Meet Normani’s Under 30 Manager Brandon Silverstein
This week Normani and Cardi B’s “Wild Side” hit Spotify’s USA Top 50 chart. Here’s a look behind the music.
At 15, Brandon Silverstein spent his Saturday nights sneaking into New York City nightclubs. The Tenafly, New Jersey, teen used his fake ID to get under the velvet rope and listen to DJs like Tiesto and Kygo. His goal: meet the talent, get their contact information and hire them to play at his own parties at city clubs and restaurants like Tenjune. They’d attract 800 or so high schoolers willing to pay his $30 cover charge, and by taking a 20% cut of the soda bar, he’d walk away with about $8,000 a night.
“I think my mom would’ve rather had me at home studying, but I knew there was more to what I was doing,” says Silverstein. “My gut said: I don’t know where this is going but it’s going to get me somewhere.”
It did. 10 years later, he’s managing some of music’s biggest acts: Normani, Anitta and Jessia. And as of this week he’s added Recording Industry Association of America-platinum artist Lauv to his roster. Silverstein has guided Normani to top 10 hits like “Dancing with a Stranger” with Sam Smith, “Motivation” with Ariana Grande and last week’s “Wild Side” with Cardi B, which debuted at number four on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
His high school bangers caught the attention of Noah Tepperberg, cofounder of nightlife mainstays Lavo, Tao and Marquee. Tepperberg brought Silverstein on as an intern at 17 and charged him with booking talent like Tim Bergling (who would later be known by his stage name, Avicii) and Axwell/Ingrosso. Though Silverstein was never much of a student, he used the internship to fund his stint at University of Indiana, Bloomington.
Bloomington, Indiana is no New York City Meatpacking District. The town’s largest venue holds 1,200 people. But as a freshman Silverstein was intent on leveraging his connections to throw Bloomington’s biggest music festival. He rented a 10-acre working farm for $10,000—ordered port-a-potties, booze, fencing, lighting, ambulances, food and security—and sold $35 tickets, keeping 100% of the sales. After expanding his Bounce Music Festival to Arizona, Mexico and New York, he felt as though he’d lost touch with what attracted him to the entertainment industry: the talent and music. He dropped out of college in his senior year to move to New York City and pursue music management.
“As a promoter you don’t get to be involved in the music, talent or creative stuff,” he says. “I wanted to be way closer to the music.”
Rihanna’s lawyer, Ed Shapiro, introduced him to her manager and Roc Nation CEO Jay Brown, who took a liking to Silverstein and inspired him to use his Bounce earnings to start his own music management company in 2017: S10 (named for Silverstein’s September 10 birthday). It was also through Shapiro that Silverstein met then 19-year-old dancer and Texas pageant queen Normani Kordei Hamilton.
At the time, Normani was the leader of X Factor-formed girl group Fifth Harmony, whose hits “Work From Home” and “Worth It” had propelled it onto Billboard charts. When Silverstein watched her dance and sing, he recognized her star power and signed her in late 2017. “I saw something in her that made me want to dedicate my life to it,” says Silverstein.
“As my manager, he fights for me daily, but our relationship goes so much deeper than just business,” says Normani. “He’s my brother. We are family.”
Today, Silverstein’s S10 is part of Roc Nation and it has a staff of 10. Says Silverstein: “We really turned the engine down and took what was so different musically and creatively from Fifth Harmony and made Normani Normani—she was able to do what she wanted to do.”
With Normani’s success, Silverstein has expanded his team to three and brought on new acts like Brazilian pop star Anitta. Under Silverstein’s tutelage, she’s gone RIAA platinum nine times over in Brazil.
Silverstein’s income, however, is divided between publishing and management. In 2020, he and OneRepublic lead singer Ryan Tedder—behind the hits of Adele, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and others—cofounded a publishing business that lists Justin Bieber’s “Peaches” and “Somebody” among its hits. Silverstein says that while management is his immediate goal, publishing is his long-term revenue play. “I just want to build the best 360 entertainment company possible.”