G-Eazy has been grinding his way through the music industry for 10 years, moving from house parties and small clubs to headlining festivals in Indonesia and Poland. Now the rapper has several hit singles charting, featuring the likes of Cardi B, A$AP Rocky, and Halsey. His co-manager, Matt Bauerschmidt, has been with the rapper since the Myspace days, and he spoke to Pollstar about G-Eazy’s rise to the top.
Bauerschmidt is at the helm of The Revels Group, an artist and tour management company that operates out of Los Angeles and New Orleans. He started working with G-Eazy while the two were in college, and they quickly aligned with Jamil Davis, who had developed connections in the hip-hop industry after working on tour with Lil Wayne and later Drake.
As a team they have turned G-Eazy into a touring force, capable of filling arenas and ever-expanding into markets outside of North America and Western Europe. In 2017, which was by all means a slower year for G-Eazy in terms of touring, he still appeared at music festivals around the world, including Lollapalooza events in South America and Japan’s dual Summer Sonic events in Chiba and Osaka.
Pollstar got a hold of Bauerschmidt while G-Eazy was promoting his latest album, The Beautiful & Damned, which was released Dec. 15 through BPG REcords, RCA Records and The Revels Group. We caught the manager while the team was shooting two music videos and an awards show pre-taping.
So you guys are in full promotion mode for the new album?
Yeah definitely. We’re lining up a bunch of pre-listening events, signing events, underplays, TV performances, all that stuff.
You’ve no doubt spend a lot of time thinking about the upcoming tour.
Yeah, definitely. We spend a lot of time routing the tours, looking at different venues based on G’s history or if we know we’re coming back to leave meat on the bone. To make sure that New York and L.A., one is at the beginning and one is at the end of the tour, for press purposes. Making sure neither of those two markets are in the first five shows, that way you have a few shows to build up before those super-major A press markets. [Then] you have off-days when other press is available. We put a lot of thought into our routing.
G-Eazy is from the Bay Area. I imagine you will be doing something there in 2018?
We always try to come back to the Bay. One of G’s phrases from the previous tours is “from the Bay’s universe.” We always bring the Bay everywhere we go on tour, whether its one of his walk-off songs being one of the Bay Area anthems or bringing acts from the Bay on tour with us, or different guest sets. Even one of G’s previous tours was “From the Bay’s Universe” and it was all Bay artists, from up-and-comers to OGs.
We always try to do cool stuff in the Bay. [In 2016] we did a pop-up shop for a week. We opened a barber shop, merch store and coffee shop for a week for his hometown, Oracle Arena end of the year show.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about how important it is to be strong in regional markets like the Bay?
On the DIY level we used to do show swaps and reach out to other artists, saying “I’ll open for you in your market and vice versa in ours.” It’s definitely the long and slow way to do it. I think that does pay dividends once buzz wears out. But obviously, the easier way to do it is maximizing social media and getting a sizeable buzz online before you go out. But then there’s the double-edged sword of not developing your live show enough, and you have a 2,000-person, sold out venue and you’re out there learning, at the same time they’re expecting a show of that level.
It’s kind of a gift and a curse. Like I said, we’re 10 years in and we took it literally every step of the way, from doing house parties and playing events, opening for other bands, even in different genres with fans who didn’t really care. It allowed us to really build his confidence in how you perform and present yourself.
There’s a different way to perform in small clubs versus big arenas. He’s developed all of that along the way.
My business partner Jamil, having worked with Wayne and Drake, and us having studied them in those early days, all the way from when Drake was playing clubs up to arenas, we can watch them do the same set every single day, and the genius behind how they put their set together and different production and just kind of see their workings. So we were able to apply that to G once we started getting up to that level, to know how to run everything.
G-Eazy seems to be very hands-on in terms of his merch and brand. Is it difficult for a white rapper to avoid public missteps that might get him labeled as “whack” or appropriating hip-hop culture?
G is always just himself. He came from the Bay so he always tries to pay homage to the culture he grew up in and the music he listened to growing up. [He has] the blessings of Sway, E-40,
I think giving back is part of the way you dont take for granted what he’s earned. He brought Kehlani on tour and she was able to maximize that and do really well for herself. He brings Jay Ant into the studio with him to help write. And some of the up-and-comers: Rexx Life Raj, NAF, Mozzy.
