So far I’ve covered some scenarios where bands have ended up with a manager and talked about personality traits that are good in a manager. In most cases the possibility of a manager is one of the first serious issues that a band has to deal with outside of the band. This is often the first contract that a band will have to consider. It’s often the first of many relationships that can make or break a band. Is there a surefire way to have someone interested in managing the band. The answer is YES.
All you need to do is become a major national touring act and it’s certain that someone will step up and offer to take a cut of the money. Nice joke huh? Well in it’s essence it’s the key to all of the things I will be talking about in this blog. You have to work all of the different facets of being in a band to make the band grow. By grow I mean become more popular and increase the band’s ability to get a response from fans.
It is a band’s draw and popularity that will attract attention from a manager. In short your band must have a big buzz. For years I ran an indy record label and managed bands. I listened to thousands of demos. Let me correct that I listened to tens of thousands of demos. I found a few bands for my label through demos, I found more bands to produce and I found no bands to manage. All of the bands that
I decided to manage I first heard of through other people. It is very rare for an established manager to sign a deal with a band that is unknown.
I’ve had many bands ask me if they should send demos to management companies. They generally are talking about management companies that have large rosters of well known artists. These are the only management companies that are public enough to end up on industry lists of contacts. Smaller companies of one or two managers are never widely known outside of the record labels. So, think about it for a second. You send a tape to an agency that has 14 managers covering 60 bands. The tape may get listened to but what motivation does the large agency have to pursue this artist that is completely unknown? The answer is none. A large agency’s time is always better spent making more money for their client list or signing the hot new thing. So they may listen but they won’t sign you. That leaves smaller on or two person operations. They may very well be interested in developing a band or two. The problem here is that you will never find these companies without extensive contacts in the music business. (oops there’s that pesky who you know thing again) But there is one opening for bands – you may not be able to find them but they certainly can find you.
Through the years as I got more and more experience managing I looked further and further for acts I was interested in. That’s how I met Shelleyan Orphan an English band. How did I find bands? I listened to what bands fans were talking about. I listened to the buzz.
What is buzz? It’s the band’s story. The better and bigger the story the more substantial the buzz. OK let’s take a high school band as an example. What is this fictional high school band, The Turd Chompers, story.
Well, let’s see…. Oh yeah they played Jimmy McDonald’s keg party and the singer poured a pitcher of beer over one of the prettiest cheerleader’s head. Didn’t they make some tapes with that A/V dick that claims he has a studio in his dad’s basement? I also heard that they are playing at the school spring dance and the school paper is supposed to write about it……………
Now let’s try a brand spanking new Alternative band Big Toxic Blast… Hmmm this is a little easier…I saw they played the local venue opening for Chu Chu Rodriguez and that show was packed, how’d they get on that bill? I heard the drummer humps beer behind the bar on Tuesdays. Don’t they hang out at the Faghanistan Cafe with all the other artsy assholes? Someone told me that they are doing demos with that kid that’s starting a label… I see their posters all over. I heard that the Rum Swagglers are pissed ’cause their drummer split to jion that band. Isn’t the main guy some sort of druggy? It sucks that the paper keeps mentioning them . The review of the Chu Chu show said the opening set was rocking. That guy that writes all those reviews is an idiot he hated our latest CD…..
The buzz on a band that’s just about to move up to regional tours and, perhaps, the big time is a larger version of the same thing….We’ll call this touring machine Battleflag Pickup….Shit man did you see battle flag pickup is opening on both the Cornpone Festival and the first slot for Jeepers Creepers at the Marlybone Theater. They suck. There is no way that they can draw that much. I think it’s cause The Art Fart magazine got all excited over their newest release when it was featured for a day on I Tunes. What the hell man, it was only one week. Sanchez says he heard from George’s girlfriend that it was actually a mistake and that’s why it was only one week. And he said that their guitarist was acting big at the Guitar Graveyard, he bought both the sunburst 61 Paul and the Blue flame strat. That sucks because I put $50 down on that strat. It doesn’t matter since Rolph from Gnome army is probably gonna kick the stuffing out a him for stealing his girlfriend…….
Buzz is Buzz. It doesn’t matter if it’s high school or hollywood in many respects it’s the same. The main thing to notice is that someone is talking about the band. They are talking about the bands STORY. This is what promotional consultants do, they generate and define a band’s story. They then package it in a way that the press, radio, TV and the internet can repeat easily. What a band does onstage is part of creating this story. If you are unfamiliar with the early history of the band then here’s a link. Genesis They were led by Peter Gabriel who is a master showman. They combined theater with rock and were one of the early great bands that put on a show that was something that people talked about.
All of this brings me back to a manager. In order to get a manager you either have to recruit one from the circle of people you know and work with him to get him up to speed or attract one. If you want to go the route of luring one in then you need to do lots of the things that a manager would do for you, get press, get talked about on the radio, get gigs, get arrested…. As the band raises its visibility the chances are that someone will come out of the shadows to scout your band. Most bands that get signed are seen by industry people long before they realize it. Labels hire scouts and a good manager will always be asking around to find out which band is worth seeing.
Copyright Brad Morrison/Billiken Media 2010