This is the 2nd article in a 2-part conversation I had with Rosabelle Eales, the founder of Overall Management. We sat down for a Zoom interview and discussed her career progression, her journey as a manager, and she gave advice for women and high school girls hoping to start a career in the music business. Check out part 1, and I hope you enjoy the full conversation!
Michaela Steele: Did you always want a career in music?
Rosabelle Eales: I was working in music in high school but I didn’t even know I was working in music. I come from a small town in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s like a small town, medium city vibe. We got an Apple store 10 years ago and that was a big deal. I programmed shows, it was a bit of if-you’re-the-one-throwing-the-parties-you-don’t-have-to-worry-about-being-invited-to-the-parties, but it was also an activity to consume my time. I had never thought about going to college. My senior year I was like, “I don’t wanna stay here, I don’t want to be stuck here,” so I applied to a bunch of schools and… I kid you not, I was on the Common App and Loyola New Orleans came up as a free school to apply to and they didn’t need any additional info, and I got in and a scholarship. I had never been to New Orleans so I got my dad to take me. He’s English and he loves the blues, loves New Orleans, and I was like “Oh my god! This is the best place I’ve been in my entire life! I love this city, I have to go there!” They asked what I wanted to major in and I was like, “Uhh it’s gonna be like women’s studies with philosophy or something.” And then I saw that music industry studies is a major?! And I was like, ”Can you go to college and study the music industry??” So I made that my major and through that started doing internships, meeting people in New Orleans, I started working with the G-Eazy camp really early, and it was super early in his career and my career and it facilitated getting me out to LA. It was just a lot of saying yes to opportunity. I would hear that the Jay-Z and Kanye tour was coming through and they needed extra hands for the dressing room so I’m like, “Yup, that’s me! I’ll do that!” I was flyering after shows and running a street team in NOLA. I worked at a nightclub running the door from Fridays and Saturdays, working from 7pm to 6am to be able to afford doing all this other stuff for free. I just got really good at being involved. I only went to college for 2 years. Between my sophomore and junior year, I came out to LA, and through total happenstance, I got asked to go on the Lil Wayne tour and did that the whole summer at like 21, and it was so much fun. Then I was like, “Ok cool, I’m going back to college!” And the people I worked with were like, “No, you have to stay!” They made me an offer and I took a year off from school and now it’s been 7 years. My mind expanded with “i hate you, i love you” because I was like ok my friend gnash made a song… in his garage off a demo that a 15-year-old girl sent him… and that song is now playing on the radio?! Music was always like a grind and a hustle and all of a sudden I was like wait there is a side to music that connects and people can win and once in a while you can be part of these moments in a time where there’s no old white man behind the scenes pulling the puppet strings. It was this really authentic, organic moment, and I was like I want to be part of creating more of these organic, authentic moments with people who just make great music.
MS: What drew you to managing?
RE: I started Overall Management in 2016 off the back of my client gnash having a record called “i hate you, i love you” and that song opened some incredible doors for us, but a big one obviously for me to be able to have the autonomy to start my own company. For the 1st year and a half or so, I was focused on gnash, that song, and growing that project as big as possible. When he started working on his debut album that allowed me to think about what I wanted to put my energy into, and I grew my roster from there. The gnash project is something I will always love in a personal way because we really started together. I always wanted to be entrepreneurial, my dad was a small business owner, so my whole life I was able to watch him set his own hours, and the concept of control over what made me happy was something that was endearing. When I entered into music I saw so many people doing things that I thought were amazing, and I saw people doing things differently than how I wanted to do them. I didn’t see anyone doing exactly what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it, so like any entrepreneur, when you see a hole in a system, you try to fill it.
MS: What’s the hardest professional challenge you’ve faced?
