In Rolling Stone‘s series At Work, we go behind the curtain with decision-makers across the fast-changing music business — exploring a range of responsibilities, burgeoning ideas, advice for industry newcomers, and more. Read earlier interviews here.
Jaime Zeluck-Hindlin had traversed the music industry, working for a major record label, talent agency, and high-profile film and TV music supervisor, before finally landing her dream gig as a music publishing A&R. But then, she had her most transformative experience — nearly dying, three years ago, while giving birth to her daughter Kate.
When the proverbial floor gave out, Zeluck-Hindlin had just started to hit her stride, signing and developing acts like the now-multi-platinum indie star Lauv. She was already nervous about having to take time off for maternity leave when doctors told her she’d have to take an additional six months off to recover from heart failure. Devastated, she vowed to take her career into her own hands. The multitalented exec has already bounced back since then, founding her own company, Nonstop Management, in 2018 out of her Los Angeles home.
Today, Maroon 5 is releasing “Nobody’s Love” — the follow-up to the band’s last Number One pop hit “Memories” — which features Nonstop Management’s JKash, Ryan OG, and Michael Pollack as lead writers. Pollack also wrote Zedd’s latest song, “Funny,” while JKash wrote Charlie Puth’s recently released “Girlfriend”; Pollack and Kash worked on Katy Perry’s album and an upcoming Jonas Brothers project, as well. Zeluck-Hindlin spoke with Rolling Stone about the company’s recent crop of successes, as well as her personal journey from a label intern into a fearless industry leader.
How did you know A&R was for you? So many people don’t even know what A&R is.
An A&R internship at Warner Bros Records turned into an A&R assistant gig. I knew early on that it was the creative part of the record-making process that really involved working with the artists on their music. That’s ultimately what I wanted to do, but there was a lot I didn’t know — like the difference between A&R at a label and A&R as a publisher.
On the label side, you’re responsible for finding songs for your artist — whether it be pairing them with writers and producers, getting the right people to make their music, etc. But on the publishing side, you’re in the trenches with the songwriters from the beginning. It requires being with the songwriters more.
Why did you leave the label side?
A lot of people at Sire [a subsidiary of Warner] got laid off — including my boss. I found myself without a job and I wasn’t really sure what to do next.
I loved the film and TV part of the business, so I figured I might as well explore that. Growing up, soundtracks were what really got me into a lot of music. I took the situation as an opportunity to stalk Scott Vener, who was the music supervisor for Entourage at the time. I was a big fan of his work, so I found a way to get in touch with him. I was like, ‘I will work for you for free right now. Please can I do something for you? I really want to learn about this.’ I worked for him for about a year. I worked on the second season of 90210 and helped Scott with all the music for that. I eventually realized there wasn’t much room for growth there, so I got a job at CAA as an assistant. That’s kind of where everything changed.
But you weren’t in the talent agency world for long.
I met Jody Gerson [now the CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group] while I was there. She was a client of my boss. She really taught me about publishing. I didn’t like working at an agency. It wasn’t creative enough for me, but it was an experience I used as a stepping stone — and a chance to become a badass assistant and worker. Jody ended up getting me an interview with Kattie Welle, one of the A&Rs at Sony/ATV. She hired me as a receptionist and A&R assistant.
That’s also where I met JKash, who’s now my husband and management client. He was one of the first writers I ever met in the business. My boss had signed him, so I had been put on his calendar and I started working with him. I was there for two and a half years and left as a coordinator.
Beka Tischker, who was working at Prescription, had hired me to come start the A&R department there and build that roster. By the time I moved over to Prescription, JKash was also signed there, so I kind of just came back on as his right-hand creative person.
When did you land your first signing?
That was at Prescription. My first signings were a writer/producer duo called Blueprint and a writer/producer/artist from Zimbabwe named Bantu. My third signing was Lauv in 2015.
What made you leave that life behind to start Nonstop Management?
When I was pregnant, I had no intention of leaving Prescription. But when I had my daughter, I went into heart failure. What was supposed to be a three-month maternity leave — and me just going back to Prescription after a normal break — turned into a complete medical leave for about eight months, which was when my heart fully recovered. My doctor told me I could go back to work when that happened, but I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to work again, let alone go back to Prescription. Most women who go through what I had don’t ever have a fully recovered heart. Towards the end of my medical leave, I was just like, “You know what? I don’t think it feels right to go back and work for someone else. If I’m going to make a change, I’m going to make it now. What do I want to do? I want to have my own roster of writers and producers to work with.”
