Michael Stover is an award-winning songwriter, musician, producer, and the owner and president of MTS Management Group and MTS Records, a publicity and promotions firm and record label where Indie artists can get major exposure. Specializing in full-service artist management, publicity and promotions, radio, and social media campaigns for new and established independent artists and indie labels, MTS Management Group and MTS Records are on the cutting edge of today’s new music business.
A music industry veteran of over 30 years, Michael is a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, with a degree specializing in the Music and Video business. He has used that education to gain a wealth of experience within the industry: from retail music manager and DJ to two-time Billboard Magazine Contest winning songwriter, performer, and chart-topping producer, and finally, award-winning artist manager, publicist, promoter and label president. In just 10 years, MTS Records has released 40+ Top 40 New Music Weekly country chart singles, including Fifteen #1s and 8 Top 85 Music Row chart singles. MTS has also promoted 50+ Top 40 iTunes chart singles, including 46 Top 5s and 30 #1s, and a Top 5 Billboard Magazine chart hit. Michael has written columns featured in Hypebot, Music Think Tank, and Fair Play Country Music, among others. He is also a 2020 Hermes Creative Awards Winner and a 2020 dotComm Awards Winner for marketing and communication.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Michael to discuss his journey in the entertainment industry and here’s what went down:
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
Working an extreme amount of hours, sometimes 16+ hours per day. Re-investing money back into the business, whether it’s advertising and promotions for my clients or media databases, or anything that I think will help my clients. It’s the sacrifices of time that really make the difference, tho.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
I’m most engaged on Facebook. I also use Twitter to some degree.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
I’ve done some PPC marketing via Facebook and other websites. I have found that Facebook campaigns for music are pretty successful. But, you have to be willing to spend the time and money to optimize them and get the value.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
My main tactic is honestly, word of mouth. Recommendations from others in the industry and past clients are key. My business stands out because I under promise and over deliver. I treat my clients like I would want to be treated. I am also very quick to respond to emails and never keep someone waiting for an answer.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
I think the best form of marketing, when it comes to my clients, is via interviews. These are like free advertising. You get to tell your story. You get to really “sell” yourself in them. This is one of the keys to marketing a musician, in my humble opinion. Obviously, social media marketing is very important. The two things working hand in hand can really help get the word out. I work with a lot of shoestring budgets that don’t really have the huge promo dollars to go out and advertise with the big magazines, so creativity and know-how go a long way.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
That is actually a very tough question. When I have a tough decision to make, I will normally pray about it, and seek God’s guidance. He has never let me down. I guess the most difficult decision I’ve had to make was whether to purchase a new car or not. I didn’t really NEED a new car, but our old one had a couple of issues with it. I prayed that if it was meant to be, then I would get the car I wanted, at the price I wanted to pay. Well, I got my answer.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
When I was younger, I was pretty foolish with money, to be honest with you. I didn’t think about the future, or investing, or saving. I spent any money that I got, and I often over-spent. I would advise anyone to start an investment portfolio. Also, don’t live beyond your means. Try to pay cash for everything. Credit is a good thing, unless you have bad credit, then it’s terrible. I have read some of Dave Ramsey’s books, and I think he’s got some great ideas. Pay off your bills, live debt-free. If you spend less, you don’t need to make as much!
What new business would you love to start?
Hmm…I love the business that I am in. Even though I have long hours, it’s really a labor of love. I look forward to opening my computer every day to see what emails await. It’s the last thing I do before bed, too. It’s almost an addiction! This industry is so fascinating, and you meet a lot of good people. I am so blessed to work with some of the best. If anything, I think I’d like to do something to help kids. I have a real soft spot for kids. They are the innocents…the future. When kids get off to a rough start, it can set them up for an entirely different life than what they could have, if they were given some help.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I would probably ask for help more. Utilize my assets more. I have some great resources, but I like to do things on my own. I’m definitely a hands-on person, and I like to be in control of things. It’s hard letting go of that control, when you expect things to be a certain way. I would probably have learned to schedule vacations, too (laughs).
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
There is some great advice right in the Bible… Do Unto Others as you would have done unto you. The Golden Rule says it all. Words to live your best life by.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Be prepared to work long hours. Put the business first. You will have to sacrifice a lot of time with family and friends if you really want your business to take off. It doesn’t happen overnight, so you have to be patient. And do something you love. If you don’t love it enough, how are you going to keep it alive and make it flourish? Finally, always be willing to do the things that someone else isn’t. There’s always somebody working harder, doing more…never stop learning, improving, striving for the next level.