Published on August 6th, 2019 | by Landon Buford0
Who Is Chris “Clutch” Heintz?
Chris “Clutch” Heintz is currently the Senior A&R Manager for Track Killers Ent. Inc. and A&R for Diverse Sounds Entertainment, but according to him, it took a lot of trial and error over the past ten plus years to get to where he is today.
Chris began his career in the music industry as a part of Mach 1 Music, which was founded by a multi-platinum producer/songwriter. Chris was hired to scout upcoming talent for the company and help broaden Mach 1’s urban reach in the business. During this time, he was able to hone his skills as he worked his way up the ranks and later would become the Vice President of the company.
Chris also credits his time at Mach 1 Music, as the place where he was able to learn the skillset of networking and building his own relationships with other industry heads over the past decade. Allowing him to set himself apart from some of his peers in similar positions in other companies within the entertainment industry.
In his current position as the Senior Manager, A&R with the Track Killers and A&R at Diverse Sounds Ent. he has worked with local LA artist JAG, who had a stellar 2018 and 2019 with a couple of viral music videos “Kapernick Effect” and “BlaKKK History”. JAG currently has records with Trey Songz, Ty Dolla $ign, West Side Boogie and more. Chris’ team Diverse Sounds Ent. recently landed a producer credit on Meek Mill ” On Me” featuring Cardi B on Meek’s “Championships” project.
Recently, Chris also landed an A&R Coordinator credit for “Part of the plan” on Chris Browns “Indigo” album working with multi-platinum producers “Chizzy” and “Ism Beats” whom he’s collaborated with for about 6 years or so.
“Clutch” sat down with The Hype Magazine to discuss things he looks for when working with artists. He also shared some advice for creatives that feel they are hitting a wall in their careers.
Can you talk about how your career began in the music industry?
I’ve been in the industry for about 10 years plus now. I started off as an A&R for Mach 1 Music. The company was founded by a 19-times platinum producer/songwriter who brought me into his company to scout talent. Later, I ended up becoming Vice President of the company and held that position for about two years. As VP, I was able to learn a lot about the business and I was introduced to numerous people by the owner, but I still had to build most of my business relationships on my own.
When you made the transition from producer to A&R., how difficult was it to switch over?
I was able to adjust to my new responsibilities on the business end because I have always had a knack for working with talent. Having started out as a music producer and going into the A&R position, I already understood where artists were coming from because of my prior dealings with them as a producer/creative. So, switching over to A&R was easy because it has a lot to do with building relationships and working with artistic people in an effective way. Also, A&R requires being able to work with a variety of different personalities and building the right chemistry with different artists and creatives. Again, I already had plenty of dealings with other creatives years prior to Mach 1.
So, as I mentioned earlier, I was already great at dealing with artists from my experience as a producer. It was more difficult for me, at first, to navigate and figure out who were the real decision-makers at the beginning. Trust me; I have had more L’s and No’s than W’s and Yes’s in the business.
You are currently working with Track Killers, and they have been working with legendary producer Teddy Riley. Can you describe what the experience was like working with them and the legendary Teddy Riley?
At Track Killers it’s my job to bring in strategic relationships, partnerships, and scout talent.
Working with the owners/co-founders of Track Killers has been an incredible situation. Jay and Scarlet are two extremely innovative young execs that have their finger on the pulse of tech/music/apps and much more. It’s exciting to be a part of a team that you truly respect and know you can grow with. S/O to the whole team, including my management partner at Track Killers Quincy Howard and Warren Lewis.
As for Teddy Riley, I met him for the first time 15 years ago when I worked with DJ Quik as an assistant engineer. The location was at Atlantis Studios in LA, so to meet him again in Las Vegas at his house was interesting because everything came full circle. Big shout out to my guy Jesse Coltrane at 626 Management for the introduction to Teddy by the way.
When I met Teddy at his house, he gave me a hug and said nice to meet you. That’s when I informed him that I had met him before with Quik and told him the story which he remembered. It was cool to meet him in a different capacity. This time we were able to have a business meeting with him and explain what we were trying to do with Track Killers. I had a chance to hear stories about Michael Jackson and all these incredible other artists who he has worked with. He is one of the few producers that can say he has his very own genre with New Jack Swing so that’s legendary. He also has the biggest R&B production catalog from my understanding when it comes to publishing, so to be able to spend time with him was a great experience. I can’t talk about what we have in store, but we do have some things in the works.
You have been working with the Los Angeles based artist JAG. Why do you feel his message is needed now more than ever?
Shout out to Jag, Mike, Pat, and his whole team over there at 25-7 Management they’ve been killing it. I’ve seen Jag just grinding and working on his craft, and now he has records with Trey Songz, Ty Dolla $ign, and West Side Boogie and has worked with producers like Bizness Boi and more. He has viral videos now and is finally getting recognized for more than just his battle rap talent. It’s been amazing watching him and his team do what they do.
What Jag is doing is incredible because there are not a lot of artists that are using their platforms to bring attention to the issues that are pertinent to society. During this time with the President that we have and all things happening with police and school shootings all over the world, not only is it great to see JAG do it, but to do it in the right way. The visuals are always well done, the songs are great, and the production is dope.
