Lewis Cleaver decided one day that law school wasn’t for him and chose to follow his passion for the music industry instead. And it worked out really well. Lewis now works full-time in artist relations at Sony and, on the side, runs his own management company, Holocene Management.

For this week's instalment of Music Industry Mondays, our brand-new host, Talia Andrea, spoke to Lewis about his journey from law school to music artist manager. We’re going to dive into how there is no set path to join the exciting world of the music industry. If you want to watch the full talk, you can click here.


The creation of Holocene Management

Lewis's story is an example of how there are no limits to the amount of ways you can enter the music industry. This isn’t like rocking up to a hospital without a medical degree; anyone from any profession can find their way into a music-related position, even as an artist.

Although Lewis also dabbled in the art himself, playing drums in a band while at law school, he found the behind-the-scenes and organisational side of things most exciting. Suddenly, the fear of spending his life doing something he wasn’t truly passionate about was too big to ignore, so he took a leap of faith.

Lewis founded Holocene Management in 2019 after deciding that he didn’t want to wait for an opportunity to come to him. He worked hard to get his current position with Sony, initially a 6-month contract turning into a permanent position because of his drive. Still, he felt like if he wanted to make his artist manager dreams come true, he had to take matters into his own hands.


Tips for building something from nothing

Luckily, Lewis had a couple of clients up his sleeve with ties to the industry to find his footing and start off in the right direction. His experience at Sony, working with both frontline and catalogue artists, also helped immensely as things can quickly become overwhelming when running your own company, as you can probably imagine.

Even if you have dreams to take to the stage (literally and metaphorically) and do everything on your own, a little experience and help can go a long way. Even a job at something completely unrelated can prove to be just the skill set you need to take on your bigger project.

If there’s one thing our audience learned from Lewis, it’s never underestimate the power of a spreadsheet. Honestly, he’s crazy about them, but it’s a solid way to compartmentalise all of your tasks and stay on top of everything. As well as this, Lewis recommends the importance of being realistic about your workloads and allowing time for you to finish tasks to the best of your ability. Don’t cram too many things into one day as you’ll be at risk for burnout, and those outcomes may not look as good as you’d hoped.

In other words, chuck the grindset mentality in the bin and always remember it is also productive to rest! There is never any work that needs to be done at 3 am.


How to get those ideas moving

Whether you’re an artist or looking to work behind the scenes, stepping into the music industry is no walk in the park, so Lewis had a couple of tips for our Music Industry Mondays audience.

Networking is a must: Don’t underestimate the power of good connections. Word of mouth can be stronger than you think.

Don’t forget about books!: The internet is great, but nothing beats a wealth of knowledge in the palm of your hands from people who really know what they’re talking about. Lewis recommends books like Sound Advice by Lucy Heyman and Rhian Jones, How Music Works by David Byrne and The Music Business by Ann Harrison to solidify your plans and get things moving.

The right way to approach A&R: Lewis suggests a more organic approach when it comes to approaching A&R professionals. Instead of cold messages, he recommends making the connection as organic as possible. For instance, try to find A&Rs on LinkedIn and add them to your guest list for gigs. This will create opportunities for a more genuine connection.

Know the right time to ask for help: If you’ve been working on your own for quite a while and the admin is starting to get on top of you, don’t be afraid to recognise when you need help. This is exactly the time to start looking for a manager or perhaps an assistant to take on the heavy stuff so you can go back to concentrating on what really matters to you or being a musical genius.

Get business-minded: Holocene Management's marketing strategy was a little more organic, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t spend a lot of his time learning as much as he could about the huge project he was about to undertake. Yes, marketing strategies and business plans are essential, but don’t forget about word of mouth and putting yourself in the right rooms to have those life-changing conversations.

Lewis Cleaver's journey from law school to music management really showcases the idea that there's no set pathway into the music industry. His story definitely inspired our audience, and we hope it inspires you, too. Don’t forget you can watch the entire conversation here or grab a ticket to join us at our next event.