What you see is what you get with Nael Atweh, manager and founder of Grassfed Management. It seems that open conversations are foundational to his philosophy as an artist manager to talent, and to his colleagues and employees. Xposure Music’s Sydney Hubbard sat down with Nael to talk about the business through Nael’s candid lens, discussing his client Sabrina Claudio’s most recent GRAMMY win, why the quality of an artist’s music matters more than anything, his perspective on managing musicians, rising star/GrassFed client Etham, and leaving his mark on the music industry.
Nael comes from a musical background. He is the brother of the frontman for MAGIC!, known for their hit track “Rude,” (remember this smash?) and always performed with his brothers while growing up outside of Toronto. From there, he attended university, was a host at Chuck E. Cheese for a stint, and even spent some time in the police academy, before making a move toward artist management.
Nael’s varied background ultimately led him to the helm of Grass Fed Music, which Nael founded, and now boasts 15 clients and six fellow managers. Nael's philosophy is centered around non-stop drive. Nael mentioned that early in his career, he held the common belief that one big win, such as getting a major placement or performing at a prestigious event like Coachella, would set him up for life in the music business. However, he quickly realized that success in this industry is not a one-time event, but a continuous process of striving for better songs, better content, and better relationships with clients and partners.
“There's always more we can do. We can always create more, and you know, yesterday's win is not going to buy tomorrow's ‘house,’ and that's just the reality of this business.”
Nael believes in constantly improving and pushing the creative boundaries, regardless of external factors such as exposure or market trends. Nael acknowledges that there are external factors in the music business that are beyond his (and many artist's) control, but he remains focused on the things he can control, such as his creative output and the way he interacts with others. He's adamant that the quality of the music is of utmost importance, and the rest will follow.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Nael has children of his own, but it’s easy to sense the ways in which his artists are chosen members of the family that is Grassroots management. Sabrina Claudio continues to find success alongside Nael, while he shepherds emerging artists Benita, Kami Kehoe, Etham Basden, and more.
Nael also finds fulfillment in partnering with his wife, Alyce Atweh, in his business. He considers partnering with her during the pandemic as one of his top accomplishments to date!
“I think my favorite moment of my career so far has been partnering with my wife. That is one of the greatest accomplishments of my career.”
SABRINA CLAUDIO'S GRAMMY WIN
As Nael describes the evening that Sabrina Claudio won a GRAMMY for her work on Beyonce’s track “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA,” he beams explaining, "I was in bed when I got the text and I woke up my wife. We were so excited."
Of Sabrina, Nael says, "I'm so proud to know that Sabrina is such a prolific writer that she can do anything. She can create things that are masterpieces."
Sabrina's latest single arrives in the wake of the exciting win, titled "Modo Avión," and you can check it out here:
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR ETHAM
One of Nael's other talented clients, Etham (an inspiration to some other artists like, *ehem* Shawn Mendes), is on the rise with a recent signing to Canadian label Nettwerk, and new music coming on June 9th. We heard him play an intimate set in Miami for Soho House's PLAY Series and can vouch for his Ed Sheeran-like crooning and laid back stage presence, inviting the whole audience to relax and enjoy their evening.
Nael advice for artists and music business executives alike emphasizes that it takes time to achieve significant success in the music industry, and that there are no shortcuts. He is excited about his future doing just that, and looks forward to continuing his journey, constantly striving to make better music, better content, and better connections. Nael is driven by a competitive nature that pushes him to be better every day, and he envisions himself as a force of nature in the music industry, even in his later years.
“When I'm sixty eight, I'm going to be the old guy that comes to the office, and when I leave, everyone is going to make fun of me. I want that, and I'm looking forward to that!”