First and foremost, would you mind introducing yourself to the masses?
My name is Vlad Irimia and I am a Romanian rapper known by the alias Tataee. I am also a songwriter, music and music videos producer, A&R, booking manager, PR, executive producer and manager for B.U.G. Mafia, the group I am part of since co-founding it in 1993. I've worked with other artists too in my 20+ years career as a producer, I also managed other artists for different periods of time, but I am mostly known for my work with B.U.G. Mafia.
B.U.G. Mafia is the most successful Romanian rap group and one of the most loved musical acts in Romania. And, if we take in consideration our numbers so far, one of the biggest rap acts in Europe.
You are the manager for one of the biggest Romanian rap collectives, B.U.G. Mafia. How difficult is it to manage an established group?
Music management is very difficult in general because that means a lot of work, but our situation and the situation in which the Romanian music industry has been in makes my job as a manager that much harder. As I said earlier, I do a lot of things for the group and sometimes the time I have is just not enough.
As a manager of a big act these days you have to maximize the multiple revenue streams, find new ones and constantly adapt your strategy based on the many changes that the online and offline mediums suffer very often. That's not easy at all if you take into consideration just the changes that one platform, YouTube, has been subjected to since its launch.
You also have to supervise the activity of your whole team and keep everyone in check, make hard choices when needed, always growing your business network. And many, many other things. Don't get me wrong, I love all my roles, I'm doing what I love and I'm my own boss, that's means a lot.
What is the biggest misconception that managers deal with?
"My manager has to do everything." Yes, a music manager has to do a lot, but that does not exclude in any way the fact that the manager has to have a team around to help in order for the manager to do a great job. The artist has to get involved in management too or at least that's how I see it. Without the constant input of the artist I think that management suffers a lot. A campaign designed by the management that is not fully understood and agreed upon by the artist will almost always be crippled from the start, for example.
It seems that YouTube is cracking down on independent artistry. Has their business practices affected your marketing campaign?
To be fair, I don't think that YouTube is cracking down on independent musicians. All this controversy that surrounds the launch of their new paid subscription service seems to be just that for now, no uploads were removed yet or at least that I know of. I've had my issues with the platform and even got pissed a few times, but, in the long run, I think that they did and do their best to improve YouTube for all parties involved, them, creators and users.
And even if some of us may have felt frustration over the way the conversation evolved at some point, a paid subscription service is a natural improvement and addition to the platform, given the fact that it's the number 1 music discovery tool on the internet. So, to finally answer the question, it hasn't changed our approach to marketing our content yet. We'll see what we're going to do if our content is removed from the site, but right now I doubt that is going to happen. I mean our channel just got verified on YouTube at the beginning of June, would be pretty strange for YouTube to delete it one or two months later.
Would you mind detailing 3 keys to B.U.G. Mafia's success?
Not at all. There are a lot of things that made our group as successful as it is today and the first one would have to be content quality. We always tried to give people quality content, music or videos and did that even if it meant spending a lot more time and money producing it than our competition. On our albums we tried to not have more than one song about one specific subject, going from very social, anti-establishment songs to party songs and that added a lot of consistency to our projects. Also, even if I produced 99% of our instrumentals, we insisted on them to be different from one another music and sound wise.
The second aspect that made us big was the mystique that always came with the B.U.G. Mafia name. We were very careful not to over-saturate with content, interviews or shows in the same city and that made our fans want even more. Almost always stayed far away from personal life related questions. The fact that we didn't rub shoulders with every other new star on every other TV show made us seem uninterested in exposure at any price and it amplified that mystique.
The third one is the fact that we also tried to remain as humble as possible towards our fans. We gave autographs to and took pictures with almost everyone who wanted it. We kept a very close and real connection with our fans, we treated them as equals and that created a very strong and large community around our music.
There are a lot of other things too, like activating in the same formula from the beginning, refusing to participate in electoral campaigns and even luck and lucky coincidences, but those first 3 are our strongest attributes.