Right Place, Right Time: Matt Meyerson on Talent Management

on Tuesday, 12 November 2013. Posted in a

In the words of The Great & Powerful Oz... "PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!"

Such is the case of RPRT Talent Manager, Matt Meyerson. He would much prefer keeping your attention on the ever growing list of action sports talent that fill his roster as he keeps it all together behind the scenes. In the world of skate he is manager to some of the hottest rising stars as well as some the OGs we're all familiar with. RPRT skaters include: Curren CaplesLouie LopezShane BorlandArto SaariGeoff Rowley & Erik Ellington. As if that wasn't enough he also manages athletes in BMX, Surf, Snow, Adventure & MMA.

 

We caught up with Matt after the 2013 Dew Tour SF stop to learn more about how he got started, his opinion on the "State of Skate" and what it's like managing some of the most successful athletes in the game.

You work with a wide array of athletes from several action sports. Who was the first "action sports" client you landed and how did that happen?

Actually the first “action sports” client I landed was Ellington. When I left my last job and wasn’t sure what I was going to do, I dabbled in production, marketing, events and a bit of deal making for celebs and athletes. One of my friends, Anna Kirby, asked me one day if I was managing athletes and I said “yes.” She asked me if I wanted to meet Erik and that was my first signing in skate. From there it just sort of steamrolled, with Rowley being my next client. Those names opened up the doors for other amazing clients to come on board for skate and the other sports we work with. For that I am eternally grateful that Erik and Geoff put that kind of faith in me.

How is managing skaters different from managing other action sports?

I wouldn’t say it is any different than any other athlete. What makes a client different is their individual needs, their personality and their desire for what they are doing for a living. Some clients are ok with just being comfortable getting paid as a pro athlete and others want much more than that. That is what makes my job so much fun and challenging, catering to so many different personalities and their individual needs.

"One thing that Flip does just about better than anyone else in the industry is find, develop and nurture pro careers."

Are there any particular incidents you had to "manage" for a skater that have stuck with you over the years? Anything really dramatic, traumatic etc?

Nothing scandalous really. Most my clients are mellow and don’t seem to get into much trouble. When Rowley got arrested for skating a rooftop at a school for his Extremely Sorry part, we did a bit of damage control but it made his part that much more legendary. Other than a few drunken instances and some missed flights, I haven’t really had to do anything that stuck with me as being overly dramatic or traumatic.

Curren Caples is one of your recently turned pros for Flip Skateboards; Those dreamy golden surfer curls have created a loyal Bieber-esque fan base of teenage girls fawning over him constantly. What sort of backlash as his manager do you have to deal with? Any good stories of an uber-groupie dying for a photo op?

No backlash whatsoever. When Curren was young people would sometimes write him off as being a “little kid” but now that he is coming into his own and winning pro contests and getting covers like that 22 stair feeble on this month’s Skateboard Mag, there is a lot less of that. Curren definitely has his loyal followers. The only stories I have are random emails or social media posts asking me to get something signed from Curren. His fans are pretty respectful and are great at spreading the news. Half my social media following is probably due to Curren and Louie’s girl fans.

Matt Meyerson schoolin' the youngins at Camp Woodward West

You also manage pro Flip rider Louie Lopez. With Louie skating Dew Tour and others traveling how do you keep track of all the schedules.

Definitely a good question. Last week I had five clients at Dew, one on tour in a van across California, one in China planning a stunt, another in Italy shooting a TV show, one in LA shooting a commercial, one competing in a surf contest, one on the Powell trip to NYC and several others going about their business. I am a small agency (besides myself there is a snowsports manager and that’s it) and can only be in so many places at once. I do my best to keep track of everyone’s schedules and to be there to support them as much as I can but often have to prioritize. Also, I work off a master calendar and pretty much know where most people will be at any given time. Schedules change all the time and that is hardest part to keep track of.

Does it involve a lot of collaboration with each of the sponsor team managers too?

Absolutely. I am constantly on the phone with brand managers, TM's, marketing/pr folks, parents and company owners to coordinate. There are so many players behind the scenes that make projects happen that it can make your head spin. Luckily, we work in a small industry and pretty much everyone knows each other so often the TM’s can get a lot done by dealing with the other sponsors’ TM’s.

"Work hard, pay your dues, get in the van and don’t be a pain in the ass."

Louie Lopez has been riding as an Am skater for Flip over 10 years now, do you think his transition to Pro is overdue or right on schedule?

Right on schedule. One thing that Flip does just about better than anyone else in the industry is find, develop and nurture pro careers. Look at the track record. I have been working closely with Flip since Louie and Curren were super young and they have had a specific plan in place since then. For anyone with any doubts, and we’ve seen and heard some industry chatter, all I can say is look at how those two have come out with all guns firing. I think a lot of naysayers have eaten their words and understand now that the timing was absolutely perfect. When Louie and Curren’s pro parts, that they are working on, come out, the world will see why they were both turned pro when they did.

