Friday, August 7, 2009

Question of the Day - MANAGEMENT - August 7, 2009


Alex Galli asks:

If you were a manager and your artist turned down a gig, that would be profitable to everyone involved, should you try and make the artist do it or just accept his choice? I know having a happy artist is important, but since a lot of people rely on him for making money, would it be wrong to make him do it?

Hartmann responds:

Careers are like fingerprints; from a distance they all look the same, up close each is different. The relationship between the artist (the corporation) and the manager (the CEO) is essentially a partnership. Both pledge to devote their career activities to the goals they have in common. As partners, the marriage of their business interests presents a wide array of obligations and responsibilities to the principals. Neither should perform against the best interests of the other.

In traditional artist manager relationships, the manager is engaged primarily to give the artist career analysis and advice. However, the artist has no fiduciary obligation to accept or follow the manager's direction. The artist has a certain perception of his career and chooses a manager who shares the same point of view. They define their common goals during the "pitching" process.

The personal manager is only one facet of the management force. Although experience is the primary attraction, that draws an artist to a given manager, trust is the most important ingredient. If a manager has been previously successful in bringing an artist to The Big Top, there is a presumption that he can do it again. Artists crave relationships with the veteran managers.

The primary challenge for new acts is that the experienced managers do not want to represent baby bands. It takes three years to determine if an artist has a viable career in the professional realm. In the postmodern record business, most managers do not want to invest the time and effort it takes to find out if an artist has the repertoire, talent, character and drive it takes to win.
This problem is further exacerbated by the collapse of the systems and protocols of the business.

Every year millions of artists enter the contest, and post their music on the Internet, in hopes of being discovered. With easy access, low costs and no governor on quality, finding the golden needles, in the haystack of brass, is extremely difficult. In The Music Renaissance, artists and managers who pursue record companies, in hopes of being signed, have a better chance of winning the lottery. Furthermore, the labels lost their efficacy, as radio became less relevant.

Most artists will never actually pursue careers in the music industry. The ones that do, must accept one cold hard fact: no record company is going to finance their enterprise. The good news is that they don't have to waste months or years trying to get a deal. Future music careers will be generated through the live concert business and effective use of the tools available on the web.

Regardless of the path taken, artists and managers must pursue their goals from the same page. A clearly defined game plan, carefully executed offers the best chance at success. However, the best laid plans rarely come to fruition. Flexibility, and speedy adjustment to the evolving changes, are requisite qualities for those artists and managers who would pursue success in the music industry.

Careers must be conducted at a "livable" pace. Performing artists are not machines, they have human needs and frailties. Their job is physical and mental, artists endure extreme on stage highs, followed by sudden after show deflation. The activities involved in touring and record promotion are strenuous and come with all the stresses and strains that professional athletes endure in theexecution of their careers.

It is important for CEOs to build an appropriate amount of rest and recuperation into the process. Days off on the road and extended periods at home are imperative. Often managers are eager to put the show on the road in order to keep the income streams flowing. But managers are not dictators and the artist has the last word. Offers are presented to the artist and terms and conditions are discussed and negotiated. The artist decides if the situation is appropriate and acceptable.

Managers are not dictators and artists are not slaves. If the band and crew need the work and the agent wants the commission, pressure is often placed on the act to perform outside the schedule in the game plan. It is incumbent upon artists to defend themselves and protect their vacation periods, regardless of the wishes of their fiduciaries.

Conscious artists learn to protect the financial integrity of their support systems and still preserve the their personal lifestyles. Good managers recognize that the act has the power to choose, or reject an opportunity. Although there are exceptions to every rule, its best to set a game plan and stick to it.

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