The Manager’s Office: Conjuring careers
Chair: Fiona McGugan, MMF (UK)
“I don’t want this to be a moaning session,” joked chair Fiona McGugan of the Music Managers Forum, as the panel of artist managers assembled to talk about how their jobs are changing and becoming more complicated.
Nostromo Management’s Paul Craig, who represents Biffy Clyro among others, opened by reasserting the importance of live: “It’s the way you communicate with your fans. The music business has become obsessed with live because that’s where the money is but to say it wasn’t important before is wrong,” he explained.
Big Life Management’s Kat Kennedy added that live is not just about reaching an act’s fans but about attracting new ones, too.
Craig remarked that the touring business is much more sophisticated these days, meaning acts don’t only have to create a touring strategy but associated social media and ticketing strategies.
Seven 7 Artist management’s Matt Vines explained that these social strategies have to take in platforms that we’re not familiar with in the West, such as China’s Weibo and Russia’s VK, where there’s no access to Facebook.
In terms of new outlets for artists, McGugan asked the panel whether doing gigs in Virtual Reality or in gaming were viable.
Craig said there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to these platforms but referred to success he’d had with one metal act that wasn’t getting radio play, so they went direct to games company EA Sports in order to have their music reach a wider audience.
Kennedy said Spotify for Artists was proving to be a useful tool for her acts because it enabled them to identify where in the world could be potential new markets.
McGugan said for the past 25 years the MMF’s campaigns have been mainly focussed on artists, but recently it has been looking at the challenges of the management community, to which Kennedy responded that management is becoming more challenging, and harder work.
Vines agreed, saying he has to do more, especially for major labels if the act isn’t a priority for the label.
The panel agreed that managers are usually the last to get paid, as they tend not to charge commission until the act is profitable. McGugan wondered if there was opportunity for more support from promoters or agencies.
“It would be really helpful if venues used their local knowledge to help make the show a success”
Kennedy said it would be very beneficial to have some financial support earlier on in an act’s career. We want to build long-term relationships. She said, suggesting that she would be prepared to forge those long-term relationships if there was more support from a company in the early days.
From the floor, Steve Sayer from London’s The O2 asked what venues could do to improve artist experience? “Reduce concession fees” came the unanimous answer.
“It would be really helpful if venues used their local knowledge to help make the show a success,” added Craig, offering a plea for more communication between venues and management companies.