Category Archives: Advice

How to find a manager (without the spam)

At least once a day, I get an email from someone asking me to manage their band. Is it because I am a great manager? Doubtful. The reality is that there are a lot of artists out there but a very small amount of working managers. It is a supply and demand problem.

I’ve never once signed a band who sent me unsolicited email. I listen to everything, though, and there are some real gems. But I care less about the music than I do about the people.

Management is stressful. Many days it is a pain in the butt. I easily work 80 hour weeks. If I don’t L O V E the people I work with, it’s not worth the investment. If I spent 80 hours a week on Wall Street I’d be retired by now. I do this job because I like the people and I respect their art.

This chain is attached to a big wad of money (that is obviously not connected to the music industry).

This chain is attached to a big wad of money (that is obviously not connected to the music industry).

I believe when a hard working band is doing something right, people will notice. Generally my #1 piece of advice to a new band is: pick one metric, and focus on it. If your live show is amazing, sell a lot of tickets and let the promoters talk. If you have an interesting personality get your YouTube views up. Don’t try to do everything. Know your strengths.

I won’t say that sending email to people you’ve never met is a waste of time, but it probably is. Most managers want to see that you’re able to build fans on your own. Rarely does a manager (or an agent, or a label) come on board before the fans do.

As an interesting exercise, here’s how I met the clients I’ve worked with. Note: none were through email.

Fear Before the March of Flames – I was an intern at a company in the middle of a meltdown, and another intern turned me on to them. She used to chat with the singer on AIM and said he was brilliant. I tried to sign them to the record label I was interning for before they imploded and so I ended up managing them instead.

Gatsbys American Dream – They were on tour with Fear Before and I got to meet them at a show. Some of the best guys I ever met. We laughed and laughed all day and had an instant bond. I still work / talk to a bunch of them ten years later.

Casey Bates (producer) – He was part of the Gatsbys family. I was a fan of his work and he was really good at Halo. Met him in Seattle and that was that.

Meg & Dia – My roommate came home one day and said he met two sisters who needed a place to crash while they recorded an album. He offered them our floor for a month. The next morning the band showed up and we ate breakfast together.

3OH!3 – A buddy from the Fear Before crew told me to watch a video of her friends from Denver. It was the most exciting live performance video I had ever seen. I got on a flight a few days later to meet them.

The Summer Set – My brother brought me to a Pink Spiders show and they were the opening act. Less than ten people in the room. I found myself against the stage, alone, by the end of the set and figured it was a sign.

Tonight Alive – An art designer I had been working with told me about this band they were making t-shirts for that they really loved. Coincidentally, Tonight Alive opened for 3OH!3 in Australia as the local band, and the 3OH!3 guys said they were very courteous. I respect courteous.

I met Bon Jovi on match.com and then became his manager.

I met Bon Jovi on match.com and then became his manager.

Luck is what you make of it. Get out there, make some fans, and let people talk. Be confident in your art and the rest will follow.

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ADVICE: What’s the best way to attract attention to my band?

A nice young man sent me the following:

I have been playing music for about 7 years and in that time I’ve been fortunate enough to chart on Billboard (highest position #6 on the Uncharted Ranking), be featured in Alternative Press, Billboard Magazine, and various national and international publications.

We’ve been featured on sites like Kings of A&R, Absolutepunk, Buzznet, The Sound Alarm, etc. We’ve been on Warped Tour and Taste of Chaos, have great fans with a relatively strong online presence, and a well produced EP courtesy of James Paul Wisner (Paramore). Yet, I feel like we’re spinning our wheels when it comes to seeking a booking agent.

I am not particularly interested in labels. I would prefer for us to get on a tour that allowed us to play in front of a good number of people. My question to you is, what would be an effective method of accomplishing this? 

The thing to remember – music industry or not – is that when selling something, supply and demand usually comes into play. In the music industry as a whole, demand has stayed about the same (or increased slightly in overall consumption) but supply has shot through the roof. In other words, there is a glut of musicians out there. What are you doing that’s exciting enough for people to pay attention to you? Are you valuable?

I don’t believe that going on tour is really going to benefit a band until there are lots of other factors in play. Out of all the things you could be doing to help  spread your music, spending money on gas and hotels is incredibly inefficient until there is a demand for your music. Times to consider going on tour: when you can successfully headline to 500 people in your home town, when your music video gets 500,000 views on YouTube, when you have a song so hot the local radio station starts playing it without being asked. I guess what I’m saying is, why spend all that money touring far away from home when you haven’t already done everything possible to build the biggest base you can in your home town?

Promoters who run reputable clubs talk to big, national booking agents every day. If you’re a local band selling out his club, he’s going to tell those booking agents. And that’s when you’ll start to get the proper interest. In the mean time, do everything possible to sell out your home town shows. Things like Facebook ads are incredibly cheap and effective. Take your marketing dollars off the road and re-invest it into growing your local base. And when you do tour, tour regionally. No sense in driving 2,500 miles to play a show for five kids when you could be doing that 300 miles away instead.

Sell this many tickets in your home town before even thinking of going on tour.

I had lunch with a manager last week who just signed a band that sold 2,000 tickets in their home town. Never toured in their life. The promoter was bragging to everyone about how well these guys were doing, and now they have an agent, a manager and about five label offers.

Successful people want to work with other successful people. You’re on the right track. Now just find a way to capitalize on the good buzz you already have. Good luck.