I received this questionnaire tonight and I thought they were great questions, so I thought I would share my answers to them. I hope they are helpful to you if you are an aspiring band manager. I certainly don’t know all the answers to band management and there are people far more qualified and organised than me who could help you more, but I feel that any info I can pass on that may be of use or help an aspiring band manager who is about to throw in the towel to just keep on pushing through the day to get their band that gig or that review, I am more than happy to pass on what I do know.
What inspires you to be a band/artist manager in the Music Industry?
The thing that inspires me to be a band manager in the Music Industry is the artists. I believe that (as well as trying to be a good, socially conscious person generally) if I can help the artists that I love spread their music/art to a wider audience and be able to earn a living from selling that art or performing that art, I will have made the world a little better and by helping those artists I will have left my mark on the world by helping musicians’ music to help others. Music is a huge force in the world and has the power to change lives. If I have helped put an artist’s song into the ears of just one person who is affected positively by it, I feel I will have actually contributed positively to the world and that makes me happy every day.
How important is the connection between you as a manager and the artists or bands that you manage?
It is all important. I liken Pricewar Music to a family and I don’t sign anyone who I don’t feel shares the same values as the rest of the family. All of the artists on the label are different and are certainly different branches of the family tree, but the unique connections I have with each artist are key to ensuring that each artist and I gets what they want out of the relationship. (For the record, StormChasers are like EK and I’s kids, Epidemic… Over are my brothers, The Good Ship are like my weird Aunties and Uncles and Jackson is like my foreign cousin, twice removed. Hahaha!)
How much of an impact do you believe illegal downloading of music has on your career as a manager, as well the Music Industry itself and how do you work around this?
Not a great deal, really. I see it as… if there are people out there bothering to obtain the original by purchasing it, ripping the CD or converting it to MP3, torrenting and seeding the illegal files, then it means that they think that it is popular enough or there is an audience large enough that people actually WANT it. It’s almost flattering. It means that there is a demand for the record out there. I don’t go out of my way to promote those places as legitimate places to get my artist’s music, but I know that they are there. Epidemic… Over’s latest EP is available in torrent sites. The only thing that pisses me off is that I can’t track the download data and whether it’s popular. I just want to access the analytics about who downloaded it and how many tracks have been downloaded and why can’t I have their email address, so I can send them info about when the boys are playing in their area, so they can give the boys money for tickets and t-shirts. It’s an interesting time. The recorded music is almost seen as a throwaway promotional tool, same as a sticker. In 2012, data is king and actually knowing how torrents work is a crucial piece of knowledge. There are far more things to monetise and cash in on these days, other than recorded music, like publishing, sync and live music.
What sacrifices must be made, socially and financially in order to pursue a career as a manager in the Music Industry?
Socially, I sometimes sacrifice friend’s birthday parties to run gigs or play gigs. I probably piss some people off with the amount of gigs I promote on my social networks and they probably unfollow or unfriend me, but my real friends know that music is at the core of my being and taking that away from me would be like removing my soul. I sacrifice a lot of sleep, either emailing people or attending gigs or touring. I sometimes get in trouble for doing some of my business work at my 9-5 job and financially, I could have saved a lot more personal savings to put away for having children or buying a house, but I balance it by the work that I do making me insanely happy every day. Every gig that I book that I know will increase the fanbase or popularity of that band or make them and myself money or put them in front of industry or bands they love, I realise another dream. Every sacrifice is worth it. I don’t let a lot get me down. There are hundreds of thousands of opportunities.
Can you describe, briefly, the general process that an aspiring band manager must go through in order to pursue a career in the Music Industry?
The general process an aspiring manager must go through in order to pursue in a career in the industry is that there isn’t a general process. I’m pretty sure most managers will agree that there is no ONE path to being a band manager, it really depends on the bands you work with. It comes down to certain qualities in a person. Generally, managers are Doers. They get things achieved and they can see things through to completion. They are troubleshooters and they are organised (for the most part). They are also good negotiators and planners and networkers and nurturers and…. Wow, this list could go on and on. Basically, you need to have music in your heart and you need to care about the artist and love and believe in their music as much as they do. All the rest will take care of itself at some point or other.
What are the greatest benefits of a career as a band/artist manager in the Music Industry?
The greatest benefits are pretty much what I covered earlier. Seeing the artists you work with achieve the goals you have set out with them, seeing them get awards or praise in a review or just seeing them play a really killer show and people really engaging with them. Seeing loads of people leave messages on the facebook wall of an artist after they have played a great show… it is not insignificant. That show meant something to those people and that is not to be taken lightly. Obviously free tickets to shows are a benefit, but it’s those “proud parent” moments that really stand out.
What are some of the ways you financed the beginning of your career in the Music Industry?
I have always had a “day job” as well as what I do, I certainly couldn’t make a complete income out of the business yet, but I feel that one day I will. I have been lucky in a lot of cases, in that I haven’t needed a lot of money to actually finance the beginning of my career in the industry. I have always been skilled enough in negotiation that I could have others invest in an idea or that I had the backing of my workplace manager to invest in an idea for them or I have been employed (which is RARE!) in an industry position.
Following the recent shift in the Music Industry, what are the best avenues for generating a profit and maintaining success for the artists and musicians?
Again, I covered them a little earlier. Writing great songs that attract publishing deals are great ways of getting injections of cash advances with more access to high paying opportunities to recoup (co-writing, sync, songwriting royalties for writing songs for other musicians, but they are few and far between and it really does depend on the talent involved. Sync opportunities are there also and are open to anyone, provided your songs are appropriate. Touring provides good income provided the band’s fanbase is large enough and merchandise with good markup also.
If you could offer aspiring managers in the Music Industry one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be prepared to not be paid much if anything for a while, regardless of how much money you pour into a band. This is not a high investment, high return industry and there is no sure fire guarantee that any band will ever become a success. If ever there was one piece of advice for bands that I have heard, it’s “Don’t break up. Keep doing your thing and eventually your turn will come around. So many bands get to a certain point of popularity and then break up on the verge of cracking the ‘big time.’ Just don’t break up.”