In a new interview with the NME, Kim Shattuck, who was hired and fired from the Pixies in the span of a few months, reveals more about getting axed by the band’s manager just a day after returning from a European tour.
“I was surprised. Everything had gone well, the reviews were all good and the fans were super-nice about everything. They were like, ‘We love you, New Kim!’,” she says. “We said goodbye at the airport and the following morning the manager called me and said: ‘The band has made the decision to go with another bass player.’ I was shocked.”
However, Shattuck does not bear a grudge toward Frank Black and his band mates: “I would have preferred it if they told me face to face as a group, but they’re nice people. I’m still a fan of the Pixies!”
Generally, you should consider getting a manager once you’ve developed a solid following and are starting to profit off of your merch and ticket sales. Though you may be more inclined to hire a professional, a relatively inexperienced band need not look any further than good friends, family members or fans. In the early stages, a manager is mostly used to help book shows, manage finances, send out music/press kits and help with promotion. There are three key qualities that we think every manager should have.
Passion is key for a manager at any stage in the game. If you know someone outside the band who is extremely passionate about your music and willing to help out, they may be worth a shot for this position. Think of it this way: if your manager isn’t in love with your music, then they won’t have much real motivation to help your career. Your ideal manager is a fan first and foremost, with the motivation to help your career take off.
Your manager should be a “people” person. They should be friendly, kind and understanding. You want to feel like you can trust your manager and treat them as if they’re another band member. You wouldn’t allow just anyone off the street into your band, and you shouldn’t allow an inexperienced stranger to be your manager, either. They need to be comfortable with approaching people they probably have never met before, like other managers, booking agents, promoters and more. They need to be willing to reach out to anyone who may be able to help your career. In this way, they’ll be able to build a network of connections that can be used at anytime to help your band with new opportunities.
This is an especially important quality for people working in the music industry. Your manager should know how to construct a well-written email, with accurate grammar and spelling, and have a “work” email address set up solely for management work. They should be comfortable with managing your Web site and promoting online through Facebook, Twitter, etc. They should know how to carry on conversations with other music industry professionals in a polite and sincere way, both in person and on the phone. They should be organized, responsible and well put-together.
Don’t forget, your manager is a representation of YOU. If your manager has a sloppy, unprofessional appearance, is irresponsible with band decisions or doesn’t work to their full potential, your band could miss out on great opportunities.
Already have a great manager? What made you decide to hire him/her? Let us know in the comments!
The word “sponsorship” may conjure images of sporting events or awareness marches, but musicians can certainly be sponsored too. In a world where record sales hardly add any change to the artist’s bank account, sponsorships are hugely beneficial to off-setting expenses racked up by travel, promotion, merch and more. In addition, sponsors can significantly improve an artist’s advertising, publicity and promotion.
While there are several types of sponsorships out there, the most common for the music industry is a sponsorship where a band or artist is given free products to wear or use by the company. For example, a band can be sponsored by clothing companies, who gives the members free clothes to wear on stage or in photo shoots. A band could also be sponsored by a gear company who gives them free instruments, amps, etc. to play. The hopes for these companies is that fans and fellow musicians will see a band or artist using their products and, as a result, desire the same products.
Obviously, sponsors want to pick bands and artists that are talented, professional and have a large fan base. If you’re not quite there yet, aspire to start with a smaller company that offers sponsorships to local bands. After all, the likelihood is slim that the company sponsoring your favorite major label act will sponsor your band too. Like large corporations, local organizations need advertising too, and it will be much easier to set that up if you’re a local act.
If you think you’re ready for a larger-scale sponsor, there are a few things you’ll need to think about first. Before you get started, you need to decide which sponsors would be appropriate for you. For example, if you’re a rapper, you probably don’t want to propose a sponsorship to a clothing company that sells shirts at Hot Topic. It’s important to remember your music’s target demographic and consider companies that your fans might support.
Next, you will need to craft a proposal letter. This letter serves as an introduction of your band to the company and explain how you can mutually benefit from a partnership. Start by giving a BRIEF synopsis of your band’s background (no more than ten sentences) and include some facts about each member. Mention any major career highlights, including opening spots for well-known acts, statistics of sales from past releases and press clippings. Include a description of past tours, venues played and your average draw in a few markets. Along with this letter, you should include a few photos of your band and links to live performance videos.
A few final tips: try to send out as many proposals as you can and don’t get discouraged if you’re turned down. Remember that professionalism is key, so don’t be afraid to have a manager help you with this project. And if you’re chosen for a sponsorship, be sure to read through any legal documentation thoroughly with your band and any of your team members so you know exactly what the sponsor expects of your partnership.
Are you the first person in line at your favorite band’s shows? Do you enter every contest and promotion they run? Do you fall asleep listening to their music? Do you reference the members on a first name basis, even though you’ve never met? Chances are you’re a superfan. And there may be a job in it for you.
Most people currently working in the music industry are (a) musicians or (b) fans. They ended up in the biz either for the networking opportunities, the chance to work closely with amazing talent, or some combination of the two. If you can relate, you may want to seriously consider a career in music. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- There is a difference between a superfan and a crazed fan. If you don’t think you can muffle a scream when you see a famous rock star, this probably isn’t the job for you. Groupies, teenyboppers and stalkers do not pass GO. Music industry folks are enthusiastic, of course, but they’re levelheaded and business-minded first and foremost.
- Know what you want your job to be. Is communication your forte? Consider going into PR. Do you love writing? Look into music journalism. Do you want to put together incredible shows? Check out booking agencies. Are you mostly interested in representing bands in every aspect of the business? Maybe you’re management material. Do your research beforehand so that you end up on a career path that will make you happy.
- Go pro bono. The most effective way to get a job is to first work for free. See if you can get a college internship at your favorite management company, music label, radio station or PR agency then wow them with your skills. Join the street team and kick some ass. Another tactic is to build up a name for yourself by starting a really great fansite, music blog or the like. If you’re a graphic artist, build up your portfolio by doing some posters or album covers for some of your friend’s bands. It’s not uncommon for music labels and managers to look to fans for support roles in the business, such as creating cool skins for social networking profiles, updating the news section of artist sites and designing promotional materials.
- Make friends in the industry. This old adage is true ” it’s all about who you know. So go to as many events as your calendar can handle ” record releases, showcases, listening parties, meet-and-greets, etc. Network like it’s your job ” one day it may be.