With more than three decades in the game, David Brady has seen the rise of dance music to a mainstream phenomenon, and his artists regularly headline at every Vegas nightclub and notable venue around the world. Having built Spin Artist Agency (which reps everyone from Avicii to Sander van Doorn), he is one of the biggest players in dance music today. We sat down with Brady to get his take on the state of EDM and what it takes to run one of the industry’s most important agencies.
How did you build your roster of DJs?
What happened was in the earliest days, it was Eurodance and Chicago House. We were booking DJs and Eurodance acts. I had an artist named Chris Sheppard. He was the first really big DJ in Canada and used to do 5,000 people every Friday and Saturday night in clubs. Other people used to come in and play, and I remember working with Erick Morillo in the early ‘90s. Others like Junior Jack and Kid Creme and David Morales would also come through. It was a whole different scene than it is today. There was none of the money that’s out there today.
We started to also take on acts like Run-D.M.C., Salt-N-Pepa, Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock. We would tour them right through Canada all the time. We would do 10, 20, 30 shows over a month or two-month period, and also toured all the dance acts that came through. We also had our DJs who we were developing. I started with Armin van Buuren back in 2000 and others like him who have become superstars today.
How much has Vegas has helped catapult electronic artists to superstardom?
Vegas helped a lot of it grow and brought the money to the business. Vegas saw the opportunity. Hip-hop was such a big culture from the late ‘90s to the end of 2010. But then there was a lull in the music. EDM came in with this crazy excitement. Part of that, I think, was the economy collapsing in 2008. People didn’t want doom and gloom. They wanted to party and have a good time. These people ushered in a new generation of dance music and elevated it to where hip-hop was in the late ‘90s into the 2000s.
What makes a good agent?
Being a good agent means you’ve got to love your artists and what they do to represent them properly. You’ve got to be dedicated to what you do daily, how you work with your artist and your management, and how you develop them. You’re developing brands and you’re developing careers together. Each artist has their own dream, their own aspirations. My job is to help them fulfill those dreams and aspirations every day. There’s nothing better than an artist coming in and playing a new track and watching a crowd react. That’s the best feeling in the world.
How do you balance supporting a juggernaut like Avicii while still servicing your other clients?
We have a whole team. There are 15 people working at Spin directly, with a back office of 10 more. Each agent who works here has their own artists. I try, as the leader of the team, to help guide the other agents in planning careers. I spend time on each artist’s career as they come through. My job is to create the next generation of agents, as we do each day with artists. I try to teach them the skills that I know so that they become stronger agents.
Who on your roster is really blowing up right now?
There are so many who are putting out great music right now. Some of them off the top of my head are Arty, Cazzette, Rebecca and Fiona’s album drops next month and a new young kid named Oliver Heldens who’s coming through. He’s been Top 10 on Beatport for two months and is working on an unbelievable track. When the vocal gets put on that, he’ll be a major artist. We also have W&W coming through and will be a top headliner this year.
What do you think sets Spin Artist apart from the other agencies?
We are very much more hands on than a lot of the other agencies. We believe that we can deliver a better service because we do not want to be the biggest agency in the world. It’s not our goal. We believe in giving [clients] more attention and more understanding to help them grow their careers and help them in so many other aspects other than a booking—introducing them to top-line writers, introducing them to other producers they can work with, introducing them to record labels. The magic comes out of that.
Is booking in the Vegas market different than booking elsewhere?
You try to treat everybody the same. Of course, when someone comes to you with a much bigger offer, that gets your attention before the one-off club shows. That’s just the nature of the business.
How do you find new talent?
It varies. Sometimes, it’s from talking to the artist, talking to managers. I get sent, probably on a daily basis, 30 different tracks from 30 different people every day.