The Best Part of Being A Manager Is….

Seeing accomplished goals. By far and away, the best part of being a manager. Doesn’t matter how small or big this goal is but the point is that there was an accomplishment.

It is so hard in this industry to have your mind set to something and it actually pulls through and happens! The subjectivity of music makes it almost impossible to guess what the response will be to a song or an album. You’d have a better time shooting blindfolded. It’s like your in a grey fog and you’re trying to get across a river. You’re not really sure where you’re going but you can only see where your feet are and about 2 inches in front of you.

Someone that I worked with just signed to a record label this past week and that is what his biggest goal. Not only that but to find a record label that in line with his ambitions. Seriously, 1 in a million chance of this happening.

So as you go into the weekend, this will be your motivating post. Never give up on your dreams, no matter how small or big. Worst case, you’re just in foggy river.

Touring is Awesome

Pretty much everyone in the entire world is not paying for music anymore. You know, I know it, and major labels DEFINITELY know it. The problem with this is the confining revenue structures for artists to make a living out of making music. If nobody is actually going to pay for music anymore, how can they actually make any money? The back-door decision makers are actually coming up with some creative solutions to this problem.

An awesome but also not-so-awesome trends are happening: Touring is the way to make a substantial amount of money.

So nowadays the general rule of thumb is the concert is really the secret to success. The way to really make your buck is through selling those tickets. Nothing can really replace the sound of live music and tons of fans collectively intoxicated.

I mean, people are paying hundreds of dollars to pretty much idolize these ‘DJ’s’ on stage who openly admit they are just hitting the play button. It’s already at that point, that people really only care more about the environment of where you hear the music and less about the music itself.

All in all, people are cheap and like to get intoxicated- what else is new?

2 Golden Rules of Studio Edicate

I’ve stated a least a hundred times over, one of the coolest environments to be in is in a creative one. To see the process of how a song is made should definitely be on your bucket list, and if not then we can’t be friends. However, a lot of people who are crossing this off their list don’t necessarily understand the do’s and don’t’s of being in a studio session.

Here’s a little clip of Pharell talking about his poor studio edicte ~9 minute mark

At the end of the day, it comes down to two rules that can be applied to life in general:

(1) Know your place

If you’re there to absorb what’s going around you then absorb. Don’t try and contribute to making the music if you have no idea how to make music. This one is definitely hard for people to grasp, especially since it is usually a laid-back and casual environment.

(2) Act like you’ve been there, bro!

Stop asking what everything does or look over the engineer’s should to see what they’re doing. If you’re there enough times, you’ll eventually pick up on things. But for the most part, there’s a place and time to ask and most of the time you’re there to just sit and listen.

So basically, I’m telling everyone to shut up. It’s a work environment for the artists and engineer(s) but there’s a deep deep grey fog around that since artists are usually super cool and laidback and also the creative process is a wild beast tamed in obscure ways.

This post is 99-100% fueled by a poor studio session I had the other weekend, which I’ll go into more detail next week! Stay tuned…

Never Fake It

Ok, so I know I’m not the best manager in the world. If I didn’t see these signs, then I would be insane than Charlie Sheen.

I have little knowledge of the music industry but more than the average human being.

And while it’s all good and fun to make fun of myself, nothing makes me angrier than people discrediting my intelligence. For every mistake I’ve made, I’ve learned and improved from. Believe it or not, I actually help artists progress in their career. I know, shocking stuff.

Anyway, I told you about that guy that free-styled at the frat house a couple posts ago- Dylan. I signed him up; I had nothing to lose. Show me what you got. If it isn’t good enough then hit the road. Onto the next.

So I get in the studio with him and start asking questions, just getting to know him. He says about how he’s been making music forever but only took it serious for about 3 months. He was going to put out a mixtape in a couple weeks. FAANTASTIC. I would love to hear it!

I ask him about production and says it’s all original stuff. Lyrics are all fresh and new. “Gunna be an instant classic.”

“Awesome man, can I hear it?”

“Nah, man just wait for it. I ain’t got none of the songs on my iPhone.”

“Ok Ok, just send em through when you get a chance.”

“Bet.”

Mind you, these are egocentrics I’m dealing with. Normal people like talking about themselves. Artist LOVE it. Nothing gets them more excited than to show their work to someone else.

Unless your Jay-z, nobody really cares about your material leaking.

Or don’t. Dylan chose the latter.

He didn’t show me anything until it was release to the public. And by public I mean the 200 people who clicked on the link (from the 2,000 “followers” he had.)

