2014 Young Colorado Entrepreneurs: Jake Schneider of Madison House, Inc.
JAKE SCHNEIDER: Age 31
Madison House, Inc.
Agent / Partner / Directory of Agency Development Madison House
Enter Jake Schneider’s office, and you’ll be greeted by an assortment of concert posters, Kid Robot dolls and the giant ear-to-ear smile of a charismatic go-getter. Schneider began his career in music while still in college before moving to Boulder to work alongside the founding partners of Madison House Inc. After almost a decade with the company, he’s now a partner, director of agency development and an all-around badass. And who wouldn’t envy the guy, considering he works among his mentors, booking tours and managing some of the greatest musical acts in the business such as String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar and Paper Diamond? Not bad for a kid from Minnesota.
Tell us why you love what you do:
Every day is a new adventure. The fun doesn’t stop. Be it receiving major music festival offers for developing artists, putting out a fire or two, or confirming a client at Madison Square Garden, every day is different. There’s a ton of pleasantries with the occasional bout of yelling.
What have you learned about yourself while running your business?
I’m incapable of being silenced or quiet. It’s not going to happen. Life’s too short to not say what you need to say. There’s obviously the need to be respectful in given situations, but if you’re not honest with those around you, you’re not going to accomplish what you’ve set out to. I also realized that I am incapable of whispering.
How do you keep up with the changing business landscape?
Consumption of information, music and news. Be it websites, conversations, magazines or blogs, people in the music industry are required to always be “in the know” when it comes to all things regarding new music genres, companies, festivals, etc. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll get left behind. Unfortunately, it leads to that “always connected” vibe. However, many of us find ways to disconnect, be it some tranquil time fly-fishing on the river or just flipping the iPhone over while watching some sports or great television.
Where do you see your industry going in the future?
I think you’ll continue to see the electronic music and hip-hop genres continue to increase, but level off a bit in the next year or two as it becomes a bit over-saturated. When that happens, the cream will rise to the top. I also see genres like americana and folk and their acts that execute amazing shows without laptops having a bright future as well. As far as the business itself, there is a huge roll-up right now where larger corporations are purchasing independent companies, and it remains to be seen how that will impact the artists or the fans. I’d like to think there’s enough to go around for everyone though.
How do you measure success?
It completely depends on the band, the agent and where you set your bar. Unfortunately, I’m never satisfied with my success. I want our company’s clientele to continually diversify and embrace new and upcoming genres, and I want to grow our acts to the point where they’re selling out arenas, stadiums, amphitheaters, etc. It really depends on the individual.
What’s the biggest myth in business?
In the music industry, the biggest myth is that a certain agency will change your career. It’s about the agent behind the artist at that company that will inevitably decide what your fate is. Anyone switching agencies because they “fit in better” with another roster doesn’t know what the hell they are talking about.
What was the toughest part about your first year in business?
Building relationships. There’s an abundance of cold-calling and trust-building when you’ve got developing acts. At times you can feel like a used-car salesman — there’s nothing wrong with that — but you’re on the phone all day selling your clients and asking promoters to take risks on bands or artists that they have never worked with before. You haven’t made that promoter money yet, and they may not have a relationship with you or anyone else at your company, so you’re counting on them to take the time, pick up the phone and give you enough attention to relay what you need to pass along in order to get your artist booked at their venue or festival. I’m thankful to all of those promoters who trusted me early on.
Favorite business book:
"Get In The Van” by Henry Rollins. When I was just a 22-year-old agent starting out at Madison House, my current business partner, but then boss, Nadia Prescher, encouraged me to read this book. It’s about the trials and tribulations of Henry Rollins and Black Flag on the road, and it really speaks to touring artists and the struggles of what it means to work within this business.
Favorite part about running your own business:
Luckily, I am able to run this business with my three senior partners, Nadia Prescher, Jeremy Stein and Jesse Aratow, who make this job even more fun than it already sounds. Running your own business means you can do things your own way, not needing to adhere to the status quo. There’s no corporate behemoth looking over your shoulder making you submit performance reports. Not happening!
Best advice you’ve received:
A great friend and mentor of mine, Mike Sanders from Opus One Productions in Pittsburgh, told me all we have in this business at times is our instinct. My gut has served me right 99 percent of the time in this industry. If it feels right, chances are it is right. If someone tells you, you can’t do something, but you think you can, don’t listen to them.
Best advice you have for aspiring entrepreneurs:
Do it your way. Obviously look at your industry and examine specific models for businesses and how they got where they are, but at the end of the day, make sure to put your own stamp on what you do that will have a long-lasting effect on your company, current clients and prospective clients.