Andrew Cohen knew from a young age that he had a special interest in the business side of the music industry. After reading about Belmont University and eventually attending in 2008, he could’ve never guessed how his interest in tracking his favorite songs in Country Weekly would put him where he is now: the owner of Cohencidence Projects and managing one of the hottest rising country acts of 2021, Brittney Spencer.
Graduating from Belmont in 2009, Cohen spent his first year out of college trying to get his foot in the door of Nashville’s music business, including a four-month stint at a booking agency that wasn’t the right fit.
In 2011, Cohen co-founded YEP–Young Entertainment Professionals–which today acts as a critical, free tool for young jobseekers in the music industry to network and learn the business, as well as a resource for professional development. The organization held educational events and mixers with Cohen at the helm for nearly six years before his departure.
“YEP was based on me and my friends getting out of Belmont and being thrust into the industry with no safety net,” Cohen explains to MusicRow. “The day that the idea started, I was at Tin Roof with MaryAnn Keen [of BMI] and she mentioned somebody that I didn’t know. I was like, ‘How do I not know all of your friends? All we do is hang out in bars while we don’t have jobs. I should know people you know and you should know people I know.” So, the two co-founded YEP.
In October of 2011, Cohen got a job at Crush Management under John Grady‘s leadership. Over his five year tenure, Cohen became a jack of all trades. Starting off as a day-to-day manager for Kristen Kelly, Cohen worked with Striking Matches and Ashley Monroe during the week, while spending the weekends with Kelly on Brad Paisley‘s tour. Cohen also began running marketing for the management company’s Nashville office and eventually took on the marketing for Grady’s I.R.S. Records in 2013.
However, he missed being in the trenches with the artists. Cohen left to start up his own management company, which only lasted for a few years. Since then, he has found success consulting through his own Cohencidence Projects, and filling a special niche that he feels was missing in the artist’s toolbox.
“At first, it was mainly DSP promotion and helping independent artists land on playlists to get their music heard. I’ve worked on DSP promotion projects with Kameron Marlowe, Brandon Davis, and Andrew Jannakos, who we launched a song with that hit No. 12 on Billboard,” Cohen says. “I found a niche within the industry that was really needed to help artists get their music heard by editors at Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and Pandora.”
He continues, “It led me back into management. I ended up signing Andrew and Brittney last year and it’s been a wild year. It’s been really fun and I get to do my favorite part, which is being at the very beginning with an artist and helping to build a team.”
Of Cohencidence Projects, he says: “It’s built to be whatever iteration it needs to be for an artist. I’ve done management consulting where I’ve helped an artist [in a pseudo-manager role] over the years. He’s got a great head on his shoulders and he really knows what he wants to do. He just needed some help executing it from time to time and somebody to bounce ideas off of.” He adds, “For artists out there that really know how to work independently or don’t have the funds to have a manager yet, I help whoever needs it.”
Cohen’s biggest leap came with country newcomer Brittney Spencer, who just this year was named People Magazine‘s One to Watch, a 2021 Spotify Hot Country Artist to Watch, a Pandora 2021 Artist to Watch, and is a member of CMT Next Women of Country. Just last night (Nov. 10) Spencer performed alongside Mickey Guyton and Madeline Edwards at the CMA Awards.
Having met Spencer six years ago at a YEP event, Cohen began working with the young act with DSP promotion for her 2020 Compassion EP. With each single release, the pair started to see better and better responses from the DSPs. After releasing her viral cover of The Highwomen‘s “Crowded Table,” and receiving a name drop from The Highwomen’s Maren Morris at the 2020 CMA Awards, Spencer and Cohen have seen a busy year full of collaborations, performances, and building out the right artist team.
“This has been a massive year of growth and we’re starting to navigate what her team looks like as we roll into next year… We’re trying to surround her with the right people to help amplify everything we’re doing,” Cohen offers. “I’m still learning a ton as we go. Every artist is so drastically different with what they need and what their team looks like.”
He continues, “It seems like every two weeks something drops into Brittney’s world. Opportunities are showing up and we’re chasing them. Seeing her interact and build her community has been so cool. She’s out there making noise and there’s going to be a long career here, so I’m excited to be a part of it.” Cohen adds, “I’m very glad to be back on this side. If you have the right artists, the right music, and the right story to tell, I would much rather be in the trenches with the artists telling that story. Brittney’s got so much to tell and that’s where people are connecting with her story.”
While the world was navigating their way through a raging pandemic, Cohen and Spencer were grateful for the ability to slow down and focus on the creative aspects of her career rather than juggling the challenges of touring with it.
“There were some advantages to the remote world because it didn’t throw [going on] the road at these artists that were emerging right away.” Cohen elaborates, “It’s pretty intensive to get players and rehearsals, and to make sure everything’s ready. During the pandemic, we could just release music, do interviews, and she was writing a ton. We were in this creative space and she got to stay in that creative space rather than balance it all at the same time.
He adds: “It was a little bit of an advantage for it to marinate a little bit, and for us to really lean in on the writing side and build relationships with her team. She’s been building it out little by little, and it was nice to be able to do that with a little less urgency.”
Along the way, Cohen has had his fair share of people champion him, among them are some Nashville music business heavy hitters, such as Beth Laird, Jody Williams, and Leslie Roberts. He notes that Grady, his former boss, has been one of his biggest supporters and teachers throughout his career.
“He taught me everything I know about the business. He was so great about letting us get to know his contacts, which is something that I hope to do down the road. He opened up his Rolodex and said, ‘Those contacts are yours. The people I’ve built relationships with, you can build relationships with too.’”
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