Harnessing A Star
Local team puts Detroit artist Brilliance on track for success.
Like so many great collaborations, the meeting between Brilliance, a talented songwriter, hip-hop artist and producer, and his eventual management and production team happened by chance.
Brad Kallen, 41, of Commerce, had been working as a DJ in Detroit for more than 20 years and, like his mother, legendary boxing promoter and Detroit native Jackie Kallen, he wanted to get into talent management.
When he listened to a demo from Brilliance — fortuitously passed his way by Kevin Goldman, a friend and CPA who had been asked to help manage Brilliance’s finances — it was like a bolt of lightning. “This kid has really got it,” he remembers thinking. “It’s star potential.”
But harnessing that star potential and creating a marketable artist is another story. Within weeks, Kallen had joined forces with Goldman to form a company, Park City Management, with the express aim of getting Brilliance heard loud and clear.
“We were a perfect match,” explained Goldman, 42, of West Bloomfield. “Brad knows so much about the music scene here, and I had the business background necessary to ensure that Brilliance could establish his credit and make sure he was financially and legally secure.”
Rounding out the Brilliance team was Grammy and Oscar-winning music producer Jeff Bass (also from West Bloomfield), who helped skyrocket another Detroit artist, Eminem, to fame. He first heard about the singer from his secretary who had been sent a link of a Brilliance video and showed it to her boss.
“I was impressed enough that I was willing to work with him and help him find out musically what is really going to work for him — not to be like everyone else out there, but making his own mark,” said Bass, 51, who is married to Julie and has five children, ages 9 to 23.
Bass and another legendary producer from Detroit, Jared Lee Gosselin (who has also produced for Macy Gray, Flo Rida and Bobby Brown), are responsible for Brilliance’s new single “Where Did I Go?” which became available on iTunes last month, and combines elements of hip hop, techno and dubstep, resulting in a high-energy dance track that has been setting local airwaves and club dance floors on fire this summer. Think of the movie The Hangover made into song.
Bass, a member of Temple Shir Shalom, has worked with some of the biggest names in music. “We had no idea when Eminem first started where it would go,” he said. “The same is true for Brilliance. Anything is possible.”
Kallen’s role at Park City Management is the hard grind of music management — booking shows, organizing events, ensuring the details of concerts go to plan. And there has been real success. Brilliance has opened up for such well-known artists as LL Cool J and Mike Posner, and, on Aug. 24, one of his songs was featured in the major new family movie Thunderstruck, about basketball star Kevin Durant switching his talent with a clumsy 16 year old.
Kallen, who, like Goldman, is a member of Temple Israel, explained that the music industry has changed so dramatically in the last 10 years that the old model of trying to secure a record deal for an artist no longer exists. “Instead, it’s about staying independent, controlling the artist’s destiny, promoting the artist on social media and building their brand,” he said.
“Who knows what the future holds,” said Kallen, who also works in the building industry. “But as my wife, Molly, is pregnant with twins and we’ve got another daughter Jenna, who’s 3, a couple of big hits would be perfect. And that’s exactly what I believe we’re going to get with Brilliance, and that’s just the start!”
For Goldman, who is married to Amy and has two sons, Max, 16, and Zack, 13, Brilliance is his first foray into the music business. During the day he works as a mortgage broker at Kaye Financial in Bloomfield Hills. “It’s fun and more exciting than mortgages,” he jokes, while admitting that being at concerts late can be tough. “Zack thinks it’s wonderful and likes nothing more than being at shows at night; he definitely thinks my new job is cool!”
As for Brilliance, 26, aka Michael Sundberg of Novi — whose name sounds Jewish although he is not — having such a strong team is “an incredible feeling.”
“In the music industry, as in any other business, I believe it’s crucial to have a good foundation and support system at home that believes in you,” he explained. “I couldn’t ask for more between Jeff Bass Music and Park City Management. They are pushing my career to the next level and have all been so supportive since day one. I’m truly blessed.”