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Meet Mary Ambartsumyan of OnThree Management in Atwater Village

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Ambartsumyan.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. 
My story began when my family and I arrived at LAX from Armenia when I was four years old.  Little did I know then, that I was immigrating to the entertainment capital of the world. Growing up in LA public schools, I participated in my school’s orchestra and credit my high school music teacher, Ms. Dee Dee Paakkari for guiding me on towards a musical path.  As I got older, this granted me the opportunity to explore different career options.

I founded OnThree Management shortly after graduating law school. At that time, I was still writing music and had been playing shows in the LA, OC and bay area since I was a teenager. One of my fellow musicians, Dolly Denko (of the band Doctrin), inspired me to look into artist management. Dolly had just moved to LA from Australia and I was really enjoying helping her navigate her way through our music scene. I did my research and even met with other managers who cemented my interest. If anything, I found that my legal experience had a very practical place in artist management, and I am very thankful that I can apply different sets of skills, stemming from different passions, into one career.

Has it been a smooth road? 
Music managers often struggle with the same obstacles that the talent faces. Staying current in the music industry, prioritizing projects, and avoiding vague fears are just some of challenges along the way. I strive to achieve the best results for my ON3 artists and it is always a team effort. When an artist tells me their dream, it becomes my own, and I use anything I can find in my tool belt to sculpt that vision to life. On a local level, LA musicians are some of the hardest working people you will meet. I’m proud to say that the artists I’ve worked with have taught me to devote that same level of relentless effort into my own business.

Like many other industries, the music industry has shifted to a sophisticated DIY culture. This means most local indie bands depend on out-of-pocket investments into their creative endeavors. Generating profit from online streaming, touring and merch has become too complex. Some bands find themselves chasing the hottest new playlist or influencer to score a mention or a tag. It’s no surprise that one of the biggest obstacles is finding the best individual business strategies to match each unique goal.

Once a plan is set in motion, the next struggle is creating agendas that work well with each artist. Since I work with multiple bands, it’s difficult to prioritize between the different releases, shows, and promotional events happening simultaneously. Musicians wear many hats. Some are students. Some are parents.  Like them, I have other passions. When I’m not managing bands, I work in the movie industry as a right and clearance specialist at Technicolor. I struggle to maintain a healthy balance of staying active and taking enough breaks, to prevent burning out. You create a groove and you stick to it. This past Halloween, I worked with NEW EViL (whose members are from both LA and OC), to present a Halloween Ball at The Satellite in Silver Lake. Known for their spooky aesthetic, we knew we had to go all out for this one! We joined forces and divided the tasks up in a way that broke down an epic project into bite-size, manageable pieces. We booked stellar performers, character actors, vendors, makeup artists, and delivered one of our best shows yet. We didn’t let our day jobs and other obligations slow us down because we prepared a schedule that worked for us.

Last but not least, the most soul crushing struggle is staying positive and never giving up. It sounds simple enough, but when musicians have a day job, feel like they’re competing against literally millions of other artists and notice that the average consumer has the attention span of a skittish squirrel, they decide to throw in the towel. My job is to keep their spirits up, as well as my own. Music, in and of itself, is a reward. I really admire The Black Heartthrobs, the band with the most longevity on my roster, who have made music an integral part of their lives and show no signs of stopping. Success looks different for everyone, but in my opinion, the true winners in the industry are the ones that play their hearts out no matter what they get back.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with OnThree Management – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others. 
OnThree Management is an artist management business in the local LA music scene. I specialize in helping indie musicians with various aspects and stages of their career. Many people refer to managers as an unofficial member of the band, but we mostly oversee the business side of things and let the artists focus more on their music. ON3 is known for their live shows, community involvement and artist support. We are involved with music production, booking, music videos, social media marketing, and anything else that will make our artists stand out among so many other fantastic LA artists. What sets ON3 apart is that we have extended our services to artists outside of our roster. In order for me offer my services to other bands, I have to limit assistance to project based requests instead of general management.

ON3 has also extended itself to other media and charities. We co-hosted a photo-fest in 2017 with Annabelle Maginnis (of the band, MetronOhm) which brought musicians and photographers together in one special event in support of social justice. For two years in a row, ON3 has been a proud ally of APAHM (Asian Pacific American Heritage Month) Showcases led by moonroom.  We have also raised money for charities including Howling for the Homeless, Downtown Women’s Shelter and SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society Foundation).

I’m proud that ON3 is not too intrusive in shaping the artists’ creative choices. I’m all about letting artist be artist, and the owner of their imagination. One of my artists, Lucy (of the band, Lucy & La Mer), tackles really tough issues and writes songs with powerful messages behind them. I love that she voices her opinions about things that are personal and important to her, and I wouldn’t want to taint any part of that message. When you question an artist’s style, taste or beliefs, they begin to question themselves. Nothing about that is genuine to me.

ON3’s own message and motto is “Moving Mountains”, which was beautifully depicted in our logo shot by our dear and late friend, Emery Becker. I believe that when we have a strong community full of dreamers, such as ours, we can overcome the “mountains” that stand in our way.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least? 
I grew up in this gorgeous city! I love the diversity and opportunities. I love everything about it, even the traffic, because that’s when I listen to music the most. I also think it’s really cool that you can drive to the ocean or the snowy mountains in less than a few hours. If I had to pick something I didn’t like, however, it would be the homeless problem I’m seeing more and more of these days. Human rights come first, above all, and everyone in LA deserves to be a part of the magic. Dreamers have been drawn here since the Gold Rush and eventually, entertainment found a home here. Angelenos are true gems and I’m proud to be a small piece of LA’s expanding legacy.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Victoria Zengo, Miguel Pereles, Benjamin Ford Photography, Emery Becker

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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