RE: I think the learning curve would be the biggest one to be honest with you. I’ve talked to friends who finished music business programs and they’ve said it’s not that different for them. But I’m sure that this is the same for every industry. But for me, how “i hate you, i love you” happened–I had to learn so much about such a complicated industry so quickly and then I also had to learn how to do it correctly because there was no room for mistakes. I think that was probably my biggest challenge. “i hate you, i love you” happened when I was like 23, so I was really young and I had to observe and read and listen and a little bit of fake-it-til-you-make-it and just hope to God I didn’t mess anything up. The first time Olivia O’Brien performed in any serious capacity was when she and Gnash did the Live Lounge at BBC Radio One in London, and to think of that being two peoples’ 1st performance… it’s just like what?! Also, I wouldn’t call it a mistake, but I used to tour manage for gnash. One of the biggest challenges as a tour manager was finding a good merch person. So we used to have this task rabbit who helped us do stuff and I hired him as a merch guy after he had been my task rabbit maybe four times, and I’m like, that’s such a thing a 24-year-old would do. Looking back at that now with almost 30 year old (I’m a serious manager)’s eyes, I’m like a girl?! What?! But it worked! It worked out and we sold a ton of merch!
MS: What are some of your goals?
RE: Goals for my company: How cool would it be to grow at such a rapid pace that I could get to bring on two more employees by the end of the year? And I would love to have a client win a Grammy. But my biggest goal is that I’m constantly on a mission to be happy, to learn what happiness is, and just continue to seek out happiness, joy, and pride. I think it’s something I work toward. My goals are to continue to grow and be happy and successful, have abundance, and be prosperous, and for my clients to have the exact same. Every year I write out goals, but I don’t focus on them. If we have a year where everyone’s happy and healthy and making money, that’s a good year. What more can you ask for?
MS: What’s it like being a woman in the music business industry? I hate that we always have to ask that question because there’s always a different experience as a woman.
RE: I have so many weird feelings about that question because I was raised by a single-dad so I have an interesting perspective on men–where I have the example of a man who stepped up and stepped in and showed up. So when it comes to equality or gender inequality, I have a dad who’s like “Yes, have opinions! Have a personality! Have what makes you, you!” In a sense that made me kinda fearless because I was never raised in an environment where I was afraid of men or saw men as bigger or better than me. So as time has gone on, and especially during the #MeToo movement, I’ve been thinking a lot about what is my relationship to my gender and my industry… and my answer is this: there aren’t enough women and there needs to be more women in music. There are so many incredibly beautiful, brilliant, empowered women in music and I want to see a hundred million more of them. I think a lot of the time, because there are so few women, people feel like it’s an exclusive club. But it’s not. Join the table, pull up a chair, there’s room, be a part of it. In terms of gender discrimination, do I feel like I have to fight harder to be taken seriously? Absolutely! Absolutely. I have seen male counterparts of mine be offered opportunities that I’ve had to fight ten times harder for, or be invited to tables that I had to build my own chair to sit at. But what I will say is that where I feel like most women you have to fight way harder, I do feel that changing, and I feel very lucky and excited to be part of what feels like a change. Seeing more women, I’m talking to more women, I’m being put on emails with more women, and I’m like “Yes! Another woman! Let’s go!” I would like to think that in maybe five years, ten years from now….it will always be a dialogue about what it’s like to be a woman in your industry… but I’d like to think it won’t feel as isolating as it feels right now. I think being a woman in music is kind of isolating.
MS: What advice do you have for high school and college women that want to work in the music business?
RE: Try to find a mentor. Find people who you love what they’re doing, reach out to them and tell them you love what they’re doing. You know, I have had–and have–so many mentors, a lot of them being incredible women that I can reach out to and connect with. So I think having a mentor is huge. I think being fearless is huge too. I think the music industry is an industry for people who are fearless and are just ready to take a jump and take a dive, because you have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s not like other industries. You have the highest highs and the lowest lows, you have the best months, you have the worst months, it’s a roller coaster so you have to buckle up and be ready for that. My biggest thing is there’s always enough room; you just have to pull up a chair. Also, I think the biggest thing about finding your thing is letting yourself have a learning curve and not being afraid of doing it incorrectly. We spend so much time studying that we don’t spend time doing. I’m where I’m at in music because of what I did: I worked the shows, I did hospitality, I drove people around, I passed out flyers, I went on the tours… and that allowed me–when I was offered such a huge opportunity like “I hate you, I love you”–I was able to take it on in stride because I was so used to taking things on and doing them.