Tag Archives: Gatsbys American Dream

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.

Getting rich quick and not knowing what you’re doing

This is a story about one time I was almost super rich, and it all blew up in my face.

I was young, skill-less, and walking away from a huge A&R job right out of college. I think I was maybe 20. The first band I was going to sign to the label was this sassy hardcore band called Fear Before the March of Flames out of Colorado. When I decided not to work for the label I became a ‘manager’ and sort of just bull shitted my way around for a while. I was very good intentioned, but I had no real experience in the music business, no connections, and no money. As a ‘manager’, the only thing I knew how to do was to write AbsolutePunk.net and ask for some contesting opportunities. I worked my ass off, but in hind sight I wasn’t really making a huge dent for the band even though I believed in them and gave them 100%. I kept trying to find them a Big Break.

Fear Before the March of Flames

I forget how it happened, but somehow Fear Before ended up on tour with one of my other favorite bands at the time, a sassy math rock band called Gatsbys American Dream (who I later started managing after Bobby and I sang a Further Seems Forever album together on the way home from a show). They were each travelling the country in their vans making like $100 a night. I was living in this little one bedroom condo and later ended up hosting their entire tour on my floor, lined up shoulder to shoulder like sardines. They were all super great people and I think this was one of the highest moments in my life.

So here was everyone, some of the most talented musicians I had ever met, travellng around losing money every night, and me over seeing the whole thing and responsible for their lives (and their careers). Management is incredibly stressful – and incredibly rewarding – but you always have that nagging in the back of your head that if something goes wrong, it’s your fault. And I kept thinking ‘This should be easy, these people are so talented and work so hard, if I cant help make this happen for them, then Im a real fuck up.’

The singer of Fear Before playing cowboy with the singer of Gatsbys American Dream

I kept looking for that Big Break. And with one call, we got it. Goldfinger rang up Gatsbys and asked them to open at the House of Blues. Since Gatsbys were on tour with Fear Before, Gatsbys told them they could only do it if they didn’t have to cancel on their buds, so Goldfinger let both bands get added to the show. All really incredible, stand up people! And now this was it – from playing the Cobalt Café for 35 people to a sold out show at House of Blues the next day. I ordered tons of merch. I sent a press release to everyone I could think of. We were ready to go! Fame was coming!

The show was a disaster. No one knew who these bands were, and since the show was already sold out without support announced, everyone only wanted to see Goldfinger. Pretty sure the Gatsby’s guitarist got called a ‘sleeveless homo’ more times than I can count. We sold one shirt.

Things ended up working out for everyone in the long run, but I learned that day there’s no such thing as a Big Break, or overnight success, or anything other than a LOT of hard work. It took at least a year or two of touring the country and talking to every kid who came out to achieve any level of distinction. There is no one single ‘thing’ you can be doing to break an artist, and chasing that one thing will only lead you in circles.