A note from the editor
Hello FNO Bands and Performers,
This month Sheena Metal talks on the good, the bad, and the ugly of band managers. Dig it.
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member's links page. Please contact me if you're
interested. Also, if you need assistance using the database to
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through a search. Don't hesitate to ask! Email: info AT
This month's featured band is Stephanie's Id!
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|Managers: Can’t Live With Them…But Can You Live Without Them?
By Sheena Metal|
You can’t throw a rock in any metropolis on Earth without hitting
someone claiming to be a manager. Where musicians go, managers
follow. It’s as accepted and expected in the entertainment
industry as an out-of-control cocaine habit or a failure to pay
taxes. When you tell people you’re a musician, one of the first
things they’re going to ask you is: Do you have a manager?
However, those in the throws of the music business know to ask an even
more accurate question: Do you have a good manager?
“What’s the difference?” you may ask. Isn’t any manager better
than no manager at all? While it would seem that the answer to
that question is unequivocally, “Yes”, in reality it’s a bit like
asking, “Isn’t having a herpes-ridden prostitute for a girlfriend
better than being single?” In truth, bad representation is far
worse than a lack of representation. While, it’s a fact, that
there are things your band will probably never achieve without the aid
of a manager, agent, entertainment attorney, etc., bad representation
can stagnate a career…stop it dead in its hurling climb to the ranks of
superstardom or even worse…undo some of the hard work the band has
Sad but true, a bad manager can take a perfectly good band and turn
them into a thing so foul that old gypsy women covering their faces
with rags will spit and give your band the evil eye as you pass.
Ok, that may be a bit dramatic, but seriously…all your band really has
is its name and its reputation, so why would take a chance on either of
those by putting the whole of your band into the hands of someone that
you’re not 100% sure has your best interests at stake?
The following are a few tips that will help you to decipher whether or
not your manager can take you to the top or turn your band into a flop:
1.)The Drummer’s Girlfriend Is Not A Manager---Sure, she may get names
for your mailing list, invite her girl’s beach volleyball team to all
of your gigs and post your latest pictures on your website photo
gallery, but she’s not really your manager. She’s a helper, she
can be the president of your fan club, the head of your street team and
the world’s sexiest roadie but she probably doesn’t know how to put
together a press package and make the calls that will get you into an
A&R rep’s office for a meeting. This also applies to:
boyfriends, wives, husbands, booty calls, one night stands, moms, dads,
cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, nieces, nephews, grandparents,
grandchildren, pets and the homeless guy who roots through your trash
at midnight. These people may all be well-meaning and you can
accept their aid in dozens of ways (it takes a village to build a
popular unsigned band) but don’t give them the label or the powers of a
2.) Treasure Your Fans But Don’t Let Them Manage You---This should be a
given but you’d be surprised how many over-eager, slightly-obsessed
fans move from semi-stalker to mega-manager in a few simple
weeks. I cannot stress how simply wrong this entire concept is
for two dozen major reasons the most important of which is: fans need
to be kept at a distance. There is a reason why that same person
comes to all of your shows no matter how many you play, gets there
early, sits up front seemingly paralyzed starring at you
enraptured. Either they’re in love with someone in the band or
they’re insane. These may be reasons to get a restraining order
but certainly not reasons to make someone your manager. A band’s
manager knows every secret of each musician, every person in each
member’s personal life, where you keep your money, where you live, and
who’s in your fan/contact database. This is not information that
you want someone who has 450 cut-out pictures of you on their bedroom
ceiling having at his/her disposal. Enough said?
3.) Don’t Sign A Contract Unless It’s Worth It---Manager’s like
control. That why they choose to be managers and not people who
macramé wall hangings with the mane hair of ponies. Thus,
most managers will try and evoke you into signing a contract. In
the entertainment industry, contracts are like marriage
certificates…before you sign one be sure your band wants to be tied to
the same person for long time (a year, two years, five years, etc.)
because they’re much easier to get into than to get out of. For
example, if you sign a contract with an efficient, but somewhat green
manager, who is helping all he/she can to get you everything possible
from what little resources he/she has and then Gwen Stefani’s
management team approaches you after a big gig and wants to put you on
tour with John Mayer. Do you think if you tell them, “We love to
take your tour but we’re under contract with someone else for the next
five years, can you hit us up then?” the offer will still stand?
Not so much. So, if you must sign contracts, keep them short and
make sure they give you room to act, think, play and communicate with
others without getting clearance from your band warden (manager).
And make it includes an exit clause. Read up on it.
4.) Sometimes Bigger Is Not Better---Although it’s a huge ego stroke to
brag to all of the other musicians backstage at the Whiskey A Go-Go
that your manager works with Grammy award-winners and stadium
sell-outs, sometimes an unsigned band can get lost in a huge management
firm. While Mr. Big Stud Manager is busy picking out Madonna’s
dress for the American Music Awards, he may forget to ask Quincy Jones
to attend your bass player’s birthday gig at Billy-Bob Wang’s Tofu BBQ
Shack. The problem with huge managers is that their focus often
goes to the acts that are making them 15% of 100 million dollars a
year. Your 15% of $45.75 a year after expenses is probably
not his highest priority now or ever, and what good are his super
amazing industry contacts if he never remembers to invite them to your
Having a manager is great but only if they provide more benefit to the
band than the sum total of your band members and band helpers can do
for yourselves. If you find someone who can open doors, take your
music places it cannot go on its on and has your best intentions at
heart, then grab that contract, sign it and enjoy the benefits.
If not, you may find yourself: conned, stalked, ignored and/or legally
bound to someone that puts their own agenda (well-meaning or otherwise)
and their own ego above what’s right for you band. And whatever
you do, don’t sit around waiting for Mr./Ms. Right to wisk your band
off its feet and carry it off on his/her white horse to the Fairyland
where everyone gets a record deal. You, as its members, know more than
anyone, how to do what’s right for your band and nothing will attract
the perfect manager faster than seeing musicians who are out there,
doing their thing, and making headway in a very difficult business with
a great attitude and terrific music.
Sheena Metal is a radio host, producer, promoter, music supervisor,
consultant, columnist, journalist and musician. Her syndicated
radio program, Music Highway Radio, airs on over 2,400 affiliates to
more than 126 million listeners. Her musicians’ assistance
program, Music Highway, boasts over 10,000 members. She currently
promotes numerous live shows weekly in the Los Angeles Area, where she
resides. For more info: http://www.sheena-metal.com.
|Featured FNO Performer - Stephanie's Id
Stephanie's Id is an indie pop band based in Asheville,
NC. The band drapes lush music over dirty rhythms and fat hooks, played
by an all-star cast of musicians and a lusty-voiced 'hyperactive siren'. The sound embraces intricate melodies,
intelligent-playful lyrics and 'impress-your-parents technical sorcery'. Stephanie's vocals and stage
performance have drawn believable comparisons to Blondie, Bjork, Jim
Morrison, Beth Gibbons, and Janis Joplin. Collective influences include
1980's brit-pop music, U2, Bjork, Afghan Whigs, Esther Williams, and
Check out her tunes:
Presently Stephanie Morgan of Stephanie's Id is competing in an international band contest: http://bioregenart.com/
Click to vote!
If you would like to be featured here, please email julie! Put
FNO band feature in subject line. EMAIL: julie AT festivalnet.com
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