Q’s With APA Co-Head Of Worldwide Music Steve Lassiter As The Nashville Office Celebrates 25 Years

Steve Lassiter
– Steve Lassiter

Steve Lassiter was working for William Morris Agency 25 years ago when APA’s now-President/CEO Jim Gosnell observed he was “shackled to his desk” and asked him to open an APA outpost in Nashville. Bound by a contract, it wasn’t to be – the office opened without him, but he’d join the agency soon enough.

As APA Nashville reaches its 25th anniversary, it’s grown from a roster of about eight artists to nearly 70 and moved from a 1,500-square-foot building near Vanderbilt University to its current, expanded space in the penthouse of One Nashville Place downtown with about 10 times the area.

And what better time to celebrate than during IEBA, thick with talent buyers and agents, all in town for nearly a week? APA Nashville will host its traditional IEBA showcase Sunday Oct. 27 with Scooter Brown, David Nail, Plain White T’s and Little Texas, with an invitation only reception the next evening at APA Nashville’s office.
Pollstar: It seems both the city of Nashville and the APA office there have both had major growth spurts in the past 10 or so years.
Steve Lassiter: There has been a lot of growth in Nashville with more businesses moving here. APA, not just in Nashville but across the board, has really grown dramatically in the last 25 years and in the last few years we’ve opened offices in London, Toronto and Atlanta. As Nashville has grown, APA has grown along with it.  
We started here with about eight clients and it’s grown to 65 or 70. The staff has grown along with the roster, with a little more than 35 people here now. A lot of the growth has been in the last 10 years. We moved from our last office, outgrew it, to our new space that’s about 15,000 square feet. We doubled our space in the last three or four years. 

APA Nashville does more than just book tours now, too.
We work in tandem with our Los Angeles and New York offices for our national clients in TV, film and the reality TV space. We do have our tour marketing department here in Nashville. That’s a service we are now offering that we didn’t have before. The branding space is also in New York and Los Angeles.

It’s not about just touring; it’s caring for the entire career. We were able to place Travis Tritt on the “Real Country” TV show on USA Networks last year. He’s done a couple of movies. There have been things we’ve developed here. That’s just one example.
How is APA Nashville developing artists in an age where record labels are less significant to up-and-comers?
We find with our young acts that get started, they come in and they don’t have a manager, a publisher, a publicist. We find them and one of the things this young staff has a knack for is they’ve got great ears. They’re out every night looking for these young artists. 

We keep our number of developing artists rather low – we’ve got about 10 of them right now – because it takes a lot of time to develop them and start getting their tour history going. Record labels, they’re signing artists now that have been on the road and developing their history on their own. We’ve taken some of our young clients in and presented them to Spotify ourselves because they didn’t have the connections there.

Some of the labels are waiting until these artists have been developed to a certain degree. It’s a lot of hard work and our staff is at a place where we can’t do 50 of them. We can do a really good job with 10 or 12. 
Tell us a little about your staff; obviously it’s grown since you started.
We have grown to the point – and 25 years is a long time – we’ve had a couple of agents retire, so now I’m the oldest person in the building! I’ve managed to surround myself with a number of very bright, talented, aggressive, young agents and staff and I’m learning a lot from them every day. 

They are so smart these days, and they are motivated. Sometime in the next several years one or more of these smart, young people is going to be running this office. Not that I’m planning to step away any time soon, but 10 or 15 years down the road it’s going to be time to hand it off. In the immediate future, we’ll just continue our pattern of continual growth. Bring in great clients and people. It’s very rare that a client ever leaves us but there’s always a natural turnover in that area. Every year is our best year ever, and we intend to continue that trend.