On the surface, the careers of Australia’s biggest personalities may seem totally effortless. But if you look closely, there’s a whole lot of intentionality and work that goes into their success. It’s something Managing Director of Profile Talent Management, Mark Klemens, knows all too well. “It’s all about being strategic and long term,” he shares, sitting down to chat with Poppy Reid on Episode 2 of the Variety Australia Podcast series created in partnership with JMC Academy and recorded by JMC Audio Engineering, Film and Entertainment Management students.
Today, Klemens is well known as a talent management guru and skilled negotiator for Australia’s most high profile artists and performers. But before starting his business, he spent many years as a lawyer. His law experience laid an unexpected foundation for his future in talent management, which began with a fateful phone call and cup of coffee with young up-and coming duo, Hamish and Andy.
Speaking to Poppy, he shares how his extraordinary trajectory happened alongside Hamish and Andy’s own rise to success. “They were really my first clients, and that’s how we started 20 years ago,” Klemens reminisces, evoking images of the duo’s early days, brimming with untapped potential. “All the planets aligned in a way.”
“[John O] rang me up one day and said, ‘Look, I’m not sure whether you’re interested in it but I’ve got a couple of young blokes here who have just done some stuff for us…Hamish Blake and another bloke called Andy Lee. They just need some guidance, can you perhaps just give them some thoughts and perhaps just work with them?’
Of course, Klemens said yes – and his guidance not only shaped their journey to fame but also highlighted his unique talent for identifying and nurturing raw star quality. “There was this extraordinary chemistry between the two of them and people try to manufacture that sort of chemistry on radio and TV,” he says. “They were best mates then, they’re still best mates now. In 20 years I don’t think I’ve ever seen them argue.”
For Hamish and Andy, Klemens says their passion was always their craft. But for the next generation of stars, it’s about finding your individual spark.
“You need to have something that’s a bit unique,” he explains. “Somebody who’s clear on the direction they want to go, that has a kind of point of difference, that might be their humour, [and] someone who’s got a lot of warmth. You can tell that by listening to them or seeing them in front of a camera pretty quickly. Warmth is just such a huge component to the industry.”
Throughout the episode, Klemens dives into the core principles that underpin his approach to talent management. His company represents 60 high profile people, each with their own written strategy document. “Everybody’s different, everybody has their own unique brand,” he explains. With a focus on individuality and having a long-term vision, he makes sure each client’s distinctiveness shines through in the jobs they decide to take on. “If it’s not the right opportunity, even though the money might be great, we pass,” he reveals.
As we enter 2024, Klemens also offers his perspective on the future of the media landscape, especially in radio and podcasting. He’s optimistic about radio’s resilience. “Radio’s not going anywhere… I think radio is as healthy as it’s ever been. I mean, people turn the radio on when they go to work in the morning. Yes, some people listen to podcasts. I get that, but I think radio’s alive. And it’s gonna be an interesting time ahead with potential mergers and opportunities that are existing.”
Produced by JMC Academy’s students and recorded live in front of peers from all across JMC’s creative courses at the campus in Melbourne, the podcast gives an interesting insight behind the glamour of Australian show business. Klemen’s story is a compelling testament to the power of embracing change, following opportunities, and the impact of authentic, personalised talent management.
Listen to the full conversation with Mark Klemens on the Variety Australia Podcast hosted by Poppy Reid anywhere you get your podcasts. This is the second of three exclusive episodes presented by JMC Academy.
Explore JMC Academy’s range of creative courses here, including the unique Masters of Creative Industries Post Graduate program where undergraduates can learn how to turn their original idea into a commercially viable project. Applications are now open for 2024.