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Dealing with artist management

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by willgroove2, Oct 25, 2005.


  1. willgroove2

    willgroove2

    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    So i just had a interesting phone call with a artist's manager.they were calling to set up a session with me for the artist's CD.should be cool stuff to play on,he does neo-soul with a kind of funk edge to it.I heard that pino pallandino is also playing on some tracks so it should be hot and im looking forward to it.But his manager said something odd to me when he found out that he was actually speaking to me on the phone.he said "oh it's will im talking to,i thought i'd be talking to your manager" i told him i don't have one and he said as they put together people for the record that he finds himself having to deal with managers for many of the session guy's.Now im used to dealing with artists management or agent's but i have no need for one myself.It might come in handy for booking flights and stuff like that but the mrs works in travel so i have that covered.Now i have met many people who have "management" even at the starting out level before they have anything to manage.That never really made sense to me because i feel that you as the artist or musician should learn as much about the business of the music industry as you can so you won't get screwed.I have a friend whose daughter tried out for american idol few months back and she said that if you make it to TV that you can't be signed with a manager and she said that many people walked away when they found that out,why do you need management to do a talent contest?.have any of you guys ever had to deal with management or have one youselfs?
     
  2. Pruitt

    Pruitt

    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    Regarding the American Idol thing, I think you might have misunderstood. I don't believe you're allowed to have existing management if you're selected as a finalist, as Simon Cowell's company owns the rights to sign all finalists. I may have misunderstood what you wrote though, so feel free to ignore this if that's the case. ;)
     
  3. willgroove2

    willgroove2

    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    thats what i meant,that your not allowed to have existing management.clay akin has gotten out of his contract with them and i hear that some of the other winners are about to also because it's not a very good deal for the artist.
     
  4. Music Attorney

    Music Attorney

    Feb 22, 2004
    Below is a link to some info on the AI contract from a friend of mine. Although it's a little old, it's my understanding not much has changed. Also, I'd be surprised if anyone of any significance on the show is "getting out" of the contract, Clay Aiken notwithstanding.

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1474871&highlight=American+Idol#post1474871

    Managers can do a lot of things for you, in particular when you are starting out. They can use their relationships to get you work or put you in collaborative situations. Hopefully they have a much better understanding of fees, advances, royalties, services, etc. and can negotiate a better deal for you even if you are the one finding the work. They may have some basic understanding of contracts that could prove useful. I find that creative types can sometimes be less than interested in paperwork and other administrative details which managers can help with. This list goes on and on.

    While I think creative people should learn about the business, I’m not sure they should learn “as much as they can.” Taken literally, that would require years of a 24/7 commitment to learning the ins and outs of the music business (i.e., welcome to my life). Taken less literally, it would mean you would spend your time learning some things, but I doubt you would ever be able to gain the necessary knowledge and experience to do anything other than the most basic of agreements and even then.... I have never worked with any artist/band/producer/whatever that I would want negotiating and/or documenting an agreement on my behalf. I would argue your time is better spent working on your craft.

    I’ve probably not responded to all the points raised in this thread, but it’s all I got right now.

    Best,
    MA
     
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Funny...it seems like the ones who spend no time learning the ins and outs of the business are the ones who get screwed by managers. They learn it real quick after that! And it's always managers who say the artist should spend his time working on the music and leave the business to the manager. RIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT! Why not just bend me over a chair and do me rough? You never hear an artist say that you shouldn't learn about the business end of music.

    My personal take on it is that if you can find enough work on your own, you don't need a manager. Let's face it...nobody needs a manager to book a gig at a local club or to book occasional sessions. However, recording company weasels don't like to deal directly with artists, so a manager becomes a bit of a necessity (though I know of artists who were successful getting their foot in the door by pretending to have a manager over the phone). For studio musicians, I guess it would depend on the difference between how successful you are getting your own work and how much said manager can offer you in the way of getting you work and getting well-paid. I wish I had that problem, to be honest!
     
  6. fenderx55

    fenderx55

    Jan 15, 2005
    NYC/Queens
    i'd have to agree. I know maybe four or five people/acts who have managers because they are on the verge of getting signed or putting out a cd or what-have-you. But it's also a management group run by some guys in my school's music business program. They just have alot of free time on their hands.
     
  7. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    I don't know what it's like in other places, but around here, if I were new to the scene and a manager approached me, I'd be very cautious. Generally, legit management agencies don't touch a band unless the band has proven that they can build a reputation and have had some success on their own. The managers that work with artists just starting out are most probaly either crooks, fly-by-night outfits, or rookies themselves. Those same three managers are still there when you've had some success, but then the legit agencies will also be there.

    I think what Will and Jimmy were saying is that artists should be savvy about the business. No, a musician shouldn't go to law school just so he/she can negotiate a royalty contract, but he/she should have a basic understanding of how business works, how to negotiate a simple agreement, and have natural business instinct. A lot of artists do get screwed over because they're too concerned with the art.
     