You guys have been with G-Eazy since college. Was he your first client?
Yeah, technically. I’m from Albuquerque. I was slightly running around in the local scene when I was in high school, but nothing really was too serious. When I got to New Orleans, I was kind of running in place for the first year, freshman year. I met G when I was a sophomore, he was a freshman and I just knew instantly what he could be, what we could be, what it could be, so we started working together and we just went from there.
What about your co-manager, Jamil Davis did you all start working together from the beginning?
I was gonna hang out with my homegirl after school. She brought over this guy who ended up being G’s roomate. They showed me G’s music. They sent me over to meet him and what was crazy was G was actually recording what would be his next single at the time. I kinda walked in on that and it was really cool. We started working together, planning a release, starting to plan shows.
Down there in New Orleans it’s such a supportive culture. Some of our friends were booking agents or talent buyers. They helped put shows together and we just kinda built it out from there.
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience is one of the places where a lot of the college kids will intern to get experience and connect. My buddy was the internship coordinator, so he would assign us all out to do different jobs. One of the other intern kids, Jamil Davis, was working on the stage Lil Wayne was on. So he ended up meeting Tina and going out and being an assistant road manager for Lil Wayne’s tour and eventually road-managing Wayne and through that, eventually road managing Drake and tour managing.
Jamil worked at the same nightclub that we all worked at. We all did marketing there, so I clicked up with him. I could build the brand, and the music and the marketing and the events in New Orleans, but he reached outside our bubble to bring us into Lil Wayne’s circles, the Drake circles, touring. So we all kinda formed Voltron and kept it moving.
How important was it to have two people managing G-Eazy early on?
I’ve noticed that a lot of artist teams in the industry have [a manager who is] more detail oriented, nitty gritty who kinda understands the brand and art side through and through, and another manager that can go out and get the connects, make some of the deals, meet people and put stuff together. Especially living in L.A., there are events every single night that it’s great to show face at and new people to meet. I’m not saying it’s impossible for one person – different teams operate differently – but it is a common thing I’ve noticed among other camps as well.
Some young artists go through a phase where they may have multiple people booking shows, or they might just tell their friends, “Go get me some money.” How formal was your relationship with G-Eazy in the beginning?
We would filter everything exclusively through us. Eventually we ended up getting a booking agent at what was called “The Agency Group” at the time. [United Talent Agency acquired The Agency Group in 2015. G-Eazy is booked by UTA’s Jeremy Holgersen.]
I do know what you’re talking about. In the genre and the industry sometimes, especially with club booking, [but] we always keep everything super centralized.
We’ve never been trying to do the quick buck. We’ve built his hard tickets, we’ve built his touring. Even the corporate soft tickets or corporate/private events. They’re all different facets to build seperately and individually. Some of them kind correspond to each other and some of them don’t. You could be a big festival act but not move any hard tickets. Or you could be a good hard-ticket act but nobody is trying to see you at a festival. You gotta build all the different aspects.
G-Eazy invested a lot into his live production early. How clutch was that?
We always heavily invested in that. I kinda came from a production background doing tech theater in high school. I always had an eye and a vocabulary for that. That was always really important to my business partner and G and I.
For our first two or three tours we literally didn’t bring anything home. We just put enough to keep gas in the car and would fill the venues out to max production. We always tried to make the live show an important part of it and I think its definitely paid off in the long term.
Can you speak on what kind of work ethic it has taken to get where you are at?
It’s definitely been a relentless hustle. This year marks the 10th year that I’ve been with G. Over the past two years or over the past four years its taken off a lot more. We definitely grinded it out on tours that looked more like road trips.
What’s interesting about the music industry is that there are so many revenue streams: merch, touring, endorsements, press. There are so many things to jump your attention around to and you have to dedicate the time to make everything quality and on brand. It’s definitely been a challenge of not getting stretched too thin and making sure everything we do is at the quality we all expect.
It seems like you are very present when you are on the road, but then you are gone for long periods. How do you plan those schedules?
