Few artists have seen a more meteoric rise than ACRAZE in recent years. He went from a consistent industry favorite to a full-blown superstar with ‘Do It To It’ being the breakout hit of 2021. With nearly half a billion streams on Spotify alone, plus official remixes from legends like Tiesto and Sub Focus, it’s a certified anthem that’s inescapable. The explosive growth has opened up doors any artist would dream about, from sold-out shows to festival slots, brand partnerships, and international tours. The success is well deserved after years of hard work and grinding and one person has been by his side since day 1: his manager Alex Akleh. The two met back in high school and have grown together from the ground up. For a behind-the-scenes look at artist management and ACRAZE’s rise, we connected with Alex for an exclusive interview. We talk to Alex about his origins, the key to being a great artist manager, the ups and downs of such explosive growth, advice for artists, and more. Check out our full conversation below.
What drew you to artist management?
About seven years ago, I launched an events company in Orlando. Throughout that process, I aimed to work with artists and put many on as direct support for the talent I was booking. An old high school friend of mine was also getting into production so I figured it would be cool to work together. From that point forward, the passion and love only grew.
How did you and ACRAZE first connect? How long have you been working together?
We actually met in high school back in 2010. I was known for hosting big parties and he would come through to DJ; he’s always had the ear for fire music. We eventually agreed to collaborate once I launched my event company, and became family.
We were just two young kids with a dream, a belief in ourselves, and a relentless work ethic.
Be a student of the game and learn from everyone and everything. The second you think you know it all, you lose.
What’s the key to being a great artist manager?
Integrity is one of the biggest things in my opinion. There’s so many people trying to use and abuse their artists so being honest and having moral principles is key.
Beyond that, adopt a “Day 1” mentality. Be a student of the game and learn from everyone and everything. The second you think you know it all, you lose.
Lastly, GRIND. Don’t shy away from the hard work. Read, study, and learn every facet of the game that you can because there is someone out there working just as hard.
I’ve been blessed with some great guidance from people like Amy Thomson and Bo Basic who really helped to shape me as a manager so finding knowledgeable people in the field can really help as well. Amy wrote a book that I enjoyed called Artist Management & Marketing: A Beginners Guide. If you’re interested in starting or just getting into management, I highly recommend that you read that book.
When did you know ‘Do It To It’ was going to be something special?
We knew the first time we played it live at Celine Nightclub on NYE 2021. The crowd started singing the lyrics mid-way through the hook and we looked at each other with our eyes wide open haha. At that moment, we knew the record was going to be special.
These are the moments we’ve always dreamed of. I never had any doubts that we’d achieve these heights. With our passion fueled by hard work, it was only a matter of time.
How much have things changed in the past year?
Oh, things have changed drastically. We evolved from a few shows per month to three to four, and sometimes even five, days of nonstop touring around the world. These are the moments we’ve always dreamed of. I never had any doubts that we’d achieve these heights. With our passion fueled by hard work, it was only a matter of time.
What’s the wildest opportunity you’ve been able to create recently?
The partnerships we’ve been building with some pretty cool companies, like Mamitas, Dolce & Gabbana, and a few more I can’t yet name. Overall, it’s awesome to work with companies whose brands embody the image we want to represent.
everyone is seeking to recreate what this record has accomplished, there are numerous copies that have oversaturated the movement and almost made it seem played out.
Have there been any challenges with the explosive nature of the track?
Without a doubt. Because everyone is seeking to recreate what this record has accomplished, there are numerous copies that have oversaturated the movement and almost made it seem played out. Others are keeping an eye on our every move with the records we create and are trying to steal our ideas. It’s frustrating because our entire career has consisted of others stealing our ideas, which has unfortunately resulted in a few months of delay with our next release. Fortunately, ‘Do It To It’ was not stolen, but it has made us much more cautious in how we move.
How involved are you in the creative process with your artists?
I’d say I’m pretty involved in most areas. I enjoy the whole process. We spend hours going over top lines, hooks, and demos searching for hidden gems. We go back and forth on revisions and continue to expand the catalog. It’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job.
Everyone has been with us since the beginning, and whether we win or lose, there is no greater reward than that.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Being able to build a dream and see it through with the people I consider family, my team. Most of them have been with me since high school, and the ones we’ve inherited along the way have quickly become family. Everyone has been with us since the beginning, and whether we win or lose, there is no greater reward than that.
If you put everything you have into your gift, and I mean truly give it every hour you have, it will eventually work out.
If you could provide some advice to up-and-coming artists what would it be?
Never give up. With so many obstacles and people telling us no, there were many times when it seemed like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, but we persevered and believed in ourselves and each other. You’ll always find a way if you have that mindset.
Nobody can take your talent away from you. If you put everything you have into your gift, and I mean truly give it every hour you have, it will eventually work out.
Lastly, always remain humble in your successes and failures– this will get you the furthest. This industry is filled with people with big egos, don’t add to it.
What’s next for you and your team?
We’re currently in the middle of our first European tour. We’re finalizing our release schedule through the fall of next year, and we can’t wait to share all of this music with you. We have some really special things planned.