Seth Kallen is the founder of This Fiction, a boutique independent artist management company in Brooklyn with a growing reputation for developing the best talent in the music industry, building their careers patiently with creativity and purpose.
Kallen cut his teeth in the industry managing bands in college, and has grown This Fiction's roster to include platinum selling rock band, X Ambassadors who had a breakout year in 2016 with their singles "Renegades" and "Unsteady," alongside artists like Panama Wedding, Carah Faye, Jukebox the Ghost, and more. The company also consults brands on music strategy, creating content, and throwing events and parties all over the world with the likes of Virgin, Budweiser, Adidas, Moscot, Fender, Goose Island, and more.
Q What was your favorite part about attending Recorded Music?
Early on, my favorite part of attending Recorded Music was the access to the studios. When I came to New York, I was focused on being a singer-songwriter, so the ability to book time at world class studios really blew my mind. It gave me the freedom to not just work on my own songs, but experiment with friends musically. It was having that freedom that led me to my first management client - Jukebox the Ghost - who I began managing my sophomore year. As part of a project in Nick Sansano's class, I decided that instead of recording one of my own songs, I would produce one of theirs with my good friend DL Tashjian. I fell in love with the band and realized from that point forward I wanted to be their manager.
I also loved the community that we built within our class. Moving to New York as an 18 year old kid is overwhelming, so having that tight knit group of 30 or so people that we saw and collaborated with every day was priceless. Looking back, it's really those early days learning each others' skills, goals, and dreams that taught me how to work well with other people. To this day, most of us keep in touch and even work together on different projects - right now, Jesse Lauter (who also graduated in my class) is mixing an album for me, and I'm working with Dan Chertoff (at RCA) on a release. It's crazy to think it all started for us at Recorded Music.
Q How did Recorded Music prepare you for success?
From the start, our professors pushed us to not just hope to "get a job" when we graduated, but instead CREATE something for ourselves. The projects we worked on and the conversations we had weren't about getting out of school and finding a record label job, but instead focusing our energy on figuring out who we were, what we did best, and creating something that we owned. I really took that to heart, and that's where I built my management business. While at NYU it was called This Side Up, and although the name has changed, the foundation - and honing in on what I wanted to do - started at school. Sometimes I really can't believe that I started this management company as part of my curriculum, and I'm still doing it to this day. I feel very lucky.
Q What are you currently doing professionally?
I'm happy to say I'm still doing what I was doing at NYU - managing amazing artists. I am the founder and owner of This Fiction, running a small office with a great team in Brooklyn. We have a lot of really interesting ideas in the works for 2017 - many different types of partnerships and projects that go beyond the traditional artist management role, and we're really looking forward to sharing those ideas with the world. Keep an eye out for some festivals we are creating too.
Q What words of wisdom can you share?
Be kind and compassionate to everyone you meet along the way. This industry is small, and there's no room for jerks. These people you are meeting now are going to float in and out of your musical life and career for a very long time, so just be a good person and build great relationships.
I'd also say this to prospective artists coming into the program - push yourself to your creative limits, write every day, and experiment. Don't just try to fit in to whatever you see happening music at this current moment, create something fresh, and with a unique perspective. Don't be afraid to be polarizing in your musical choices. Make people remember who you are and what you sound like, whether they like it or not.