During college, agent Max Braun got his first taste of the live business by putting on raves with his friends while attending music school at Loyola University New Orleans. He and his friends would attend South By Southwest every year to rub elbows with folks in the music industry, including helping out at AM Only’s party.
After Braun moved to New York and ran into AM Only’s Lee Anderson and an artist Braun had previously booked in New Orleans, Anderson offered him a job and a few days later Braun joined the agency.
Flash forward to AM Only being acquired by Paradigm Talent Agency and then Wasserman acquiring Paradigm. Braun notes he’s “been with Lee and my crew here for over 12 years at this point. This has been my family now forever.”
Pollstar recently caught up with Braun to talk about the business and client Rex Orange County, whose “The Who Cares? Tour” includes a sold-out June 4 show at the Hollywood Bowl. Braun’s roster also includes Disclosure, BADBADNOTGOOD, Adam Melchor, Green Velvet, and slowthai, among others.
Pollstar: What makes this group of people at Wasserman Music so great to work with?
Max Braun: Most importantly, I think that we all share a similar ethos, which is really, really important, especially in the music industry, which is sometimes more of a lawless place. We all take care of one another. We all care about the artists that we represent and the talent we represent.
I think that being an agent can be a mundane job sometimes. So, we are always pushing ourselves to exist outside of a traditional agent role, whether that’s A&R stuff for our artists and connecting our artists to other artists that we think would be good for them to know one another. And, you know, just trying to always challenge ourselves to learn more about our artists, about music, about the music industry, about how we can leverage our newfound home at Wasserman to create a bigger business for our artists so they can continue to be artists forever.
What made you want to represent Rex Orange County?
I found his music on SoundCloud a long time ago. I think it was in late 2015, when he had put out his first project, Bcos U Will Never B Free. It was at that point a very DIY thing. It was his incredible voice that first hooked me. Then it was the message and the [way] he was phrasing things, I could tell that people were going to react to it. He articulates things that people are going through and feeling. And that’s why people really gravitate toward Rex’s music.
Can you talk about your strategy with booking Rex Orange County over the years as he’s moved up to headlining venues like the Hollywood Bowl?
We (myself and management) always discuss a lot and go back and forth on the venue size and the importance of ticket prices. We compare everything and we take what we do, as far as the details, very, very seriously. I think the most important thing to note for this artist and generally all the artists that I represent is that we never skip steps as far as the size of the venue. It’s really important to buy the fishbowl that fits the fish and not to buy something too big that we hope the fish is going to grow into.
Rex wants to be an artist for his whole lifetime. And he’s only 24 years old, so he’s got a long time to put out music and tour the music. So, we just want to take our time and we want to play these venues while they’re available to us, where he’s able to be as close to his fans as possible. It was kind of a no-brainer for us as the step between, say, like the bigger theater and the arena on this tour to do the outdoor amps and the boutique amps because once he moves into the arena, he’s going to be far away from his fans.
When you buy a ticket, of course you want to hear the songs, but a lot of people want to be in the same room as that [artist] as well. And they want to be able to see him walking around the stage, they don’t necessarily want to have to look at the side screen.
But as an artist grows and more people fall in love with their music, you want to be able to accommodate as many fans that you’ve made along the way so you’re going to have to move up in size.
How has his live show developed?
There’s definitely a conscious effort to always be evolving, to always be adding a little bit more, changing the set, reimagining songs. He wants to put out a really, really great product for his fans and the fact that people have trusted him to spend time with his music, buy merch, buy the album – he definitely takes none of that for granted.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to break into the industry?
The most important piece of advice that I ever received is you can never be shy to create. Just because you’re not a creator on an artistic level because you don’t make music, that doesn’t mean that you can’t create something. Like you can go and create a record label or a management company. If you’ve created all these things on your own and maintained them on your own, somebody’s going to trust you with their business a lot easier.
And just be a nice person. You should treat everybody in the music industry as you would like to be treated. It’s just important for life.
You’ve got to be honest with everyone. You make a mistake, and somebody comes to you and is like, “What happened here?” and you’re honest with them, they’re gonna be like, “Let’s just learn from that and move on.”
And be yourself. If you’re the guy that people like because you’re super nice and you’re a sweetheart, people are going to want to work with you because you’re that guy. Or if you’re the guy that’s super incredible [at being] a number cruncher … people are going to gravitate toward you because you’re that person.
People gravitate toward musicians who are themselves and speak in a unique voice. I think it’s the same for people in the music industry.