123 Agency launches management company VVV MGMT
VVV MGMT is set up by 123 founder Damian Costin and Shihad drummer Tom Larkin, who also manages bands, runs a studio and produces records.
Costin tells TMN that his relationship with Shihad goes back to 1998 and he currently has the band on its booking roster.
“Coincidentally, Tom was in the office next door when 123 first set up, so it’s always been a close relationship.”
Larkin expands, “This partnership a natural step to combine our strengths under one roof.
“123 Agency have positioned themselves as a key entity within the Australasian music community in discovering and sustaining new talent, so being able to leverage our strategic and creative infrastructure as a management company alongside that presents huge opportunities for both parties.”
The VVV MGMT team includes manager Rachel Whitford, artist operations coordinator Aijia Li, and head of finance Jake Lowe.
The roster at launch includes Dear Seattle, The Vanns, Between You & Me, Bad Juju, Sweater Curse and Eliza & The Delusionals, who’re all on the Up escalator, as well as long-term career artists such as Kingswood as Woodlock.
Each has their own personalised strategy, explains Whitford.
‘We have a lot of exciting projects coming though over the next 12 months and each of them require an approach that respects not only the musical vision they have but the strategy that each artist needs to grow their presence and generate opportunity.”
VVV MGMT has its own modus operandi but also feeds back into 123’s artist-savvy and tech-savvy culture, and with a reputation for hunting down new acts and building them up with smart strategies and across-the-board services.
Costin cites Ocean Alley, discovered by agent Harry Moore and managed by Unified, as a story-building exercise.
“We put them in front of some influential people at Splendour in the Grass and got them on triple j.
“Twelve months later and three songs into radio, they’re selling 12,000 to 15,000 tickets and playing America right now.
“It was all done independently. We spent nothing on promoting their records.
“It was all word of mouth, and down to the fact they’re an incredible band.”
Discovering new music through streaming and playlists is one end of the spectrum. On the other is the old-fashioned way of busking to find an audience and spread word of mouth.
Three of 123’s major acts – Tash Sultana, The Pierce Brothers and Rueben Stone – got their start that way.
When Costin set up the agency five years ago in Melbourne, he deliberately chose the name 123 as an open-ended one.
“I’m pretty entrepreneurial and the whole idea was to look at all ideas and concepts that came our way.
“The strategy from the start was never to be the biggest, but certainly to be the best. Sometimes we win, sometimes we fall. It’s a constant conversation.”
18 months ago came Creative Entertainment – the band and brand initiative – which Costin set up with intellectual property lawyer Lilit Chakman.
It works with brands as Levi’s, Hugo Boss, MotoGP, Mazda, McDonalds, Grand Capital, Quicksilver, Mardi Gras, Channel 9, Channel 7, Coopers, Ford and just signed up Greg Norman and Kate Ceberano.
As the 123’s first five year plan ends (and the next set to kick off), some major projects are being prepped for announcement by the end of the year.
Costin says, “It’ll be very interesting to see where this company is in the next 12 to 24 months.”
Expansion into Asia “is high priority” for the agency, management and brands companies.
“Some conversations have already begun,” he reveals.