Ross Nicol hasn’t always been indie. Before heading off on his own to start Off Season Creative, a boutique Brooklyn-based creative direction agency with a focus in music, Ross was at a major music management firm.
While there, Ross had the benefit of working with some of the biggest artists, managers, and designers in the music industry, so he quickly learned the importance of developing and maintaining relationships — and the power of leveraging data.
On the management side of my work, it's [data] largely considered with touring, looking at markets where a specific song, sometimes, or an artist as a whole really resonates.... I've mostly used that data to map out tours, to route tours to cities that make the most sense based on listeners. Also with age groups, deciding whether or not to set your show as all ages, 18+, or 21+. That affects the deals that you have to strike with buyers in each market.
Of course, one of the really important byproducts of the digitization of the music industry is just how much data can actually help empower artists to take control of their own careers. And Ross has been helping artists do just that, drawing on his extensive knowledge and experience with management, marketing, creative direction, and design.
That said, according to Ross, the added value that big companies — be it management firms, major labels, or design studios — offer is industry relationships at scale. For all of the new technology and data proliferation in the music business, it all ultimately still comes down to a human-centered approach.
That’s what he’s tried to maintain at Off Season Creative, where he’s worked with Teddy Geiger, Lucius, Mom + Pop Music, Real Estate, Whitney, Geographer, and many more notable names in the indie world.
While Ross has certainly dipped his toe into indie artist management with Off Season, using geo-specific streaming data to route tours and social media demographics to determine the right venues for his artists, his primary focus right now is photography, typography, and design for indie artists.
Data might help him strategize an album rollout, but when it comes to the design phase, only the unquantifiable can help him understand exactly how to execute an artist’s vision.
I recognize how hard it is to tour but then also how important it is to tour. I think what I've also picked up ... on is the highs and lows of being an artist, because I've very much felt them myself as a musician but also as a creative director and designer. Those highs and those lows are something that I've become really in tune with. With that, it's given me a very high level of empathy with the bands I get to work with. Being able to speak the language with artists that I work with has been an advantage, because I'm not a "suit."
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Originally from San Diego, Ross went to school in Nashville and eventually migrated even further east to New York City. After a long bout at a major NYC artist management firm, Ross decided to go indie himself, launching Off Season Creative, a Brooklyn-based creative direction agency that takes “a holistic and strategic approach in defining and developing an artist’s creative direction through design, photography, and typography.” Ross has worked with the likes of Teddy Geiger, Lucius, Mom + Pop Music, Real Estate, Whitney, the list goes on….