Pianos, a two-story bar/venue/rstaurant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, is a lynchpin of the city's live music scene, thanks in large part to its talent buyer, Steven Matrick. A veteran of the music scene, Matrick also owns an artist management/concert promotion company, Kepler Events. We caught up with the industry impresario to find out how he got his start in the music industry and what he looks for when booking bands at Pianos.
How did you break into the music industry?
I got my start in music booking events when I was in college. I then managed my best friend's band when I got out of college, then joined the band and started working for Woodstock producer Michael Lang in event promotion. That naturally led to being a talent buyer as I was helping to book major rock festivals. In 2007, I founded my own management company and have been managing bands like Brooklyn's A Place To Bury Strangers, who have been touring nationally and internationally for the past seven years. After booking at Williamsburg audiovisual venue Monkey Town and Santos Party House, Pianos approached me to become a talent buyer here, and I’ve now been here for three and a half years while continuing to manage bands.
What niche does Pianos fill in the greater New York music scene?
Pianos is the best indie rock venue in Manhattan. We are a stop on the way up for bands who showcase here and play here at CMJ and countless bands have played their first show in NYC at Pianos. We are also the most important venue at CMJ and have the best sound system in the tri-state area. I truly believe that.
As a talent buyer, what do you like most about Pianos?
My favorite thing about being a talent buyer at Pianos is getting to see tons of bands on their way up. It’s also really been nice to keep Manhattan thriving while the Brooklyn scene blows up.
How do the showroom and the upstairs lounge differ, both in terms of the acts you look for to book in each space and the atmosphere of shows there?
The upstairs lounge is great for bands who want to play in front of a crowd and try to win them over. The showroom is for bands who bring people out to see them and want to play with other bands and their followings. Both have their own unique type of exposure.
What are some things bands who'd like to play Pianos can do to increase their chances of booking a show there?
Have a real social media presence. Make it really easy to listen to your music. I'm less likely to book bands that make me go through two or three sites until I can press "play." Have other bands in mind that you know and want to play with. Go out to other shows and make your presence known.
How does Sonicbids help you run your business?
Sonicbids has been booking with us for the past two years and brings artists in that I'm often not familiar with. So they've helped us expand the artists we work with, especially upstairs. I think our upstairs venue is perfect for singer-songwriters looking to expand their fan base in New York, and we've seen great results when we've booked those kinds of bands.
What makes for a good working relationship with an artist?
As a manager, I try and treat all of the bands that play here like I would my own clients. I've been on other side of this relationship enough times to really care about how I represent myself and this venue.