Maggie Lindemann is the name on the lips of anyone and everyone who has access to a social media account right now.
Meanwhile, Gerald Tennison (Becky G, Juicy J, Zara Larsson) is a former Sony Music Entertainment record label executive who made his very own discovery online in the form of social media sensation Maggie Lindemann. Since discovering Maggie from just a couple of well placed notes on YouTube, the two have come together and combined their respective talents in order to create a truly formidable team in the music industry.
Originally from Texas, Maggie has captured the hearts and attention of many industry figures, as well as gaining fiercely loyal fans around the world. Her fans follow her every move across her heavily interactive social media accounts. In fact, she has even been a worldwide trending topic over 8 times in the last year!
Maggie is now located in Los Angeles where she recently released the video for her latest single entitled “Things”. The chilled beat was produced by KIDinaKORNER hitmaker Jayson DeZuzio (Little Mix, X Ambassadors, Skylar Grey).
We spoke to Maggie & Gerald to find out how it all began! We discuss how to get discovered by executives in 2016, advice from a rather powerful music industry figure (think Justin Bieber’s manager powerful!), and what we can look forward to next from Maggie!
See the full interview below:
1. You discovered Maggie online, tell us how you found her and why you thought she had that star factor?
GT: I was sitting in a session with these kids Jack & Jack one night in Hollywood and I had a conversation with them about social media that opened my eyes. They told me about this event called Magcon. These kids were selling out venues all over the world without a major company backing them. They sold over 1 million singles in the span of 8 or 9 months independently. They had their debut album go number 1 in multiple countries in less than an hour, passing Taylor Swift and Future. Shawn Mendes who was also a part of Magcon also saw his debut album go number 1. Keep in mind I was the Head of Social Media at a major label at the time and these kids were telling me things about the internet that i’d never been exposed to. After that conversation I knew I wanted to sign someone that spoke and understood social media and marketing on the same level they did. I went home that night and was going through the popular page on instagram when I found a fan account that posted a video of Maggie singing the national anthem. The video was actually a joke, she wasn’t even trying. In fact, she was purposely trying to sound like a bad singer. There are about 4 seconds in the video where her voice cuts through and you hear her hitting notes dead on. I thought to myself, this kid has a really cool tone. I did a bit more digging and saw that she was very active on social media. She had a personality that demanded my attention. I’m sitting on my laptop at 3 in the morning on her YouTube channel and I actually felt entertained. I ended up reaching out to her mom that night. Funny enough her parents actually deleted the first email I sent because they had no idea she could sing, or that she even wanted to. She had never sung in front of them. Never been in a recording studio. Eventually I convinced them to fly out to L.A. from Texas and take a meeting with me. No strings attached. We met at Capitol Records a week later and I knew right away that this was the kid I was looking for. I signed her a couple days later and her parents let her move to Los Angeles a few weeks after that. From there I knew I was responsible for someone else’s kid and she still had to finish high school, which was scary. I got her a vocal teacher, a publicist, and then threw her into a recording studio for 4-5 months before we told anyone she was making music.
2. You have an extensive background in the music industry, having worked for Sony Music and with artists such as Becky G, Zara Larsson & Juicy J. What made you want to step out and find your own artists to develop?
GT: When I first started at Sony I wanted to do A&R and I was told I was a marketing guy. I had Ron Fair call me one day and offer me a job doing Jr. A&R for him over at Capitol/Virgin because he knew I had an ear. I ended up staying at Sony because I loved the people I was working with and wanted to further develop my understanding of marketing artists. I stepped out because I had all these ideas on how to use social media to find and break an artist, but I didn’t have the support in the building to sign anything. I’m not sure anyone did.
3. How did your experiences inside a major label help prepare you for the Maggie Lindemann project?
GT: I learned a lot about how to work a record. How to deal with different personalities. When to go to radio. When to pull back. How to get a video treatment. Split sheets. Patience. Everything that goes into it. I was on the marketing team that worked a double platinum record for Becky G (“Shower”). I worked with Juicy J on the $50,000 twerk scholarship campaign. We had a platinum single with LunchMoney Lewis (“Bills”). When you’re on the inside you see the way money is spent. You see all the work that goes into signing, and developing an act from nothing. I got to be a fly on the wall to guys like Paul Kremen and Greg Marella.
4. What is the top piece of advice an industry insider has given you?
GT: I remember meeting Scooter Braun at Capitol Records like 3 years ago. I went up to him and introduced myself. We spent about half an hour talking and I remember him saying something that still lives with me to this day. He said “Look, you can do whatever you want to do but if you work for someone else, shut up and work for that person. If you have ideas and they won’t listen, go start your own thing. Find your own artist and don’t look back”. I still keep in touch with Scooter. That conversation changed my life. I took his advice.
