Greg Carey, co-chair of the Association of Artist Managers (AAM) and former director of entertainment company Umbrella Music, has launched a new company in its place.

TIO can exclusively reveal details of Grow Yourself Up, a multi-faceted music company with five divisions: management, a record label, sync and licensing, events and a studio.

Carey has formed Grow Yourself Up with Wallacia-based artist Wade Jackson. The pair were inspired during a recent trip to the US in pursuit of a musician who they made a soon-to-be-released documentary about.

Speaking about the creation of Grow Yourself Up, Carey said:

“For the last 10 years with Umbrella, helping our bands achieve extraordinary results, whilst creating sustainable and long-term careers, was always my passion. This remains the foundation of the new company.”

The (tongue-in-cheek) motto for the business is to “help create a ‘middle class’ for musicians.”

“I’m sick of reading reports about how low the average income is for artists versus the extreme riches in music,” he told TIO. “Creating a middle ground somewhere in between, although highly ambitious, would be a great thing for everyone.”

Grow Yourself Up’s management roster is The Rubens (who are currently writing in New York), Saskwatch and Urthboy; all of whom have moved over from Umbrella to continue their management deals with Carey.

The first release from the company’s label division will be a new record from Melbourne’s Saskwatch in July. It will be followed by a Wade Jackson record.

“We aren’t looking to sign a swagger of bands,” said Carey. “Timing is everything and a lot of energy and resources goes into releases so we don’t want to bite off more than one can chew. Watch this space though, we love music and breaking new talent.”

Grow Yourself Up will host a new monthly event called MASS (Make A Scene Sydney). Hosted on the last Wednesday of every month at The Dock in Redfern, MASS is an ideas exchange for creatives from the music, tech, film, design, sport, theatre and dance industries.

“The concept and objectives are very simple,” said Carey. “We want to be at the forefront of building capacity for the broader creative industry.”

The first event is May 31; attendees can register at www.growyourselfup.com 1st May. Each event will be a fundraiser for music industry charity, Support Act. Carey hopes to raise $5,000 for the charity in 12 months.

As for the studio, the company’s office space in Redfern has a small creative space/studio/vocal booth. See more details on the available gear here.

“There are some other ideas in the background that will come to fruition over time, but we have plenty of exciting projects to get underway,” Carey said.
The creation of Grow Yourself Up ends a decade-long epoch of Umbrella Music. Formed with Joel Connolly in 2007, Umbrella helped shape the careers of The Rubens, Cub Sport, Elizabeth Rose, Saskwatch, Urthboy, Winterbourne and more.

Following Connolly’s move to tech start-up Blackbird Ventures last year, and the preceding closure of Umbrella’s PR arm last May, Grow Yourself Up marks a new evolution for the brand.

“We’d built a successful company from the ground up over 10 years, but marriages, kids, houses, proper grown up stuff… had started to naturally take priority,” said Carey. “We achieved a lot together that I’m extremely proud about and memories that I’ll treasure forever.

“The concept behind Grow Yourself Up is a salute to my past with Joel and Briese (Abbott, former Umbrella MD), but with a whole new energy and direction of new ideas and pursuits.”

For the full story behind Grow Yourself Up, read our short Q&A with Carey below:

Tell us the story behind why Grow Yourself Up was formed.

Umbrella was conceived by Joel Connolly and I at The Lansdowne Hotel in July 2007 and over the last decade we had grown into a successful company, with the help of Briese Abbott and many good people along the way.

The week following The Rubens’ Hottest 100 win (2016), Joel (Connolly, co-director at Umbrella) had an opportunity to leave music and start work in tech; Blackbird Ventures – one of the most successful venture capital companies in the world. The timing was pretty crazy. His wife was about to give birth to his second daughter, so it was symbolic that new beginnings were at the front of his mind. With a Rubens tattoo and a swagger of fond memories, friends, and successes, it was the end of an era.

Whilst we understood and encouraged his decision, it was overwhelming thinking about Umbrella without him. But new challenges bring new beginnings and it was time for us all to try something new.

The new company idea was inspired by a trip to the US with a friend (Wade Jackson) who is now my new business partner. A journey that we both took together in pursuit of finding a musician based in Memphis. We located him, made a documentary about him, and it will come out sometime in 2018. That’s a whole other story though.

 

What can you do with Grow Yourself Up that you couldn’t do with Umbrella?

Like Umbrella, Grow Yourself Up is a music company, with a core focus on artist management.

For the last 10 years with Umbrella, helping our bands achieve extraordinary results, whilst creating sustainable and long-term careers, was always my passion. This remains the foundation of the new company.

The key difference to this company is that we are now a full-service music company, with a business model that is more malleable to a changing industry. At the forefront, we have the management focus but we also have capacity to release records, we have a licensing division, we have a small studio for our acts to use and plenty more concepts in the works.

It is likely Umbrella would have wound up with a similar model in the future, but with fresh blood and enthusiasm, it was a business model we wanted to execute from the get-go.

 

Sync licenses are so important for artists, especially those who are still emerging. Are there any specific sectors or territories that the sync division will focus on?

In my experience, sync & licensing is a tough game. Timing, relationships and good music are key.

The right syncs have historically been incredibly beneficial for our management clients, not only financially but also in breaking into other markets.

My business partner has a composing background for film/TV, and we both have experience in procuring syncs for artists. Establishing the label has given us control of new copyrights we’ve never worked, so it’s exciting to see this already coming together.

Fundamentally, we believe music should be extremely well valued like any other art form. Our vision for the Licensing & Sync arm is to create opportunities with this principle in mind, with the greater goal being to assist musicians, artists and composers in building steady income streams to invest in their music and beyond.

 

Tell us about your plans for the event division. What is your vision for it?

MASS is an idea I’ve been subconsciously working on for a while.   It’s intended for people in music, tech, film, design, sport, theatre, dance, government, and so on who are interested in meeting other like-minded people to work on projects together and hopefully start something special. As an artist manager, I’m personally keen to meet people in film, tech, creative agencies, to expand my network to potentially benefit my acts. Naturally I thought, I can’t be the only one. The reality is people just don’t have the time to do it on the reg, so I thought I would make it easy for people and just make it happen.

We work above a great bar in Redfern and I spoke to Dan (one of the owners) and it was a no brainer to host it there. It’s not some weird Tinder / speed dating thing. Very causal hangouts with good banter and new introductions. #newfriends4lyfe

The bonus here is, that each event will be a fundraiser for music industry charity, Support Act, so more reason to get involved!

The events will happen on the last Wednesday of every month at The Dock, Redfern (our offices are above the bar).