At the time, management just seemed easier. I couldn’t just go start my own publishing company. And I already felt like I had managed writers and producers as their publisher. I worked so closely with them that I was like, “I’ve done this!” I built the roster pretty quickly. One or two people somehow turned into 10 people. And I didn’t really realize the difference until I was in the thick of it. Management is not like publishing. After just having a kid of my own, I was like, “Wow, now I have 11 children.”
“My doctor told me to be mindful, to not get too stressed. And what did I do? I started a company.”
My doctor told me to be mindful, to not get too stressed. And what did I do? I started a company. It’s probably the opposite of what I should’ve done. I probably should’ve just spent the first two years with my daughter, but I had so much that I wanted to do, develop, and get involved with.
How did you navigate working toward career goals, monitoring and taking care of your health, and also taking care of your daughter?
It was the hardest thing, and it’s still the hardest thing. I’m working on finding balance. I was never that good at setting boundaries with my clients — or anyone. I was always like, “I’m available all the time! Call me 24/7!” I’ve had to change that, even though I don’t like not being available to people. Meditation apps help. I also like to work out to relieve stress. Usually, it’s yoga.
You recently entered into a business partnership with songwriter Ross Golan, who’s worked on big songs for the likes of Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande.
Ross is one of my best friends. We just love working on music together, so we signed a few writers. We’re starting our own little thing together, but I can’t say too much more yet.
During quarantine, you witnessed extreme TikTok virality firsthand. What was that like?
This track “Savage Love” had been blowing up on TikTok — just the instrumental. It was something that we were hearing a lot of, but we really didn’t understand the backstory. Around the third week of quarantine, Jason Derulo hit up Kash. They work on pretty much everything together, and a lot of Jason’s hits have been done with Kash. He sent Kash the track and was like, “This beat is amazing. It’s blowing up on TikTok. Will you help me write a song over it?” Kash was like, “Sure, I’ll do whatever you want. I got you.”
It was quite a journey getting it out. I think Jason released it without permission from the producer. He kind of just leaked it on TikTok and made a video. Then there was all this backlash about taking it down. People were saying it wasn’t fair to the producer, who was in the middle of signing a deal. People said Jason hijacked his song, but then everyone started gravitating more towards his version of it. Jawsh’s team — and everyone involved — saw that it was a train that wasn’t stopping and realized it would be silly not to release it. We finally got approval, and the second it got released, it just started blowing up again. I mean, people had been listening to it on YouTube because that was the only place they could find the full version of the song. I think everyone’s really happy now.
Is that story an anomaly? Or are you seeing more and more artists finding beats from TikTok?
It was honestly the first I’d seen of it. A lot of the songs that are blowing up on TikTok are either already songs or they’re beats that don’t need songs written over them. This was a really interesting situation. I hadn’t been in that situation before. And it was really smart of Jason.
Are you seeing more songwriters getting discovered via TikTok?
Yea, I’m discovering writers through TikTok all the time. I don’t necessarily see the songwriters on TikTok, but I find songs that are blowing up and then go find the credits and try to track down who wrote them.
How has COVID-19 affected the release of the Maroon 5 song?
A bunch of my guys worked on it separately and then kind of Frankensteined it together to make this amazing song that Adam [Levine] ended up finishing, putting his touches on, and really making his own. I think it’s very fitting for the time — it’s about unifying everyone. The initial idea came right before quarantine, but it kind of got kicked into gear during quarantine. They ended up making it what it is today all through sessions that didn’t occur in the same room — all via Zoom. Adam even recorded via Zoom. He had a little setup but no one was with him. His engineers got plugged in on Zoom and used this new equipment called Source Elements, which engineers have been using to record people in real time during quarantine. It’s game-changing. It’s like they don’t have to be in the studio ever again.
You once had hopes of starting your own publishing company. Is that something you still want to do?
I do, and I’m working on it right now. I’ll have some awesome announcements soon.
Best advice you’ve ever gotten?
I learned so much just from watching my boss at Sire, who was the president there. He told me: ‘Everything you’re going to learn in this business, you’re going to learn through osmosis. You just need to be around it, and it will become a part of you.’ And it’s true. That’s how I learned everything — by getting thrown into it.