Talent Buyer and Manager Thomas Cussins- Why Mistakes are Crucial to your Success

Thomas Cussins is the co-founder of Ineffable Music Group, a company which manages the careers of Collie Buddz, Hieroglyphics, Stick Figure (who is personally managed by Thomas), and many more.  Cussins is also the Head Talent Buyer for the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, CA, the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma, CA, The Cornerstone in Berkeley, CA, and the Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo, CA.  He also produces the Levitate Music festival just outside of Boston, MA.
We conducted this interview live from the bar upstairs at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, so there’s a little background noise, but you’ll get so many great lessons from this episode.  Thomas breaks down the business in digestible, detailed, and transparent manner, so take his advice and run with it.
Thomas also reminds us of the importance of taking chances and making mistakes.  Having achieved success as both a manager and talent buyer, Cussins offers a unique perspective.  This episode is a must hear for anyone looking to stand out from the crowd as an artist, manager, promoter, or entrepreneur.

Check out this episode!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show Notes:

8:57 Never burn any bridges
9:58 Thomas isn’t afraid to make mistakes
17:13 Thomas explains what impressed him about Stick Figure at the beginning
21:05 How Thomas created his own position with Collie Buddz by promising him $100,000 in his pocket
23:36 Having a business mind and the ability to produce can set an artist apart
25:49 Thomas breaks down how his company Ineffable is structured
27:02 Why producing festivals is such a high risk
30:05 What makes Thomas easy to work with
31:35 How upcoming artists should approach Thomas to get on shows
33:09 Opening artists should always have something material to give or sell to fans at shows
35:00 The biggest advantage of being independent is that we can move fast and make quick adjustments
37:40 The most important part of branding is having consistent content
40:07 The one thing Thomas makes sure to teach people he takes under his wing
42:53 What Thomas would spend a $1000 marketing budget on when promoting a live show
50:00 It’s important to swing at a ton of pitches
55:09 Making money in the music business often comes down to connecting people
56:40 Bouncing back from failure is essential
1:00:02 If Thomas had a $5000 marketing budget to release an album, here’s what we would spend it on
1:01:39 Thomas’s thoughts on buying onto tours
1:03:31 It’s important to roll the dice and take chances

Promoter Sean Healy- Can Artists Benefit from Paying to Play Shows?

Episode 2 features special guest Sean Healy, owner of Sean Healy Presents, one of the largest independent concert promotions companies in the country. SHP operates out of Los Angeles, and the company promotes shows all over the west coast, as well as Chicago, NYC, and more. Healy has also been a controversial figure, due to his use of the pay to play method, or as he prefers to call it “pre-sale tickets”.

We discuss why Sean’s business model works for him, and he names 5 superstar artists that have sold tickets as part of a Sean Healy Presents show. Sean also tells us about the times he passed on Kanye West’s release party and a Lady Gaga show early in her career. This is a beneficial episode for any entrepreneur, artist, promoter, or anyone looking to build a successful company. Healy doesn’t duck any questions, and answers each question with honesty and thoughtfulness. Enjoy.

Show Notes:

  • 21:19 How George Clinton got Sean Healy into booking hip-hop
  • 24:31 How honesty helped set Sean apart as a promoter
  • 26:59 When Sean passed on Kanye’s College Dropout release party and Lady Gaga early in her
  • career
  • 33:56 The importance of being professional as a young artist
  • 34:45 How Sean’s Pay to Play Model has evolved
  • 42:19 Five artists who sold their own tickets on Sean Healy Presents shows and went on to become superstars
  • 46:02 Routines that Help Sean Begin Each Day
  • 1:02:51 If Sean had a $1000 promotional budget for a show, this is what he would spend it on

Manager Steve Lobel – Part 2 – How loyalty, integrity and hard work leads to longevity in the music business

Steve Lobel is a legend in the hip-hop game. After getting introduced to the music business by the late great Jam Master Jay from Run-DMC, Steve went on to become one of hip-hop’s most recognizable managers. Currently, Lobel manages the legendary group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and super producer Scott Storch, who has worked with The Roots, Dr. Dre, Fat Joe, and many more.

Steve blesses us with a ton of great stories and advice, including lessons learned from Russell Simmons, Lyor Cohen, and others. He prides himself on honesty, and he does not back down from any questions, sharing very personal details and great business guidance. This is a great episode for any aspiring artist, producer, or future executive looking for more insight on advancing his or her career.

Part 2 Highlights:

  • 1:10 Why 50 Cent is a perfect example of success
  • 7:18 Steve started every day out with a Mountain Dew and Snickers bar for decades
  • 10:17 Steve makes a “Things not to do” list instead of a “To do” list
  • 17:14 Steve shares his thoughts about the rappers he knew who passed away
  • 23:35 Why Steve now takes pictures with celebrities
  • 36:11 Do emerging artists need to move to LA or NY to make it?
Episode 1 Guest Steve Lobel
Episode 1 Guest Steve Lobel

Manager Steve Lobel – Part 1 – How loyalty, integrity and hard work leads to longevity in the music business


Steve Lobel is a legend in the hip-hop game. After getting introduced to the music business by the late great Jam Master Jay from Run-DMC, Steve went on to become one of hip-hop’s most recognizable managers. Currently, Lobel manages the legendary group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and super producer Scott Storch, who has worked with The Roots, Dr. Dre, Fat Joe, and many more.

Steve blesses us with a ton of great stories and advice, including lessons learned from Russell Simmons, Lyor Cohen, and others. He prides himself on honesty, and he does not back down from any questions, sharing very personal details and great business guidance. This is a great episode for any aspiring artist, producer, or future executive looking for more insight on advancing his or her career.

Part 1 Highlights:

  • 9:22 Steve talks about starting in the music business with Run DMC
  • 12:40 Why people call Steve “The white Russell Simmons”
  • 18:00 Steve talks about finding happiness for the first time in years.
  • 23:14 The worst things about being a manager
  • 33:24 Find out what types of people Steve likes to surround himself with
  • 42:10 What Steve would do if he only had a $5,000 budget to promote an artist
  • 45:10 Steve’s advice to younger artists who would like to approach him
Steve Lobel Joins The Indie Playbook