Industry Talk: Michael Astar
Angelina Jordan won Norway Got Talent at only eight years old, went viral on YouTube and blew everyone away with her performance on America Got Talent. We spoke to manager and uncle Michael Astar about challenges in the music industry and the big global plans for the 14-year old artist.
Written by Tina Brodal 26.08.2020
“Tell us about yourself and your way into the music industry to where you are now?”
“Music has always been my passion, I was raised in Japan as a kid and during my childhood my mom bought me a single cd, The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black, and a Walkman CD player as my birthday present. From that moment, I would almost go daily to the local CD shop in Tokyo. I was always curious about what the top chart was, as in store they made it look very cool to be on the top 10 and I would collect the CD’s as my collection of the top charts.
Years passed, my family moved to Norway and later on I started to become a hip-hop DJ. As a 16-year-old playing on 21+ night clubs in Oslo (They didn’t ask my age, it’s all confidence) I learned a lot. Some years passed and I was getting tired of being a DJ, I wanted to get out and do something else than be surrounded by drunk people. I told myself, wouldn’t it be cool to create a management company where you are still in the business but behind the scenes? It was clear to me that it was what I wanted to do, but my main issue was, where do you find talents? Not your ordinary talent, I wanted to work with something out of this world, something special, I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. 3 months after I started the management with no artists or any real talent in sight, my niece signed up for Norway’s got talent.”
Viral on YouTubeThe first audition was taped when Angelina was 7 years old. She went on stage barefoot and sang a song called “Gloomy Sunday”, blowing the crowd and judges away. Astar remembers the calmness of Angelina, showing no signs of nervousness, acting like shed had done this 1 million times before. The performance went viral after someone uploaded the clip on YouTube.
“It was overwhelming, the numbers on YouTube reached a point where I could not believe, millions of people were watching Angelina Jordan, and then she sang Fly me To The Moon and again went viral. From that moment, anything she sang went viral. She went to All Sang På Grensen, and sang What a difference a day makes, which broke her previous number and went viral not only on YouTube but on all kinds of platforms such as Facebook with 1 Billion views.”
Pursuing her dream about the USAt one stage Angelina asked Michael if he could take her to the USA where she could pursue her dream. Michael says this was a tough call, and he asked himself questions like; how on earth are you going to pull this off? What about a VISA? What about finances? Are you willing to sell everything you have and own, and also get a loan to risk everything?
“These were questions I had to ask myself, several times a day. Then, I remembered, what did my mom do when she went to Japan? She didn’t even talk Japanese or knew anyone. She did it because she risked everything for a better future.”
Michael flew alone to Los Angeles, studied and learned anything he could learn from the people he got to know during his time in the Industry. After gathering a bunch of people, he came back to Norway and started the process.
“A few months later, I told her, PACK YOUR BAGS! We are going next week to pursue your dream! All in baby. Her smile made it all worth the hassle.”
Challenging times in the industryHowever navigating the way around in the music industry has not always been easy, and Michael says he has spent a tremendous amount of time involved to get where they are, at times experiencing big struggles.
“We stayed patient because the way this industry works is bizarre and you have to dodge bullets right and left to get anywhere. But would I do it again? Of course! Life without challenge is boring, he says.”
For the manager a lot of his time involves talking with industry people, to see what’s happening out there. Having recently become a father and with Covid-19, time has become even busier and more crazy than usual.
“There is a lot of stuff happening with Angelina, and it requires daily briefings with a lot of people.”
“Tell us a bit about how you used the momentum received for Angelina after ATG, and how you reached so many through the show?”
“Well, after the NGT (Norway Got Talent) a lot of things happened, like from every corner. People wanted to be a part of it and started to discretely fly into Norway to try to be part of the team. We are talking about huge names, they would come in private jets and make it look like you can have it all and then you see their contract and be like, nah man, this is not a gimmick, this is the real deal, with all due respect, we gotta pass on this one, and they would be furious, because they never heard someone deny them or don’t get what they want, especially when there was an extreme amount of money involved.”
America Got TalentAGT (America Got Talent) had always been interested in bringing Angelina to the show, but with their normal contract, artists are being locked into a label, management, and other things for many years. Astar says that it didn’t matter if you get exposure or not, it was out of question to give away that right.
“Some time passed and they again contacted me, asking if she wanted to sing on their show. I convinced them to give me a contract where Angelina is free from any deal if she performs, she is great for their TV show and Angelina will get the exposure she needs to breakthrough, because I knew, the talent is one of the kind like no other, I just needed her to be seen and was on a daily hunt for how to get the right spot for her in the USA.”
Signed with Republic Records Angelina Jordan has now signed with Republic Records as their highest priority new artist. Astar says the commitment with the right interest in mind has been one of the most important things when choosing a team and partners to be part of Angelina’s team.
“You also need to choose someone with the right chemistry. These are the people you have to deal with on a daily basis, you have to have a good feeling and chemistry with the team you choose.”
“What are your plans for Angelina moving forward, and which markets are particularly in focus?”
“Can’t tell you much, but I can tell you this, it’s going to be amazing, Globally.”
When it comes to helpful tips and tricks for a way around the industry, Astar has a many good advices to give.
“Go with your instinct, it never fails, crazy how nature does that. Always be humble, you get way further being a nice person, people tend to be nice back. Always read the contract. Find a good lawyer (It’s super hard to find the good one, but with dedication, you can). Don’t rely on people, you want something done? Do it yourself. If you are good at something, never do it for free (Quote from the Joker)”