Behind The Shield 005 - Adam Abecassis
Adam Abecassis [He/Him] – Artist manager and partner for the Record Label ‘Wubaholics’, we are very excited to have Adam Abecassis join us for the last article of the ‘Behind The Shield’ series.
Having launched Wubaholics right before the pandemic hit Adam, and his partner Austin, had to find innovative ways to grow their brand. From working for little to no money to also expanding and managing multiple artists, Adam has witnessed the good and the bad of this industry from many different angles.
With an eagerness to share his experiences and a strong belief in maintaining a positive mental health, I was very excited to chat with him and ask him some important questions.
Q. Why did you decide to work in the music industry?
A. I’ve always loved music and sports. I promised myself at a young age that no matter what my circumstances were at the time, if an opportunity presented itself that allowed me to work in the music industry in the way I wanted to, I’d take it. I’ve always wanted to help release music and manage artists (shoutout Entourage for inspiring me and showing me that this was a real job lol).
Fast forward to 2019 - I met my partner Austin Lambert at Home Bass in Orlando, became homies, and started going to shows together. At the time, he had a Mix Series going on SoundCloud with a couple hundred followers and mixes from up and coming bass artists.
Forbidden kingdom 2020 comes around (my last festival pre-pandemic) so I went up to Austin and said "Yo, I can do all the legal stuff to make this a real label, let’s do this". Then the pandemic hit, we were bored at home, and the rest is history. Now, we are about to celebrate two years of Wubaholics and it passed by in the blink of an eye.
Q. What makes you passionate about music?
A. The feeling that you get when you experience something new and exciting in music. When I was younger, I dove deep into classic rock when my dad first showed me Aerosmith, Guns n' Roses, and ACDC. From there I found Napster and Limewire (and lots of viruses) and started doing what I now know to be some pretty solid A&R work. I dove deep into punk rock and alternative until the end of high school, when I started listening to Basshunter, Tiesto, David Guetta, SHM and everyone else who was popular in 2009. I have always been into the live music scene, went to concerts with friends and raged in the pit, went to Warped Tour and Buzz Bake Sale (very similar to warped tour down in south FL), so it’s always been a part of me. In college, when I really discovered house music and started DJing, I went down the rabbit hole. The feeling you get when you hear live music is unlike any other.
Q. What would you say is the “harsh reality” of being an artist manager? What about running a label?
A. The harshest reality is the fact that you will be working for years, for free (or at a loss because you invest in your projects). So, you better be doing it for the right reasons and be willing to stick it out and build through tough times otherwise you will burn out pretty quickly.
Same thing for the label aspect. Every dime that has ever come in has gone back into the label, our artists, our events, our artwork, advertising, etc. It’s funny that it’s a "harsh" reality because I actually find it to be a beautiful thing. I believe in the artists that I represent with every fiber of my being that I am actually happy not having made any money these last couple years because I believe that whether it’s in 1 month, or 1 year, or longer, the artists that I am working with will make it.
If you're in the music industry for the clout or the money you'll struggle. The only way to succeed in this industry is to be so passionate that you literally cannot and will not stop. I don’t think many people truly understand what that means, and that is a great segway to the mental health portions of this business. The only reason we are where we are today is because we took on many sleepless nights and overcame tons of self-doubt because none of us had any music experience, let alone edm experience.
It can be very easy to overwork yourself, especially during busy times of the year like festival season when it's easy to get caught up going to event after event which can lead to apoint of exhaustion where you just need to shut off, especially when you have other things going on outside of music. The balance aspect is very hard because I truly feel like I'm falling behind if I'm not constantly doing something to move the label or our artists forward.
It’s easy to neglect your personal relationships and work outside music if you aren't careful about it, and that brings in additional stressors. Taking time to take a deep breath and focus on family and friends, or going to the gym can be as important for your success as listening to an extra hour of demos or spending an extra hour in a DAW as an artist.
Q. When facing challenging moments, what helps you stay on track with your work tasks?
A. Staying on track is a really tough one for me. I have super productive weeks where I get a crazy amount of work done, and I have slower weeks where I can't get anything done. Sometimes I’m too tired between work, my other businesses, the label, management, events, and the sleepless nights of being a new-ish dad. I wouldn’t call it depression, but when I’m overly fatigued like in these cases, I don’t have any attention span, I don’t have any motivation to get things done and I procrastinate. I always try to struggle through it for a few days before inevitably shutting down for a few days to recharge. After that recharge, I come back really productive but I'm trying to find the balance where I dont have to take those breaks and that's one of my biggest struggles.
