Guest article by Gina Sigillito
When Weston McGowen moved to Austin in 2009 from his hometown of Alexandria, Louisiana, he knew he wanted to work in the music business. As he recalls, “When I moved to Austin, I wasn’t really sure which facet of the industry I wanted to get a feel for, so I just started going to shows and talking to bands, and I began to understand the Austin music scene and what kind of support artists here were seeking.”
Little did Weston know that in five years, he would be running one of the top music management companies in town. Roadhouse Management has grown into a full-service company with an impressive roster of local and international clients, from the wildly popular local hard rock groups, Scorpion Child and The Well, to Orchid from San Francisco and Blue Pills from Orebro, Sweden.
Much of Roadhouse’s success stems from its unique approach to music management, as well as Weston’s visionary view of the music business. He and his company strive to give their clients the network they need to succeed not just in Austin, but throughout the world. The Austinot recently sat down with Weston to discuss his vision, his background in the music business, and Roadhouse Management’s plans for the Austin music scene.
Beginnings in Promotion
Weston began his career in Austin as a concert promoter and talent buyer for small clubs and festivals. He then transitioned into tour booking and tour management for bands, his first band being Black Pistol Fire, who has just been signed to local independent record label Modern Outsider Records.
After a few years of being an independent agent and tour manager, he started noticing that an influx of bands were approaching him for his expertise in booking their inaugural national tours. Once he started his own agency, he found himself with a roster of 12 bands across various music formats. His bands would flourish, but then they would leave to acquire management who had better suited agents for their acts. “Over time, I noticed that the bands I was working with were going on to do really great things, only not with me. I couldn’t cope with the revolving door of bands that I knew would grow into better situations. I’ve always wanted to develop a band from inception to stardom.”
Weston ended up accomplishing his goal through an Austin band called Scorpion Child.
From Booking to Management: Scorpion Child
Initially, Weston began by booking a tour for Scorpion Child. “They asked me to book them a 48 date tour, without a record in cycle, without ever going on a tour of this scale before. I told them that they were insane and that I wanted to book their 48 dates. I told the band, if you can survive this, you can survive damn near anything.”
Scorpion Child ended up performing all 48 shows throughout America. They came home from that tour and wanted to hire a manager. Some showed interest, but the meetings just weren’t happening. As Weston recalls, “The next thing I know, I’m managing my first band, Scorpion Child, and I had a debut album to get out to the world, and I didn’t have the first clue about where to even begin”
Within a few weeks of shopping the record to labels that were ideal for the band’s format, Weston secured Scorpion Child a signing with the world’s largest rock/metal label, Nuclear Blast Records. The German-based label had just launched their American imprint, Nuclear Blast Entertainment, headed by former Roadrunner Records executive Monte Conner.
With a large budget and resources available to him, Weston was able to develop the band’s debut album into a success. After Scorpion Child was named in VH1 Classic’s Top 5 Albums of 2013, Weston knew what he wanted to do with his life. “I knew right then, management is my calling.”
Adding Other Bands to Management Slate
During Scorpion Child’s rise, Weston began to attract other European bands in the states, as well as a management partnership with Europe-based music management company, Rock The Nation. His ear for metal and hard rock, genres not always popular in Austin, was beginning to pay off – not just for him, but for the bands he represents. Scorpion Child’s signing and the band’s residual success led to the creation of Roadhouse Management.
Weston is excited about his role as a purveyor of heavy rock music in Austin. “That’s all we think about, positioning, and how to put the band on a world platform. We want to renew popular interest in what is simply raw rock n’ roll, but also bring an international spotlight to what the critics are deeming as retro-rock.”
It is part of Weston’s larger view to launch local acts onto the world stage. So far, it’s a view and formula that has been working well for his bands. Right now, his major projects involve making Scorpion Child’s next album a success, as well as nurturing his latest signing, Austin doom trio The Well. Weston just secured the band a record deal with Los Angeles-based Riding Easy Records.
Now Mentoring Musicians Through Black Fret
Weston’s latest achievement is a major one. He has just been named as a mentor on Black Fret’s Advisory Board. Black Fret, a non-profit dedicated to giving grants to local musicians, has become a prestigious organization. Its new advisory board includes some of the biggest names in the Austin music scene, from Terry Lickona, executive producer of Austin City Limits, to Kevin Wommack of Playing in Traffic Records.
It is a role Weston is honored and excited about. He will be mentoring musicians in all aspects of the music industry, from hiring a manager to touring, commerce and brand-development, and more. As he states, “I like to think my intentions are pure, and for me it’s not just about developing artists, but acting as their guardian, protecting their interests and materials, so that they always hold the power to advance their careers.”
Goal: Bring Music Industry Professionals to Austin
With all of Weston’s success, he still has a main goal: to bring not just musicians, but other music industry professionals to Austin. “The reason musicians would want to come here is quite obvious, but we as a city need to find a way to incentivize labels, managers, producers, agents, and other industry purveyors to invest their efforts in developing industry within Austin.”
He also notes that Austin is one of the few pockets in the industry where music professionals have honest motives, and they want to see local artists prosper. “There are so many organizations here that want to help bands, and they’ve developed somewhat of a Utopia for musicians.” He also notes how several successful industry professionals are relocating to Austin everyday.
True to his philosophy of helping artists from the start of their career, he built Roadhouse Management as a full service, in house cooperative. Roadhouse offers not just artist management, but full-scale tour production and staffing, gear rental, merchandising and e-commerce services through sister company Merch Mart, content development, festival management and marketing services.
Despite his impressive roster, Weston is always looking for new bands to represent and nurture. For those lucky enough to work with him, Weston has proven that his background, as well as his penchant for risk-taking and creativity, is a recipe for success for bands to thrive in Austin and throughout the world.
Gina Sigillito is a writer, music promoter, and owner of Ginaraq PR. She is also the author of three books and a member of The Authors Guild, The Professional Writers of Austin and The Recording Academy, Texas Chapter.
When was the last time you attended a metal show in Austin?