|Newsstand Edition No.
5: Mar 3 - Mar 16, 2008
always played a significant role in an artist's
career. Their guidance and direction can often
make the difference between success and failure.
But management is a tough gig, and over the past
few years it has become even tougher. With the
music business in a state of flux, today's
managers function almost like a record label.
Their responsibilities are greater than ever and
their vision must be broader. To provide you
with a better a handle on the responsibilities
of one of the most important team members an
artist will ever have, Music Connection
talked with four distinctly different managers
and an artist who has had seven managers.
Artist managers come from all walks of life and must possess
a variety of skill sets; no single background produces a good
manager. And, they all exercise different management styles;
some are aggressive while others are mellow. So long as they get
the job done and relate with you well, however, you should have
a long and prosperous relationship. Here are four examples of
distinctive management styles:
-- The Business Major
Ryan Singer graduated college with a business degree.
Afterwards, he handled marketing for Nike and snowboard
manufacturers. That allowed him to work with the Vans Warped
Tour. Eventually his love of music led him to management. Singer
has been a manager for four years and is currently managing the
L.A. band Malbec, producer Richard Gibbs, Josh The Goon, and DJ
-- The Former Artist
For over 20 years Alex Kravetsky made his living as a singer,
dancer and actor. He toured the country and played with
superstars. Later he became a contractor with his own company.
Today, as a partner in 79 Volts Management, he co-manages acts
with his son Josh Weesner. Their primary focus is a young band
called Starving For Gravity.
-- The Ex-A&R Rep
Bruce Flohr was an A&R rep for 12 years at RCA Records. He
signed the Dave Matthews Band, among others. Flohr reports that
he acted as manager for many acts on the label’s roster, either
because they had no management or had ineffectual management.
He’s now an executive at Red Light Entertainment and an A&R rep
for ATO Records. He works with Dave Matthews, Alanis Morissette,
Chris Cornell, and Ben Harper.
"The reality is that it's much more than just
the music and a great show today. That's not
—Alex Kravetsky, manager
-- The Visionary
Mike Gormley has always been ahead of the curve. He has
worked for major labels, founded an indie label, been a music
supervisor, and is on the board of the Music Managers Forum.
Gormley has worked with acts as diverse as Oingo Boingo, the
Bangles, Concrete Blonde, the New York Dolls, and Lowen &
Navarro. Today he is a partner in Yes Dear Entertainment,
handling the careers of Quincy Coleman and Simon Lynge.
TODAY’S NEW MANAGEMENT
While business acumen is an important element of effective
management, a manager must also be imaginative. Ryan Singer
discovered exactly that when he started working with bands.
“It’s good to know basic principals, like supply and demand, but
in today’s music industry you have to be much more creative in
your approach. An artist can’t rely on one thing С not a label,
not a sponsor, not even a manager.” In today’s environment,
Singer believes artists and management have to work together to
create as many opportunities as possible.
Because of his background, Singer focused on moneymaking
opportunities, like placements. To that effect, he hooked up
Malbec with well-known producers and secured a publishing deal
for the band. That garnered the band a stream of synch
placements in TV and film projects. The band’s lead singer even
sang in a national commercial for Fruit of the Loom, which got
more exposure for Malbec. Singer relates, “Today, you have to do
everything you can to get your music out there, and be heard
above all the noise.”
Alex Kravetsky knows that all too well. He brought a young
band from the Midwest to California and began working with them.
Although his background as an artist helps him understand
performers, he says, “The reality is that it’s much more than
just the music and a great show today. That’s not enough anymore.”
“There’s a new breed of managers. These are the
pros who really rock your world. They’re
exciting, enthusiastic and creative. They have
vision and passion. And most importantly, they
include you in the decision making process.”
—Jeanie Cunningham, artist
Kravetsky contends, “You must have a vision of where you
think the act belongs. Then,” he adds, “you have to build a team
that will get you there.” Like Singer, he also brought in a
producer to help the band focus its sound. “After that,”
according to Kravetsky, “we had to build a ‘story.’”
