Jake Zinn is a recent graduate from the College of Charleston where he focused on Arts Management. Growing up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the ambitious 22-year-old knew the path he wanted to pursue from an early age. Gathering early inspiration from his uncle who was a musician and owned a studio, by the time Jake was in high school during the early Soundcloud era, his drive to be apart of the music industry was sparked.
Gaining experience through working festivals and events, Zinn eventually came up on the opportunity to manage an artist. Initially meeting him through a friend, Jake and Ducey Gold eventually came together and decided to work together. Jake stated that the relationship felt natural because they both knew they were "there to do a job.” At the beginning, both of them were still figuring out how to go about maneuvering in the industry, and now Jake and Ducey are moving up the ranks quickly.
As time has progressed, the two have now become a part of Stray Dogs Music Group, adding to an already loaded roster of artists. Besides managing, Jake also has spent time developing his own app which could very well be downloaded on everyone's phone in the near future.
Today, we sit down with Jake Zinn to discuss how he got involved with managing, some of his best experiences during his time as a manager, and his music app Beepr as part of a 6-part series covering and speaking with one of music’s most exciting new assemblies - Stray Dogs Music Group.
Hunter McNeeley: How did you get involved in the music industry with managing?
Jake Zinn: "It started really early. I always lived next to my uncle and he grew up as a musician. He had a studio, so I was always interested in music, but then when I was in high school during the early Soundcloud era, my friends were showing me all these up and coming artists like XXXTentacion, Lil Peep, and Smokepurpp. At the time, they had around 1,000 followers because it was super easy to find artists back then.
I was really intrigued because I was finding all of these really good songs and artists that my friends were showing me and nobody knew who they were, so I was just always searching for new music. I would say towards my junior and senior year, I knew I wanted to do something in the music industry, but I didn't know what. That's kind of what pushed me to want to go to the College of Charleston. I was at Charleston my freshman year, and I didn't really do anything revolving around the industry besides personal things. My summer going into sophomore year, my friend Patrick Mayo who was going to Charleston said, "I have this friend (Ducey Gold) from North Carolina. He makes music and he's really good.” When people hit you about their friend making music, it's usually like, ”Okay, I'll listen to it but I don't know how it's going to be."
At first, he only had one song. It's wasn't bad, but I didn't know what to do with it; I'm just in school doing college and enjoying myself. Then, he dropped a couple more songs, and that's when I started really listening to him. I was really impressed, he wanted to do shows and I've always loved live concerts. I hit him up and told him that I could help him out. After that, I just learned and started booking college shows for him."
How did you actually start managing Ducey Gold?
"He felt like he needed help and he was still experimenting with his sound. I felt like that was a good position for me because I was learning as I go. We both kind of just said, "Let's work together. If it works out, it works out; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.” So, I started trying to get him features. It was just a spur of the moment, "let's work together," and then it slowly escalated into features, talking more, working on his sound and shows."
How has the transition into Stray Dogs Music Group been?
"Shout out to Jarred, he’s the man. He's really plugged in and super humble. He heard Ducey a year ago and reached out to say he wanted to work with him, but Ducey told him that he was working with me and that maybe Jarred and I could work something out together. I started talking to him, and then I booked a show at UNC Charlotte, then two weeks after that I booked Ducey for the Breakaway Festival in Charlotte and that was the first time we met - it was in October, a little over a year ago. At the time, he was working with Shock, Teej and Mavi and I really liked what he was doing.
Jarred called me and said he was going to go to New York, and that I could come with him as they were going to meet up with some labels. When we were in New York in January, he mentioned Stray Dogs to me and how he wanted to start his management company, but he said he couldn’t do it by himself even though he had a ton of ideas. I begged him for three days, I'd always bring it up like every two hours, like, "let me work for you, you know what I can do, blah, blah, blah." I kind of pushed him to create it. He's doing so many other things; it was kind of just like another idea, and then he finally did it.
What is your favorite part about being on tour?
"I just love talking to people and connecting with people, especially in the industry and hearing what they have to say on what they think is coming up or what their takes are on certain artists. I like the connection that it brings. So, when we were in Boston, in New York, it was just sweet meeting all these people. You learn so much, not even just being at the show, but watching how production works and all of that."
What is a label meeting like?
"I don’t know if I have a true sense of what a serious label meeting is like because we weren't really there for them to offer us anything; we weren't signing anything or getting a certain amount of money. It was just kind of an introductory meeting.
It was more of like, "What's your plan? What's your vision? What do you think of this?" For us, it was just a lot of introducing each other. If they really fuck with the artist and they know that he has potential to go do something, then they're going to want to be on good terms with them in some way.
Some of them were intimidating. We met with ______ and we were like 30 stories up. I'm like walking through these plaques and I'm like, "What the fuck is going on?" and then that label we met with was super serious during the meeting."
What has been some of your most unreal experiences in the industry where you're like, "this is happening, and I'm living it"?
"I worked all-star weekend in Charlotte and there was a festival there. I worked from 7 AM to 2 AM. I was exhausted just doing the tickets but I was seeing how a festival works from the very beginning to the end. I was kind of mad; it was around 2 AM, I'm not getting paid - it went from a cool experience to "fuck this."
