Who is Mikey Malak?
Mikey is a 27 year old French/Egyptian music agent and manager. Currently working at Coda Agency in London and for his own company, The Network Group, on artists from the electronic and urban worlds. He currently represents artists such as Redfoo of LMFAO, Far East Movement, T-Pain, Kavinsky and Kelis to name a few.
No problem, so tell us, how did you first start in music?
My story is quite particular really. I started ten years ago as a 17 year old when I had an encounter with Black Eyed Peas’ manager, Polo Molina in London. I spent most of the following years working with them on anything from websites, selling merchandise at shows, and generally helping out wherever possible. I was lucky to encounter a welcoming group of people, I have to say.
I then worked for Dipdive, which is one of Will.i.am’s projects, doing content management and went from there. One thing tends to lead to another if you are proactive enough.
Seems like you’ve adapted yourself quite a few times, would you say that is crucial in the music industry?
Yes for sure, it is vital in this industry. The industry changes year on year and that is both a blessing and a curse in a way because you have to constantly be on your toes. I started off doing graphics and websites, which to be honest was not something I ever really cared about but it was an opportunity to stay involved with a world I wanted to be involved in, so whatever it took, I would literally do it.
I think you need to be humble and never think any task is beneath you and keep an open mind to things as long as it is for the greater good of the given project you are working on.
Are there key people you feel like have helped in your development or have you done this alone?
I definitely have not done it alone. I don’t believe anyone can really do anything totally alone, you need will power and your own hunger to achieve but you need to find people who believe in you even a little bit to get to where you want to go.
I would have to say the two initial people who really helped me in terms of giving me an opportunity and teaching me both lessons in the industry and even life would be Polo Molina and Dante Santiago.
Polo, I learnt a great deal from in a short space of time; practical knowledge and hands on experience in terms of dealing with business situations. He was also the first person to say “come help us out” so I will always be appreciative of that.
Dante, taught me a lot about the industry and kept me involved through the years through a variety of projects and to this day we still work together on The Network Group.
I should really also give a mention to Ian Fletcher for giving me an opportunity with LMFAO and Alex Hardee at CODA for also welcoming me on board.
What would you say is your favourite or proudest memory of the years gone by?
On a personal level, it would have to be watching the Peas sell out 3 Stade de France shows in Paris by themselves. For those that don’t know, that is Paris’ largest stadium, 80,000 people each night for three nights. That was simply incredible and something I can’t explain.
Other than that, there are lots of great memories but I prefer to focus on what is to come, it helps me stay on track.
Tell us more about The Network Group.
The Network Group is a company I set up with both Dante Santiago and Ian Fletcher a couple of years ago which encompasses bookings, management and events.
The management side is largely Ian Fletcher’s focus with him managing LMFAO among others, whilst I tend to focus on my artists for bookings and setting up events like our Ibiza Residency we did last year at Privilege for Redfoo’s Party Rock Island.
I am constantly looking to evolve the company and develop it to where it needs to be for it to be recognized as an established entity.
What are your upcoming goals?
Too many to mention. But whenever I get too many ideas, I try to control myself and stay focused on one or two at a time to make sure the quality is there.
How do you think the industry has changed?
The issue today is that as opposed to previous decades, everything changes year on year in terms of how people relate to music, how tickets at shows are sold, it is constantly moving, so again it is a question of each person in the industry and each sector adapting itself to the changes and moving with the times or risk getting left behind.
Just look at how many record shops are left at the moment, not many at all, we are all moving towards digital consumption.
The change to digital platforms across all medias has been huge indeed. What do you think it means for music?
As far as music goes the move to digital happened years ago, but I think it is only now that people are starting to get their heads around it and fully understand how to monetize music digitally. iTunes had a big year with digital sales and companies like Spotify are doing well to understand that advertisement and streaming can work in satisfying people’s needs for music for “free”.
You have to wonder though how more intense the advertising can get on platforms like YouTube and so on before it gets too much. Personally I think it is already too much in all honesty.
What piece of advice would you give someone trying to start up in the industry?
It is all about you. If you have the motivation to do something you will get there. Nobody can stop you, they can say no but someone will eventually say yes. I think the two most important things are persistence and remaining humble, like I said before, no task is too small if it is going to get you a tiny step closer to whatever your goal may be. I think that is true to all fields and industries.
Who should we check out in 2013?
There are so many artists around at the moment. I would say check out Kavinsky whose album has just come out and has gone straight to number 1 in France, he is an artist on all levels in terms of the music, videos, and the general branding of his name and visuals.
Check out The Network Group website here: www.thenetworkgp.com
Follow Mikey on his daily blog here: http://mikeymalak.tumblr.com
WORDS: SARA ABDUL GHAFFAR
PHOTO CREDITS & ILLUSTRATIONS: MIKEY MALAK