5. Tell us how you got YOUR start in the music industry?
GT: I was a marketing major at Arizona State University. ASU is known as one of the top party schools in the country and I started putting together events for local rappers to perform. I remember we would do house parties on campus, but we kept getting noise complaints. I approached a few club owners and told them I could bring 300-500 kids each weekend if they let my friends perform and gave us a percentage of whatever they made. Eventually they let me throw a party and we had about 500 kids show up. From that point on they wanted me sitting in their marketing meetings because they knew I could draw. I made enough money after throwing two events to move to L.A. I dropped out of college (my parents hated that but I remember telling them that Scooter Braun also dropped out of college and they let me go) to get into the entertainment industry. When I got to Hollywood my first gig was working as a Creative/A&R scout for Ben Maddahi at Atlantic Records. From there I moved on to head social media at a Sony Music label.
6. Obviously the music industry is not always fun and games, can you recall a time where things weren’t going so well, and what was it that made you get back up and keep going?
GT: I have an amazing network of executives that I can talk to which keeps me grounded. I was on the phone with Ron Perry the other day talking about Maggie’s new song. He called me and kept telling me how much he loves it. My guys Justin Shukat and Chris Anokute reached out and said the same thing. Those conversations keep me going.
7. For any aspiring artists out there, what are your top 3 tips on getting noticed by label executives in 2016?
GT: Don’t suck. If you’re good they will find you.
The YouTube video where Gerald first discovered Maggie.
8. What have you learned from developing Maggie?
GT: I think i’ve probably learned more from Maggie than she’s learned from me and in some ways it feels like parenting. Over the last year and a half i’ve found myself saying things to Maggie that my parents said to me growing up. Maggie has a rough background. Most people have no clue what this kid has been through. I talk to her parents every single day which helps me tremendously. She was 16 when I met her, so while you want to be able to keep her out of trouble and guide her, you also have to understand that she has to be given the opportunity to make mistakes so that she can learn the same way we all did. She lives under the public eye and sometimes people forget that she’s a 17 year old kid. She’s the smartest person I know when it comes to the internet, branding, and marketing. The hardest working kid i’ve ever met. I need to give her more credit for that.
9. How do you keep everybody on Team Maggie heading in the right direction, with regards to realizing your vision?
GT: First and foremost I keep very good, honest people around her and i’m very protective because she’s so young. You will not find anyone on my team that is a “yes man” to Maggie. She’s growing up with fame and when that happens you get a lot of people that want to be around you for the wrong reasons. You have people that will come around and never tell her when she’s wrong. I’m brutally honest with her because my job is not to be her best friend. It’s a no bullshit policy my team works off of.
10. For somebody who wants to pursue your chosen avenue, how do you go about shopping an artist that you have been developing in today’s industry? (once you think they’re ready)
GT: I’ve never shopped Maggie to a label. Scooter Braun gave me great advice a few years ago. He told me not to worry about networking. Not to worry about parties. If you are killing it, people are going to come to you. Find an artist you truly believe in and make a bet. I put everything I had into Maggie because at the end of the day I knew she was a star. I never cared what anyone else thought. Eventually labels started calling me. We were in David Massey’s office two weeks ago actually. That blows my mind.
11. What’s next for your career? Obviously Maggie is a huge part of the picture, are you looking eventually develop other artists, or start your own label etc?
GT: No. Maggie is 24/7 365 for me. She keeps me busy. I’m fine with it.
12. Name us a few of your career highlights so far?
GT: There’s some stuff that I cannot announce yet. We still have tons of work to do.
13. What does Paradise mean to you?
GT: There’s an Italian Deli in Santa Monica called Bay Cities.
1. How did you feel when your parents told you that Gerald was interested in working with you as an artist?
ML: I was shocked. I was super excited because I didn’t know what the future held. They originally deleted his email when he reached out because they didn’t know I wanted to sing.
2. You’re originally from Texas but are now based in Los Angeles – having to relocate at a young age, how do you think that has helped shape you as an artist?
ML: I believe that moving out helped me develop a lot of good social skills and matured me at a young age. I live on my own with my dog Moose.
3. As an artist in a highly competitive market & industry, what do you think made you stand out from the crowd?
ML: I’m very outgoing and very honest. I think my fans can tell that i’m real because I say what’s on my mind and sometimes that gets me in trouble, but I want them to know they are talking to a real person. I’m not a scripted artist.
4. Gerald has obviously had a huge part to play in the development of you as an artist, how did he help bring the best out of you?
ML: He helped me realize my true potential as an artist and also helped me develop my voice. We’ve been through everything you can imagine together.
5. Social media is a huge part of being an artist. What’s the best part and worst part of being able to connect with fans so quickly?
ML: The worst part is that if you miss word something it automatically is taken the wrong way and you don’t have time to fix it. But it’s also awesome because I love talking to my fans quickly!
6. What artists are on your iTunes/Spotify/SoundCloud playlist these days? If you could collaborate with any other artist and/or producer who would it be and why?
ML: I love listening to Kodak Black, Rich the Kid, etc. I really want to collaborate with Young Thug because I think that it would be super dope.
8. What are you most looking forward to from releasing the next chapter of music?
ML: I’m super excited for everyone to see what I’ve been working on. There’s so much going on in the background. I have a new single coming out very soon!
9. What does Paradise mean to you?
ML: Paradise is when I am the happiest. I love Mexico.
Follow Maggie on Twitter & Instagram
Follow Gerald on Twitter & Instagram.
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