Interviews

Live In Dallas are the music management duo that treat their artists like family

Words by Kate Menzies
Photos by Miguel Robres

Based in Barcelona, Miguel Robres and Fernando Yáñez have built a gifted roster, and helped keep the Spanish indie scene alive during lockdown.

At just 26 years old, Miguel Robres is a decade into his music promotion career. “I started quite young”, he says with a smile. He began by playing in a band, and got to know the live music scene from a first person perspective, booking his shows as well as playing them. “I was also starting to try out management when we started to work with labels”, he adds. “The band started to grow and I was just learning how to do it all.”  

It was those experiences that made him see that the way the industry worked wasn’t serving artists well. “We were working with other booking agencies, but I didn’t like it very much”, says Robres. “They didn’t pay a lot of attention to us because they were working with a lot of different bands, but I was dedicated to my band so I was booking a lot more concerts. I kept doing the bookings and then I started to help friends.” Based in Barcelona, Robres then started to bring over bands from the UK. “It’s been a very organic and natural path for me”, he says.

Since the 1990s, the underground music scene in Spain has exploded. From indie to trap and electronic to hip hop, underground artists are flourishing. And it’s people like Robres and his business partner Fernando Yáñez at Live in Dallas who are making it happen. Live in Dallas is an independent booking and management agency operating in Barcelona, and the team is devoted to finding and growing talent.

Like every great project, their collaboration started with a genuine love for music. The pair met a couple of years ago when Robres tried to book a couple of bands from the UK and Yáñez was working with them in Spain, via his other company Last Tour. “He had more experience and more contacts, and I had a lot of energy”, says Robres. “We started sharing music and opinions with each other, while I was working on my own and he was working on Live in Dallas.”

It’s
worrying
that
sometimes
the
music
industry
doesn’t
work
ethically,
and
we’re
both
trying
to
build
something
long-term
and
sustainable.

When the pandemic hit, Yáñez’s then-partner left Live in Dallas to create a new opportunity. Yáñez asked Robres if he’d like to partner up and combine their rosters. “It was natural for us to join forces during the pandemic, because we had a lot of time to share things and think about new opportunities”, explains Robres. The two shared concerns about the nature of music booking and management and how it affects artists. “We both want to take care of our bands and dedicate time to trying to work with people”, he adds. “We don’t just see artists as machines. It’s worrying that sometimes the music industry doesn’t work ethically, and we’re both trying to build something long-term and sustainable.”

That’s the core principle behind Live in Dallas: care for artists. “We don’t just try to profit off music at the end of the creative process – we want to figure out who’s working on a project, how they’re working, and how they are trying to develop their career,” insists Robres.

Right now Live in Dallas’ roster includes up-and-coming artists like Rigoberta Bandini, Sau Poler and Family Time. They’ve made a conscious decision to be part of the growth process for artists. “The most important thing is that we work with artists who really want to work with us”, says Robres, “not just because they have a contract, but because they like what we’re doing.”

The approach that the two-person team takes with artists is thorough and supportive. As both bookers and managers, Robres and Yáñez offer different kinds of support to each artist based on their needs and their goals. “When we’re booking bands, the goal is to try and build profiles in different territories by playing concerts with soft ticket events like festivals, and also little headline shows where they can build relationships with venues and put on repeat performances”, explains Robres. 

He continues: “As a manager, it’s more complex. It’s almost like being part of the band, like being an extra member. It’s your job to make everything work, and you become kind of a parent to the project. The musicians need space to create music, and then we need to understand what to do with it. We need to understand how we’re going to release it, how we’re going to present it, and how we’re going to bring it to life.”

The
most
important
thing
is
that
we
work
with
artists
who
really
want
to
work
with
us,
not
just
because
they
have
a
contract
but
because
they
like
what
we’re
doing.

But Live in Dallas offers more than just that to their artists, they almost help them like a best friend or family member would. “Sometimes artists need support with things outside of the creative process as well, maybe travelling issues or family problems”, reveals Robres. “These things affect the creative process, so sometimes a manager is also a psychologist, a parent, a friend. Sometimes you need to just listen, let artists express themselves in the way they need to and be there for them. We have to take care of artists in whatever way they need. Every artist is different.”

Choosing only to work with like-minded people is what led Live in Dallas to DICE. “I knew that DICE was a 21st century ticketing company”, says Robres. “When I met DICE’s Spanish Music Lead, Rosa, it was the right place and the right time. I wasn’t really happy with the other ticketing company I was working with, and then Rosa and I started talking about music. We shared the same interests and we knew the same people, and she knew the bands I’m working with which was really important.” He adds: “When I said that I try to work with people who share my way of thinking, I think that’s what I felt when it came to DICE. I feel like the team is really interested in what we’re doing.”

Now that it’s been well over a year since live events were put on ice, it’s time to reflect on how Live in Dallas has survived and how their way of life has changed. “The problem now is that most artists [were] making their living off concerts”, says Robres. “They’ve been through really difficult times in this economy. But at the same time, all our artists have composed an album in the last year. It’s because of their experiences: some days they’re happy, some days they’re sad, some days it feels like the world is ending and others the Sun is shining. Artists have a lot of feelings, and that’s being reflected as they process all of this.”

This positive attitude towards the challenges the pandemic created has powered Live in Dallas through the last year. “We know that we can’t do concerts now, okay, but what can we do?” says Robres. “What do we have now that we didn’t before? Time. Most of our artists have been trying to take advantage of this during the last year. The pandemic is something that’s out of our control, but we have control over making music and creating.”

The
most
important
thing
I’ve
learned
is
patience.

On a personal level, Robres has used the year as a learning experience. “The most important thing I’ve learned is patience. At the beginning, when everything started to be cancelled and rescheduled, I tried to predict when everything would come back and every month I would try to reschedule events for the following month”, he says. “But at some point, I had to accept that things were out of my control and the only thing I could do was to be patient. It took four or five months of confusion for me to realise that I had to be patient.”

The pain of the pandemic may not be over yet, but with agencies like Live in Dallas supporting artists through the worst times, it seems like the future’s going to be pretty bright. “I’m pretty sure that all of our bands are about to level up”, says Robres. “Listening to the music they’re sending us, I think they’re all going to grow thanks to their hard work and that makes me really happy.”