Q’s With Matt Galle: Warped Tour, Paradigm’s Recent Signings And What It Takes To Be An Agent

Matt Galle and Gucci Mane
– Matt Galle and Gucci Mane

Matt Galle is a pretty big deal. He was already featured in a Pollstar executive profile in 2013 (the agency directory cover story), with career highlights including client My Chemical Romance selling out Madison Square Garden in 2008.

His roster has only grown since, now with 10 years under his belt at Paradigm, representing or co-repping major clients like Shawn Mendes who’s playing arenas worldwide and festival staple Gucci Mane who will soon be announcing a headline run. Galle is now part of the teams representing a clutch of new clients including Missy Elliott, Machine Gun Kelly, $uicideboy$ and recent Pollstar cover artist Hayley Kiyoko.

“I just love finding great music, listening to artists that can go all the way and have no ceiling,” Galle told Pollstar. “All of those artists I believe can do that. (The signings) just kind of happened. Sometimes you’re not working with anybody new for a while and sometimes it happens and there’s a bunch all around the same time.” 

Like seemingly everyone in the concert business, Galle had nothing but great things to say about Vans Warped Tour and founder Kevin Lyman, who was an early supporter of My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday in particular.

“At the time they both just had demos and were unknown” Galle said. “Kevin was one of the main people that first stepped out and took a chance on them. He put them on Warped a bunch of times, profiled them on big stages and as their crowds grew moved them up. 

“We have nothing but respect for Kevin. Taking Back Sunday actually popped up on one of the California dates this year. They weren’t playing that market with Coheed and really wanted to be part of the last Warped. I went to the Connecticut one in Hartford, with my buddies 3OH!3, and Kevin really helped played a part in breaking them too.”
Pollstar: What do you see happening in the festival market overall?
Matt Galle: As a whole, it seems healthy, based on the numbers they’re doing and the grosses. There’s more popping up.
It sucks seeing some of the bigger name festivals that have been around for a while struggle at some point. I think it’s important to be able to pivot where the music and different genres are going and what the new fans are listening to and gravitating to as peoples tastes change. If you can’t pivot with it and just want to stick with what you’ve got, I feel like that’s where you may hit the bubble.
I do like all these sub-genre, smaller festivals coming up. It keeps things healthy and allows more slots for the developing talent to have a place to launch from, and to break out of it.
Only thing I don’t like about some of these is some of the radiuses. 
What trends do you see in popular music in general?
I am noticing that at the festivals I’ve been at in the last four to six months, the genres that are working the best are hip-hop, pop and electronic or dance.
If you look at Top 40, there’s less guitars – look at the top Apple Music and Spotify charts. Hip-hop’s dominating, even more than pop. I have 9-year-old twin boys and most of the stuff they listen to is hip-hop, rap-leaning.
I think it’s cyclical and (rock music) will come back at some point in some form. Maybe there will be some genres kind of mashed together – someone like Twenty One Pilots, taking a lot of different elements. I like that they don’t sound like other stuff.
It was interesting at Lollapalooza this weekend, they had e-sports involved. Ninja [Tyler Blevins], who‘s the No. 1 guy at “Fortnite,” he was there playing versus fans backstage in the VIP section. 
Between some acts, they were showing his games on the main stage screens. When it cut off to put on the next band before the end of the game, people booed in the crowd! Some people were more excited to see what was on the screens, the videogamers, than the next band. So it was a little alarming (laughs), but I thought it was cool that they evolved that element. I think maybe you’ll see more of that down the line.
Tell us about the new Paradigm signings.
If you do a great job and focus on bringing your artists the best opportunities and make sure they’re profiled and perceived a certain way, those people that you’ve put so much work and effort into, everybody talks. It’s all about how respected you are, and your reputation, what people say about you.
I just crush it and make sure I deliver for my artists. Hopefully that goes without saying. I’m working 24/7 and try to over-excel. I try to provide more than a normal agent would be expected to, and I think over the years the artists I’ve worked with and put in front of people, I feel I have delivered for them and they trust me.
You’ve got to cut through. When you’re speaking to artists and their teams, you have to be able to look them in the eye and they feel like this is my guy or girl, this is who I trust, and I can go to sleep at night and put my trust that what I need to get done is going to happen. My career is in faith’s hands, that’s the biggest part.
Matt Galle
– Matt Galle
Matt Galle with Shawn Mendes, family and, manager Andrew Gertler, and MSG staffers (including Phil Ernst and Laurie Jacoby) at Madison Square Garden in 2016.
What are your clients up to right now?
Shawn Mendes went on sale in Australia last week. The dates are over a year away and we basically blew out two nights in Sydney and two in nights in Melbourne at arenas, and the rest of the markets are pretty close to done too. We might add one more in Melbourne for Shawn. I’m very excited for that. His whole year is filled up. We’re going to be announcing places in the rest of the world he hasn’t been to yet. I’m excited about that.
Halsey is going to be taking some time off. She’s going to wind down and do her last shows in a couple weeks.  I’m excited about rolling out this Gucci Mane tour in November-December. He’s also a festival staple. He just goes over so well and has such big crowds. 
Why Don’t We will be back on the road. We’re working on the winter and summer for them.  I’m excited for Lauv. He’s going with Ed Sheeran, supporting him in stadiums. $uicideboy$ have dates in September around their album release that just went on sale very strong.
What does it take to be a great agent and what advice do you have for younger or aspiring agents?

Part of it is acting like you’re in the artist’s shoes, putting them in the right situations that they’re happy with and want to be in. Whether they’re showing up to a certain venue, what that venue is or what their billing looks like on certain events, and making sure you always have their back and nobody’s going think twice about how they’re positioned.  Another part of it is being able to cut great deals and maximize the dollar and the walkout for the artist too.
Also thinking outside the box – not just doing everything that you’re used to, but paying attention to what’s working in other places, new venues and thinking up some crazy ideas and bringing some different things to the table that people might not normally think. 
You can always, always learn more by being a sponge 24/7 and giving good advice to managers and artists when they ask for it. Being able to have them not question that you know what you’re doing. At the end of the day it’s relationships and being respected and people saying good things about you. That’s how you get artists, that’s how you maintain artists, that’s how you become a great agent. And treating everybody the way they should be treated.

Any advice for aspiring or newer agents?
You kind of have to take it slowly. Don’t try to run before you can walk. Learn all aspects of the business. Read books, go to shows. Sit in at settlements. Speak to tour managers. Shadow other agents. 
You gotta do the grunt work first. Don’t be too good to enter data and shows and itineraries. 
You pick up on things just by doing all that work yourself.I like coming to work every day. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t enjoy my job. That’s another thing I would add for those who want to be an agent. s