As I mentioned previously, taking the time to make sure you’re balanced mentally and well rested is important. when you're rested, you can be more productive in less time, as hard as it is to come to grips with that as you are trying to grow a brand. When it comes to outward challenges, I have my family. My wife and son, my parents and siblings, my partners Austin and Zuck, and our artists. We talk about a lot of the stuff going on in the scene and in our lives every day and help support each other through downs and stress.
Q. Do you experience stress or anxiety when it comes to your work? If so, how do you cope with that?
A. Ha. What are those? Just kidding, yes. I deal with this every day. Whether it’s negotiating bookings, scouting for music and releasing music on time and managing 80-120 songs a year coming out on our label, getting art worked out,, dealing with drama on the inside, dealing with drama from external pressures or sources, constantly feeling the need to check my email, social media and messages to not miss opportunities, being calculated with every word that comes out of my mouth because there’s people waiting for you to slip (whether it’s an opinion on whether you like an artist, or a branding method, or a track rollout, or an action someone did or said).
Managers, label owners, and other industry professionals have to be on top of their game not only for themselves but for everyone else they represent.
As I’ve said before, I struggle with balance and knowing when (or how) to turn it off. I struggle with making enough time for my family while also paying attention to the label and our artists, while also working multiple other jobs to pay the bills. I’m human, sometimes I snap or make mistakes and sometimes I shut down, but at the end of the day, I take comfort in the fact that I have friends and family who love me, and that's all that I think anyone really needs, a support system. Seeing all the hard work actually pay off also helps a ton with coping because you see a result for the time going in and you see that the endured stress is worth it.
Q. What kind of changes would you like to see in our industry that could positively impact industry professionals and the state of their mental health?
A. I think being more open about mental health and stopping the glorification of drugs or alcohol use in the EDM scene. Drugs and alcohol can be an enjoyable enhancement to a live music experience in moderation, but when done frequently and not responsibly, they can have extreme adverse effects.
I have seen so many bright, brilliant managers, artists, and fans abusing substances. I understand that it’s a whole lot easier said than done, and that it goes a lot deeper than just enjoying a night out for most people, but I would love to live in a world where people didn't look at you like you're crazy for turning down a drink or drugs when at these events. It seems as though we are expected to be raging party animals because of our career choices or our passion for a certain type of music but that isn't sustainable for anyone over the long term.
Q. What methods have you found most effective in coping with your mental health on a day-to-day basis when it’s at a low?
A. I have found that just going somewhere quiet and taking some time to relax, listen to music, and playing sports are the 3 things that help me the most when I am stressed or feeling down. Also, being with my family or walking into the house to my son's smiling face can cure just about anything.
Q. Can you name 3 people who have made your life better this past year?
A. My Wife, Erika. My Son, Ash. 3rd is a tie between my partners Austin and Zuck and the artists on our team. Basically, my family made my life better.
Q. What’s a valuable life lesson you’ve learned recently?
A. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
Q. What’s a song that makes you happy?
A. In bass music, it’s hard to choose because every song we release or that our artists release make me feel like I’m on cloud 9. Outside of bass, my son's favorite song right now is Cloonee & Brisotti - Tripasia. He literally wakes up and as soon as I’m holding him or he sees me, he starts shaking his butt side to side and smiling and bouncing up and down, and when I say "Do you want to dance" or "Do you want music" he literally shrieks with excitement and that’s always the first song we play. He loves it so much and it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. That joy is the kind of pure joy I aim to spread doing this.
Q. Lastly, please share a mental health resource of your choice and let us know why you chose it!
This article highlights some of the most stressful points of being a touring artist or working closely with touring artists. I think that the points in this article can easily translate to those working on the label/promotion/management side of things as well. It’s almost impossible for me to turn off, and while I do not travel as much as I want to for shows because of my job and my role as a father, I experience the same "walls" and fatigue that this article points out.
Taking care of yourself, something I am not the best at naturally, has to be a priority otherwise it can very quickly spiral out to an unmanageable and daunting level of stress.
We want to thank Adam for his time and for sharing his personal experiences. There is definitely some work to be done on all sides of the music industry and we hope that articles like these can motivate people to take care of their mental health and support others who need it.
“Mental health is a #1 priority, always” – Steph.