Oct 2016 | Sofia Simeonidou
Iro is an enthusiastic perfectionist, a good listener. Iro doesn’t need an alarm to wake up (really) early in the morning. She’s not an artist, she’s a curious creative person.
ArtistsinTune. What is it about?
AiT is a music management agency that promotes the work of young music professionals and contemporary classical and jazz musicians. I launched the company around August last year. Officially I started earlier, already coaching musicians, booking concerts, and promoting their work. My partner is also a musician, and being part of this social circle of trained talented artists I realized I wanted to do something to promote their work; the way artists cannot do by themselves. There’s a true passion I have for this type of music and the artists.
Are you an artist?
I can’t call myself an artist but I’m a curious creative person.
What about your studies?
I studied Economics and Business at the Erasmus University with a Masters specialization in Transport and Logistics. In relation to what I do now, I followed courses on entrepreneurship, business management, and music.
Where do you live?
I live in The Hague.
Left: INDUOLOGUE – musical dialogue between a Voice and a Double Bass –
acoustic kind of jazz. Right: INEDITS – hypnotic & beautifully intellectual jazzy compositions.
Were you always involved in creative projects?
Yes. I was in a very creative school back when I was younger so I was involved in painting projects and theatrical shows. Clearly, at the moment I get to expand my creativity boundaries, being part of an artist’s journey and managing a business at the same time.
Where do you start if you want to start your own business?
There’s no order or structure. Everyone is unique and you need to find what works for you. You need to be passionate about it, that’s a prerequisite. And you have to know where you want to take this, where you are heading. If you have clear goals then you need to see how you can go about them. If you don’t feel strong about it, then there’s a great chance you quit easily along the way. You need to know why you are doing this, what’s the motivation behind it. You are alone, you have to make it work by yourself.
Do you need a network to start?
It always helps if you are an extrovert. I don’t think it’s required though. You can build a network slowly when you start your business. It depends of course on the type business. If you are great at what you do or what you offer, and specialized, then you don’t need a big network. Start talking about your business, or business idea, to the people around you. Opportunities are everywhere.
How do you find your clients?
In my case it went smoothly and I had people approaching me instead of me directly promoting my work. My first few clients were the best advertisement I had. Lately people come up to me and say ‘I heard from this band that you are into this and I’d love to work with you’. But it depends on your business goals, and your targets, the number of clients you want. In my job I have a tailored relationship with each of my clients. Your personal life influences your creativity and there are many things I need to know in order to work together and promote someone’s work. This means that I can only offer my services to a specific number of artists each time. It’s not a typical business relation. It’s someone that you need to get to know good in order to get out their best.
You need to know WHY you are doing this.
What time do you go to bed?
Mostly late, 12am or sometimes later. I go with the flow here.
What’s the first thing on your mind when you wake up in the morning?
That’s easy because the first thing depends on what I’ll see in my agenda and my phone early in the morning. I normally wake up very early. No alarm. I check my phone in order to have an overview of my day. It sounds stressful but it helps me. After that I sometimes go back to sleep. I check my phone again around 8 and then I start my day. It also depends on the project we work each time. For some projects is more intense.
When we were running the Crowdfunding for our Zvov Sensory project, in collaboration with the Zvov trio, I was up every day at 6am or even earlier. So not much time for my mind to wander around.
What’s the best experience so far with ArtistsinTune?
That’s the Zvov Sensory project. Zvov Sensory is a musical and theatrical performance, an immersive and unique experience, inviting the audience to a new type of journey within the world of new music. We just came back from our first tour in Israel. We gave 5 performances and performed as part of the Jerusalem Cultural Season festival, at the Mount Herztel. I’m behind the decision-making (think more of the business leader role), but this time I was also a sensory performer-player. We’ll perform also in the Netherlands so you can check the dates here if you want to join us. There are 5 people involved and it’s for a limited audience (12-15 people). That makes the performance financially either expensive for the audience or not feasible for the artists involved. So we decided to do a Crowd funding and we used Voordekunst, a well-known CF platform in the Netherlands. The journey was difficult but Voordekunst did a great job and assisted us with receiving funds from the Prince Bernhard and VSB fonds. The CF was a big success.
Can you share some highlights of your working day?
It can be very boring or very interesting. I meet with my clients. Sometimes I have a whole week of client meetings. We sit down and make plans for the coming year, and the projects that we are involved with. And then you have the administrative tasks of running a business.
The most interesting part is when I go to a venue myself. I need my inspiration; I’m a creative person. Socializing with people, check on new ideas or productions, and discover new talent, is all part of the job. Some days you do more than others.
Biggest challenge so far?
I constantly ask more of myself. If you like what you do, you never stop thinking about it. It’s difficult to separate your personal time from the time you invest for your business. It’s my wake up and go to bed thought. My business. That’s also my challenge.
Is it easy to motivate your clients?
It depends on the client. Some clients are very creative and can’t think of themselves as the products they are. They can’t think of the audience, which can affect their commercial profile, and make my work as a manager difficult. You are an entertainer and you don’t have to be perfect per se (some artists are really perfectionists and if they play a wrong note they get down). I need to be always positive, and give them perspective. I give more management perspective to some clients, if I see they can handle it.
I’m a traveller. When I finished my Masters we decided to travel to India and combine it with some work. I organized a performance tour for my partner. We stayed 2.5 months, which were very intense but beautiful nevertheless. Then we went to Thailand for another arranged concert, and Laos, and Cambodia after that. The performances went very well, everything was arranged well in advance. It was tiring, sometimes we had to cover a distance of 20hours by train from one concert venue – city to the other. I’d also planned to combine this with music education. We wanted to bring the Western classical music to little children there, children who don’t have access to opportunities. We arranged concerts and workshops to schools and visited a very special school & music organization, in a small city in the middle of the forest, with 300 students. We stayed with them for about 3 weeks. The conditions were limited but we gradually loved it and it was an amazing experience.
Future plans? Will you expand your services?
Yes, absolutely. I’m a fun of new contemporary music and I’d like to combine it with more art, dance, theatre, even painting. I like to challenge the audience. I’d like to work for fusion interdisciplinary projects. Then I’m planning to organize the ArtistsinTune showcase festivals a few times per year. Besides the performances of the artists I represent, I’d like to work with more guest artists as well. Create interesting collaborations, combine it with workshops. I want to change the perception people have for classical and contemporary music. It’s not meant for intellectual or older people. I also want to bring this type of music to children and young people around the world.