• Steph Landreville

The Subtle Truth. 016 - Tate Johnson

So many people tend to hate on “EDM Twitter” and as much as it can sometimes be toxic, it’s also been a place where I’ve met so many amazing people in the music industry. Of those people, Tate Johnson is one of them. Earlier this year, I saw Tate write a tweet about her freelance work as a creative and social strategist. At that time, I felt stuck with my content creation for Subtle But True and felt as though I was lacking some direction when it came to the brand’s socials. I reached out to Tate to set up a session and as soon as we met (virtually), we immediately bonded. We have gotten on quite a few video calls together to talk everything music and to get to know each other better. Whether we are sharing ideas, brainstorming, or just talking nonsense, we always manage to get a lot done when we get on our calls and in such short time, Tate has done so much to help my company, my team, and I. The more I get to know Tate, the more I am certain that she will see enormous success in everything she does in the music industry, and outside of it for that matter.

As mentioned beforehand, Tate is a freelance worker in creative and social strategy, but she also wears many other hats in the industry. Her journey began in 2014 when she started attending her first festivals. She discovered a love for trap music and essentially, that’s what led her to pursuing work in live events and music. In 2020, many new doors started opening for her – she began working with Electric Hawk as a Marketing Director and Writer and eventually was offered the opportunity to work with artists directly as a day-to-day manager. Currently she manages Zingara and BD HBT, writes for Electric Hawk and most recently got an internship as a community manager at one of her favorite labels ‘Quality Goods Records’.

Driven by her passion for music, Tate aims to create opportunities for deserving artists who might not typically get the spotlight they deserve. In any way she can, she wants to create spaces at tables and open doors for those who have not felt seen, heard, or acknowledged and really shine light on the “shadows” of the industry. This mission is what makes her so great at what she does but also is a driving force for a project she is working on for 2022. “I am working intensely on a project that means the World to me, that will continue to support and uplift the underdogs in meaningful and impactful ways. This project will culminate in 2022, and I cannot wait to bring my vision to life” says Tate. We are so stoked to know more about this project and to give you all the chance to get to know this incredibly talented woman a little better.

Q. What was the first festival you attended in 2014? Do you remember your top 3 sets from that event?

A. The first festival I attended was Moonrise Festival in Baltimore, MD (my hometown) in 2014 and I was honestly so brave because I went the first day alone! Top 3 sets were definitely Tchami, Zed’s Dead and Keys N’ Krates!

Q. Before getting opportunities with Electric Hawk in 2020, in what ways did you get your foot in the door of the music industry?

A. I really did not have my foot in the door before that. Crazy enough, the EH opportunity came at one of my lowest lows in life after I had just lost my grandfather in November of 2019. I applied on a whim to EH as a writer and then the rest was history. I am extremely grateful to Electric Hawk for being the thing that changed the course of my music career.

Q. I like to refer to you as a “social media expert” – what is one key piece of advice that you would give to all artists or music industry professionals when it comes to social media?

A. Be yourself. I really always believe that authenticity is King and I think even if it is not all polished and buttoned up all the time, people will respect your content more if it feels truly like “you”.

Q. Did you go to school / study for the work you do today or was your field of studies completely unrelated?

A. I did - to an extent! I graduated in 2017 from Ithaca College with a B.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication, so I learned everything from PR, Advertising, Digital Marketing, Branding, Graphic Design and more. I did not go to school for anything related to management though, so that has been something I have learned along the way.

Q. Both your artists have been making quite some noise in the EDM scene and it’s really inspiring to watch them grow and to watch you grow alongside them as their manager. I know how scary it can be when you first start working as a manager so I’m curious, what is 1 thing you wish you knew about the job prior to taking on an artist?

A. I wish I knew that the path will be full of lessons, and you cannot be afraid of learning. I think when I first became a manager, I was so frustrated with myself because I thought everyone else knew things I didn’t and had this “manual to being a successful manager”. As I grew, though, I realized that there are definitely some procedural things you learn that all managers know, but a lot of it is the journey of learning and making connections and growing with the artist.

Q. What would you say is the most enjoyable part of being an artist manager? And the least enjoyable?

A. The feeling of creating opportunities for my artists that crosses off goals on their list, that is what keeps me going. The least enjoyable is, of course, the rejections from labels or promoters, and the guilt I feel afterwards for not being able to lock in those opportunities for them.

Q. I’m so excited to hear more about the project you are working on for 2022! I’m assuming you want to keep this a bit on the down-low for the time being but if you don’t mind, I’m curious to know if this is a solo project or if it’s a project you will be working on with others?

A. It is a beautiful culmination of hard work and vision I’ve had over the years and it is going to start as a predominantly solo project, but I have a couple people in mind I know I want to bring onto the team and help me build it out! :)

Q. Time for my random question – What is 1 thing you’re glad you tried but wouldn’t necessarily want to do again?

A. I’m glad I took on 500 jobs when I got out of college and started doing freelance, etc. to really build up my skillsets and portfolio, but looking back now I lost a lot of quality time with loved ones and experiences I won’t ever be able to get back. I don’t regret it, but I do wish I had trimmed down my responsibilities and focused in on a couple things more than everything.

Q. Lastly, this is time to promote yourself, your new project, your artists, or anything you have going on! Spill it:

A. First, I gotta gas up my artists! Zingara just released a new Guest Mix on HeardItHereFirst which is a BANGER, so go to their Soundcloud to check that out and follow her on Tiktok, IG and Twitter! Bd hbt has a show in Santa Cruz this upcoming Wednesday, October 13th, so grab tickets to that and look out for him in Denver, CO as well this December :)

As for me, I just started a new internship at Quality Goods Records and I will be helping push out social content and strategy for them so stay tuned to all of their socials for more. You can follow me on any of my socials (@tatej_ on IG and @trapfairyt8 on twitter) for my chaotic but insightful day-to-day thoughts and what I’m up to!

And the project in 2022? Well, let’s just say BLACKLIGHT is coming.