A common joke about management is that as soon as you call yourself a manager, you are one. That’s all well and good, but as the folks on this panel will demonstrate, simply having a business card isn’t enough; it takes way more grit and nuance than that to be great at this job. In what feels like an increasingly fragmented music industry, managers are taking on more roles than ever before. Management means being a lightning rod for queries from everyone your clients work with — labels, publishers, tour henchmen, press, bookers, rabid fans. The squishy center of this job is that different artists require completely unique strategizing; some aren’t okay with any commercial syncs, while some lust after them; some are way more successful playing overseas markets than others; and some are just plain difficult to work with. (And don’t forget about the unavoidable role of band therapist.) It’s a lot to juggle and not everyone is cut out to do it, but on behalf of the ones who are, inquiring minds want to know: what makes an effective and successful manager?
The best way to answer that is to ask, well, effective and successful managers. So look no further than our Managers Session panel on October 27. We’re assembling some of the best in the management game to talk about the hats they wear. They’ll share trade secrets on everything from choosing clients to setting goals, and as Cuba Gooding Jr. once demanded of Tom Cruise, they’ll also show us the money.
Moderating is Emily White (no, not that one… not that one, either), co-founder of Whitesmith Entertainment. With offices in New York and LA, Whitesmith works with musicians, comedians, athletes and filmmakers. How, you ask? White having managed The Dresden Dolls from the ground floor-up probably has something to do with it.
Paneling are Christen Greene of Onto Entertainment, Peter Jenner of Sincere Management, Jason Burns of Burnt Tree Entertainment and Nick O’Byrne of Look Out Kid. As Onto Entertainment’s GM, Greene wrangles the company’s talent, which includes Hey Marseilles and The Lumineers. She’s responsible both for their day-to-day management and the long term strategies that have helped them become so successful.
Jenner is like Lewis Black’s character in Accepted: though it would be easy to write him and his big personality off, he’s been around the block so many times that his wisdom is indispensable. Throughout his five-decade-plus career, he’s managed folks like Pink Floyd, Billy Bragg and T Rex. He’s been cofounder of Sincere since the 1980’s, and through all of this, he’s acquired what you might call perspective.
Burns is president of aptly-titled Burnt Tree, a Canadian-based management firm (I guess his clients will never have an issue with the dreaded Border Mounties). He’s been named Music Nova Scotia’s “Manager of the Year” multiple times and holds the careers of Hey Rosetta!, Rich Aucoin, Plants and Animals, The Belle Game in his hands. As with most management places these days, Burnt Tree is more of a one-stop-shop than a singularly-focused firm; we can’t wait for Burns to shed light on why that trend is growing.
Rounding things out is O’Byrne. Look Out Kid runs Australia’s annual music business festival BIGSOUND (O’Byrne is its Executive Programmer) and indie label Barely Dressed Records, but we’re mainly psyched because his primary client is none other than Courtney Barnett. As her manager, O’Byrne has helped turn an unknown Melbourne-based indie rocker into the passionate voice of disaffected millennials. It helps that Barnett’s music is fantastic, but it’s rare for an artist to experience this kind of ascendency in such a short amount of time. We’ll be all ears when he talks about his biz philosophy.
Every one of these panelists have awesome careers, even though they all arrived at them pretty differently. That’s the beauty of this particular job title. If you’ve been feeling like calling yourself a manager lately, consider this session required reading. Register for FMC Summit 15 and check out the full schedule here.Image via shutterstock.com