Artist Management ‘Visionaries’ – VMG Developing Headliners For Today And Tomorrow

– Logic
The Vision Thing: VMG’s Harrison Remler and Chris Zarou get to share the spotlight at Brixton Academy London during Logic’s Oct. 31, 2017, concert.
On the day Maryland-born rapper Logic took the stage at Madison Square Garden this summer, manager Chris Zarou backstage asked the 28-year-old how it felt, having just six years ago played the smallest clubs and bars as a relative unknown.

“He said, ‘To be honest, it just feels like another show, like just another step in the process,’” Zarou told Pollstar. “It didn’t feel any different for him because he didn’t skip any steps. I say it to a lot of the younger artists we have, that if you put on your blinders and stay focused, one day you’ll wake up and be at Madison Square Garden. That’s really what happened with Logic. In six years we played six different caps, we went from a 400-cap room at SOB’s, to 600- to 800- to 1,200- to 3,000-capacity, then to a scaled-down Barclays Center and then the Garden.”
That pivital June 16 show sold out with 11,167 tickets and grossed $791,375, a high mark on an already impressive headline run that saw an average of 10,071 tickets sold per show over 22 dates reported to Pollstar.
The Visionary Music Group founder, already with notable management clients Logic and Jon Bellion, this year joined forces with Mutual Friends’ Jesse Coren, which meant adding Quinn XCII (and friend/producer ayokay), Chelsea Cutler and Jeremy Zucker. Big things are in store for 2019 with three tours just recently announced in succession for Quinn XCII, Jon Bellion and Chelsea Cutler.

Combined, the management company’s clients sold 440,000 tickets this year – which, if counted as one touring entity would put them at No. 51 on Pollstar’s Year End Top 100 Tours and No. 43 on the Top 100 Promoters ticket sales chart. 

The three main principals, with Zarou, Coren and chief operating officer Harrison Remler all either 30 years old or younger operating from VMG’s SoHo New York office, have taken a simple but detail-oriented approach to touring, stressing a goal of hitting the road domestically twice a year to build a true touring base.

“For us, it’s literally a checklist,” COO Remler added. “It’s No. 1, what do the fans want? No. 2, timing. No. 3, ticket prices. No. 4, how does it fit into the campaign? And No. 5, all the ancillary businesses of touring, such as merch and VIP. If you don’t think fan-first, you won’t succeed.”

“Honestly, where I learned was from watching the Visionary squad and what they were doing with Logic,” Coren said. “That was something that I definitely took away from just being a fan of what they had been doing years before.  

– Visionary Music Group
With the addition of manager Jesse Coren (back row, far right), Visionary Music Group now counts as clients Quinn XCII, Jeremy Zucker, ayokay, and Chelsea Cutler, two of which just announced major tours for 2019.
I think most people have the impression that you have a hit and then suddenly people want to see you: ‘Well I don’t really want to play 500-cap rooms, I want to make sure I’m on a bus. I’ll just wait til I have a big record and then I’ll go out and do the 2,000-cap rooms and play the rooms that are fun and have the multiple green rooms.’

“But ultimately it’s very rare that it happens without putting in the work. You have to get out early and use your whatever-sized fanbase you have to continue to grow and drive that narrative and build on itself.”

“Early in an artist’s career you’re not going out and playing 300-cap rooms and walking away with a bag of money, but you’re investing in your brand, long-term thinking,” Zarou explained. “In particular that’s what Jesse and I connected on, the way we approach artist development, I think it’s something a lot of people don’t focus on. To be honest, it’s really hard.”

Specifically, for the just-announced Quinn XCII tour, Coren says with growth comes a few new things to think about.

“What was interesting for me, with this being kind of the first tour of this size with any of my artists, was just realizing that the strategy changes a bit in that your options in the rooms you’re picking are a little more limited,” Coren said. “We kind of went through and figured out what the next rooms were in each market, made sure we’re not getting too ambitious on certain markets but also made sure we’re playing appropriate rooms to meet demand and service the fans.” 

“I think people underestimate how many weeks we go back and forth on the routing,” Remler added. “People think it’s as simple as the agents recommending a first routing. We’ll go back and forth six, seven, drafts and that will tie in to our overall album campaign. We announced Quinn’s tour in conjunction with the title of his album, and with consistent branding across all imaging. Jesse can tell you how strict we are in terms of localized posters, everything you’ll see at the venue aligns with everything Quinn is and what his brand is, from the color scheme to the official images.”

While that jaunt is a Live Nation tour, with venues including Fillmore Silver Spring in Maryland and Riviera Theatre in Chicago, a lot of factors go into fielding offers.

“We try to take the offer that – knowing that we go room by room combing over these offers – makes the most sense,” Zarou said. “I think some managers get themselves in a tricky spot if they’re just taking an offer because the money makes sense but the rooms don’t. I’ve seen that done. If you choose the right rooms everything else will fall into place.

“Chelsea [Cutler] is an example where not being with Live Nation or AEG allows us to do a little more handpicking. Sometimes it’s relationships, sometimes it’s rooms or history in that place and knowing they’re going to sell the show, but Chelsea is an example of that.”

Cutler’s tour kicks off in February with two nights at Exit/In in Nashville, followed by stops including the 9:30 Club in D.C.; Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colo.; and Trees in Dallas. She sold out the Chop Shop in Chicago and Brighton Music Hall in Boston in October.

Jon Bellion has large theatres and amphitheatres in store for summer 2019, which is all part of the growth story from putting in the work, which often means having to be patient.

“I think a lot of young managers jump at the opportunity of support tours,” Remler said. “But you have to be super selective. Logic must have passed on five or six support tours that weren’t the perfect fit. The perfect opportunity only comes around every few tours. We were lucky with Logic, with Kid Cudi, Big Sean and Tyler, The Creator all on one tour that Logic opened for, and with Jon Bellion he supported Twenty One Pilots, so I think patience is key when it comes to support opportunities. If you’re not building something at the core, those dream scenarios don’t really come to fruition.”

As for VMG’s clients selling 440,000 tickets in a year, Zarou said, “Each ticket matters exactly the same, whether it’s Irving Plaza or Madison Square Garden.”