The music industry is an interesting place where there are lots of moving parts happening behind the scenes. It's indeed one of the most hectic industries around. Don't believe us? Just ask Sharron Elkabas, the founder of MN2S agency, a global booking agency and label services provider that manages artists and labels from a diverse selection of genres. Their talent roster ranges from legends like Danny Krivit, Juan Atkins, Grandmaster Flash, Rick Wade and Kerri Chandler to the more underground artists like Shiba San, Roy Davis Jr, The Mekanism and even Touch of Class Records. Elkabas has built his company from the ground up, beginning simply as a party he used to throw in London, that grew into a massive global company.
We wanted to get an inside look at what it takes to run a leading agency in the music industry and how to manage a stacked roster of artists. Elkabas was a clear cut choice for who could provide such information. He describes the challenges he faces on a daily basis, how he managed to develop the MN2S agency and he takes us through a day in the life of an agency executive. It's amazing to learn about the industry from his perspective and he clearly has a wealth of knowledge to share.
How did you begin your career in the music industry?
As a promoter: our first event was for 350 friends at London’s Chunnel Club and from there we grew pretty quickly so decided to organize regular club nights. We branded ourselves Milk ‘n’ 2 Sugars and started bringing in big name DJs from the US to London’s best venues. We went on to have a residency at two iconic venues, namely The Cross and The End. Because we were dealing with so many international bookings we decided to start the agency, which was shortly followed by the label, then publishing company then global events. It’s been a wild but fascinating ride.
Have you always been a music lover? Can you recall a memory of the early days with MN2S?
In terms of specific memories, our NYE event at The Rocket with Derrick Carter and Dimitri From Paris in 1997 sticks out as being a very memorable moment – we sold out 3000 tickets in advance and had 2000 people turn up with no tickets wanting to pay on the door. I spent the night trying to keep the peace!
Another memory that sticks out would have to be our first booking with Ministry of Sound. Supplying acts for one of London’s key tastemakers was a huge boost for us as an emerging agency.
The other (not so fond) memory was the laborious task of sending contracts through the now archaic fax machine. Now that we have email, the whole process has been made much easier and, more importantly, quicker. We’re pleased to welcome the sights and sounds of 21st century technology!
The MN2S roster is stacked with talent from underground artists to musical legends and pioneers, what is your vision behind the agency?
We like to offer 360 degree solutions to many different people in the industry, from young guns just starting out to revered veterans who need a hand to stay on top and make the right decisions. We are here to nurture and give platforms to young labels that need a helping hand to get heard in the evermore crowded market, and also to help with promoters who want their parties to have only the best headline and live acts playing for them. We do so efficiently and professionally in an industry that is notoriously hedonistic.
How does the music scene differ in the UK from the rest of the world?
The UK scene knows its roots. People here are passionate about the music, the fashion, the culture, not just about being seen to be at the right parties. We are about substance as well as style.
What is a day in the life like for you?
My days tend to be a flurry of emails, meetings and phone calls. It’s all non-stop from open until close!
As an agent I evaluate offers, negotiate fees and discuss requests with artists and managers. I also deal with the crucial planning behind an artist’s event. I need to make sure gigs work logistically, get an agreement on payment and terms, approve artwork, confirm performance times and a whole host of other agent related tasks.
What are the most exciting aspects of your job?
Dealing with such a broad array of talent from around the world, speaking to people in many different countries and helping them to realize their goals in terms of the parties and festivals they want to put on. When someone on our books gets their dream gig, or a label puts out that hit release - and we know we have had a small hand in it - that feels good.
What are the biggest challenges?
MN2S has been running for 20 years now and throughout this time the scene has constantly evolved. It’s important for us to stay ahead of the curve and keep track of the latest trends to avoid becoming out-dated.
We are not the only agency in the game; numerous other companies have emerged over the years so it’s vital that we stand out from the crowd. Fortunately during our time we have developed a strong reputation for excellence and if we can maintain this then we have firm ground to stand on.
The music industry moves frantic and fast so time management is also key. There are a multitude of tasks that need to be actioned daily and being able to multi-task, keep focused and calm is paramount.
If you could offer advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Be nice to everyone you meet on the way, you never know when you may meet again. Be courteous, punctual, answer emails in a timely fashion and over deliver on promises, rather than promising the world and coming up short.
To mark the 20 year milestone, MN2S have released retrospective compilation, MN2S20 - 20 Years of MN2S. Available now from iTunes
Keep up to date with anniversary news and announcements using #MN2S20