When Nastia Barkan was growing up in London, it was clear she had an unwavering passion for music. Nastia recalls early memories of her bonding with her dad over his classic/hard rock mixtape - these moments being some of her first music influences.
“My mum would always joke that she knew we were home 5 minutes before we walked through the door because we would sit in the car outside and have to finish listening to Hotel California or Smoke On The Water the whole way through before we went into the house!”
“My Mum is also tone deaf, so music was the thing that was special just for my dad and I." she continued. "He took me to my first concert, talked to me about music, was the one who listened to me practice whatever instrument it was I was trying to learn at the time. I went through violin, piano and clarinet – none of them stuck unfortunately.”
She found herself attaching memories, particularly of people or of experiences, to songs. Music helped her process whatever was going on in her life, and even if she was going through a miserable time... music was there for her. When she was considering her career options, working in the music industry was a no brainer.
Nastia began her career while studying Communication at USC, with a minor in Music Industry & Italian. As a junior, she started interning at Patriot Management where she learned the ropes of management working for the likes of One Republic, Pharell Williams and The Backstreet Boys. After graduation, Nastia went from intern to a full time position with Mikaela Puth as Charlie Puth’s day-to-day manager.
Nastia believes her “no job is too big or small” attitude was imperative for her early success.
“I think [this] came across while I was an intern and was part of the reason that I was successful in becoming a day to day manager,” she says. It seems like a pretty obvious mentality to take, but I’m sure there are people who feel as though once they’ve accomplished certain things professionally they are above doing others. That mentality is something that still to this day I keep in mind when doing my job."
"People want to work with people who want to work, so always being prepared to handle any task thrown at me has been a large part of why I’ve done well.”
When asked what her advice for her college-aged/intern self would be, she says she would tell herself to be patient and not get frustrated when she feels things are at a standstill.
“Continue to work hard, be smart, take initiative and things will work out! And again, listen to what is happening around you: you’ll learn far more by paying attention than you will expecting someone to explain things to you.”
Nastia gives credit to her internship for teaching her early lessons that really helped prepare her for her career.
"Learning from people in a position you one day want to be in, will help you be far more equipped to navigate the same or similar situation in whatever career you choose...In the real world, you’re going to have to figure things out for yourselves. It’s unlikely that someone is going to guide you through what you have to do.”
As I grew to know Nastia a little more, I found it exciting to learn from someone like her. Someone who is so hungry, pure and willing! It became apparent to me that Nastia is not someone who is doing this for the clout. She is not doing this for her “friends back home”. She’s not doing this to prove that music wasn’t just a phase. Nastia is doing this for the love of music and her artists...and it is very, very refreshing.
I too come from a day-to-day background. As my queen Lady Gaga once said, “Every night. No sleep! Bus, club, ’nother club, ’nother club, plane, next place. No sleep.” and to me, that is not only a true part of an artist’s success - but also their right hand's. As a day-to-day, you are right next to them, traveling with them, always on the clock, not getting as much sleep as you probably should...while also making sure they eat!
This is obviously not a job for everyone, but it is perfect for Nastia. Not only because Nastia hates being idle and loves how the job keeps her occupied, but also because you can tell she has a genuine love and admiration for the job, and more importantly, for Charlie. She lives for that energy!
We asked Nastia to break down her role as Charlie’s day-to-day to give us a little more insight on how her days work.
“I am essentially the point person across the board on all of Charlie’s projects. I am responsible, on the artist end, for executing everything we do while making sure that he is in the best place he can be to complete all his projects.
A large portion of my time is spent weighing in on creative ideas, double-checking what different contracts specify, and taking (at the moment virtually) meetings and calls regarding planning and execution of any and all potential and actual projects.
I wear a variety of different hats depending on the day including tour manager, day-to-day manager, friend, and confidant. I have kind of done everything from making sure everyone on our team is fed so they can function, to heading up concerts, award shows and major shoots for press and brand deals.”
Part of artist management is wearing endless hats at the same time and we’d be foolish not to point out that in order to succeed in this field, you have to be pretty strong minded. Nastia checks off what she believes are the qualities that make a successful manager, starting off with recognizing that your job is first and foremost, about the artist.
“You need to prioritize what is best for your artist when it comes to making any sort of decision, not your bottom line or what you stand to gain at their potential expense. You can’t be faint of heart either, you have to be a pretty strong-minded individual. Being able to command a room and communicate clearly are also important qualities, as well as being able to handle a wide range of personalities!”
Aside from once having to shelter from a tornado threat on day one of a music festival a few years ago, management has always been fun for Nastia. Something that she has thoroughly enjoyed about the role is touring.
“I’m very fortunate in that I also tour with Charlie as his day to day, and being on tour is one of my favourite things! I’ve been an acting tour manager of sorts in the context of also doing artist management, so for me the two are very closely aligned. It's very chaotic but very rewarding. Getting to work closely with the artist, band, crew, venue is extremely interesting.
Her biggest lesson on the road? Learning how important timing is, and to be extremely flexible.
Because Nastia has worked in both artist and touring management, we asked her to break down the difference between the two.
Nastia explains that “being an artist manager (in my case a day-to-day), you work mostly with a couple of clients on an all encompassing basis. As a tour manager, you have the option to work with more artists, but in a more limited capacity (touring/live performances).”
“It really depends on where your interests lie; are you more interested in music as a whole and working directly with an artist across their career...or would you rather work on executing live performances and everything that goes alongside that?:
“Most all elements of an artist’s career touch the artist manager, she explains. That does not go for tour management.
There’s no doubt Nastia loves her job. She loves to be surrounded by others who share her same passion for music and she purely loves what she does. “Every day brings a totally different set of tasks and I get to work on so many different projects,” she says.
“I work with an artist who has such an unwavering passion for music which also helps massively! We all really love our jobs, which makes having an onward attitude that much easier.”
Nastia is just getting started and we see massive potential for her. She is mastering a balance between taking things one step at a time while also being a serial go-getter.
We are excited to see what's next for her, but for the time being, Nastia explains that her priorities right now are on Charlie and his goals.
“I gave up planning my life a long time ago. My own priorities? I’ll figure out in time!”