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Wondercore Island: Boutique management

Words by Alana Mitchelson

Wondercore Island director Si Jay Gould has never had an artist approach him who he wanted to manage. Nor does he think he ever will.

Gould says the music needs to speak for itself; organically and unforced.

“It has to make my hair stand up on end. It has to be exceptional. The artist needs to make me feel that everybody in the world needs to experience this.

“Much of what I see is really unexceptional; it’s too safe and I think that’s because a lot of people make music for the wrong reasons. I want to see people with soul whose music makes me feel curious.”

Gould is somewhat disturbed by the way artists are falling into the trap of looking outwards rather than inwards when it comes to writing music. He finds that all too often musicians will have an idea for a song but will first think about how they should approach the music video for social media hits, feeling that they should change the song to give their campaign a better chance. As a result, the song is born impurely. The creative process is stifled.

Gould launched his boutique management company early last year with the intent to act as a platform for music that doesn’t quite fit in.

In its beginnings, he started managing neo-soul quartet Hiatus Kaiyote by sheer accident. Gould had known Nai Palm since she was a young girl and thought her act was highly credible and unique.

“I still remember listening to their demos for the first time and it was like nothing else I’d ever heard. I didn’t really understand it but I thought it was just fantastic.”

Wondercore primarily manages Hiatus Kaiyote, Ainslie Wills, Oscar Key Sung and Clever Austin. In addition to management, Gould’s company also offers services in public relations, festival curation and consultation for emerging artists.

Using his experience, Gould acknowledges that while music won’t cease to exist in the absence of a management industry, there is a real limit to the amount of energy and time artists can put in without seeing rewards. Not necessarily of financial validation, but purely being able to sense a level of success, respect or response from the general public.

“There are definitely ways to go about it to give yourself a better chance. That’s what we do, we try to help artists get the most out of their content, assets and time. Most bands break up within two years because they just get exhausted.” Gould likened the three-month trial period between musician and manager to dating. It gives you time to suss out whether there is potential for a strong partnership by getting to know each other, having your first fight, experiencing a couple of wins, making compromises and ascertaining realistic goals.

As far as he’s concerned, all artists should understand the steps that go behind putting together a show, tour, record, press release, marketing plan and budget rather than it all remaining a mystery. Gould urges musicians to make the most of the many resources that are readily available on the web. The Amrap website and forums on Music Victoria, Face the Music and Big Sound are a good starting point.

“You don’t need to have a manager, you just need to care about your music enough to put in the effort. If you can do this – start to sell out shows, get tours, radio airtime and some traction – you may even have a manager approach you. Everything will come to you, but you need to be prepared to take those initial steps yourself.”

For more information on Wondercore Island and their artists, visit wondercoreisland.tumblr.com

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