I knew the people throwing it; I was backstage and I just got to watch Elephante. He was performing and Le’veon Bell, who you wouldn't even think is a rapper, came on and started rapping, and I was like, "well, this is cool."
Then, we went to the back room and I was taking shots with Rich the Kid, Le’veon Bell, Elephante, and Carter Cruz who was a pornstar, but she DJs now. It was cool to see how that works after everything is over. I acted like I was supposed to be back there even though I shouldn’t have been. I couldn't pull my phone out, either, because they’d be like, "Who the fuck is this kid?" I was 20, I wasn't even able to drink.
My freshman year, there was a hurricane in Charleston so we had to leave and we went to Atlanta. I was a super big Lil Yachty fan back then because I felt like I was listening to Yachty before anyone, which I probably wasn't. He tweeted out that he was in Atlanta and he was doing a music video for "Minnesota". Young Thug wasn't going to be there, but the Migos were going to be. Yachty’s team said, "if you want to be in the video, send us an email explaining why you should be."
I just emailed them a picture of me wearing a Lil Yachty shirt and at 1 AM I got an email saying, “You've been picked to be in the video; come drive to this ice rink, it starts at 2 AM”. Me and my friends called an Uber and went over. We were with Yachty, the Migos, Coach K and the whole Sailing Team. I always hate bringing the story up, too, because I was literally front row next to Offset the entire time they were filming the video. I knew all the words; I felt like the man and I was telling everyone I'm going to be in the video. I'm right next to Offset, but on the other side was Ayo and Teo - the dancers. So, when the music video came out, I was in there for maybe a second of the whole video because they shot most of it on the other side, so I looked like a dumbass. It was a cool experience to see how a music video works, though.
I would also say being in New York and watching a sold-out, very popular venue filled with kids knowing every single lyric to Let the Sun Talk. Half of those songs don't even have choruses, which was mind-boggling to me and very motivating."
What else would you like to do in the music industry?
"I’ve always had a dream of doing my own festival. I think I could put on one knowing the things I've seen. I've been working on an app for probably about four years now, and it just launched on the App Store on February 1st. That's been taking over my life and that's something I want to continue working on. I hope it actually does something to disrupt the music industry and community because I think it has the possibility of doing that."
What is Beepr?
"It's an app that provides real-time insights on the artists that are within the app.
You can go into ESPN and select your favorite team - you can press on injuries or scores or stats. My idea behind Beepr is to make the music version of ESPN, where you can decide if you want to be alerted on new music, music videos, touring, etc.
Everyone is dropping music and all the platforms are just constantly pushing out someone new. It's hard for even me to find my favorite artists and their new music. It took a couple of years, but it's working out really well right now. We've sent maybe 700 notifications since the first of February and we have a rate of 92% beating all social media and blogs in notifying the public of new releases. We want to be your first alert.
Complex could Tweet something out while you're at work - and you're on your phone occasionally - but we'll send an alert directly to your phone. You just tap on it, and it'll take you to Spotify, take you to YouTube, whatever the alert is for."
What would you tell someone that wants to get into managing or the music industry that has no clue where to start?
"I always feel weird giving some sort of advice because I'm always asking other people for advice, every day. To really start off, you just got to find an artist that you think is talented but also someone that you can connect with easily. Both teams understand that they're there for a reason and trust each other. When I first started with Ducey, he knew exactly what I was supposed to do and so did I. We kind trusted each other. If you can trust the person next to you working on your work, then everything should go very smoothly."
How did you meet Kerwin Frost?
"Kerwin Frost is the shit. I was in Chicago for the first time, we were there for a game and I think it was right before Christmas. I've been a huge fan of Kerwin Frost for years and I saw him post on his Instagram saying he's doing a surprise show. I went by myself, which was kind of weird and I waited in line in Chicago. I didn't know where I was, but I was at the RSVP Gallery.
I didn't know what I was getting myself into and there was a little mosh pit that I got pushed out of, which I was fine with; it was hot as shit and I got pushed behind the speaker so it looked like I was in Kerwin Frost’s crew. It was his wife and someone else, then Cole Bennett’s girlfriend came. I was in the back when the show ended and I went up to his wife and I said I'm from North Carolina and I’m a huge fan. She told me to come back with her and talk to Kerwin. We took a picture and I left. He put me on a list for a show he was DJ'ing. It was a Christmas event for Lyrical Lemonade. I didn't go, but he put me on the list even though he didn’t really know me. I have a big appreciation for people who are just genuine and they don't even see themselves as a big artist; they're just normal people and they want be treated like that."
Final thoughts on Stray Dogs Music Group?
"Jarred is the shit. I know I'm biased when I say this because I work for them and I'm a part of the company every day, but I really, honestly think that these four artists on Stray Dogs have a really good chance of doing something in the industry. I feel like with a management company, if one artist really does well at first, then everyone's going to want to hop on to not only that artist, but the team and that's just going to bring a bunch of traffic. I really think Stray Dogs has a potential to really be like QC or something of that nature.
I really think there's a good possibility that in the next year or two, all the artists can really do something and I'm really excited about that. They're really different and very talented and they all work. These artists aren't lazy; they know what they want to do and they work on their music every day, which I appreciate, because on the other hand, we're working every day on it. It's a perfect team."
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