I think it’s just a constant cycle: semi-dormancy during the recording process; Once the album is ready, working it into the ground and getting every last drop of tickets, promo and just working the record. Each time an album comes out, you can’t take for granted how the fans react. You have to go and share that with them, do the meet & greets. Each time a project hits you’ve got to tour the cycle out. 2016 was a big year for that, after When It’s Dark Out hit [in 2015].
G-Eazy did co-headline dates with Logic that year right?
Well, we did three months headlining with A$AP Ferg, that was like January through March. And then [we] did another route from March into April, headlining dates in B and C markets. And then went in to Coachella. Toured Europe all of May. Ran with Logic in July and August. And then hit a lot more festivals throughout Q3 of that year. It was pretty nonstop. I think we had an Australia run somewhere in there too. (laughs)
That’s one of the things to touch on too, while we’re talking about touring. It’s kind of an ego check to be doing 4,000 people in the U.S. and then go back to Australia where you’re just doing 200-cap small clubs. You can’t skip steps. You have to go to each market and build it from the ground up. There are times when you can wait until your internet buzz goes all the way up there, as some artists do, but I think there’s a longevity to building it in those small clubs and having the kind of fans who say “This is our fourth show”.
When, if ever the buzz dies out, I think that’s what allows some of these legacy acts or even acts that are under the radar, to have sustainable touring careers for the rest of their lives, because they’ve built that from the grassroots level.
You’ve just expanded into Asia, South America and Eastern Europe. What’s the goal internationally? Are these feelers or are these all markets you want to come back to?
We try to work, as much as possible, to build other markets. We hit Hungary for the first time, which is definitely off the beaten path for most people’s European routing. We hit Dubai this past year. Even Hawaii and New Zealand, while you are down in Australia. They have fans just like any other place.
Even domestically we are hitting Omaha and Lincoln and all these other places. There’s a slight risk there because those markets aren’t quite as developed for touring as other sure bets, but a lot of those places have taken good care of us and we like to try to make it back when we can.
G-Eazy signed to RCA, but the role of labels seems to be changing. How important do you think it is to sign to a label in an artist’s career?
Every artist is different and every genre is different. For a big pop artist, their show, their brand might not translate on that small club level. For them it might only make sense to build the big singles until they can the support tours or bigger tours.
For almost any other kind of artists, I definitely recommend a combination of building your buzz online, and then doing the indie touring route, building the regional presence and building your set. By doing it gradually like that, you are acclimating yourself to the grueling schedule of doing meet & greets, doing minimal local press, and then doing the show, and just that level of exhaustion. So when you do get there on the higher level, you are more acclimated to that.
Some label situations support the artist really well; others don’t. It all depends on what that artist needs. There’s times when some artists don’t have managers and their agents sort of act like that or their lawyers act like that.
There’s no “one-size fits all” for that— you just kinda gotta go with your heart.
But I definitely think you should max out each step before you try to reach for the next one.
A lot of artists will come to me asking for management. But I’m like, “There’s nothing there to manage.” You gotta build first. Once they build and they are maxed out, then you get a manager. Once you are doing everything you can on that level, then you can reach for a publicist, agent, or a label, depending on what your needs are.
But I think the easy excuse that a lot of artists look for is to try to build their team too quickly, instead of building the foundation of what that team has to work on once it is assembled.
So you think an artist should have a certain amount accomplished on their own before trying to build a team to do things for them?
I dunno, that’s just how I came up with G. Going back to that Bay Area hustle mentality, he had hundreds if not thousands of plays per day on MySpace, which was kind of the metric at the time. He was recording himself; he was recording other artists. He was designing mixtape covers; he was putting projects together. He had that mentality of how to set up a rollout and we would reach out to blogs. We had spreadsheets of what the blogger’s name was, other posts that they did, how to do the release shows. I was definitely lucky with G and he has a great business head on his shoulders.
I think that comes back to now, with how busy we are. When he’s exhausted, he might have an emotional response to it, but inherently he understands what we are doing and why it’s important, because he did it all the way up and he was there to help build it. He was there for it all.
G-Eazy is on tour in North America starting today at Smart Financial Centre At Sugar Land in Sugar Land, Texas. His routing includes two nights at The Wiltern in Los Angeles Feb. 22-23, and two nights at