Artist Management Masters: Head of MTS Management, Michael Stover on The Music Industry
By Music Gateway Team on 20 Nov 2018
Award-winning songwriter, artist and producer Michael Stover has had an incredible journey across the music industry. Having managed a DJ company and a number of record stores in the past, he now leads his own artist management company, MTS Management, which he founded 18 years ago. This is why we are so excited to have him as one of our latest members! With 30+ years of experience, Michael has many tips and insights for anyone wanting to advance their careers within music management or just generally in the music industry.
Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get into music?
I think I was singing or playing music straight out of the womb. My mother is an accomplished organist/pianist/vocalist, who performed as a church organist for most of her life. My dad learned to play drums and always dreamed of being Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin. So, it was definitely in my blood to be in music. I’ve been singing all my life and I began playing drums at age 11. I started writing songs at age 13 and took up keyboards around the same time. That was when I joined my first garage band. Nothing serious, but we played some gigs for the neighborhood.
At age 19, I won 3rd place in the Billboard Magazine Songwriting Contest Rock category. By age 20, I was playing out in bars around the area, sometimes drumming, sometimes singing. I also started DJing for weddings and parties. From there, I ran a DJ company and managed a couple of record stores before taking up running karaoke full time. I did that for about 8 years, sometimes 7 nights a week. It got to be really insane!
What inspired you to start MTS?
My first client, Bryan Cole, is a childhood friend and fellow musician whom I had played with in local bands. My second client, Xander Demos, another fellow musician and bandmate, had told me Bryan had moved to Nashville around 2009 and recorded an album with multi-platinum producer Chuck Ainlay. So, I looked Bryan up and we began working together in his solo band. I was playing drums. In the meantime, Bryan didn’t have a manager or publicist, so I asked him if I could try to find someone to do this for him. After a month or so of making calls, sending emails and sending out CDs, my friend David Lowry, whom I hadn’t met yet, took the time to spend about 30 minutes on the phone with Bryan and I, explaining why we weren’t having any success in the new music industry.
Things had changed enormously since we were playing in bands in the 90s. After that conversation, I asked Bryan if he would allow me the chance to manage and promote him. After some successes with Bryan, and then Xander, it just snowballed from there. Pretty soon, clients were coming from all over the world…Sweden, UK, Alaska, Australia, Canada, etc. I am so grateful that I was placed on this path. I always hold myself up to a higher standard, because I truly believe that God has me right where he wants me and that I can glorify Him through my work.
We love to hear that you just want to see your artists succeed! What is your goal for the company? Where would you like to be in 2 years for example?
My goals for MTS, aside from the success of our clients, is to start attracting some major record label or high tiered indies, to go along with our newer artists. I think that the higher profile artists would help everyone as it would shine light on the entire roster. I’d also like to see a relationship build with a booking agent, to help my artists get better paying shows. Finally, I’d like to hear my artists’ songs in tons of film and movie projects.
What kind of artists do you represent? Do you stick to a specific genre?
We started out very heavily on the country side of things−not for any particular reason. It just seemed to be where I was having the most influence, radio and charting. Now, it’s all across the board. I have rock, pop, EDM, country, folk, R&B, and I’ve even had a children’s jazz band from Australia!
How did you hear about Music Gateway?
I received an email from a company that was offering some free things in one of their packages, and Music Gateway was one of the sites they mentioned. I decided to check out Music Gateway on my own.
What part of the site do you use the most? What do you like about it?
So far, I use the Sync Portal and opportunities the most. I think everything is very user friendly. I’m still relatively new to the site and have been spending most of my time uploading tracks and entering metadata. While this is the part of the job that I like the least, and it can be very tedious work, I’m hoping the time will pay off in opportunities for my artists.
What are your top tips for anyone reading?
Treat your music like a business, everyone wants to be paid! And it’s not an overnight success. – Michael Stover, MTS Management
Be patient. Spend your time wisely. Get organized. Be truthful and honest. Have integrity. Don’t be afraid of the word “no”. Under-promise, over-deliver. Don’t have a personal life. Find Jesus. These are just a few of my personal mantras.
Don’t go into a relationship looking to just get what you want or need. It’s a 2 way street. Go to as many industry events as you can. Whether they are awards shows or dinners, or just a small get together. Be there and be your best.
Get yourself a budget, save your money, keep your dayjob until the music pays for itself. There’s truth in the cliche, “Don’t quit your dayjob”. You can’t finance the business of music with no money. It’s a business. Period. You have to invest in yourself, just like any entrepreneur would. You’ve chosen this career path, so nobody owes you a thing. It’s up to you to make it happen!
Have you got anything exciting coming up? Any new releases that we might want to hear?
Man, this month is crazy with new releases for us. I’ll give you the list: We’ve got a new single from Indie Country Hall of famer, Richard Lynch that is getting adds at Christian radio; Country legend, Margie Singleton also has a gospel single that we’re promoting; Canadian band, Across The Board just put out a new video and re-released 3 albums with us; #1 iTunes EDM artist, Clayton Morgan is about to release a new single on November 12th; Canadian singer-songwriter Cory M. Coons just released 5 singles with us; Canadian award-winner Ed Roman has a fantastic animated video out, that has been tearing up the film festival circuit; London singer-songwriters FaB just released a new single; Texas artists Heather Whitney and Madelyn Victoria both have new singles out; Nashville’s Jeremy Parsons has a film festival video out; Denver’s Love Stallion and James Lee Baker both have full lengths they are promoting, with Love Stallion having a new video out at the end of the month; Pittsburgh’s Matt Westin re-released his debut album and his new single is out now; Canadian artist Tia McGraff is about to drop her new video tomorrow; and we just signed a new artist, Bill Abernathy, who just released his latest album…not to mention our award-winning Radio Show, “Whiskey and Cigarettes!”
If that list was too long for you to keep track of, check out this great playlist to have a taste of MTS’ artist roster!
Do you want to network with outstanding industry professionals and established companies like MTS or are you an industry professional looking for artists? Join the Music Gateway Family!