“Precision planning is what it takes to manage a large number of artists in the current environment in T&T.” Manager Seon Isaacs, who currently manages five Soca artistes, including wife Shivonne “Lil Bitts” Churche-Isaacs.
In addition to Lil Bitts, Isaacs currently manages four soca artistes – Rodney “Benjai” LeBlanc, Seumas “Azaryah” Callender, formerly known as Flipo, Devon “Dev” Harrris and Marvin “Swappi” Davis.
Isaacs said “it’s very difficult to manage so many artists in the current environment, it’s about precision planning and keeping the standard up, because it’s more about managing a personality than the actual artist himself. It’s really time consuming but with precision planning everything works out. I have a nice small team where I could delegate a lot of responsibilities to, in order to make each client happy, so it works out well.”
Isaacs has been in the music scene for many years, beginning with working at production company Studio 53 Entertainment, where he worked with Kwasi Robinson, Angelo Pantin, Jabari Charles to bring out local reggae. “We were responsible for 90 percent of what we would term as the local reggae in T&T, so a lot of songs from Isasha and Million Voice and King David and so on. We were responsible for birthing those artists.”
He moved on to radio announcing on urban stations, and hosting events, including running Red Carpet Saturdays with Studio 53 Living Room in Arima and Colosseum at what is now Gravity Compound. His first management experience came when he was approached by reggae artist Marcus “Zebulon” McIntosh. His next client was former Synergy Soca Star Kimba Sorzano, and in 2010 he signed a contract with Benjai. “I’m still currently his manager. There’s a separate side of my company, Isaacs Promotions, that solely deals with bookings for other artists separate from the ones I manage. Under that one particular company, I do four different things, which is management, bookings, promotions and events.”
Isaacs said even though he would recommend a career in management, aspirants should think carefully about what they’re getting into. “Because when an artist gives you that responsibility to seek their best interests as their manager, it has no room for mistakes with you and that individual, because it’s a ricochet effect, the mistake you make could affect that artist for the rest of their life. There are things that experience will teach you, but it’s also a business where you have to learn extremely fast, and it’s a very tough and harsh industry, very unforgiving industry.”
He said a main complaint by artists is the amount of radio play they get, but there are now many different avenues for them to get their music seen and heard. “It’s just for you to get up and actually work harder. There are new ways to earn money from your music that previously we weren’t privy to, and in this current stage we now have access to all these different companies that you could gain revenue from, whether it be from streaming, downloads, YouTube views, all these are ways you can pool your money. I encourage my artistes to go after international markets. Music is a universal language so we’re not stuck to one theme or time, or just the Carnival season every year, this is something that is part of you as an individual. All my artists work throughout the year, recording all different genres of music, and we strategically sit down, evaluate all the music and then release. Fusing the music, whether it be with another Caribbean artist or international artist, it works well and it does good for the music and the artist.”
Isaacs said from a manager’s perspective, he had the opportunity to learn different aspects of the business before getting to the stage of being a manager. “I enjoyed being on radio, I enjoyed doing events and then as those things got me a level of success, I started to fall in love with the business aspect of the industry itself. The other thing that fascinated me was being responsible for a product that everybody loves instead of me being that product that everybody loves. That’s what really gave me the encouragement to really help different artists, to take time to nurture and grow with them, so as our relationship as producer and entertainer grows, both careers grow at the same time and successfully so.”