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Creative Growth, Mentorship, and Simplicity with David Margolis and Lucas Keller

Different creators look for different things in a publisher. Some want a big name and a fancy deal, while others expect a bit more from a music publisher. Perhaps, they’re looking for an outlet where they can truly grow their craft and foster a career. Those creators who yearn for that extra bit more search for another option from the majors.  

That alternative is something Third and Verse came to Kobalt to find, helmed by our friends and clients David Hodges (partner and multi-platinum songwriter), David Margolis (partner, and president of My World Management), and Lucas Keller (partner, and president of Milk & Honey). As David M. explains, “We don’t want to compete with the bigger companies. We want to be the alternative for writers and artists. Artists who just want that giant, fancy deal, should go to other companies. We’re not trying to do that. We want to be that building block. We want to be that home where songwriters and artists can really hone their craft.” 

We recently got the chance to speak with David M. and Lucas to explore exactly how they’ve worked with Kobalt to establish this creative ethos, and why it’s so important to help creators develop through data and mentorship.

The three partners came to Third and Verse from management heavy backgrounds, David M. working with clients like Carly Paige, Gabe Dixon, Greg Holden, David Ryan Harris and others at his company, My World MGMT. Lucas has managed a range of acts, including Sir Nolan, David Hodges, Oak and Jamie Hartman, and worked as a manager on a core team at The Collective, with global acts like Linkin Park, Peter Gabriel, Enrique Iglesias and Kanye West. David Hodges is a songwriter, producer and former member of the band Evanesence, who has collaborated with the likes of Carrie Underwood, Christina Perri, Keith Urban, Christina Aguilera, Daughter, Kelly Clarkson, Josh Groban and many others. David Hodge’s collective sales total nearly 70 million records.

The three partnered with Kobalt to launch a boutique publishing company that would motivate and mentor its clients to achieve their own personal successes. Through Kobalt, they’ve found many opportunities for growth as a company, and for their own artists. “It’s nice to work with a company that values your work and your relationship. The opportunity to work with James Arthur came from Anna in the LA office, and that showed us the power of having good relationships with Kobalt team members,” says Lucas. “Kobalt is an amazing extension for us… as managers, and as publishers.”

For Third and Verse, working with songwriters and artists means that they’ve chosen to work together long-term. It’s why they are able to comfortably commit to devoting the time, attention, and resources their clients need. They’ve enjoyed working with Kobalt, because of how those qualities are mirrored between the two companies. Both Lucas and David see Kobalt as a place that is looking for the long-term—to build something together—not just signing to be in a market share. 

Their process for vetting writers involves using David Hodges as a vetting tool. The best way to vet young writers is to put them in with a more established writer. And the writers they work with truly appreciate the opportunity to work with an established and successful writer. “Third and Verse has been a nice mouse trap to capture some earlier talent … as managers, we tend to represent more established clients, but with Third and Verse we can get in much earlier, and really mentor these writers and build their repertoire.  It’s a good opportunity to really involve David Hodges, who is a great mentor for a lot of these kids, unlike, I think a lot of songwriters that have joint ventures and publishing companies. He’s very involved,” says Lucas.

Part of that mentorship means providing complete transparency and access to data, which Third and Verse is able to provide for clients via Kobalt’s portal and app. “Maybe some people have clients that don’t care what this is and just tell them everything they want to hear. But, all mine have always wanted to know everything. This way, they can be fully engaged in their own business,” says David M. “The portal was step one, and that was awesome to have, and now you have this app that gives you real time updates.” For their clients, access to data plays a pivotal part in their long term growth, priming them to make strategic, data-driven decisions.  

It’s easy for David and Lucas to be loyal to their clients, when they know there’s a shared passion for creativity, transparency, and simplicity. David calls his attitude old school, but this old school mentality is what’s responsible for their clients progress and success. “Being empowered, being a part of your own career. Owning it. When you work hard, results happen. It’s old school, but it still works.”

Learn more about Third and Verse and their awesome roster of clients by clicking here.

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