With a management roster of active rock bands reliant on touring — among them marquee names Shinedown and Halestorm — plus developing artists and a midtown Manhattan office, you’d expect In De Goot Entertainment to be especially hard hit during the pandemic.
Yet the full-service management company owned by indie promo guru Bill McGathy has announced seven internal promotions and restructuring, made new hires and opened a Nashville office, all in the first half of 2022.
“Instead of curling into a ball and worrying about what was going to happen, we decided to get really nimble and go in every other direction possible to serve our clients,” explains Alison Shepard, the firm’s newly minted president of marketing and strategy. “During the pandemic we ended up signing several new acts, including GWAR and Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum, breaking Ayron Jones, and finding that we actually needed additional staff because we were so busy and having success.”
Of the 22 artists on the roster — which skews about 75% active rock — “every one of the bands that we represent, their metrics are up during the pandemic. I’m pretty proud of that,” says In De Goot president McGathy.
“I feel like Brent [Smith, Shinedown singer] and all our bands have been a big part of bringing touring back, because we did really strict protocols for the bands,” adds McGathy. “We had seven, eight tours going when other bands were like, ‘okay, we’re canceling.’ Halestorm has just been immaculate about [Covid protocols].”
And don’t tell In De Goot that hard rock/metal bands have an especially hard row to hoe. Shepard acknowledges that “it seems that sometimes those bands get kind of pigeonholed into ‘it’s just metal.’ Or ‘it’s just hard rock.’ We don’t believe in that at all. We don’t believe in lanes,” she says. “Maybe the outward perception might be that there’s this ‘metal lane,’ but, it’s not how we operate. We think there are really creative ways to expand the audience, tell the story, and get new people who maybe never listened to metal or rock before interested in an artist.”
Effusive company founder McGathy has never stuck to one lane, and has stories for days about coming up in the halcyon days of radio — both rock and disco — and working as a station PD, as well as at Polydor and RCA. At the former label, he tells the tale of his superior okaying a Pat Travers cocaine mirror promo item tied to the 1980 song “Snortin’ Whiskey.” “They moved my boss sideways and I got his job,” recalls McGathy. “I think that promo item really did catch their everyone’s eye though,” he says with a laugh.
A stint at RCA ended under less-than-auspicious circumstances, but it led the music-obsessive to a revelation. As McGathy recalls: “I thought to myself, ‘those bastards.’ Then I realized, ‘you dumbass. How could you possibly have put yourself in a position where people could do this to you? You’re great at what you do. You have an idea. It scared some folks.'”
That was the first step to realizing that “hopefully, I would never be in that position again.” He founded McGathy Promotions in 1982, and quickly became the leader in indie radio promotion.
As one radio insider noted, “He was such a powerful indie promoter, if his client didn’t make it, they weren’t that good! But he stayed with it. His annual conventions were outrageous, and his staff was really loyal.”
During a decade of stellar successes (and some excesses), McGathy realized that management was a role where he felt he could shine. He formed In De Goot in 1993. The company name and logo — of a dog relieving itself in a gutter — was born after a stony visit to Amsterdam coffee shop. In De Goot means “in the gutter” in Dutch.
But McGathy had high aspirations. “I always wanted to be Elliot Roberts,” he says referencing the late manager. “Elliot taught me more about managing artists than anybody ever did. The best thing he ever did was introduced me to Neil Young! But after that, he told me, ‘Hey, if it ever isn’t fun anymore, stop.’ Number two, ‘your artist is never wrong, no matter what the situation is, you need to find a way to see it his or her way.’”
Roberts also told McGathy, “If your artist calls you and says, ‘I need you,’ you don’t say when, where, what day, you go to the airport and get on an airplane.”
McGathy follows those precepts, which is why artists like Shinedown have been with In De Goot for 20 years, and the roster includes bands the staff are passionate about and close with, including Biffy Clyro, Wilson, New Year’s Day, Lilith Czar, Saint Asonia and Theory of a Deadman.
“You can’t sell it if you don’t believe in it. We have a relatively big roster, but we make sure that every single band on the roster knows that they are a priority at all times. And that’s why we just went through the restructuring,” McGathy explains.
The recent slate of promotions, in addition to Shepard, include Michael Iurato, president of A&R and artist development; Adam Lebensfeld, president of promotion; Gwyther Bultman, senior VP of artist management; Chris Frank, VP of promotion; Katrina Tumandao, digital marketing director; and Matthew Young, director of digital marketing and artist manager.
“I think a lot of the creative ways that we all got through the pandemic via live streaming or new technologies are only going to add to the fan experiences that we’re building moving forward,” says Shepard. “We had our traditional model, touring and radio and whatnot. But now there are all these really interesting new ways to introduce people to music that will bring fans even closer to the artists.”
McGathy finds ways to connect with even his youngest staff members. “Look, I’m dealing with some millennials. Some people think that’s a bad word. It’s not. It’s just a matter of knowing how they tick and what makes them want to work hard. One of those things is not giving them a ceiling,” he says. “Like not saying ‘oh hey, this is specifically what you do.’ They all know if they find something great, they can bring it in, and then it’s subject to everyone loving it everyone knowing that we can impact with it. We’re all a team.”
Even if a band is great, he acknowledges that for a lineup starting out, “Just playing straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll might be really difficult, you know?” he says. “But if you’re really good and you read this article, then come see me.”
McGathy, who brings his old-school humor and experience into the present, counts on his In De Goot team to sometimes temper his impulses. “There’s always a better way to find a solution,” he explains. “If you ask someone about me, you can still find a bunch of people that are gonna say, ‘Oh, yeah, he told me I’d never work in the music business again.’ It’s like a badge of honor. If you haven’t been told you’re not going to work in the music business again by Bill McGathy, then you’re not a member of the damn club.”
Shepard uses the word “legend” to describe McGathy, adding, “He wants people to have opportunity. What’s awesome about him as a manager, to staff, is that he wants In De Goot to be a place where people can grow. You can come in as an intern and grow into being very successful.”
The employee criteria? “I like people who check their ego at the door,” McGathy affirms. “This is a team game.”
The company restructuring is a way for the staff to work on teams; several different ones concurrently, the exchange of ideas and personalities benefitting both employees and the bands. “Bill really values the team approach and wants people to have the opportunity to have face time with the artist and to travel and to meet the people that they need to meet. He is not proprietary about that in any way. He wants to be part of that,” says Shepard. “Plus, I don’t know how he does it, but he is involved with every single band; he has a relationship with every single band.”
And though the In De Goot honcho may be over 70, slowing down is not in his future. “I live in the moment. Our time for In De Goot is now. The time for Shinedown and Theory and Halestorm is now because they’re with the right team at the right time. And when will I quit?” he asks non-rhetorically. “I will quit when my head hits the desk. No retirement for me. I love this shit.”