Ryker: manager/promoter

Making the Scene

click to enlarge ALICIA HAUFF PHOTO
Alicia Hauff photo

Talk to Ryker for a while, and you quickly learn that artist management is a lot more than making sure a musician is fed, clothed and on stage on time.

The 28-year-old Spokane native considers her job part teacher, part promotor and part cultural disruptor, working to open the eyes of artists to the power they have in the music business, and opening the ears of the Powers That Be to new sounds and styles bubbling up from outside the mainstream.

"What I'm trying to do is change the mentality of people," Ryker says. "That is the biggest thing that I do and I think that's one of the largest misconceptions of what I do. I change people's mentality about the industry."

Ryker has managed several hip-hop artists, most recently Spokane favorite Jango, and she considers hip-hop the "most underserved niche in our region." But her path to the music business started with a singer/songwriter she was dating who moved to Arizona, leading Ryker to follow.

"I just started to play roles to help her music progress," Ryker says, "and as I continued down that path, I realized the roles I was playing fell under a title, and that title was 'management.'"

Ryker came home to Spokane after that relationship ended and started putting her newfound skills to work. She found a mentor who greatly expanded her music-biz vocabulary, started companies so she could produce shows and market artists in addition to managing them, and went to work trying to make Eastern Washington a new hotbed of hip-hop.

It hasn't been easy. It's hard to get local artists like Jango spins on commercial radio no matter how many streams his music gets on Spotify or SoundCloud. And even though Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton used a Jango tune on one of his personal branding videos, getting Gonzaga representatives to listen to local hip-hop for potential use in the Kennel has been a struggle.

"I'm trying to fill the lifestyle niche that we are missing in Spokane, that missing [hip-hop] culture," Ryker says. "Why are we missing that culture? Because we're not feeding the culture. Why aren't we feeding the culture? Because we're afraid of it."

Not that Ryker is going to give up on what she sees as the region's inevitable hip-hop dominance, even if it takes constant tough conversations and nonstop hustle. That's something she's used to.

"I'm a different species, maybe a different example," Ryker says. "Because I have been out as gay since I was like 18, it forces you to already have hard conversations and deal with certain situations ... [and] being African-American means I had to face a lot of things early.

"It doesn't matter who I am, who they are. If I have a goal, I'm going to get that goal. If I need to change my angle, and my perspective, let's do that. I'm a chess player. So how are we going to accomplish this?"

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About The Author

Dan Nailen is the managing editor of the Inlander, where he oversees coverage of arts and culture. He's previously written and edited for The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City Weekly, Missoula Independent, Salt Lake Magazine and The Oregonian. He grew up across the country in an Air Force family and studied at...