Consequently, Starving For Gravity have become internet radio
stars, with over 360,000 views and almost 250,000 plays on their
Story building is one of Mike Gormley’s specialties. In fact,
he has done it for years. For a manager like Gormley, things
haven’t changed that dramatically. Twenty-five years ago, he
helped the Bangles achieve a national profile and radio airplay
РР before they were signed. “I always thought managers should
focus on marketing and try to establish international careers,”
he says. “It’s not that much different today. But, because there
are so many independent acts, and labels, trying to do the same
thing, it’s more work now.” That’s the reason, Gormley explains,
“Artists have to pitch in and work at it too.”
Getting everyone on the same page, and excited about it, are
a couple of the most important things a manager can do. That’s
exactly what Bruce Flohr did as an A&R rep. “There are a lot of
similarities between managers and A&R,” Flohr contends. “Even
when an act had strong management, I had to make sure that every
department was doing its best, while keeping my eye on the big
picture. You have to do more than simply support your artists,
you have to be a champion for them,” he states.
With his unique perspective, Flohr believes, “Management
today is saddled with even more work. Managers have to take on
more tasks to create an in-frastructure for their acts, because
labels won’t do that. You have to handle marketing, promotions
and sales plans. Basically, you have to do what labels used to
do.” Indeed, Flohr claims, “Management is what labels hope to
be. They just haven’t figured it out yet.”
NOW IT’S ABOUT TEAMWORK
Every manager we spoke with talked about teamwork. They said
no one can achieve success alone. According to the managers
quoted for this article, all of their artist take an active role
in career development. Although it’s common for one or two band
members to shoulder most of the burden, managers today are
divvying up the work. Singer says, “To get what we want will
take a big effort, and it should be a group effort.” As a result,
every member of Malbec has a role, from booking to mailing
packages to website maintenance. “Everyone does something to
help the group,” he confirms.
“Smart managers today will associate with a
larger firm — one that has a staff. There’s so
much to do, you need the manpower.”
—Bruce Flohr, manager
Kravetsky and Gormley are both big on building teams С teams
that not only include artists, but contacts too. “Getting the
right people involved is very important,” Gormley notes. “There
are so many areas to cover today, one person can’t do it all.
“We couldn’t have done as much by ourselves,” Kravetsky
agrees. “We’re for-tunate that we met some good professional
people early on.” In addition, Kravetsky also assigns duties to
each band member. “We have a rule that anyone who leaves a
comment on MySpace has to be contacted by a band member. And
that relationship has to be maintained on a regular basis.”
Veterans like Flohr also like artists who are active.
“Everyone has to do his or her part today,” he says. That’s why
I’m attracted to artists who are not simply playing music, but
are in business.”
CHOOSING & CHANGING MANAGERS
It appears that management has be-come more of a democratic
process, where everyone С including the artists С has a sayЙand
a job. Because of that change in dynamics, it is crucial to
choose the right manager. And, you may have to do that more than
once, because very few acts retain the same rep throughout their
According to artist Jeanie Cunningham, “When I first started
out, the manager called the shots.” So much so, that sometimes
it got out of hand. She recalls, “I had one manager tell me, ‘Do
not question my authority!’ Then, he became abusive.” That
manager proceeded to chip away at her confidence, commission
gigs she obtained herself, and eventually absconded with $20,000
given to her by an investor.
Cunningham speaks from experience. She has been a singer,
songwriter and performer for almost 30 years, sharing the stage
with Ike Turner, David Crosby and Lionel Ritchie, to name a few.
She recently returned from a European tour and currently
produces music and videos for corporations. She is also the
producer and host of The Composers Corner, a site where
new and seasoned artists can learn about music and business.
Cunningham has had seven managers during her long career С some
good, some bad, and some exciting. She even managed herself for
Cunningham believes the key to finding the right manager, and
making it work, is knowledge. “Artists have to be savvy
nowadays. They need to know about the business, be aware of
their rights and what to expect from a manager.” In that regard,
Cunningham has placed all of her managers into one of three
categories that most artists will run into at one time or
“There are the good ones,” she admits. “Somebody you can’t
live without during certain phases of your career.” There are
the toxic ones, too. “They’re like a bad case of herpes,” she
suggests, “not life threatening, but very irritating.” And,
finally, there are the exciting managers. “These are the pros
who really rock your world. They’re exciting, enthusiastic and
creative. They’re a new breed with vision and passion. And, most
importantly, they include you in the decision making process.”
Even if you’re lucky enough to find an exciting manager,
however, success could change the type of management you need.
