Russell Kaplan, a Boston native, serves as the main initiator, architect, and go-getter behind New York-based pop duo Loote and LA based dream-pop artist Rynn. His love for music extends as far back as his childhood, where he began taking lessons to play the vibraphone. He attended Berklee College of Music as a vibraphone player, before later taking an interest in songwriting. As a Professional Music major, Kaplan’s passion resulted from a general love of listening to music.
His first step into the music industry began in the A&R world. “I had done some internships throughout college, but they weren’t official internships.” Said Kaplan. “One time I interned for a songwriter, another time I interned for a small music company, but nothing on a large scale”. Kaplan was able to connect with an associate of Universal Music Publishing and take an unpaid internship after graduating college in New York City. “I lived with my aunt and uncle because I wasn’t getting paid anything. I ended up working the entire summer, every day” Said Kaplan.
After completing his internship, Kaplan bounced around various temp agencies before landing a role as an assistant for Universal Music Publishing. He worked his way into an A&R research role, ultimately deciding to leave his position and start Twenty4 Management.
How were you able to transition from an A&R Role with Universal Music Publishing into your dream job as an artist manager?
I wanted to stay relevant so I did music management on the side while working various temp jobs. I had a couple of friends from Berklee who reached out to me in need of some help so I started to manage artists for fun.
When I began working at Universal, I wasn't allowed to do both at the same time. So I sort of stopped because I was set on working at Universal. My official role was administrative assistant, creative/ creative admin. I assisted the A&R department and the creative admin. Department.
I was able and fortunate enough to start helping out a development songwriting/production duo by the name of Loote, I helped get them a couple writing sessions with an artist that ended up getting signed to Columbia Records, while I was working as an A&R assistant. When I moved into the A&R research role i was assigned to be their product manager which lead me to work with them in a greater capacity. I helped secure an opportunity for them to sign with Island Records, until there was a crossroad and I couldn't do both at the same time. I left Universal shortly after their record deal was finalized.
What career or role do you feel is most similar to managing an artist ?
Perhaps the best answer I can offer is that I consider myself like a Dad. I have like ten different roles. I'm a go-getter, a life coach, a liaison, and sometimes even a therapist. There are always problems to be solved and things to do.
What do you think is the biggest misconception of artist managers in your opinion?
In my honest opinion, the biggest misconception surrounding artist management is that you need to have some sort of experience or degree. To be real, college really helped me more so with networking rather than education. You just need to be able to process and pick up information quickly. Anyone can be a manager as long as he or she is obsessed, passionate and driven.
Let’s talk a bit about the defining moment when you decided to start Twenty4 Management.
I realized that you don’t have to be backed by a big company in order to put your own stamp on something so I created Twenty4 Management and decided that’s what it is going to be.
How do you stay ahead of the music industry’s curve?
I do what most young kids do. I go on Instagram, read entertainment blogs, and now a lot of the information that I receive is via word of mouth. I have a younger brother so I’ll pick his brain from time to time to see what new artists he is listening to, or see if there are any new apps that he uses for music discovery.
Our upcoming Digilogue event will discuss the Art of the Demo, so in your opinion what are key elements of the perfect demo?
No demo is going to be perfect but some key elements to great demos are a clever concept, a memorable melody, lyrics that could paint a picture and if there’s production it should sound fresh.
I don't think about genres as much as I think about an emotion that a song portrays. Nowadays genres are blending together more than ever. If a song connects with a large audience it has potential to be a hit.