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Scoring a Musical Checkmate

By Jude Kelly

Coming off the greatest year in his life where he launched Nelly Furtado into super-superstardom, and helped a few of his other acts bust open doors to the musical mainstream – and bigger paydays – Chris Smith isn’t content. Sure he’s happy, but like a veteran chess player he wants more. He’s sizing up the board and plotting his next moves globally. And he sees no reason why all his artists can’t achieve the same level of fame and success as Furtado, so he’s working hard to make that a reality, striving toward that musical checkmate.

This spiritually grounded reggae and soul fan who heads Chris Smith Management (CSM), believes there’s a science behind the music marketing hustle. “I’m a better manager now,” he explains. “When you have a hit, there are different offshoots you can take advantage of. Where now I can see 10 things (concepts or strategies) for my artists, I could only see six before. That’s growth. Every year I get better at my job and I can deliver more for the artists. But my artists get better at their jobs too so we’re all growing together.”

Since creating Toronto-based CSM more than a decade ago, the company now has operations in Europe, Japan, Jamaica and South Africa. This 20-person shop has an impressive client roster and clout that dwarfs much larger companies. For sure his biggest star is the gorgeous and outrageously talented Furtado, but having conscious rapper k-os, budding soul diva Divine Brown, and others including Jacksoul, Tamia, Philosopher Kings, Lenn Hammond and Jarvis Church on your roster has established Smith as a major player internationally.

Exhibiting the musical touch of King Midas, with the strength and foresight of Apollo, Smith says the best is yet to come – for him and his company. “Every night I reflect on new things to do and the best ways to make it happen…I’ll always be developing new acts, but I do want to step it up a notch.”



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