To your point, almost immediately after the pro announcement Louie just took 1st in 2013 Dew Tour Street Comp and Curren took 2nd in the Downhill. How does Matt Meyerson go about celebrating such an awesome day?

I am still celebrating. Every time a client does well it is as if my own kids did it. Conversely, when they don’t do as well I feel bad for them. During contests I get nervous as hell. However, in the end, it’s just a contest and never is it make or break.

After Louie and Curren won the Flip Skateboards crew, family and friends went for a big dinner and had a few adult beverages (not Curren and Louie of course). Nothing wild really. Just the crew having a good time. It was nice to be able to celebrate both Louie and Curren at the same time.

"I would rather have my clients working than to cock block a deal and try and hold out for the Rolex watch and the Bentley."

In addition to all the new up-and-comers, you also manage some of the greats including Geoff Rowley, Arto Saari and Erik Ellington. Since these guys have been skating since the “Tiny Wheels, Big Pants” era, how does your management style differ with them?

The “management” I do with them is a bit less hands on. They have been around the game and know what they are doing and what their place is in the industry. For the guys that have already cemented their place in skateboarding I still do deals for them but I am hands off with pre-existing deals (for the most part) and there is a lot more communication from their side about what they want and what they need help on from me. Also, since they are already established in skateboarding, I work with them to also try and help them find “what’s next” in their career. Whether it be photography like Arto is doing or outdoors exploits like Geoff, I do my best to help them pursue other passions while utilizing their status as a pro skater to try and do things that are special to them.

What positive / negative trends in skating do you see currently that you’d like to see more/less of?

On the positive side I see amazing progression from the kids coming up. They are pushing themselves harder and harder and getting gnarlier younger. I also like the adoption of technology and social media by the skate community. Skaters are some of the most progressive early adopters and lead the charge in social media trends. They are creating themselves into veritable brands just by simply giving their fans a glimpse into their every day lives. I think that is brilliant. Also, due to how fast the internet moves there is a ton more content for kids to see. That has its good and bad sides. It has all but killed the full length video (with some exceptions of course) which as a kid for me was something that was promoted for months and you looked forward to. Now, shit comes and goes as quickly as the next part is released.

"Being a “lifer” for a brand is a tough thing to accomplish these days as everyone chases the next pay check..."

On the negative side, I think the economy has had a major impact on the smaller companies and retailers making way for the big corporate conglomerates to take over the sport. That isn’t 100% negative as many of them put back into the sport what smaller companies couldn’t, but for me skateboarding was always more about the smaller brands that kids could identify with and make their own. Now everyone rides the same board and wears the same shoes. I also feel athletes in this instance are just collected and discarded when the next big thing comes along. Being a “lifer” for a brand is a tough thing to accomplish these days as everyone chases the next pay check because you never know when they are going to stop coming. Most people in the industry will say people like me are a big reason for the problems, but truthfully my job is to protect the athlete by getting him/her paid what they are worth in relation to what they give to their sponsor. Rarely am I totally unreasonable when it comes to negotiations. I would rather have my clients working than to cock block a deal and try and hold out for the Rolex watch and the Bentley.

Are there any other pro or am skaters you’d like to work with?

There are plenty but as a small agency it is paramount that I keep my clients as happy as possible that are already on the roster. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and I part ways with clients but in general I do my best to keep people stoked and not have too big of a roster. I can’t spread myself too thin. However, I am always looking at new talent and have been lucky enough to not have to chase clients. I just signed a hot prospect in women’s surfing named Tia Blanco and today spoke to a kid who dropped a part last week that blew my mind. Both these kids are totally raw and have huge potential. Will let you know who the skater is once the ink is dry but he is an open slate and has real potential if the industry accepts him based on his skills.

Do you have any good advice for young Ams looking to go pro?

Work hard, pay your dues, get in the van and don’t be a pain in the ass. Have a personality and put your nose to the grindstone when it comes to contests, filming, demos, social media. All of that matters. Also, don’t listen to the haters and the people that get in the way of your path to success. If you want to be a pro skater and you work your ass off the reality is that you can live a very nice life doing something you would do anyways out of love and never have to be the sorry bastard working behind a desk like me.

What should we keep a look out for from RPRT in 2014?

Every day is something new with our clients. On the skate front, I really expect Louie and Curren to become the biggest faces of their generation. Watch for them to rise above the “little kid” moniker and take the skate world by storm. As for the rest of the roster from all terrain grom Shane Borland to the master lens work of Arto Saari, there is never a shortage of cool things going on. There will be some web series stuff with Arto and Rowley has a new project called Civil Ware to look after and if you follow me on Twitter & Instagram @MattRPRT you will be up to speed with by the minute updates. www.rp-rt.com

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