EDMTunes recently sat down with Nick Royaards, the manager behind big names such as Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike as well as Lost Frequencies. He dished on management, Tomorrowland, the infamous iPad incident, and more!
1What is it exactly that you do?
You got a couple of days of time? Haha. You better ask me what I don’t do.
Well, I am the artist manager for Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and Lost Frequencies to name just a few. Two world class acts from my home country Belgium. But what I notice, is that people never really understand what “artist manager” exactly means. And if you ask me, it’s a combining term for a whole bunch of jobs. People think that artist managers are private jetting around the world, wining & dining in the best restaurants and sleeping in 5 star hotels, and while all of that is true and it’s the nice part of the job, it’s also only about 5% of all the workload. You gotta understand I’m on the phone 24/7, I’m the strategist, operations manager, bookings agent, dealmaker, problem solver, psychologist, nutritionist, organizer, counsellor, etc. Every artist is different and has very different needs and it’s my job to give them the best possible service and make them happy. Something that of course only works when there is mutual respect
2How did you become an artist manager & get involved with Tomorrowland?
My relationship with the brothers behind Tomorrowland, goes way back. At the time when they were setting up their first edition of Tomorrowland in Boom, Belgium, my then company Blue Flame was on the verge of becoming the largest producer of nightlife concepts in Belgium. In those days we would be producing over 150 club nights/year for over 100,000 party people. “Bonthuys”, “The Unit”, “Déjà vu”, “Mob Nights”, “Blow” were some of the then famous brands we built from scratch. We were really amongst the pioneers who first brought Chuckie, Sebastian Ingrosso, Dadalife, Yellow Claw, DJ Jazzy Jeff, A-Trak, DJ Kool, DJ Premier and many others to Belgium. So it was only logical that we would be hosting a stage at Tomorrowland and do our thing, and that’s how the “Blue Flame stage” was born as a yearly tradition at the festival. I remember an old article in a Belgian newspaper stating that our stage was the hottest place on the entire festival. Sweat was dripping from the ceiling. I don’t know if that is true, but we sure knew how to throw a party! Now fast forward to 2012/2013. At that time I was having regular talks with Michiel about future opportunities for the two of us working together and that’s when I started co-managing Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and also Yves V. We are over 4 years into it now and I can only say it has been an absolutely amazing adventure. It’s great to see how all the hard work is really paying off now. You see, when I came on board, the guys were ranked #38 on the DJ Mag Top 100 DJ’s, last year we made it all the way to the #1 spot!
So things are really going well, so well we decided to take on another very talented act, “Lost Frequencies”, together with Dimitri who discovered him at an early stage with myself.
3How do you nurture and grow new talent when you first discover it?
Again, every artist is different and has very different needs. For me the most important aspect is to listen to my artists and help bring their visions to life. You know, these type of amazingly creative & passionate artists really know where they want to go so my job is to layout the framework and get it all done. I have to guide them all the way to the top and at the same time bring peace into their lives. It’s all about balancing. My motto is: keep them balanced, healthy and focused on the target while enjoying every step of it.
4When you first began managing Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, what was your general game plan to get them to where they are now? What thoughts went through your mind during your first strategy discussion?
When I first started managing the guys we were playing in a very different league than where we are at now. In the 4 years we have been working together, we went from being well-known to having the superstar status and that has been the target since day one.
Our gameplan was fully focused on getting to the top and that’s a very exciting goal to work towards. That gets me going in the morning. I always keep my eyes on the target and that makes it easier for me to deal with all the bumps & hurdles we run into on the road to success.
5We’d be remiss if we didn’t ask about this, so what’s your reaction to the “infamous” iPad campaign and the backlash that ensued?
Actually this whole iPad story is taken out of proportion, since we sell around 84.000 tickets for our Bringing The Madness arena shows in Belgium, we gave some of a select few of core fans the option to vote for us on an iPad during the announcement of our new arena shows. Knowing that almost a million people voted means this doesn’t really change the outcome. It always stays a popularity contest. As long as we keep selling out arena’s we are all more than happy and thankful to our fans.
6The production at Bringing the Madness is incredibly impressive each year – how do you manage to keep finding new ways to innovate in an arena setting?
Our ‘Bringing The Madness’ concerts are one big team effort and we have succeeded big time. It’s an amazing partnership between Dimitri, Mike, myself and the extremely talented creative team of Tomorrowland. Last November, we played the Veltins Arena in Germany (home of the soccer team Schalke 04) for 45.000 people in one single night, where we broke the record of the biggest DJ solo show in Germany. That was absolutely insane. And then, in December, we did 4 sold out shows in the Antwerp Arena (Sportpaleis, Belgium) for a total of 84.000 people.
7Who’s your next big talent and how can a new artist catch your eye?
You know I’m always looking for new opportunities and that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a new and upcoming artist. It can also be an established major league DJ who is looking for a fresh boost in their career. Either way I wanna keep on working with great, passionate artists and make sure they can reach as many people as possible with their music.
8What advice do you have for our readers who want a career like yours in artist management?
Get prepared for the wildest rollercoaster ride you will ever experience in your life! And I really mean that.