Episode 49 - Matt Aiello: Creating Your Own Opportunities

This is the second podcast I got from my trip to NYC and let’s just say this… you’re in for a treat. I wasn’t all that familiar with who Matt Aiello was until a previous guest, Episode 22 Gibson Hazard had brought him up during/post podcast. I could tell this was someone who had found their passion, was young and hustling to get their name out there. Before you listen to this podcast, give his twitter feed @MattAiello a quick scroll, it’ll give you an idea of what you’re getting yourself into.

Aside from his tweets and sarcastic IG comments, Matt really “gets it.”

Growing up in Caldwell, NJ he had two passions: music and football. Being realistic with himself about his height and weight, he knew there was a slim chance he’d make it to the NFL and decided to follow through with his passion for music. When it came time to go to college, he spent his Freshman at Drexel University and got his foot in the door with the music industry and transferred to Pace University to explore bigger opportunities which you’ll hear about in the podcast.

What has been key to his success is being a good person and learning something that they don’t focus enough on in college which is email etiquette. Proper heading, addressing the contact properly, thanking them for time and maybe a quick acknowledgement of your appreciation for what they do sounds so simple to do but yet so many people either do not understand or just don’t care to take it seriously. With 0 experience in the industry and “Camp Counselor” being his most recent job experience on his resume he landed a couple dates doing merch for PartyNextDoor, then an internship position with Electric Feel Management in Los Angeles and the ball kept rolling after that. Now he is an A&R Scout for Atlantic Records.

Matt realized early on in his journey that the worst that could happen when reaching out and sending these blind emails is that you get a “No, not interested” response. He didn’t let that hold him back and just kept at it until something finally broke. He continues to put in the work and looks for nobodies validation except for himself and that’s all we ever need.

One of the main takeaways from this episode is creating your own opportunities. Although there will be a slim few who do get handed major opportunities, for the 99% rest of us we need to discover them for ourselves. Send emails, work for free for companies or people you would someday like to work for and just experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. Your journey is going to be completely different and unique of its own than anyone else so do not bother trying to replicate what someone else has done in the past because it might not work.

Podcast Outline (Time Markers For Audio Version) 

  • Who is Matt Aiello today and how young is he?

    • 20 years young A&R Scout for Atlantic Records

  • Grew up up West Caldwell, NJ (45mins outside of NYC)

  • Coaches growing up influenced Matt the most (4:40)

    • The work ethic and to just go for it

  • Was going to Drexel University his freshmen year of college (5:50)

    • Was losing sleep trying to figure out if he should transfer to a different school

    • It would be hard to break into the music industry in Philadelphia, PA and wanted to be in NYC

    • Had an internship in LA, had gone on tour with Party Next Door and knew he could 10x his career in a bigger city (6:35)

  • Accepted to Pace University and transferred there going into his Sophomore year  

  • Had a tunnel vision for music and sports and never was into anything else as a kid (9:05)

    • When he first started looking at colleges Matt figured doing a music industry program would be his best bet

    • Using his four years of college to network and set himself up professionally

  • Working under an A&R at Atlantic to help him with anything along the process of his job (12:10)

    • An A&R oversees the entire scouting (signing artists / going to shows) and overall creation of the music

    • As the assistant, Matt runs through beat packs from producers and formalizes it for the artist

  • When he first got to Drexel he subscribed to every newsletter of local music venues in Philly (15:00)

    • Whenever shows were announced, he would get the email and if it was someone he was interested in he’d spend hours trying to find their business contact

    • Sent emails offering to help out in anyway that he could just wanting to get experience under his belt and eventually landed a chance with Partynextdoor’s tour

      • It’s important to understand how to format these emails, be professional, have headings and ending it with some type of thanks

  • Came across Mike Stud’s music, found his management ‘Electric Feel Management’

    • Sent an email to their general info looking for an internship and they ended up hiring him for  a Summer in Los Angeles

    • Continued to create these opportunities for himself knowing that nobody was going to just come to him and offer them (19:00)

    • Worse case scenario they will say no but in most cases people are always looking for help

  • When in a room full of people that are doing things you want to do, be a sponge and soak it all in  (21:50)

    • Don’t overstep or try to speak too often but instead listen to what people have to say

    • You’re there to work and service the people you’re working for

  • Even though artists have access to the internet with tons of information, Label’s have a formalized database of contacts that can help benefit and bring artists to the next level (24:20)

    • Everyone has their own journey of coming up and what has worked for someone else might not necessarily work for you (26:35)

  • Matt gets tons of people who contact to check out their music

    • Keeping it short and simple and being real with him are the ones who stand out the most

  • Treat the intern like you would treat the CEO and vise versa (29:30)

    • If you treat everyone with the same level of respect, it’s impossible to get any sort of hate thrown your way

    • At the end of the day we’re all human, treat people like that

  • Of all the different platforms for artists to put out their music, Matt suggest they focus mostly towards the streaming services

    • Artists can monetize and make money through streaming

    • People can inflate numbers on some platforms but if it doesn't all align something is off

    • Brand cohesiveness and being the same across the board is important

  • Being a good person has gotten Matt to where he is in the industry and is translatable to life (33:40)

    • Enjoying the journey and keeping his head down and putting in the work has been important

    • Not knowing what exactly is next is completely okay and making yourself vulnerable will help guide you

  • Some of the mentors in the industry that have helped guide him to where he is (36:50)

    • Matt MacFarlane, the A&R he works for at Atlantic has taught Matt everything over the past two years

      • Trained his ear to pick out rising stars in a crowded environment of music

    • Sammy Adams who Matt assisted from 2014 - 2016

      • Saw him get dropped from his label and go through every possible situation in the industry

  • Some of Matt’s top tweets as of recently (39:00)

    • Happy 4th of July to everyone but Josh Peck

    • Bro Drake is the greatest ever lmao… go in the ocean with a shirt on or some shit

    • Doesn’t tweet looking for validation from other people which some people do

  • Nobody is going to rock with you until everyone else does

  • Characteristics of successful people (44:00)

    • Someone that puts their head down, doesn't talk much and puts in the work

  • Showing love and appreciation to the people that inspire you

    • Make it known that you’re a fan of someone’s work especially if it’s someone you look up to  

  • Following through with what you say you’re going to do

    • Keep it to yourself and do what you need to do to make things happen

  • Ask Bobbbaaaay 1 question:

    • What have you learned in school that you’re currently using? (50:00)

  • Picture frame on the wall 10 years from now, what/who do we see

    • It doesn’t matter where he is, as long as he is still involved in the music industry he’ll be happy

    • Move onto being an A&R and see where that goes

  • Find Matt on social media

    • Twitter:  @MattAielio

    • Instagram: @Matt.Aiello

  • 2-3 pieces of advice for someone trying to find their passion/purpose (57:40)

    • Realize that you make your own opportunities and that things won't just show up and be vulnerable

    • Once you're in those offices/tours, be a sponge and take it all in. It is valuable and nothing you will learn in the classroom