"[When 'Moves Like Jagger' came along]I said, ‘I love this song—we’re playing this on The Voice. So get ready, because it’s coming.’”


Career Artist Management’s Jordan Feldstein on Maroon 5, The Voice, Irving, “Stress-Free” Record-Making and More

You may know Jordan Feldstein as the manager of Maroon 5, which has generated more than a bit of attention lately thanks to their recent Octone/A&M album Overexposed (#11 in 2012 sales and having just cruised past the 1 million mark, as of this writing, and a Grammy nominee for Best Pop Vocal Album as well as Best Pop/Duo/Group Performance for single “Payphone” f/Wiz Khalifa) as well as frontman Adam Levine’s celebrity as a judge on The Voice.

The head of Career Artist Management also shepherds the careers of Gavin DeGraw and Sara Bareilles, of course, and recently added soul-pop singer Robin Thicke to his roster. In partnership with Rich Egan in Nashville, he guides up-and-coming country-rocker Brantley Gilbert; partner Mark Adelman, meanwhile, oversees metal mongers Megadeth (nominated for Best HardRock/Metal Perf Grammy). Feldstein is also the brother of actor Jonah Hill.

Of Irving Azoff’s recent departure from Live Nation/Front Line—which CAM joined in 2008—Feldstein remarks, “Irving is a legend and the smartest guy in the biz, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to work and learn from him. I’ll miss him. I am also looking forward to working closely with [President/CEO] Michael Rapino and everybody at Live Nation.”

Like all the best managers, Feldstein is adept at balancing the big picture and the small details, the peaks and valleys of the moment with the steady, long-term course. And like so many before him, he did his best to tolerate a conversation with us.

The road to M5’s biggest breakout started with the relative underperformance of the band’s Hands All Over in its initial incarnation. “I love that record,” Feldstein insists, “but it just wasn’t connecting the way the previous two had. I think the band had not evolved enough from record one to record three.” They began exploring strategies to take Maroon to the next level.

Broaching the topic of outside writers can be a tricky matter—partly because artists can sometimes be touchy about surrendering control over material, and also because doing so can dilute a band’s inherent chemistry. But Levine and his bandmates embraced the idea. Enter rapper-songwriter Benny Blanco (Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Britney Spears); he and Levine first co-penned “Stereo Hearts” for Gym Class Heroes, but the pleasure of that process led to Blanco working with M5, to whom he brought the cheeky pop homage “Moves Like Jagger.”

Hands All Over was out and we were working another single [when ‘Jagger’ came along],” Feldstein recalls, “and I said, ‘I love this song—we’re playing this on The Voice. So get ready, because it’s coming.’” Even with this high-profile platform, the manager notes, he and the band were stunned by the response to the track (featuring fellow Voice star Christina Aguilera), then an iTunes-only release; it flew to #1 on the download emporium’s singles chart, and they immediately vowed to strip it onto the album.

Good decision, it turns out:  In addition to moving 5.74m digitally, making it one the top 20 singles of all time, “Jagger” vaulted to the top of the Hot AC chart and fired the expanded album to a #2 debut (it was kept from the top spot by Linkin Park’s bow). “That song took the record from something live five or six hundred thousand units to over a million,” he says. What’s more, Feldstein adds, the success of this M5 co-writing experiment emboldened them to go further when it was time to do the next album: “We all thought, ‘Why wouldn’t we make a whole record this way?”

As season two of The Voice dawned, M5 was hard at work on what would become Overexposed. Levine’s bond with Max Martin led to the Swedish hitmeister’s signing on as executive producer and submitting songs; material also began flying in from Blanco, Shellback and a bevy of other writers (“including people we didn’t know beforehand,” adds Feldstein).

The band, rather than feeling marginalized by the influx of outside tunes, seemed energized.  “There wasn’t the pressure to write singles among themselves,” Feldstein says. “And because Adam was so opened up creatively, he took material that he wouldn’t normally take.” As an example, he points to the first Maroon song written almost entirely by guitarist James Valentine and bassist Mickey Madden, “Tickets.” “There was no constraint on the kind of music they had to do, who they worked with or anything,” he adds.

In addition to being fun to make, Feldstein reflects, “I’ve gotta tell you, it was the quickest Maroon record we’ve made by far, and the easiest—just stress-free.”

Single “Payphone” (f/Wiz Khalifa) was a #1, followed by “One More Night” (nine weeks atop the Pop chart, #1 Hot AC) and “Daylight.” A splashy SNL 0perf and the announcement of a 31-state headlining tour starting in February (already “pretty much 99% sold out in every market,” according to Feldstein) helped set up the band’s next big chapter.

“Basically,” he sums up, “the tools for us have been upgrading and really creating competitive material, using Adam’s celebrity and, obviously, using The Voice and NBC-Comcast, who have been amazing partners as a platform to promote the music.”

All this would certainly be enough to exhaust most people, but Feldstein has been cooking on other burners simultaneously. In addition to shepherding DeGraw and Bareilles through the recording of new albums, he’s been focusing on new signing Thicke, whose next Star Trak/Interscope album includes songs by Will.i.am, The Cataracs and Ryan Tedder. “It’s a really great record, a step forward for him musically,” the manager promises. Thicke will also get a boost from appearing on BET’s series Real House Husbands of Hollywood (he’s married to actress Paula Patton).

The TV exposure, Feldstein reasons, will help Thicke cross from Urban AC. “I think as an artist, a brand and a star, he has the capability of reaching a much wider audience. The beauty of this record is that the Will.i.am. track sounds like it could be played in Ibiza, and there are other tracks that are more Urban records. One of the songs Robin is doing with Ryan Tedder could be a Hot AC/Top 40 record. We’re trying to expand his reach the way someone like Alicia Keys started, moving from Urban AC to a broader audience.”

 “It’s been a great two years,” Feldstein acknowledges. One imagines the next few won’t be too bad either.

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