster we have with really quality artists and try to develop careers that can really last a long time.