As the Dallas music scene stumbled hungover and slightly disheveled into a new year, local producer and musician John Pedigo added a third hat to his collection: music manager. In partnership with local marketing agent Maureen Womack and lawyer Robert Jenkins, Pedigo launched Desperado Management on New Year’s Day.
The trio has independently helped musicians with management-like duties for years, and one day sitting in Desperados Mexican Restaurant, Womack and Pedigo decided to make the business official. Quickly they brought Jenkins on board to round out the group with his legal and record label experience. For all three of them, it seemed natural to formalize the consulting they were already doing.
“When I’m working, when I’m producing, I generally end up giving any bit of advice that I can give anyway, like what should I do next.” Pedigo says.
Desperado Management will start small, with maybe a half-dozen clients. They’re looking for early- and mid-career musicians who are hungry for success and looking to grow and get better.
“It’s amazing how many people think that talent alone is going to do it and it really just doesn’t,” Pedigo says.
Speaking from experience as an artist, Pedigo says it’s really helpful to have someone else figuring out the nuts and bolts and the business side of becoming a successful musician, which is where Desperado comes in. They’re up for helping with pretty much anything, from touring and securing booking agents to publishing and social media promotion — whatever it takes to get talented musicians to the next steps of their careers.
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“There’s just a lot of talent in this city and some of it may seem a little directionless, not totally, but just a few they’re very willing to listen and they want advice and they’re excited about it,” Womack says.
And the trio agrees that it feels like the perfect time to get into management. Although there are a lot of talented musicians and a cornucopia of live music venues, there aren’t too many Dallas-based management companies. The idea is to help musicians grow their careers through Pedigo, Womack and Jenkins’ combined backgrounds and years of experience in the industry.
“I think there is a need, people need help. And that’s really what we’re trying to do, is get people from A to F,” Pedigo says.
Jenkins primarily practices criminal law but has started two small record labels and worked with bands like The Old 97's.
“My passion has always been the music," he says. "I can’t play music, I can’t write music. While I do enjoy criminal case law, it pays the bills; music is more of a passion."
Womack too, says she has no musical talent of her own, but always gravitates toward creative projects and clients. She runs a boutique marketing company called Rabbithat through which she does promotion for the Dallas International Film Festival and other creative projects that inspire her.
“I probably couldn’t do promotions for a bank or anything,” she says.
For Pedigo, the venture is a natural extension of the work he does in studios with local musicians, but it’s also a way of addressing frustration he has toward the industry.
“I get paid, relatively speaking, the same as I did 20 years ago ... the structure is still the same. But there’s more money being made, but the artists still are the same, they’re still getting kicked in the junk,” he says.
Since their New Year’s Day social media launch, the company has gotten about 100 responses. They’re hoping to find musicians who are driven, who are looking to tour and be successful.
“We all want to see somebody win,” Pedigo says.
Right now, the Dallas music scene seems poised to keep growing and supporting musicians, and the company hopes to push the trend forward a bit.
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“There’s definitely something going on,” Jenkins says of the local music industry.
As for the name, Desperado Management, it too feels natural. Chewing over the name’s meaning, the trio agree it really symbolizes the scrappy, upstart, slightly renegade kind of company they want to be. The name also happens to evoke one of the best known songs by Texas musical grandfather Guy Clark, “Desperados Waiting for a Train.”
Desperado Management hopes their venture will in some small way contribute to the rise of Dallas music.
“There’s no reason, because of what we’ve got here, [that] we can’t have a moment. Because there’s so much talent here," Pedigo says. "And I would like to see that grow.”