top of page

Dirk Hemsath | Episode 7 | The Golden Rules

On episode 7 of The Golden Rules, Partner of Hard 8 Working Group Management,

Dirk Hemsath stops by the studio and we talk about the music business.

- How he got into the music business - The risk he took to scale his businesses - His golden rules for success in life and business - Figuring it out

#QOTD "Empower Your team

#Knowledge - Roll over barriers - Stay fascinated with your business - The details matter - Stay hungry for knowledge - Be patient - Be an optimist

For those not in the music industry, an artist manager, also known as a "band manager", is in charge of the business side of being in a band. Often, band members are great at the creative side of things but aren't so great at promoting themselves, booking their own gigs, or negotiating deals. In a very general sense, the task of a manager is to take care of the day to day running of the band's career and business so the band or artist can focus on the creative side of things.

Dirk is a 30-year music industry veteran and serial entrepreneur that started his first record label at the age of 17. Over his incredible career, he's gained experience in distribution, media, merchandise, A&R, record labels and now artist management.

As a young record label founder, Dirk found himself acting as the CEO (Chief Everything Officer) at the beginning overseeing all artist recruitment, design, distribution, sales, and operations.

The year was 1988 when Dirk founded Dog House Records and over the past 30 years, the label has built a catalog of over 150 releases while also discovering and developing artists that have sold millions of albums and songs. All in all artists under the Doghouse name have sold almost 6 million albums and more than 15 million songs worldwide. The largest is the artist with Billboard’s biggest song of 2009, the All-American Rejects. Other artists like Get Up Kids and Say Anything have also sold hundreds of thousands of albums and songs.

Dirk Hemsath  Nashville, TN Grayscale Marketing Hard 8
Dirk Hemsath

While serving as CEO of his record label Dirk also purchased a music distribution company, Lumberjack, out of the Carolinas. He had no previous experience running a distribution company but through dedication, sheer will to succeed, and a willingness to figure it out he was able to scale the company from a business doing $300,000 annually to over $7,000,000. He literally drove a 27-foot truck from his Ohio home and packed every aspect of the business by himself into the moving truck and got started.

Lumberjack went on to absorb a competitor in the space morphing into Lumberjack Mordam Music Group in 2005 becoming one of the most successful punk rock distribution companies to ever exist.

After closing his company Dirk went on to consult at The Warner Music Group in New York City in the areas of A&R for 5 years working alongside longtime music industry executive, Lyor Cohen and other amazing music leaders.

Over his life Dirk has mentored dozens of up and coming entrepreneurs, young executives and future A&R persons. When ask, Dirk says he's pulled to do it because he never had anyone to help him learn the path forward. Starting businesses at such a young age, he was always the boss and still is today.

Dirk is currently a partner at Hard 8 Working Group - a newly formed artist management firm developed from a merger if Working Group management where Dirk was the founder and CEO and Hard 8. The company oversees more than twenty music artists, including Cheat codes, Brantley Gilbert, Dashboard Confessional, R.LUM.R, Michelle Branch, Anberlin, and producers, and writers that have worked with artists such as Taylor Swift, Pink, Florence + The Machine, Lanco, Dierks Bently, Allen Stone, Paul McCartney, and The Roots.

During my time spent with Dirk I found that he was incredibly thoughtful and willing to be vulnerable. He didn't shy away from discussing fears and family, pressures and failures along with his successes. That kind of openness allows us all to be courageous and removes the feelings of isolation that being an entrepreneur can create. Knowing that someone so approachable and successful that has built multi-million dollar companies from the ground up and been destitute showcases the highs and lows of careers over decades.

It's because of industry leaders like Dirk , that are willing to take time to teach and share steps he's taken that have helped him become successful that we all can follow the path he has blazed.


bottom of page