Ex-OML Biggie Tej Brar Launches “High-End Boutique” Artist Management Agency
Third Culture currently has Nucleya and BLOT on board; to sign more artists in the coming months
Most people would know Tej Brar as the man behind bass producer Nucleya’s exponential rise to stardom in the past two years. As the Head of Artist Management at one of India’s premier media enterprises Only Much Louder (OML) from 2013 till February this year, Brar was credited for expanding and consolidating the company’s position as the go-to talent pool for independent artists ranging from bands, DJ’s, producers and singer-songwriters. “Vijay [Nair, CEO] and OML have been incredible mentors to me and really have helped me down the path that I have now taken myself,” says Brar, who is now launching his own artist management agency, Third Culture.
Brar’s exit from OML also came at a time when the company dropped pretty much all of their music artists on the roster. In a story reported in Rolling Stone India, Nair was quoted as saying: “We are in the process of rejigging things. We want to go double-down when it comes to music. We had conversations with the artists and explained the situation to them. It is not fair on our part to have them with us while we reassess things.”
Brar states that Third Culture is a “high-end boutique artist management agency” that will be working with artists of a very high caliber. The artist manager currently has Nucleya and New Delhi electronica artist BLOT on his roster. Although Third Culture will handle all management and bookings for Nucleya, OML will continue to represent the artist for brand deals and content creation. Brar explains, “OML will close brand deals for Nucleya such as endorsements and jingles. For content creation, they are working on aspects like TV and film.” OML recently closed a deal for Nucleya with Amazon Prime to judge their upcoming singing reality show The Remix.
After Brar left OML, he considered his options at length and traveled for three months exploring professional prospects in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. “Things were going pretty well. There were some opportunities and there were some possibilities. I could have left the country and moved on to something else but in my heart of hearts I really knew that I wanted to be here [in India].” He mentions that he feels “very lucky” after working with OML because he’s been able to build relationships and his network. “I feel that the work that I do here in India actually has some impact and that is not just in regards to the careers of the artists but also to kids who want to be managers. There is a lot of momentum here,” he says.
When asked about further additions to the artist roster, Brar says, “Unfortunately, I cannot comment on which other artists will join because those are ongoing conversations. It would be premature for me to jump the gun and announce the rest of the roster before I’ve actually signed anyone.” At the same time, Brar says he wants to keep his artist pool small with only two to three acts in the first year. He says, “I’m very interested in hip-hop so we’re definitely going to be moving into the hip-hop space.”
On what he thinks about the current management scene in India, Brar says, “A lot of people [in India] who call themselves artist managers are essentially booking agents. There is a massive difference between being an artist manager and being a booking agent. Within India, a manager has to wear both hats; being an artist manager and booking agent. People think that being an artist manager is as simple as signing an artist, booking their shows and taking 15 percent commission. A manager is responsible for the overall career trajectory and the overall growth of an artist’s career.”
Brar cites Dhruv Singh [manager of New Delhi singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad] and Dev Bhatia [manager of electronica artist Arjun Vagale] as excellent examples of how managers should operate. “There are a lot of younger guys and girls who have started their agencies and I really think that’s super exciting because we need more managers. The entire industry needs to expand and it needs to grow further,” says Brar.