All good, nothing lost. But then he calls me all heated, saying how I didn’t ‘deliver’. I didn’t promote the mixtape properly. “Shit’s fire, and nobody hear it mayne.”

“Whatever dude, you’re delusional. Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Looking back though, he’s the least delusional of the clique that I’ve motley crewed together.

Lose some, win fewer. FML

Never Take Greyhound Buses Part II

Continued on from Part I

Order becomes chaos. People start scattering everywhere. Up became down, right was left.  What was a structured, regular line became an absolute mess. Those 5 words sparked what a riot. Either this ticket-man really knew how to spark emotion from a crowd or everyone was just a little on edge ready to explode. I still think it’s the first. Everything just moved so fast. Don’t ask me how or why, but I was got scooted back like 15 people or so. It’s fine- upset but content. I won’t get the perfect seat, but definitely won’t get the seat next to the toilet.

I’m 3 people from getting on the bus and this mother with 2 little kids comes running through saying they’re late for a bus. I step aside. Every time I see someone in a rush, I try and do everything to help them which basically means getting out of the way. I become so concerned with getting out of their way that realistically I get in their way.

Finally, the dust has settled I get to the front of the line. The ticket-man tells me to hold on. He steps outside and talks to the driver.  He doesn’t return. Overall, the worst ticket-man ever. Not only did he instigate a riot of ticket-checking but he didn’t even have the common decency to tell me that the bus was overbooked.

I’m not going to lie, the thought of going on that bus and telling the mother with the kids to get off the bus did cross my mind. I’m a terrible person. I couldn’t execute this satanic thought as I was inside the terminal watching the bus that I was supposed to get on drive away. I missed the concert. Wasn’t even close. I didn’t even pass state-lines.

So naturally, I then fall to my knees and clench my fists screaming, “NOO!”

Sorry, I lied.

How to Explain This to The Cops Part II

So we finish up the recording session and are on our way to a concert that he’s headlining. As many college students do, “Eric” likes to smoke some not-so-legal marijuana.  It relaxes him for the concert, whatever whatever. While I am quite liberal on the semi-illicit drug, Penn State cops are not. He smokes, goes through soundcheck, preparing, etc. Everything is going well. So far…

Now the concert has started, the opening act has finished and I am on stage hyping the crowd before Evan’s performance.

5 minutes before he steps onstage.

Time passes, I run out of phrases for the crowd to cheer.

10 minutes pass.

The headliner has stage-fright. The intro song ends. Now I’m on stage, by myself, talking to the crowd with no music. I swear I was 30 seconds away from singing the National Anthem acapella style. I don’t even know all the words.. that’s the level of awkward I’m talking about.

Finally after 15 minutes on stage, the DJ relieves me of easily the most awkward moment of my life.

Anyway, I walk off stage and see what’s going on.

I get confronted by a cop asking me if I’ve done any drugs. I say no. He searches my backpack, my pockets. Everything. Apparently the cops busted into the venue and were looking for “Eric” specifically. Unconcerned with the other 300 sloppy drunk college kids in the crowd, the cops were solely after the headlining performer. He must have gotten caught for the weed he smoked before. Even Lil Wayne gets busted.

On the plus side, he didn’t get arrested.

However, as I was leaving the cops told me that they found needles in his backpack. What my friend forgot to mention before introducing me to “Eric”, or during the 3 months of working with him that he was actually a drug dealer. He was literally selling and using heroine daily.

And that is the story of the time I found out that I was managing a heroin addict.

Never Take Greyhound Buses

Never take Greyhound. Ever. No matter the situation, find another way. They are the worst.  This is why I hate them…

An artist that I work with in New York City was having a concert on a Friday night. I was just finishing up work in Baltimore and was going to take the bus up and show some support. I had no real time to mess up as there was only one bus after my work that could still get in time for the concert.

I know what you’re thinking. I know you’re thinking that I just barely missed the bus. I came into the station just as the bus was leaving. So upset, I fell to my knees and clenched my fists screaming, “NOO!”

You are wrong.

I’m extremely punctual with travel. Missing trains, busses and planes are 3 of my biggest fears. This is probably from the long list of rom-coms that I’ve watched when the guy misses the plane by 3 seconds and leaves the love of his life behind. I’ve got no idea why I just revealed that I watch rom-coms- it’s my dirty pleasure. I’m so scared of missing this bus that I got to the station 20 minutes early.

I’m in line and they’re checking tickets. About halfway in the line, I’ve got everything set up, ready to go. The ticket-man yells “Everyone get in number order!”