Breaking through, getting signed, or any substantial event in
your career will create more work С sometimes too much. Today,
with so many aspects to take care of, a single manager may not
be able to do it all.
“When your act gets signed the real work begins,” Gormley
declares. “Even though one person at the label may like the
artist, the rest of the label doesn’t always know who that
artist is.” After a signing, Gormley explains, it gets much more
serious, because there’s a lot more pressure.
Flohr asserts that because a lone manager can do so much on
his own today, “Anything you get from a label is a bonus.” When
a career explodes, however, and an act starts taking off, Flohr
advises, “Smart managers today will associate with a larger firm
С one that has a staff. There’s so much to do, you need the
People who want to be managers in today’s С and tomorrow’s С
music business have their work cut out for them. The managers we
spoke to report that they work 12-hour days on a regular basis.
They’re on the phone, on the internet and constantly thinking of
new ways to promote and market their acts, both online and off.
It can be a 24/7 gig, with little rewards, at least in the
beginning. Indeed, Singer declares, “If you expect to get
wealthy managing an unsigned band, you’re insane.”
Nonetheless, the new generation of managers wouldn’t have it
any other way. “Today, artists and managers don’t need a record
deal to be successful,” Flohr affirms. “With the right manager,
you can control your own destiny to a great extent. You can make
things happen and create opportunities. Your only limit is
imagination, and stamina.”
afraid to ask questions when talking with a
potential manager. Not only should you find out
if you're both on the same page and have the
same vision for your career, but you should also
find out how the manager handles business. Below
are 15 questions that our sources suggested.
1. "Who do you know?"
The music business is based on relationships and connections.
Effective managers have a wide network of contacts that can be
tapped whenever needed.
2. "What's your game plan?"
Without a marketing plan you won't have much success. This is
a critical factor and prospective managers should display some
expertise in this area.
3. "What are your goals?"
A manager should have short-term and long-term goals that are
part of a larger marketing and promotions plan. Short-term goals
could be weekly or monthly, so long as they advance your career.
4. "Do you love my music?"
It is a business, but you still need people who love your
music. Besides, if they're passionate about it they'll work
5. "What will you do when things aren't going well?"
It's all strawberries and cream when everything's clicking,
but what happens when things go south? It takes a real manager
to handle problems promptly and efficiently. Ask for examples
based on their experience.
6. "Who have you managed?"
Check the manager's roster -- current and past. You should
contact prior clients to see what they have to say. But, don't
ask for references from the manager. You'll only get those that
rave about the services.
7. "What's your track record?"
Does the manager have any notable successes? How about
failures? Ask for examples.
8. "Do you have enough time to devote to my act?"
The best managers are often busy and may have more than one
client. It's important to find out if they have the time to give
you the attention you need.
9. "How big is your staff?"
If a manager is handling several clients, you need to know
how the work will be done.
10. "How vigilant are you about money?"
A manager who doesn't keep track of income and expenses can
cause big problems. They should be eager to go after money
that's owed you, or have someone on call who will do it for
them. Additionally, a manager should watch expenses carefully.
11. "Will your commissions be based on gross or net?"
There's a huge difference. If a man-ager will only commission
gross in-come (income before expenses are deducted), they're
probably a dinosaur, and will sometimes make more than you.
Modern managers will frequently commission net proceeds (income
minus expenses), or split between net and gross commissions
depending on the revenue stream.
12. "What do YOU expect me
Make sure you're clear about what the manager expects from
you. If it's very little, beware. Real managers expect you to
work as hard as they do, and should have a list of things they
expect you to do.
3. "Is it all right if I meet with other managers before
making a decision?"
Competent and confident managers don't mind if you talk with
other prospects. In fact, they'll often suggest it. If a manager
gets angry about this question, or bad-mouths other people, be
14. "What do you know about me (and my act)?"
Good managers will Google you before meeting with you. If
they don't, it tells you something about the way they conduct
business. Information is power. By the way, you should Google
them as well.
15. "Are you aware that I'm gay?"
Anything that could affect your career should be out in the
open. It can make a difference in how a marketing plan is
designed and implemented. By bringing it up, you can also tell
if the manager has any problems with it.
Contacts For This Article:
Red Light Entertainment / ATO Records
Yes Dear Entertainment
Ryan Singer Management
ARTIST & MUSIC HOST
The Composers Corner
©2008 Music Connection Inc.