Olly Rowland: From Marvel Stunt Man to Promoting Artists Internationally
Music industry vet Olly Rowland is an artist manager for award-winning, international touring artists with RAGE Touring. His background includes not only working with some of the music industry’s biggest names, but working himself as a stunt man on Marvel and other major motion pictures.
Professional adventure cameraman/videographer for The Adventurists. What adventures have you taken, besides the top-secret hike, during the quarantine?
During quarantine it was difficult to travel anywhere too far away for adventures, but along with my girlfriend we would find a lot of outdoor/hiking based adventures. We followed the train track out of Las Vegas that heads towards California, hiking into the desert to see how far we could get before turning back. We also went on a socially distanced desert survival course, learning to make our own bow fire starting kits, learning about desert plants that are safe to eat, as well as tracking lessons.
James Bond was my main draw to becoming a stuntman. I had trained in Shotokan Karate since I was 5 years old, and always loved being active. Watching James Bond with my dad when I was 14, I said it would be a cool job to be a stuntman, and it just so happened that in the paper he was reading, was an advert for veteran stuntman/stunt-coordinator Vic Armstrong, doing an evening with style talk at the I-max theatre in London, so he got us tickets and we went to see the talk, and from that night on that was the only job I wanted to do. Vic had been Harrison Ford’s stunt double for Indiana Jones/Star Wars etc. and had some amazing stories about filming all around the world, it sounded perfect.
How do you use your personal experiences in the entertainment industry to connect to potential clients?
Starting by showing examples of both my meticulous planning, budgeting and logistical scheduling with past/current clients, showing how they have saved and/or made more money for the artists, and kept work and touring as a stress-free environment for the artist and/or management team, allowing them to concentrate on everything else, knowing that they are in safe hands. Once I’ve shown a proven track record, I’m lucky enough to have had such a varied career, there is usually a common interest that I’m able to bring into conversation, be it Marvel films, travel or a certain sport. So, by combining proof of a successful track record and my interesting and varied personal/work life, its usually fairly easy to build a great repertoire with potential clients, many of which have also become great friends.
The industry is ever-changing and evolving. How do you keep informed of industry trends and deals?
Something I’ve learned in this industry, is that networks and contacts are key. I make a conscious effort to touch base with everyone in my phone, from contacts at record labels to wineries to live touring crew. By doing this I hear updates within each of my contacts specific areas. It helps me see what direction the industry is going, and what particular areas are doing well or have new potential opportunities for my clients.
Which personal development resources do you use?
I listen to a lot of podcasts, whenever I’m driving or in the office I’ll have something on. I’m a big fan of Joe Rogan, who always has a wide array of guests from politicians to musicians to UFO hunters and anyone in-between. I really like his take on the world and I always seem to learn something I didn’t know previously from listening to his show, even down to vitamin supplements and keeping a healthy living balance, he has a great take on the world and I feel its definitely helped me improve myself both personally and in business.
What is your background in the music industry?
I had a break in my filming schedule after finishing season 4 Game of Thrones, and my best mates’ band were going on a small tour of the UK, they asked if I wanted to come along. So, I drove the tour van, helped get equipment in and out, and then without knowing it, naturally started taking the role of a tour manager before even knowing what that job was. I would start doing day sheets as some of the band weren’t great with time keeping, and I’d make sure they got their money from promoters before leaving the venue. I’d also negotiate merchandise commissions down with venues to try and make the bands tour as profitable as possible. I really enjoyed it and went out with them for multiple tours around the UK, Europe and Canada, making new contacts and extending my network as I went. I met Danny Nozell, the CEO of CTK, back in 2014 when he came to a showcase of the band, and we stayed in touch ever since then. In 2016 I decided to start my own tour management and production company ‘Rage Touring’. Through my network as well as knocking on doors, I was able to get very busy, very quickly with multiple international artists including McFly, Matt Goss, Bros, and The Hunna to name a few. I eventually got so busy I was able to employ new tour managers, who I trained up to work and organize as I do, so our clients knew whenever they were getting a tour manager from me, we would all work the same way, with high efficiency and organization, prioritizing the well-being and happiness of the artist and management team.
