Management is a key ingredient in any act, especially when it comes to the record deal. Record companies want to see management in place with the artist before entering into a contract. While management can be a friend or even your parents (many artists are managed by family members) an established management company is a better asset, for management has to pick up the where the record company leaves off, which means they have to infuse money into your career and project.
I've seen situations where rookie managers and even management firms have gotten acts sign to labels like EMI/America, but they can't handle the tour and promotion support anywhere near the caliber of a company that has been around the block before with connections already established with banks and concert promoters. The end result is the radio airplay reached a lower level and then drops -- sometimes along with the act which also gets dropped off the record company roster!
Management's job is to act as the central hub for the day to day business of being an artist. Management often gets the bad news and has to break this to the artist. Management is the first contact in all promotional matters and they, in turn, coordinate this with the concert promoter, booking agent and artist.
Managers make a lot of phone calls, write letters, hire and fire the people that work with the act. They help with the tour logistics -- trucks, vans, road crew, equipment... They arrange for your product endorsements. In the beginning management may even finance the day to day life for an act, providing the rehearsal studio, paying your apartment rent and living expense.
Sometimes management may put the whole bands or packages together. The girl group Dream, for example, was assembled, rehearsed and packaged by 2620 Management in Los Angeles who brought in Puff Daddy. Puff signed them to his production company, which then lead to their record released through BMG.
Some years ago I worked with a member of a local L.A. band called Lodgic. They had a connection with the mega band Toto through a family connection (the brother of one player in Lodgic did sound for Toto). The management team who worked with Toto then signed Lodgic, covered the expenses for their band house and rehearsal area. Steve Porcaro, keyboardist for Toto, produced their album, played on at least one cut (which he wrote) and generally contributed to the effort. Management got them signed to A&M Records and they did well on some radio charts. The family connection who help make all this possible got engineering credit on the album. This is an example of the famous saying: "It's who you know" which is a very true maxim in any business!
Frontline Management handled the Eagle's. When their producer Bill Szymcyk was sent out by the record label to look at an act, he brought along some or all of the Eagles. They didn't like the act they were sent to look at but found a band in dinky club whose singer-guitarist impressed them so they sign Joe Walsh and produced his first album. He went one to contribute to the Eagles in studio and on stage. Also signed to Frontline was a young singer songwriter named Dan Fogelberg. Joe Walsh had a studio in his front room courtesy of the success he achieved with his own band and the Eagles. All of them were on Frontline's roster, so Joe ended up helping Fogelberg produce one his albums. Walsh played on at least one of the songs and they brought in Graham Nash (of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fame -- plus, before them he was with the Hollies) in for harmonies, along with other session players (Russ Kunkel, Joe Lala, Don Henley, etc.) to do drums and bass (Fogelberg usually plays all the guitars or keyboards), producing one of Fogelberg's big hits 'Part of the Plan.'
I did some work for the New York based Dick Scott Entertainment which does management and production for a variety of well-known acts. Dick Scott is probably best known for the lads that were out long before In-Sync and the Backstreet Boys: The New Kids On The Block. Again, his firm helped put them together, recorded their masters, video and hooked them up with a label. He also later work with the Perfect Gentlemen (CBS/Epic), again producing and managing.
One act I did some work with was signed to EMI/America and had a song on the radio. Their management and record label worked out a deal with the band to perform unplugged at a luncheon for a major national retail record chain in an attempt to get their record carried in the bins at all stores -- just because you're on EMI, Jive, Interscope, Warner or CBS records doesn't mean you will get into the record stores. Just because your song is getting a little airplay doesn't mean your album will get into the record stores. Here, management worked with the label and the record store putting together showcase in the hope that the big retail chain would carry this album in all the stores.
Management also takes care of the artist personally and helps out with all sorts of problems on a part-time basis, stepping in only when the artist needs advise or has a problem with, for example, their touring show. By not being there all the time the manager can see the problems. If a manager is around too much they become "part of the problem" as I once heard Bill Aucion (manager to Billy Idol and Kiss) tell an act he was looking at for possible representation.
Another manager I did work started off as a drummer then switched to management, initially working with the Robert Stigwood Organization back when the Bee Gees were flying high with all their disco hits. Manny eventually went out on his own and got one band signed to a record label, then took the act through Europe (they ended up selling one million records). When he began with a new band, he had them playing at the Los Angeles Coliseum within weeks and brought a Vice President from Polygram records in to see the band at Fithy McNasty's club in Los Angeles. This was all within the first month of picking the band up for representation.
Occasionally there is also mis-management and fowl play. As a young comic playing the clubs in New York, long before getting signed to Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy was represented by a little manager. What, exactly, he did for Murphy is hard to say, but from my understanding he only worked with Murphy for a few months. He eventually sued Murphy and was given a "cash settlement" from Murphy who wanted to avoid the litigation. The point of the matter is, how much is a manager owed for a few months of work? My understanding was the settlement was quite high in money!
Management disputes can also end careers. Bob Dylan couldn't work for a while because of a management dispute. Some acts literally have to break up for years because of management deals. Why so? Management gets a share of what you make, so in a dispute all income is put into a court ordered trust fund and becomes a part of the public record. Most artists don't want anyone to know how much they make and who is paying this amount! Afterall, do you leave your pay stub out on the lunchroom table for all to see?
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