Jag has one of those voices that grabs you and makes you want to listen to what he has to say. I think it is a perfect time, and unfortunately, times are not getting better, so Jag is going to be able to continue to use his platform to speak out against all the injustices in our society. On a side note, Jag’s pen game is crazy lookout for him when it comes to artist placements and more, he’s extremely talented on that end outside of being a dope artist.
What are some of the things you look for when working with artists?
When I am working with artists, producers, and songwriters or really anyone really, what I’m looking for is work ethic. Right now, artists are not my priority because I am working with Track Killers and Diverse on the production and songwriting side mainly. Of course, if I do come across an amazing artist, I’ll try to do whatever I can to help, whether that means pairing them with a producer or an A&R at a label, whatever it is. It just depends on where they are at, but if your work ethic is s*** I’m not even interested. I don’t care if you have the best beats/records in the world, I need to see that you are hungry, and your work ethic is crazy.
I am working with a kid right now out of New Jersey, and his work ethic is insane. He has been sending me beats for three to five years now. When we first met, his beats were just okay, but now I am sending his beats out to songwriters that have written for Chris Brown, Ty Dolla $ign and Jeremih, to name a few. The kid has worked hard and has shown he deserves a shot.
Every creative who wants to get into music just wants to get on board, but they are not taking into consideration people have spent years building relationships and resources. We must be cautious on the business side because we have our own reputation along with our team’s to uphold. Trust takes times to build.
On the business side, we must do our due diligence as A&Rs and managers first and determine that the person deserves the opportunity. I’m also looking at your business acumen and your ethics, these are all the things I look for when working with talent. If you don’t practice the right ethics, then you probably are not the person that I am looking to work with.
Why is it more important to you to help the talent in comparison to just lining your own pockets?
That’s another great question. Wanting to help artists and not take advantage of them, that comes from my background and my upbringing. I remember watching my dad basically give his shirt off his back to help others in need so that was entrenched in me at a young age, and it has transferred into how I do business. Not everybody has that same background because they didn’t see what I saw from my dad growing up, so all they do is take, take, take. I love to help talent period.
Artists will send messages on social media and say, “Chris was really the only A&R that looked out for me and now I just signed a publishing deal,” or whatever business deal it may be that they landed. I get a real joy from that.
What advice would you share with a creative that feels he or she is hitting that wall in their career?
We have all been there. You must sit back and look at your work and circle of people then ask yourself why am I hitting this wall? What am I not doing to get to that next step? If your team isn’t working as hard as you are and showing that they want you to win as much as themselves, get a new team. Surround yourself with people that have different strengths as well. Some people may be better at business/finance over say marketing/promo or A&R. A well-rounded team is a major key factor in success.
As an example, my strength has always been working directly with the creatives going over tracks/hooks/records re-arranging them, making them better from a production/vocal standpoint and much more while my business partner, shout out to my man Quincy Howard at Diverse Sounds Ent., who just worked on the Meek Mill and Cardi B record on Championships, handles a lot of the aspects with the labels/publishers/paperwork/legal, etc. He also has a production background though, so he does have the ear to understand a great track/record etc. We are a double-headed dragon and we understand how each other works and it’s just a great situation altogether.
What is your advice for content creators, that are producing good content, but are not getting noticed?
Everyone is a singer, songwriter, or rapper now. So, what separates you from everyone? Your brand. Your brand must be showcased in the proper way. If you are an artist, for example, you can’t have pictures chilling in front of Walmart on your profile. Your photos must look like you are a signed artist, and your content must look like it has continuity to it. That means when you are dropping a record, are you doing any type of promotion beforehand? Is there any marketing that you are doing via social media? Hiring publicists and promo costs money if you want your brand to be in media that you normally would not have access to. You must remember people sacrifice to make these connections and are not going to give them away for free.
Can you talk about your part in the record on Chris Brown’s new “Indigo” album?
Man, what a blessing. So, I’ve been working with Chizzy who did “You Like” on “Heart Break on a Full Moon” for Breezy and Ism Beats who did the single for HBOAFM “Party” and “Hope You Do”. I’ve known them both for about 6 years I would say. I met Ism on Twitter when he was still living in Raleigh, NC, he sent me some tracks and we just started building. As he says I helped develop his sound and we just vibed together and now he has a major publishing deal with APG. Same with Chizzy we met when he moved to LA from ATL, we became friends and started working together. I put Chizzy and Ism in the studio together a while back and the first track they ever did together ended up as “Part of the Plan” on Chris’ new “Indigo” album. The track was supposed to be on another well-known R&B artist’s project, but last minute it didn’t make the cut. I guess that was a blessing in disguise. I literally found out a few days or so before the album dropped and now, I’m eligible for my first plaque since the album just went gold (soon to be platinum). It’s a testament again to building relationships and working with people early on that you feel are talented and that you can rock with.
In closing what are your plans for the near future?
Right now, I’m really focused on my team “Track Killers” and “Diverse Sounds Ent.”. We’ve started an independent pub company and are looking to sign some incredible producers/writers and artists soon. Track Killers is re-vamping the backend of our website/music library and we’re doing some exciting things on that end for creatives so stay tuned. Of course, I’m always in the mix when it comes to A&R working with great up and coming talent and that’s something I’m always doing and will continue to do. Other than that, my team and I are working hard to help creatives win out here because it’s time for the pendulum to swing their way.
In closing, I want to thank you for your time, Landon. I appreciate you and The Hype Magazine for the interview.Tweet