Sabrina Li fast becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Music Artist Management field
“Impressively detail-oriented and well-versed within the R&B/Hip Hop genre, Sabrina was my first key hire due to her eminently qualified background to assume a position that is now the backbone of what my team is and will continue to be. Throughout the years, I have worked on releases with some of my favorite R&B artists, whom Sabrina coincidentally happens to work on the management teams of. We have worked together on various projects, ultimately leading to success, with much more to come.” — Courtney Young, Head of Label Services at Too Lost
A big part of Artist Manager Sabrina Li’s “eminently qualified” background has been her international roots, being born in Hong Kong, but then attending University in the UK and now being based in the hotbed that is the City of Angels, Los Angeles.
Working out of the entertainment capital of the world, Artist Manager Li has worked with some of the dopest R&B/Hip Hop artists in the industry, including 8-time Platinum artist Che Ecru, 11-time Grammy nominated R&B artist Lucky Daye, along with Devin Tracy, Anjali Taneja, and Emmavie, an international recording artist. Previously, she has worked with Frank Dukes one of the most established R&B/Hip Hop/Pop producers of our time.
Indeed, Li’s success has made her an in-demand speaker at industry forums, where she offers such positive “Do’s” such as: do find people that are in the same lane with you and build a community where you can nurture growth; do learn and study the business side of the music industry, as the more you know the more you can protect yourself; and, do be creative with your visuals, as it will make a difference, and moreover, you don’t have to spend a crazy amount of money to create something unique and unforgettable.
But, Li’s passion for music and for her clients goes back to her growing up at home in Hong Kong and being positively influenced by her mother, explaining, “My mom was always playing music, as she had so many CDs of classic R&B love songs and they were always my favorite to listen to. Music like ‘Without You’ by Mariah Carey, ‘Emotion’ by Destiny’s Child, ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by Whitney Houston, and ‘End of the Road’ by Boys II Men, and so many more.”
Additionally, Li shows how she has kept true to her passion for classic and now neo-soul, and modern R&B, by suggesting, “Some of the artists I work with now, like Emmavie, have actually been artists that I’ve been listening to for years, way before I even started working in the music industry. For example, I came across Lucky Daye when his first album dropped and I remember since then being a huge fan of his music. He is now a Grammy winner and this New Orleans native scored five nominations at the 65th Grammy Awards, bringing his career total to 11 nods. So, to be able to work closely with his team and oversee the growth in his career over the past few years has been super inspiring.”
From a music manager’s point of view, once a connection has been made with a client/artist, Li says communication is necessary: “Off the top, you have to get to know the person you’re working with, and find a compromise and rhythm to what works with everyone. Understanding what works for YOU and what you need in a partner to work with is crucial. In reality, sometimes you’ll realize after some time someone you work with doesn’t work the way that works for you so you have to have honest and open communication. Once you establish boundaries and the aims/goals of what you want in a relationship, as you move forward, you have to make sure you’re always on the same page. So, from the beginning, you have to be picky about who you want to work with.”
One of Li’s main assets is her instinct. For instance, she has worked on major brand partnerships on behalf of her clients, brands that have included Converse, Budweiser, YouTube, Spotify, Sony Music, Universal Music Group and Levi’s. So, it’s incumbent upon someone like Li to be able to quickly read a room. She offers, “For me personally, I can tell what kind of environment it is as soon as I step in. I guess it’s a mix of body language, who I’m talking to, and what kind of conversations are happening, what kind of personalities I’m interacting with and so on. I’m a naturally extroverted person, so most people I interact with won’t feel too draining for me; however, if I’m interacting with someone and I can tell the energy isn’t aligning with mine, then my energy drains really quickly. I’ve learnt over the years to really trust my instincts about people.”
Sabrina Li can’t finish without talking about the power of social media for her clients, as she advises, “We’ve seen artists’ careers take off overnight, over consistent content and so on so there’s vital evidence that social media is powerful. But, for a lot of artists, social media can be the biggest burden in your life, not your best friend. So, we have to educate artists to understand the ways it can benefit their careers. But when they don’t see the growth, it can be discouraging. So, we have to work towards having artists view social media as the best way to connect and humanize them to their fanbase — it’s about drawing more targeted people to your music and then marketing and drawing traffic to streaming platforms.” She underscores her stance, adding, “Social media platforms are also a place to test out different types of content and to experiment with different creative productions. You can use it to your advantage or have it be your biggest disadvantage by not taking part. We’re in a day and age where people’s attention spans are ridiculously short, so we need to stay on top of what works now.”
With all her natural chutzpah, honest reflections and insightful observations, Sabrina Li is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with in the artist management field.