How I Launched: Palm Tree Crew
Member Myles Shear on managing music industry megastars and turning fandoms into an empire with his latest venture, which encompasses development, a record label and lifestyle brand all in one
By Louis Wise Illustrations by Alva Skogg Tuesday 11 August, 2020 Long read
The big idea
‘I suggested Palm Tree Crew to Kygo in Ibiza about two or three years ago. I’d been his manager for a while, and I was trying to figure out the future, how to build a company. I loved what Drake did with OVO, and The Weeknd’s XO as well. So, I sat down with Kygo and I said, “I wanna have a management company with you, and a record label, and we should have a lifestyle brand together, too – just something we could really build as an empire. There was really no one else I’d rather do it with than Kygo; he’s my best friend and the person I do everything with.’
Forming a plan
‘Initially, the focus was actually not the lifestyle brand or development, but a record label. Kygo works with so many great upcoming artists. So, we wanted to create a label that we could sign those artists to, to create a company where we could also represent the songwriters that were writing these songs. We’ve built up an amazing roster – the last album that he put out involved pretty much our entire camp who he wrote it with.
‘As for the rest of the vision, it was there from day one, and it’s been slowly rolling out. The name itself was suggested by Kygo – it came from these palm tree necklaces that we were all wearing. I had begun by giving them as Hanukkah gifts to my friends, and over the years everybody would be asking for one to wear. Many of us have palm tree tattoos, too – all in the same spot, on our forearms. This was all way before we created Palm Tree Crew, so it was like a natural build-up.’
Building a brand
‘The idea is to take this brand and have fun with it. A lot of people want to collaborate with Kygo, but what’s he gonna do? Make a song with a famous golfer? We can put palm trees on a shirt, though, and on shoes. It’s very much an organic thing. You want to create a group for the fans to come together. You want to make them feel like they’re part of something. That’s what XO and OVO do. It’s a world, basically. And it’s fun for the fans; it’s like a game.’
Spreading the word
‘Kygo has a big platform and he promotes all the artists that we sign or manage. He’s there to share their music and give advice. As for the lifestyle brand, we have a bunch of collabs coming up and have done some already. We did one with Madhappy, a great brand in LA. And we have some others with really cool athletes. I was just on the phone to one of the greatest skiers of all time. We’re gonna make skis with her.’
‘The record label part, Palm Tree Records, is a joint venture with Sony. But we just created a holding company during lockdown to extend the reach of Palm Tree Crew, to invest in other companies, because we get such great opportunities all the time. For instance, right now we’re working with this company called Learn Monthly, where you learn a class, and it’s doing extremely well. It feels much better to invest in a new company, than going to a big existing brand and just taking a cheque.’
Growing a business
‘I did once tweet that “No experience is the new experience”, and I stand by that. When you’re green, you’re a little less protective, you’re less worried about things. You know when you study so hard for a test, and you’re so prepared, and you think you know every single answer? You’re never really there until you take that test. That’s how we’ve always been and how we still are today.
‘We have about eight people who work with us who are super smart and bring so much to the table. Another company we’ve invested in is Long Drink. It’s this cocktail from Finland, which is basically seltzer with gin in it, and it’s unbelievable. Miles Teller, the actor, showed it to me and Kygo when we played his wedding, and I got so hooked on it. It’s just another way of us expressing what we believe in and what we like.’
Dealing with challenges
‘Since March, all of Kygo’s concerts have been cancelled. But we put an album out in June and a single with Tina Turner last month. And, obviously, we created Palm Tree Holdings. So if there haven’t been any shows, which sucks, it still hasn’t stopped us.
‘Motivation isn’t a problem for me. I started my own company when I was young, because I just wanted to do what I like. You’re motivated when you have your own agenda, you know? A lot of people are very narrow-minded in that they’ll wake up and sit at a computer for 10 or 12 hours, just because they think they’re working efficiently, and they’re really not. They’re just working to work and not progressing. I haven’t needed to sit there for 10 or 12 hours to get a deal done. I just have to be in it, and thinking about it, being creative about how to finish the deal.’
Eyes on the future
‘That’s actually one of the most beautiful parts about Kygo: there’s still room to grow. Look at Pharrell, too. I was listening to him speak at a private event, and I just loved what he said. He’s set himself up as a musician, a designer and a businessman, working in so many different spaces. I’d like to make Kygo a mogul.
‘You know what I hate? The feeling when you call a friend and try to brag about something you created – but it’s not fun if they’re not part of it. I’m lucky, I get to call my best friend who I make everything with and we celebrate together. For me, my biggest motivation is to enjoy something with somebody and have them be part of it. It’s not fun to be alone, you know?’