We had the good fortune of connecting with NANCY GASSNER-CLAYTON and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi NANCY, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Well, basically it was almost by accident, partially filling a need, and kind of an experiment. I have been an actress and a singer for many years, still working in both fields, and at the time I was working with a commercial agent. Acting roles kept coming up for violinists, or drummers or such in these commercials that I would see breakdowns for. I mentioned to my reps that I knew someone perfect for the job, would they like me to bring them in. They said they couldn’t do that, as they weren’t on their roster. So I thought about it a lot. How great to have REAL MUSICIANS or MUSICAL TALENT for these commercial spots instead of actors pretending to play. It took me a while and a lot of trial and error figuring out how to make it all work. I asked a few of the musicians I knew, some of the top studio guys in town if they would do it if I included them. They were interested. Once they came on board, others followed. I ended up starting my own agency, Clayton Music Management. The Casting Directors thought it was great that I found this niche for what was needed. Since then there have been offices copying what we have done, but we are still the first call for many of these agencies.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I believe that I am careful about the talent that I choose to work with. I think many offices might not be as selective as we are. And it’s important because they represent who we are. Not all artists are a good fit. We don’t just throw spaghetti at a wall and hope it sticks. We carefully choose who we feel belongs with CMM. No it wasn’t easy. And it still isn’t. The business is constantly changing. Especially with the past year of lockdown restrictions there were so many changes for us all. And we all needed to make the changes or fold. Our agency is known as being one that talent want to be a part of, and many of the casting offices trust us to send them great choices for their projects. There is a big loyalty factor. You can even see many of us working together on film projects, created by some of our talent roster including A HOLIDAY BOYFRIEND (out on Amazon Prime), and the upcoming KNIGHTS OF SWING, a SAG feature. Both directed by, and starring many of our actors. Our roster works hard, they make me look good, and they encourage me to keep doing my best for them. There are weeks when bookings don’t happen as you expected, changes are constant, and it’s endless hours of work. But when the victories of exciting jobs happen for everyone, I couldn’t be more excited.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Manhattan Beach, the beach and it’s restaurants. Huntington Library for the gardens. Dodger Baseball game. Vibrato or Catalina Jazz Club for music and dining entertainment. Salsa and Beer in the valley for casual Mexican food. Geoffrey’s in Malibu for fine dining and the beach view. Lovely strip of outdoor patio restaurants in Pasadena and Toluca lake.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Well, I’ve had quite a few careers in my life at this point, so it’s a building block of learning. I’ve had some amazing teachers and coaches along the way. All the music knowledge, vocal and acting training, and working on set has helped me to do what I do. It has helped me to guide my clients. But family and friends have been there through it all, including my boyfriend Brian and son Josh. They both have been encouraging, and put up with sacrifices of my time and endless hours working. But I do need to thank some of the musicians, singers and actors who have been with me since the start, as well as some of the other talented artists I get to represent. There is a big loyalty factor. They work hard, they make me look good, and they encourage me to keep going on days or weeks when it feels frustrating and things aren’t going the way you want them to.
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