Jake Schneider, a Partner and Director of Agency Development at Madison House, plays a critical role in bringing our favorite artists to the stages we gravitate to. At Madison House, a well known independent booking agency based in Boulder, Colorado, Schneider continues to operate as a booking agent for the likes of Bassnectar, Lotus, Beats Antique, Paper Diamond, Black Tiger Sex Machine, Keys N Krates, Break Science, and many more. If you see any of these artists on a festival lineup, it's because he did what he could to put them there.
Schneider is a 10 year veteran in the music industry with experience in event coordination, event production and DJing. Officially becoming a partner in 2013, he manages over 22 employees at Madison House with a roster of 135+ artists total. Every employee, client and fan who has had the pleasure of meeting or working with Schneider all say the same thing - he's a genuine guy who is kind and keen to developing true bonds with the people he comes in contact with. We got the chance to ask him a few questions about the music business, how he got to where he is today and what he think the industry will look like in the future.
How did you start your career in the electronic music business?
I’ve always been a big music fan, but while acting as the talent buyer in college for the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA and an independent promoter doing hip-hop shows throughout the midwest, my taste in music began to alter as I brought in and booked new types and genres of acts. After school I was fortunate enough to be shot into the Madison House agency system as a youngun looking to get his feet wet. At that point the multi-genre music festival scene was in an amazing cycle and there were all kinds of interesting collaborations between jam bands, electronic artists and hip-hop acts. I began working on an amazing band called LOTUS that blended improvisational rock with amazing electronic music (they’re still on the roster, one of my favorites of all time, and have been on the incline for the past decade), I signed an electronica band called Pnuma Trio (in which Alex Botwin, now known as Paper Diamond, was the bassist for, at the tender age of 18) and shortly after I started getting into some of what were being considered the “west coast” sounds of electronic music and stuff coming out of Burning Man like breaks, DnB and dubstep. Because there was a ton of crossover between the jam band scene and the electronic cats at Burning Man, there was some cross pollination between the worlds and that led me to my man Bassnectar.
What do you think is the best part of the business?
Watching artists grow and seeing fans that weren’t obsessed with electronic music becoming engulfed with the genre and then inevitably (and rightfully) considering it "music". Electronic music isn’t just what’s happening commercially in Los Angeles, Ibiza or Vegas. It’s about entire nations of people gathering for a shared communal experience, and that could be a SOLD OUT show to 18,000 people in FUCKING BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA.
What are the biggest challenges?
Tempering artist, promoter and manager expectations. This world needs to continue to grow in a healthy way and when it’s all about what’s happening “RIGHT NOW” and there is no foresight into sustainability, it can be frustrating. Too many acts are playing in front of a 600 person sold out room, hit it big with a record, and the next thing you know they’re being catapulted into a 8,000 person stale arena, that’s half full. We need to stop skipping steps and let the artists AND the fans grow TOGETHER with the music. Sometimes it’s completely warranted and makes sense, but chasing what your gut is telling you and what the paycheck looks like can be two opposite things. They can also coexist though. ;)
Is there any career advice you would give to someone just starting off?
HUSTLE in a non-abrasive way. Learn from people. LISTEN. READ READ READ. Figure out how to talk your way through a music industry conversation, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. I remember just jotting down pages and pages of notes that contained terms and words I never knew existed, but I had been hearing. The world is at your finger-tips - it’s all online now. Just do your research and GO GET IT.
As the EDM industry continues to grow, what do you think the secrets to longevity in this business will be?
It’s about creating the best experience for the fan, doing things for the right reasons, and also making sure that everyone on all ends of the live industry prosper, not just the agents or the artists. Agents need promoters as much as promoters need agents. Everyone is playing their part in growing the artists, curating music to alter people’s palettes, and at the end of the day all we’ve got is the relationships and history we’ve built together. If promoters and artists continue to work together harmoniously to help each other out, we’ve got a long successful road ahead of us. On my end, I’ve seen booking agents take a million different routes, but knowing that we all survive TOGETHER, puts things in perspective for me, my roster, and hopefully the fans. On the artist end of things, although it’s musical talent that reigns supreme, on top of that, you’ve got the fact that with technology these days, the sky’s the limit.
What cities or regions do you think electronic dance music is best thriving?
EVERYWHERE! Some of the most rabid fanbases in North America are the ones in places like Tulsa, OK, El Paso, TX, Athens, GA, Columus, OH, etc. It’s amazing to see what can happen when artists pay attention to markets like these. Why should those fans be forced to have to strictly travel to music festivals? They’re going to hit some music festivals inevitably, but the fans will be more likely to do so after they see an up-and-coming OR an established act throw down in their hometown, or somewhere proximate.
If you weren’t in the music biz, what would you be doing?
I’d hopefully be sitting in a stream fly fishing in the mountains with waders and polarized sunglasses looking for honey holes full of rainbow trout. Maybe being a tour guide for those looking to get into the sport? Quite a juxtaposition to electronic music, but there are more similarities than you think.