There was no time to rest when I returned to New York, because Joanie and I were quickly summoned to Los Angeles to meet with Windish, a big agency that we had been entertaining. Others were interested, but we knew from the start that Taryn Thomsen at Windish was the agent we most wanted, as she had always been a vocal fan and laid out the best growth plan for Saturant. If things were to go as promised, Joanie would be signed to the label of her choice shortly thereafter, fresh on the tails of her second EP launching. Windish booked us in first class, and it was the one time I had ever flown up front. “This is where we belong,” Joanie said, as she sipped a mimosa. I looked around. It felt like a waste of space and money, and nobody else in our section seemed very pleasant or relatable.
Like most things that had happened for Joanie since her Saturant rebrand, our meeting with Taryn at Windish Agency progressed quickly. After just two hours, we had covered every base: touring, finding a label, and making an LP. Taryn eased Joanie’s concerns about losing any creative freedom, too: “You’re a singer-songwriter,” she said. “Your artistry is your angle. You should feel free to evolve, push buttons, say whatever you want. We’ll be sure you’re nobody’s puppet.” I could tell Joanie felt very secure, very confident, which in turn calmed me. We got our lawyer on the phone, and by meeting’s end, a contract was being drafted. “Don’t let me screw this up,” Joanie said as she hugged me in the lobby. Funny, because I had no idea what I was doing—all this music talk—and I was worried I was the one who would screw things up.
Taryn helped us book a sold-out show while we were in town. It was further validation that we were past due for signing with a label. A lot of industry execs turned up, and I collected more business cards and friends than any other three-hour window of my life. After the show, I noticed Joanie getting especially cozy with a handsome, bearded fellow. She summoned me over. “This is my manager, Eric Condor. Eric, meet Dixon Reid. He’s with Glassnote, in New York actually.” Glassnote Records was one of two labels that we really wanted (the other being Republic). “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Reid. Joanie, can I have one moment with you?” We stepped aside for privacy. “OK, he’s cute, and I know you’re in a dry spell. Just… don’t let him influence our decision.” “You mean my decision,” she responded. I crouched low to be eye level with her: “Look me in the eyes and tell me I don’t have your best interests in mind.” She couldn’t respond, so I cracked a smile. “Now go get laid.”
I had lunch alone with Taryn the next day, and asked her what she knew about Joanie’s new crush, Dixon. “I’ve worked with him on a couple clients,” she said. “He’s a charming guy, Eric. And not stingy in negotiations. Don’t worry too much about Joanie’s feelings. There are enough stakeholders here that we’ll all get out just fine.” That was a relief. Taryn was also sure that a label could help us book Saturant as an opener for some other big act by spring, which she said would be the real mainstream launching point. “I assume you’ll be with her on tour, since she’s your only client?” “Oh, no, I’m not able,” I said. “I manage actors, too, and usually have to take meetings in New York. I’ll attend the northeast shows, of course.” Taryn looked a little disappointed, as if she questioned my dedication.
The blogs picked up that we had signed with Windish, so I leveraged the press by also announcing Saturant’s second EP, which further magnified the buzz. Taryn phoned me that afternoon saying that we had been offered a cush spot at South by Southwest, which overlapped the March 17 EP release. I wanted to buy a lottery ticket, I was feeling so lucky. Instead, I scheduled a few meetings with casting agents in LA, in order to get a bi-coastal jump on my pilot-season ass kissing. Then, I opened Grindr back at my hotel, landing a 21-year-old Israeli film student. Per feeling lucky, I got myself another jump. Or two.
My casting meetings the next day reminded me that I was about to get very very busy with work. Pilot season is when most of the year’s television casting takes place, or at least the major parts on all the big new shows. Not everything is guaranteed to get picked up, but there’s money involved just for booking a part, and then they film the pilot to see how the network responds. There are all sorts of strategies for landing your clients where they want. One year with Sam, we had a pregnant client who wanted to land a bad pilot, so that she could get paid out without any concern of longterm work. As a manager, though, I would be spending the next couple months telling casting directors why my clients were so obviously right for each and every part. I had six clients who would be pursuing pilots, including James Thurston. That alone was manageable, but I also had Joanie, Tyler, and Alexa to look after. So it hit me: I needed an assistant.