3. Don’t Make Friends at the Expense of the Act,
The personal manager of a star sits in a very powerful position. He is the shield between the artist and the rest of the world. His two primary responsibilities are the supervision of the booking and recording mechanics; but the appellation "personal" extends a manager's relationship into the artist's personal life as well. He is not just the chief executive officer of the artists business entity; he is also a friend and family member. Often a manger is approached by third parties seeking favors from the artist. Many such situations relate to securing tickets for resale outside of the traditional channels. A ticket broker, or scalper, will approach a manager saying, “You’re act is going to sell out The Forum; give me three hundred of those really good down-front seats, and I’ll pay you double their face value.” Now the manager stands to make a sizable amount of money by that particular maneuver. The scalper will go on and add triple, or quadruple the face value of the ticket, making a handsome profit. He does take a small risk, that maybe those tickets won’t sell, but he doesn’t make the offer unless most of the event is already sold out. If he makes this deal a manager is taking advantage of his artist: he is making friends at that artist’s expense. It’s against the rules. The artist/manger partnership is founded on trust. Making money, or friends, on the side, is a violation of that trust, and could lead to a breach in the relationship. It is the manager's responsibility to always protect his artist’s reputation, honor and assets.
The Bobby In The Lobby - Crosby & Nash
In the summer of 1966 my partner, Harlan Goodman and I were riding high. Our long time client Poco had finally broken wide open with their first platinum album, "Legend." Two hit singles and continuous touring drove the album up the charts and Rolling Stone declared that Poco had finally made it. Harlan and I started our management company, Hartmann & Goodman, with a fragmented Poco, momentarily stunned by the departure of lead singer, Richie Furay, who had resigned to join J. D. Souther and Chris Hillman in the Souther, Hillman & Furay Band.
Our success with Poco had established us as a viable management team and we eventually attracted another former client, from our days at the Geffen-Roberts Company. Our second client, Grammy winning band America, had joined our roster the year before. We had been instrumental in bringing them out of a sales slump; and they were riding the top of the charts with a succession of hit singles and albums produced by the legendary produce of The Beatles, George Martin.
I was in the middle of my yoga set one morning when the phone rang. There was a signature hiss on the line, those days signaled that it was a long distance call. "This is The Cros," declared the smiling voice of David Crosby. "Is this "the" call?" I asked. "Yes," he replied. I knew that this call would eventually come. I had been particularly intense about guiding their career when a partner at G/R and I expected that they would join our client list sooner or later. "Should I get on a plane?" "Meet me and Nash at the Holiday Inn, in Albany New York, tomorrow afternoon." I'll be there," I promised and hung up. My imagination thrilled at the possibilities.
Crosby & Nash were, and remain, a superstar attraction with what many believe to be the greatest two-part vocal harmony blend since The Everly Brothers. The possibility of managing them was a very exciting prospect. When they arrived at The Holiday Inn, I was standing under the canopy, grinning from ear to ear. After some ritual drug abuse, we got down to the business at hand.
"What are we doing here?" I asked. "We are on our way to Hyannis Port to play a gig." "There aren't any gigs there, where are you playing?" I summarized the facts as follows: "So, what you're telling me is that you're playing a benefit concert, at a hockey rink, for an incumbent Senator, who happens to be one of the richest guys in the world, and couldn't lose the election if he tried, is that it?" "That's about it," replied The Cros, "and that's why we want you to be our manager."
The gig turned out to be a lot of fun and a couple thousand people showed up to cool it on the wood covered ice. Ted Kennedy didn't make it, but we were elegantly hosted by Rose Kennedy, the matriarch of the Kennedy clan, and JFK's daughter Caroline. The next stop was New York City where Crosby & Nash were booked to play two sold out dates, at Wolman Rink, in Central Park. It was pretty cool to be introduced as the manager of Crosby & Nash.
The next leg of David and Graham's tour called for two weeks of one-nighters in Europe. I promised them that by the time they got back, I would have Atlantic Records in line and a game plan for the rest of the year. "No," said The Cros, "you're coming with us." "I had my passport over-nighted to New York, and the next afternoon we landed at London's Heathrow Airport."
As it turned out, it was a good thing I was there. Something had gone terribly wrong in the planning and execution of the tour. Crosby & Nash's booking agent was a one-man boutique agency owned by Howard Rose. His bread and butter client was superstar Elton John. Howard got caught in a violation of Hartmann's Law number three, "Don't make friends at the expense of the act." He had assigned the promotion of Crosby & Nash's tour to Elton's manager John Reed.
A managers primary tool is the telephone and my first call was to our long time English agent Barry Dickens. "What are you doing here?" Barry asked. "I'm here for the Crosby & Nash tour," I advised. I shuddered at his response, "There's a Crosby & Nash tour?" When I told Barry that our itinerary showed dates in London, Manchester and Glasgow in two weeks, I was shocked to learn that none of the dates were on sale. This is where personal mangers must go into over-drive.
A quick call to John Reed revealed that the continental dates had been assigned to the appropriate promoter in each country, but he had placed his secretary in charge of the British dates. I only heard his side of the conversation, but reading between the lines, it was obvious that she had booked the venues, but had done nothing about the promotion and advertising. We were looking at the distinct possibility that we would be playing to empty houses in all three cities.
I was furious and screamed bloody murder at Reed. I demanded to know where he was located and proceeded over to his office to straighten out the mess. When I arrived at his luxurious offices, the first thing I noticed was that there was a Bobby in the lobby. The receptionist informed me that Mr. Reed was not available and that the Bobby was there to insure that I got the message. It was obvious that Reed was useless and it didn't take long to write off the secretary.
Great and loyal agent that he was, Barry had spoken with all the European promoters who advised that all the dates were on sale and doing well. We would sell out every show. Unlike in the U.S., English, agents are also legally authorized to promote concerts. Mr. Dickens promised to take over the promotion of the three Brit sh gigs and we moved on to first show in Holland.
The continental dates all went well, and by the time we got back to London, Barry had engineered the sale of every ticket in the U.K., including some offered for standing room only. I must have really scared John Reed, because he never showed his face; and Barry earned our undying gratitude. Since then, I have never sent an act to Europe that wasn't represented by Barry.
Back in the U.S.A., my first assignment was to take the matter up with Howard Rose. Harlan and I took him to lunch at The Palm in West Hollywood. David & Graham wanted to fire him and we certainly had no objection. Managers like to "deliver" acts to agents where they have clout. Our strongest act, America, was with Chip Rachlin at International Creative Management.
The head of ICM's music division was an old friend, Tom Ross. We decided to renew America's contract with them, and add Crosby & Nash, and another client, Michael Murphy, of "Wildfire" fame to the mix. By signing all three at once, we were able to leverage an adjustment in the ICM commission structure; we got all three acts signed at seven percent. This arrangement saved our clients a lot of money.
Howard Rose learned why it doesn't pay to make friends at the expense of the act. the first call I made back in Los Agneles, was to Mike Bowan, th emanager of Stephen Stills. "Guess what we've got," I asked. "What?" Mike replied. "Crosby, Stills & Nash," was my enthusiastic response. "You've got the guys?" "Yes," I offered. Mike was in my office the next afternoon and we proceeded to put the legendary trio back together. Our first album was the 1977 hit "CSN" which was driven to the top of the charts by a smash hit single on a Nash tune "Just a Song Before I Go.