At the end of 2017 one of my touring clients, Matt Goss, asked me to fly out to Las Vegas and work as production/show manager on his new Las Vegas residency at The Mirage hotel and casino, following his 7-year run at Caesars Palace. I flew out and set the show up, and once we opened, Matt asked me to come on board as his manager. We worked as a great team both in Las Vegas as well as the UK, launching his documentary film about him and his brother Luke, taking over the BBC programming for a night in the UK, launching his own line of champagne and having him start recording his new album with legendary producer Babyface, amongst lots of other successful projects.
An international artist manager for hit-makers and up-and-coming artists. What is your management style?
I’m very hands on and make sure I’m across all areas of my client’s career. I’ll make sure I’m aware of what’s going on with our partners in PR, promotion, branding etc. I use a lot of my skills from tour managing such as strict budgeting and organizing well ahead of time to avoid any unnecessary surprises. I’ll always want my artists input on anything I’m working on when I get it to what I would consider a decent place. At the end of the day, I could set something up that I would consider amazing, but if they’re not sold on it and won’t turn up, that’s that and there’s no way I can make it happen wit out them. What I won’t do, however, is get them excited with a seedling of an idea or concept, until I have it in a place where I know it will either be highly profitable, or great and necessary press. There’s never any point on securing great PR when we don’t have anything to monetize off the back of it, which is a common mistake I’ve seen happen a lot, especially with new artists who can get over excited at an opportunity to go on a big mainstream chat show, but if they don’t have a product ready to sell, it’s a wasted opportunity which may be hard to turn down or push back, but it’s the right thing to do until the timing is perfect.
What methods do you use to connect clients to promotional/performance engagement opportunities?
I will always look at my clients as a brand. With Matt Goss for example, he’s a well-dressed British gentleman with a streak of rock/pop star. So, I would look for partnerships with high end watch, clothing and alcohol brands that are ‘on brand’ with Matt Goss. If we were looking at a rockier brand then we’d be looking at partnerships with newer, contemporary clothing companies, energy drinks etc. Yet again, as hard as it maybe, if a brand doesn’t fit with the brand of my artist, then we would, unless in a very rare or special circumstance, have to turn down offers that just don’t go hand in hand.
Can you share an example of when you thought ‘outside of the box’ and how it helped your client?
Once we launched the Matt Goss show at The Mirage in Las Vegas, we wanted to make a big splash on the Las Vegas strip as he had been at Caesars Palace for so long, we needed locals and regular visitors to the strip to learn that he had moved properties. I had the idea of making a giant billboard train that could drive up and down the strip, that would be unmissable. So, I worked directly with the mobile billboard companies (billboards mounted on trucks) and rented out every single one that I could. In the end I had 12 trucks bumper to bumper, parked outside of The Mirage for a few hours, then had them driving up and down the strip, either displaying our still image creative, or with the digital ones we had, we were playing the sizzle reel of the show on repeat, with all the trucks using their exterior speakers in sync, playing live audio recorded from the show. We made international press with the stunt, got vast amounts of coverage in Las Vegas and the UK, and we drove up our ticket sales to near sell out audiences repeatedly from then onwards.
RAGE touring tour and promotion management. For the most part, live entertainment has shut down since March because of Covid19. What’s your best advice for those struggling through the unknown?
My advice has been since the beginning, and still is now, to adapt to your environment. I had a lot of resistance, especially from other entertainers that I wasn’t directly working with in Las Vegas, when in March I was telling people they needed to adapt their careers to not rely on live shows for at least the next 18 months. There were too many people happy to bury their heads in the sand and make assumptions based on little to no facts that live entertainment would be back in as little as a month’s time from when we entered lockdown. Unfortunately, that naivety of being happy to sit and wait it out, has now been the downfall of many friends and entertainers, dancers, musicians etc., who now find themselves in a worse position than when this started as the extra unemployment package they were receiving has disappeared, and they are still at square one. Those that did listen, and managed to adapt be it by monetizing live streaming, recording and releasing new music, session musicians moving away from the live industry to recording/producing, embracing monetization of social media, or even finding a new career to get by until they can be back on stage, are all making money and at the very least surviving and not struggling, if not doing even better than pre-Covid. The Covid19 pandemic, no matter what your belief is in it, is affecting the industry massively, and those that adapt will be and can be fine, coming through this and getting back to the new normal whenever that time comes and is safe to do so. Those who continue to bury their heads in the sand and wait for live entertainment to start back just as it was, I fear will struggle greatly.