Jaime Zeluck Hindlin has had a busy year. Since launching Nonstop Management in 2018, she’s signed some of today’s top pop songwriters and producers, who have enjoyed success with co-writes on songs for Maroon 5, Lauv, Thomas Rhett and Katy Perry.
Penned by Nonstop signings J Kash and Michael Pollack, ‘Memories’ by Maroon 5 recently hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Katy Perry’s comeback track Never Really Over, which was pitched by Nonstop and co-written by former client Gino Barletta, was her highest charting debut since 2017.
In addition, Thomas Rhett’s Look What God Gave Her, co-written by J Kash, hit #1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart earlier this year.
There’s more in the pipeline, including upcoming features with Charlie Puth, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry (J Kash), Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato (Michael Pollack), and Zeluck Hindlin A&R’d Lauv’s upcoming album, which a number of her writers also feature on.
Zeluck Hindlin started her career in music in 2007 as an intern at Warner Bros. Records. There, she was an assistant to the late President of Sire, Craig Aaronson, working with bands like Jimmy Eat World, Mastadon and My Chemical Romance, and learning the process of making records.
After a changing of the guard, she found a job with music supervisor Scott Vener, who she helped work on the music for the first two seasons of the 90210 reboot.
“I loved being so close to the song from the beginning and the writers who wrote them, and understanding why they wrote them.”
A chance meeting with Jody Gerson led to a job at Sony/ATV, where, as a receptionist and A&R Assistant, Zeluck Hindlin was introduced to the songwriter and publishing world.
“I didn’t really know what publishing was but the second I went into that job I started getting acquainted with songwriters and running calendars, looking at how sessions are set up, and very quickly learned it was my passion,” she explains.
“I realized that this is a creative job — you could pick people, put them in a room and see what they get back and then the rest is up to you. I loved being so close to the song from the beginning and the writers who wrote them, and understanding why they wrote them.”
Pitching quickly became her forte, which has resulted in a string of Top 40 radio hits, including ‘Work from Home’ by Fifth Harmony and ‘No Promises’ by Demi Lovato, as well as Maroon 5’s Memories.
After making a name for herself in the publishing world, Zeluck Hindlin was poached by Beka Tischker and Dr. Luke to set up the A&R department at Prescription Songs where she spent five years signing and developing writers. Those included Lauv, who she continues to A&R today, and her husband, J Kash.
After giving birth to her daughter, and surviving heart failure, Zeluck Hindlin decided to reshape her life and go it alone in order to work for herself and do business on her own terms. That’s when Nonstop arrived.
She’s now got 12 clients on the roster, who also include Andrew Wells (Meghan Trainor, Young The Giant, Bebe Rexha), LunchMoney Lewis (Nicki Minaj, One Direction, Jason Derulo), Nick Long (King Princess), Oren Yoel (Miley Cyrus, XXXTentacion), Sam Farrar (of Maroon 5), Michael Matosic (Lauv) and Jake Torrey (Kiiara), and artist/writer clients Bantu and Ryann.
In addition, Zeluck Hindlin has another entrepreneurial venture up her sleeve — a publishing company that will be launched with top songwriter Ross Golan (who hosts the And The Writer Is… podcast) and Kobalt.
You say that one of the motivations for launching your own company was to run something in the manner you like to do business. How would you describe your approach?
I think that being fair to people is the most important thing. There are so many people in this business that are aggressive and when you work for someone, you have to adapt to how they do business. I always want to do the right thing by my writers, but also by the other people I work with in the business.
“I think that being fair to people is the most important thing. There are so many people in this business that are aggressive, but I always want to do the right thing by my writers, and by the other people I work with in the business.”
Relationships are the most important thing to me and running a company that is based on that and integrity and good values is what is important to me. No-one needs to be greedy, or do things in an ugly way, let’s all be friends and make music!
But more than anything, I just wanted to build a home and run a community of stuff that I love. Everyone that is signed or works with me is part of my family, I don’t just look at them as a client, I look at them as a friend. These are people I care a lot about and I want to help them achieve their goals.
You worked closely with Jody Gerson at Sony/ATV. What did you learn from her?
I learned how to aim big and really do my research and understand every part of what I was trying to present or sign. So to think about the numbers and understand how people make money in publishing, and what is it about whoever I was presenting that sets them apart from the rest.
She always gave me this activity, which was to look at the radio charts every week and look at all the songs that were in the Top 40 and songwriters who wrote each of them, and find out if they are unpublished. So she taught me how to find talent like that and pay attention to the stuff that’s happening. And always just be the best, there was no just be okay, she always pushed me and the people who worked for her to be great, and I took that with me.
How do you approach working with creative talent?
