“I’m an Indian girl from Kentucky working in hip hop, I’ve got nothing but perspective,” reads the pinned tweet on Ramya Velury’s Twitter profile.
The platform is also partially responsible for kicking her career off as an artist manager. Years ago, while hosting parties in New York, Velury reached out to a then-up-and-coming rapper named GoldLink, via Twitter. The two quickly cultivated a business relationship. She was then brought into the fold at the rapper’s management firm, EQT (Equative Thinking). Now, Velury, 26, and her colleagues continue to oversee GoldLink’s career, as well as Masego, Smino, Tommy Genesis, and more.
Despite graduating from NYU, Velury’s success was not based on what she learned in class or read in a textbook. We caught up with her to dive deeper into how she built a career as a full-time artist manager.
FTS: What did your parents say when you told them you wanted to have a career in the music industry?
RV: I didn’t really have a conversation. I used to dance growing up, so I was always very interested in music because of that. Even now, they don’t fully get it. It’s difficult to explain my career and show them what I’m doing because I’ll tell them I put out an album and they’ll ask, ‘Are you singing?’ and I have to tell them no. There’s a lot that goes into management, so in many ways, yes, I did put this album out. But it’s still kind of a learning curve because even if my parents don’t understand it, the general population doesn’t understand artist management either. They had no idea until I just started doing it.
How did you know that management was the right career for you?
The common misconception is that management is something you can start and stop. It requires a certain personality type. This is something that you do because you’re the go-to person for someone or you’re really great at crisis management. You’re not a hyper-emotional person, and if you are, you’re able to separate the difference between business and personal.
A lot of managers might be passionate about the artists they’re working with, but don’t know where to start. How did you go from being an aspiring manager to making it a full-time career?
Everyone always asks me how I got started in management and I wish had better advice to give than to just do it, but that really is it. Prior to what I’m doing now, I was always fake managing people. I say fake because I had no idea what the f*** I was doing. Since I was 18 years old and I moved to New York, artists would introduce me like, ‘This is Ramya, my manager.’ Or someone would come to me and say they don’t know how to do something and I would ask them to let me handle the conversation for them. It’s something where you naturally have an aura of trust with whoever your client is, and it’s a very natural and organic relationship.
There have been years where I’ve worked with artists and nothing’s been on paper, but we know that our lives are in each other’s hands. It’s very much a partnership...It’s about trust. Without that, you’re screwed.
What is your and EQT’s management style or mission statement?
It’s funny because we’re actually trying to figure out what our mission statement is now. All of us have very similar personality types. We don’t force anything and everything kind of happens in the way that it’s supposed to happen. I don’t think I have a mission statement.
Looking back, what advice would you give your college-age self?
I would tell myself to fully get a tactical understanding of the music business. By that I mean, know what the business aspect of everything looks like. As great as it is to know production and being in a studio and putting on shows, there’s an actual finesse and elegance to understanding the tactical elements of distribution and a record deal. I think it makes such a difference for a woman to know and to be able to speak about it with conviction.