Seriously? Guy, there’s like 60 people in line. How do you expect us to get in order? We’re in a zigzagged, single filed line, which is enclosed by ropes. I’ve got like 3 square feet of moving room. A couple people (who were definitely trying to sneak they’re way to the front) started asking everyone around them what their numbers were and then adjust the line. These assholes were the pioneers, everyone followed- such a ridiculous spectacle. Tune in next week for Part 2

How To Explain This To The Cops Part 1

PREFACE: There are few times in my life when I wish I had more interactions with cops. They’re my kryptonite. Doesn’t matter if I’m doing something wrong or doing nothing at all, I will consistently be afraid.

One of my first clients was through a roommate connection. He sent me some links of an old high-school friend  who he thought was talented. ‘Mike’ got me in touch with the old classmate, ‘Eric’. We talked for a bit and eventually got to talking about how he opened up for a pretty big rap group called The New Boyz. Yes they do spell it with a Z. Yes, they are actually popular. Here’s their most famous song, “You’re a Jerk”  Please don’t get me started…

Anyway, all was going well and he came down to record a couple songs in Baltimore. He was very raw, but impressive nonetheless. He was definitely going to be a long-term project. I got the ball rolling- had him sign a contact, gave him a little advice, and sent out his music to some of the people I’ve worked with before.

He started to link up with a finalist from The Voice, Vince Kidd.

A couple months later, we scheduled a concert at Penn State. Beforehand, we went to a studio nearby to get a short recording session.  The studio was actually attached to a massive church. No lie, he was rapping about money, h*es and the ‘movie’ lifestyle just down the hall from the Sunday service. We probably should have done a little more research on the studio…

 

How to Not Book a Venue Part II

 

As I enter, the bouncer sticks his arm out like he’s a toll. Just my luck. So I hand him my ID, he looks at it and doesn’t even say anything just does the obnoxious motion with his fingers to get out of his bar.

Now I have to plead my case of being the manager and that I’m not drinking. I try and explain but he’s very strict on letting people into this small bar that looks like a 14 year old can get served. I guess I look 12.

It’s not really working because of my age. He doesn’t believe that I manage the band that I just followed through the door because he thought I was too young. So he pretty much left me with two options: walk away or get a band member to vouch for me.

I grab the bass player and tell him to come over and ask him if I’m the manager of the band. He says “Yes, of course.” The bouncer’s not satisfied. How I phrased the question was not up to par. Honestly bouncer, entering this bar is not worth this much effort. Whatever, I’m still bitter about it. Now I have to grab Matthew, the lead singer, to stop sound check and vouch that his manager is both younger than him and under the age of 21.

As I sat at the bar with my tail between my legs, I had two massive “DO NOT SERVE” sharpied onto each of my hands. If it’s not possible to humiliate me anymore, he did them in two different languages. So every time someone asked me what was on my hand, I had to explain. I got the last laugh though, I was Instagramming the whole time.

*All name’s changed to protect the identity of my clients.*

How to NOT to book a venue

Being young but ambitious can seem like quite the task. It is. While people sometimes admire you, they forget about some of the small things that come with the territory of being young. Let’s be honest, I’m in the generation of dating on Tinder and taking photos of your food on Instagram. I even find it hard taking some people serious my age. Which brings me to my first official concert booking.

“Mark” was planning on releasing an album in a couple weeks and wanted to get a concert going to promote it. I hadn’t booked a concert for him before (flag #51) so I figured the best way to do it would be to just find venues on email and ask them about free times.

Some responded, most didn’t. That’s fine. We got everything settled and had the right to perform at a venue in NYC. I even spoke to the event coordinator on the phone and despite my youthful voice, she was still respectful.

Booked my train up from Baltimore and met “Mark” before. Just to preface, I was 20 at the time and was not of age to get into a bar. For the most part, there’s no real problem in New York. Mostly because most bartenders don’t care. I can give you the whole you can serve in the military but can’t get served spiel, but that’s for another time.

Anyway, we couldn’t do a sound check beforehand because there was a couple of performers before us. So, we would have to do it live- really not a big deal.

We finally arrive and the bouncer is letting all of us. People are all coming through with different instruments, from drums to cellos to electric guitars. I also should have prefaced with the fact that Mark’s band is 13 people. At this point it’s less of a band but a symphony. But we’re this massive band cramming into this small venue like a bunch of clowns going into a clown car.

 

Tune in next week to see what happens next!