I think that more than spotting talent, placing songs, pitching and getting people to the next level, it’s about knowing how to manage them as humans; expectations, emotions, and to be there when they need you. Because it’s so competitive and there are a lot of ups and downs — why am I not getting on this project, and why is this person?
A lot of songwriters compare themselves to each other, but everyone’s journey is different. Some people take ten years to have their first hit, some people have it happen really fast and never again, for some people it’s a slow build. So it’s about really working with each one and making them feel good about where they are at and see the best in themselves.
What is it that makes you interested in songs?
I’m a really big lyric person. I’m blown away by the art of being able to tell a story in a unique way, and also get your attention with the melody. As a young kid, I always wished I could write songs, I never did it, but I was so fascinated by that. So I am just blown away by these people every day and feel so lucky that I get to work with them.
“I’m a really big lyric person. I’m blown away by the art of being able to tell a story in a unique way.”
When I first started working with Lauv, of course the lyrics to ‘The Other’ are incredible, but every melody I heard I was like, this guy is a genius. But then also as a writer, his lyrics are pretty unique and very special and you don’t find that that much. He is on another level and it’s pretty mind-blowing to me.
There has been a string of copyright lawsuits to hit headlines recently for high profile songs. What do you make of that trend?
There is going to be a lot of similarities in a lot of songs, and I just think it’s always smart to do your homework before and try and get something cleared so you don’t have to deal with that and you can do right by the original writers of the song.
When I hear a song that my writers did that sounds familiar, we get it checked out before we do anything else and figure out how to handle it. You are taking a risk if you don’t.
What do you make of the cases where the writers insist that their song wasn’t inspired by another?
Maybe they weren’t because there is only so many things you can come up with. I have been in situations where two people I work with will write something that is similar to something that ends up coming out, and they didn’t even know that song existed but it just so happens to be the same melody. So they didn’t do it on purpose, it just so happened to be that way and the other song came out first, and then we get it figured out.
We had this recently with the Katy Perry song I pitched ‘Never Really Over’. It was something I worked on for a while and in the middle of Katy starting to work on it, we realised it sounded very similar to a Dagny song. We did our due diligence, reached out to the writers and made sure that they knew it was similar. Do I think it’s fair they got a writing credit on there? Yeah, they should, it ended up being similar.
You need to be on top of your stuff and when you write a song, really think about it, play it for people, get their opinion and ask if it sounds like anything else. People need to do their homework and consider that that’s always going to be a factor, more than not these days.
The songwriting community has had good news with the CRB rate hike. Do you feel positive that there is a wider cultural shift happening towards more and better recognition for songwriters?
Absolutely. I think people are working towards that every day and they are getting more recognition and credits for what they deserve. If you manage a songwriter or producer, and especially a songwriter because there is less money in it for them with streaming, your goal is to make sure they are getting taken care of as best they possibly can and fight for them. There is a lot of people doing that right now so it’s only going to get better. We are a tight community and are working towards that.
Is there anything else you’d like to see?
Songwriters getting insurance! Having that be mandatory and having them being taken care of in the way that people with other jobs are, and having them be compensated for their work in a better way from streaming services. My dream is for that to change because as a songwriter you are not going to make anything on streaming right now and that’s just not fair.
“as a songwriter you are not going to make anything on streaming right now and that’s just not fair.”
How do you make money if your stuff is not getting on the radio? Radio is how people make money in publishing and it’s not ancient, but it’s really not just about that anymore, it’s about streaming.
So that is a problem because if you get 100 million streams, what is that really going to do for the publisher? Nothing. [Signing] deals are more expensive because of hype, but then you see the streaming numbers and as songwriters these people aren’t making close to what they are getting signed for.
But with an artist like Lauv, he must be earning quite well because he’s the artist as well as the writer, and he’s touring too.
Yes and he’s not signed to a record label so owns his masters. If you’re an artist and you own your masters, you can make a lot of money in streaming.
But most songwriters don’t have master points or share. We are fighting for people to be able to get that because it’s not standard and I think it should be. Masters are really the only way you make money in streaming.
“We are fighting for songwriters to get master points because it’s not standard and I think it should be. masters are really the only way you make money in streaming.”
It’s something I deal with everyday; Well, my writer wrote on this, it’s only going to probably get a couple of million streams, how are they going to make money? They need some master share or how is this worth it for them.
Have you been able to negotiate a share of masters for anyone you work with?
Yes I have, but every case is different. Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t. You have to be really careful about how you bring it up and assess the situation beforehand.
They are tough conversations but I’m getting way more comfortable having them these days. I wish it could just be known throughout that if [songwriters] are not going to make any money on this, and it’s not going to radio, they should 100% be getting taken care of.
Music Business Worldwide