There are very few people in the industry that stay genuine, humble, and hardworking from start to finish. A lot of unqualified egos running rampant so when you encounter an authentic soul you have to give credit where it’s due. Today this is the case for Ismael “Ish” Soto and his journey thus far in life. If you recognize him as just a music manager, you haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg.
In this exclusive Q&A, we got to know more about how Ish got his start, his motivations for his career, and countless other gems sprinkled in between. We root for people like this because of their talents, but more importantly their kindness. Do yourself a favor and get to know the Ish below.
DC: When You were a kid, did you ever think you’d be working in music?
Ish: I never would have thought I would be working in music today. I was always around music growing up as a kid but the thought of working in the business was never an ideal career I had for myself. I wanted to be a WWE Superstar if that gives you any idea what career path I wanted to follow as a kid.
DC: Advice to people trying to get into the management side of things?
Ish: Being an Artist Manager is a thankless job, but can be the most rewarding thing you can ever try. Be Patient with yourself. You will get a thousand No’s before you get one YES.
DC: Proudest moment of your professional career?
Ish: This year one of the artists I represented (YSN FAB) went on tour with NLE Choppa in Canada. I had been following NLE Choppa’s career for years and to see my talent join him on tour just put into perspective how hard I have been working as well.
DC: Message to your childhood self?
Ish: Be true to yourself. Allow yourself to take more chances. Don’t forget to smell the roses.
DC: Moments where you knew the artists you worked with were stars?
Ish: During my time managing Mbnel, we were always trying to book consistent shows. Fast forward to his “No Hard Feelings” Tour (2021) I got to witness the abundance of fans he had outside of the West Coast.
DC: What’s the most challenging thing for you working in the music industry?
Ish: The most challenging part about being in the music industry is learning to adapt to different personalities and dealing with the unknown.
DC: What’s your musical taste consist of? Like genres and albums to escape stress to?
Ish: Mostly hip hop but my escape is indie rock and alternative music. I usually listen to Joy Division or other bands like Bloc Party. I am often looking for new music in my off time and discovering new artists daily. One of the artists I’ve been listening to a lot lately is ALAKA’I, his song “Southwest” I consistently have on rotation, he recently dropped an album this year and it’s really really good. I would recommend 10/10. I’ve also been listening to Surf Curse to balance my music taste. They are also a band I saw for $5 at the smell a few years ago (2014) before they blew up last year with their TIktok hit “Freaks”. Real hipster Shit.
DC: Advice to artists who are trying to have a long career in music?
Ish: You need to remain consistent, and leave no room for people to forget about you. Choose your team wisely, don’t be afraid to be different, and remain true to who you are at all points of your career.
DC: Biggest lesson or most important lesson you learned in your life thus far?
Ish: Not everyone is your friend in the music business. Always trust your intuition. Always be true to yourself and to your purpose.
DC: How did you get into the Cannabis industry?
Ish: I began offering my Artist Relations services to these companies in 2020 by the close of summer 2022 I became the “need to know” A&R rep in Los Angeles. By chance, I created a vital position for myself within these companies. The work I put in for these companies over the years displayed my potential in business development and overall brand ambassadorship. Where do you think the cannabis industry is heading, and how does hip-hop play into that? We’ve seen the success Nipsey Hussle has had with the Marathon OG strain, developed by The Cure Company. Marijuana in California is now legally profitable, and as time goes on we see more hip-hop artists using this to expand their brand and status as entrepreneurs.
DC: What are some of your goals for 2023?
Ish: 2023 for me is really a year of redemption. Some of my main goals include pivoting from the music scene into the cannabis industry. I’ve aligned myself with the right connections in 2022 to advance into branding and business development in the cannabis space. For example, I recently put the renowned cannabis brand The Cure Company in touch with Ethika. Our first project with Ethika is set to launch in the first quarter of 2023.D