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Behind the scenes with Edwin Tsang on virtual festival to save aquarium (Interview)

Edwin Tsang, owner of Gametheory Management
Credit: Edwin Tsang, Gametheory Management

Dance Music Northwest had the opportunity to chat with a PNW manager and organizer of the Ocean Meets Music live stream fundraiser to save the Vancouver Aquarium.

At only 22 years old, Edwin Tsang has worn various hats in the music industry for nearly his entire adult life. He currently runs Gametheory Management based out of Vancouver, B.C. which supports artists including Vanic, Tokyo Machine, and Culture Code. Edwin shared some of his insights into the industry, and what the experience of planning a major virtual festival was like. Check out the full interview below:

DMNW: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Edwin! Could we start with your general path into the music industry? How did you get started with that? 

Edwin (E): Thank you! So I got started maybe a year or two after graduating high school. I knew I didn’t want to go to college, so I started to look at jobs originally in the tech industry. After about a year, I realized it wasn’t the right fit for me and thought “okay, maybe I should try music.” I was a promoter for a while here in Vancouver which was fun, but it wasn’t enough for me to get my foot in the door. After poking around on LinkedIn, I reached out to someone from Bitbird, San Holo’s label. They agreed to meet with me and connected me to a writing gig through Earmilk.

From there, I just kept trying to find other ways to provide value to artists and started photographing events. I burned through all of my savings to pay for it and eventually got good enough that they started paying me for shows and festivals.

Monstercat here in B.C. actually brought me on as an intern for a while too. I showed up at their office and asked to work for them for free, which of course with labor laws wasn’t possible. So I pitched them an idea from my previous internship: I applied for grant funding that would subsidize my wages and allow them to pay very little to hire me, and it worked!

DMNW: So then how did you transition into managing? 

E: From there, I decided I really wanted to put energy into artists and get into that side of the game. I emailed every manager and talked to as many people as I could. I’ve been managing for about a year and a half now! Everything’s definitely picked up over the last year although it looks a little different now with COVID.

Obviously, there’s no touring right now. But that’s not a bad thing because it’s really allowed a lot of artists (and the wider industry) to take time off from that loud environment and spend time with their families. It’s challenging to figure out releases without launching tours to support their music, but it’s a big opportunity to focus on the music. And for managers to find ways to work on our artists’ careers.

DMNW: What are some of the most important values to you as a manager, or in general? Any advice for people trying to break into the industry? 

E: One of the biggest things to remember from a management perspective is that your job is to support your artists. It’s their own project, so you’re not driving or trying to control them. Your biggest priority should be supporting them and finding opportunities to grow their vision. I enjoy the artists I manage as friends, and I want them to know that I’m here for them!

Something more generally that I practice is hustling to solve problems outside of the box. I’m looking ahead and coming up with creative solutions which has been really valuable. And meeting people! Whether someone owns a furniture store or a record label, every person you meet in your life can provide value or teach you something.

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