Over the course of the past 5 years, few other agencies in electronic music have left their mark on the scene quite like the Berlin based Jackmode. Responsible for launching the careers of artists such as Adana Twins, Zombie Disco Squad, Robosonic and Round Table Knights, the agency is now home to over 30 artists, with each one possessing their own unique sort of inimitable house flair.
But what's involved in the agency? And how did it all come to pass? With the agency recently celebrating 5 years in the game thanks to the 2 CD compilation, 5 Years of Jackmode, I Voice decided to catch up with the founder and the brains behind the agency, Daniel Zedelmair, to discuss the story so far...
What was your thinking behind Jackmode when you set it up?
At the beginning, I just wanted to set up a home for some new acts with some rather special musical influences within house music. It all started with me meeting Zombie Disco Squad during their early days at a party i was promoting. Back then, they hadn't even had a release out if i remember rightly. We became good friends and that's where it started. Then it was just natural that we added more and more acts who felt connected to that specific scene. Today i see the agency more as a service provider than as an ambassador for a specific sound or scene. We feel like our job is to deliver what clubs and their respective audiences wants to hear.
What were you doing beforehand? Did you have any experience of the music industry before that?
I began working in the music business at the age of 20. I started as radio plugger for a German PR company called Public Propaganda, trying to push diverse music into German Radio, for Independent labels as well as Major companies. After that, I studied Business Management with focus on music management, booking and events. Due to the fact that i have put all my time and energy into Jackmode, i passed all examinations but failed to write my dissertation to finish the study with a degree. But i have learned all I needed to learn and can't imagine myself doing anything else other than what i'm doing right now.
At what stage did you need to expand to the team you are today? And who does what?
I started quite early to share responsibilities and work. I think that's the only way you can grow as a company. It's important for me as I have to run a company and still have to deliver as a artist agent in my day to day job. I now have three agents in Berlin, one in Zurich and since last month, we also have one in Bogota for South / Central America. We also work with steady partners in several countries like 24 Bit and Moove in Brazil, Liaison Artists and Vagabound in North America, Thick as Thieves and Totem in Australia, with IOD in Italy and Fuchs und Hase for Austria and certainly a few more I forgot to mention!
Did you ever think Jackmode would become so successful?
I guess it's the same for every entrepreneur. Of course you hope everything will go well, but in 5 years you make some good decisions and some bad ones. So there is definitely doubt as well. It was always and up and down, but looking at the overall tendency, it was always a positive one at the end of each year. But you can never be sure what will happen in this business. Especially if you get more successful as a small agency, the pressure increases. It all depends on your artists and how they develop, which is always difficult to predict. Right now we are in a lucky situation where we have quite a strong roster, which definitely helps. If you have only 1 or 2 successful artists the pressure and uncertainty is of course much higher.
Why do you think it's become so successful?
I think i've just been lucky to gather such an effective team and great artists around me. I also think we're easy to work with as long as promoters deliver a professional job. We always try to answer emails quickly, which is getting a bit more difficult these days I have to admit. Plus, we're really always available for our artists. I think it's a matter of several factors.
How important is good promotion and social media to what you do?
That was a huge strength of ours in the beginning. Maybe also a part of our success, that we always tried to promote our artists as part of our job. With more work, that's decreased a little in the last 2 years, but has been back on our agenda this year; especially with our 5 years anniversary which has given us the chance to post a lot of good content, which has made it worth while to put more effort into social media.
What do you look for in a Jackmode artist?
I want our artist to bring in some their own initiative when it comes to self promotion. If it goes well, I also advise them to reinvest some money in PR to help us do our job. I definitely need to see potential musically, but more importantly i need to have the feel that there is a certain something in their personality which people will love. My biggest artists i have signed only due to a gut feeling or lets say, instinct. I need a certain interpersonal connection with them in order to deliver a good job. It's often quite personal and intense between artist and agent, so you definitely need to be on the same page to make things easier.
What was the first big moment for the label?
I always think in terms of a booking agent rather than a record label. There have been a few good moments. Back in 2008, when Dirtybird and Made to Play signed Zombie Disco Squad, that was definitely a good moment for us all. Being the European agent for Dirtybird for a while was great as well, as i was and still am a big fan of Justin Martin. Also, the recent rise of Exploited and acts like Adana Twins, Claptone and Doctor Dru is quite big for us.
5 Years is a long time in electronic music. Has the industry changed a lot in that time even?
I think electronic music is having a world wider renaissance in general. Of course we have new musical hype coming up every year. I think it's also getting more diverse again, so there are a lot of different musical directions within the field of electronic music picking up at the moment, and also major companies seem to be more interested again in electronic music. I think the genre is making a comeback. Exciting times!
You recently released a V/A compilation to celebrate the milestone. Have you any other plans to expand on the Jackmode label?
I have decided to concentrate fully on the agency, therefore there are no plans for more releases at the moment. Maybe one for our 10th anniversary. The anniversary is just a really nice occasion to do all this. We have around 15-20 Jackmode nights and we're working on a nice documentary of the whole tour in cooperation with Editude Pictures. We also have the compilation on a double promo CD, which we give away on the tour. So loads of things to promote the company which is positive, but also causes a lot of work.
Where does the agency go from here?
For now i think we need to follow up the fast pace of growth and work on our administration and the whole handling, especially with all the new agents involved. We don't want to get any bigger in the near future, we'd rather be what and how we want to be. i.e a good alternative to the larger agencies, with a very personal and direct way of working with our artists.
Finally, what does a typical day involve for you?
My day starts with work at 8 am and ends with more work at 10 pm. :)