- Words Notion Staff
- Photography Cassandra Borges
Artist manager and record label co-founder Nael Atweh on his rise in the industry and advice for anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Nael Atweh is the founder of boutique music management company Grass Fed Music. Based in LA, the company boasts 15 clients – including Sabrina Claudio, Etham, Mikhail Beltran, Ellis Tucker and Kaveh Rastegar.
Nael’s own introduction to the music industry was via his brother, the now Grammy-winner Nasri Atweh, who has written for the likes of Justin Bieber and is the lead singer of the band MAGIC!. “My brother is the reason I’m successful. He believed in [me] … I owe everything to him,” Nael says, explaining that family – and the values he has learned from them – are at the core of all he does.
Building relationships based on trust and mutual understanding, along with natural business acumen, has seen Nael create a network of artists growing together and bonded like a family of their own. His philosophy is providing independent artists, producers and executives with what they need, and with this in mind, has also founded White Rabbit Records (alongside record producer Nolan Lambroza and music exec Lucas Keller).
“I truly care about independent artists growing in this business and believe that there is room for [them] to thrive along with continuing to work with major labels,” Nael says.”I’m an advocate for songwriters and think producers are the lifeline of the music business. We need to all come together and figure out how to help each other more.”
We spoke to Nael about the biggest obstacles he’s faced in his own career, what success means to him, and the best advice he’d give today.
What does success mean to you? How do you define it?
Success to me means you are doing what makes you happy with or without money. Success is being brought to tears by your client’s music and the feeling you get knowing how special someone is.
Do you feel like you have ‘made it’? [if not, what will make you feel like you have?]
I know I’ve made it on paper, but I think all managers are always looking for that next level of credibility. Being satisfied with where I’m at will always be the biggest challenge because I know the sky is the limit!
What are some of the biggest obstacles you have faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle was overcoming the urge to compare myself to others. I overcame those obstacles when I had my first child. Kids have this incredible power to make you fearless. I realized nothing is bigger than taking care of your family, and I had no time to worry about others.
A turning point in your career came when you “became more of a service to everyone” and “found where they needed help”. What led to this lightbulb moment?
What lead me to that moment is when I realized I didn’t have all the answers, but I could figure it out by asking the right questions. When I started asking what people really needed, I realized majority of the time they just wanted to be heard. I’m still asking those questions 10 years later.
What is the best advice you have ever personally received?
The best advice I’ve ever received was that a great record trumps all. Don’t get too lost in the business. Fight to make the absolute best songs possible and let the music speak for you.
In turn, what advice would you give to budding artist managers?
My advice to new managers is really listen to the artist. Follow their lead, be there when they fall, and never stop encouraging them. You have to trust that they have a creative plan that’s bigger than you and do whatever it takes to help execute it.
What is something you wish more artists knew when they start their career journey?
All new artists need to accept they’re in control of their success. The more you’re willing to do in the early days the less you’ll have to do when the music breaks. There is no such thing as too much promotion.
What do you look for when scouting a new artist to manage? What catches your eye and makes you feel that person will be a success?
When looking for a new artist all I need to hear is music that moves me. I always listen to my gut instinct. If I wake up thinking about that artist, then I know they’re a perfect fit. Everything else is secondary, the most important thing is truly believing and buying into their vision.
What are you manifesting for the rest of 2022?
Our main goal in 2022 is to make great records. That’s it.