  8. Music Attorney

    Music Attorney

    Feb 22, 2004
    I can’t quite tell who/what your reply is directed at (i.e., the substance of my comments, at managers, at me, etc.), but then I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I actually have quite a few clients that want NOTHING to do with the business end of things and trust me (or one of their other reps) to take care of them. Given your comment above, it would seem trusting a manager, for example, isn’t something you’d be comfortable with. I certainly understand there are countless stories of artists being screwed by their representatives.

    I still believe, however, that any agreement of any real significance that a creative person enters into is going to have any number of complicated tax, business, legal, territorial, and other issues that will always be beyond the scope of their training, experience, and knowledge. To be clear, I’m not advocating that creative people don’t learn about the business, but I have found, as they say, a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous ;-) However, I think their time is better spent researching representatives who have a “good” reputation as opposed to how long a royalty is reduced during a television advertising campaign and at what point the reduction stops. The problem I see with artists is what they define as “good.” For example, there are any number of lawyers in town who have a reputation of being “good” at getting an artist a deal. However, the artist is so focused on getting signed and (the lawyer/manager is so focused on getting their commission) that the artist loses sight of the big picture (e.g., is it the right label, is the label truly committed, etc.).

    Most artists (like most people) hear what they want to hear. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told artists something I knew was in their best interests, but they didn’t want to hear it. Often times when the artist does get screwed what you hear about in the press is the getting screwed part and not so much how it happened. For example, I had a singer come to me to review a production deal where a producer was asking the singer to sign an exclusive agreement in exchange for the producer recording demos and shopping them to the labels. The deal made no sense and the producer wasn’t interested in changing it. Did the singer sign the deal over my objection? Yes and I told the singer I would not represent them because apparently they did not have enough of a belief in themselves and they were willing to settle for the first thing that came along. Conversely, I find that many of the straight shooters I know feel clients leave them or don’t sign on with them when they tell artists the truth as opposed to what the artist wants to hear.

    I encourage the idea of people learning about the business and I would think my posts here support that statement. But the idea that somehow it’s going to prevent them from getting screwed is a bit of stretch to me. When I was a new lawyer, I was taken advantage of by more sophisticated lawyers on the other side. Unfortunately, sh*t’s going to happen. Focus on your craft, try to develop relationships based on trust, educate yourself and, if you get screwed, move on.
     
  9. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    Interesting anecdote that goes with the theme of this thread.....

    Our drummer introduced us to this very talented young vocalist. She's only 19, but her voice is seasoned and she has stage presence to spare. After her last band broke up, some other musicians wanted her to sign a contract for her to sing on some originals they wrote, and they would have controlled her for four years. Luckily, her father took the contract to a lawyer and if she signed it, there would have been no way for her to get out of it. Needless to say, she didn't sign.
     
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Not that I wouldn't be comfortable with it if it went somewhere, but I guess I really never needed a manager at my level of the showbiz pyramid (somewhere above bar band but considerably lower than rock star). And no, my comment wasn't directed toward you per se. It was more directed at the "You do music, I do business, and never the twain shall meet" feeling that managers seem to have.

    I hear you loud and clear on that, though I can't totally blame the artist that wants to sign a bad deal. Too many times, record companies try to present their deal as their only option. I once had a friend of mine tell me that he was offered a record deal with this crappy little label that never did a thing, and the owner of the label (a rich manager of southern rock bands) told them, "If I don't sign you, nobody in the free world will, either." Fortunately, the guy got so put off by that attitude that he walked out. And nobody else in the free world signed them, either ;)

    Well not being familiar with your posts, I'm glad to hear you say that. But I don't necessarily share your view of an artist not worrying about nickel and dime stuff that the lawyers should handle. I do think they should always keep their eye on the bigger picture and seek out management and representation they can trust, but if it were me, I would want to know where every cent comes from and is going to. Doesn't make a whole lot of difference when it comes to mechanicals (those will be paid at whatever rate the market is set at unless you're a superstar), but it does give you an understanding of why you get a check for $500 when your album sells 250,000 copies ;)
     
  11. willgroove2

    willgroove2

    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    what i should of said was some of the other winners are trying to get out of their deals.maybe my perspective is a little different because along with playing bass i also do song writing and production for a living but i still think that one should find out as much about the business end of what your doing as you can understand.i have a attorney for music related things,i also have a attorney that helped me buy my house last month.i use them the same way;i research and prepare as much as i can and ask questions and listen to the replys until i understand whats going on.what i see over and over is the idea that creatives don't have the...ability to handle business,and i think it's a bit like saying attorneys can't play bass well and we all know that's not true because who would buy all those high-end bass's ;)