21st Century Manager DIY Diary #1
I’m trying something new. I’ve spoken to scores of artist managers over the past 5-6 years about what they do and how they work. Some manage, or have managed, top talent. Some manage up-and-coming, major label/major tour talent.
But for all of the interviews and straight talk, I still haven’t been able to get a real, day-to-day grasp of what an artist manager does from wake up time to beddee bye time. (I put the “e” into “bye” because I’m thinking this “bye” is related to “good bye,” since, when we sleep, we’re saying “good bye” to our waking world and hello to Mr. Sandman, who has my consent to do to me whatever is needed for a sound sleep. If I’m wrong about that “e”, please let me know.)
I have been managing two artists for a year at this point (Zach Matari and Switch Mob). I’ve also been managing an event for six months (the DreamWalk Fashion Show). I manage full-time right now, because as a college music biz professor who does no professing from mid-May to September, I can. I have a company called Dadager Entertainment and my goal with this, therefore, is to fill in the gaps and spew out some real time, 21st century DIY manager stuff.
That’s what this will be, a weekly diary, loosely structured according to my weekly whims at writing time, that tells you what a manager does every day. Or at least what I do every day.
My artists don’t have 10 billion streams. They have day jobs and day dreams. They work hard at their craft. It’s my job to keep them organized, maybe keep them from breaking up, and help so that, in the future, they can make a living in music and entertainment.
And away we go…
Here’s something typical I have come to find for an artist manager. Just as I type, “And away we go…” I go to Spotify to play some background music. One my way to my player, I see that “Rain,” a new song by Switch Mob which I uploaded to Distrokid on Thursday, is now loaded to Spotify. On the Switch Mob Spotify For Artists page, I can now click on Submit A Song and fill out information that allegedly gets the song into the hearts, minds, and In Boxes of Spotify editors, who may add the song to a holy grail for artists – an official Spotify playlist. Here’s one of the pages:
Everyone wants their new music on Spotify playlists. Why? It’s the new radio. I’m not going to get Switch Mob’s song, “Rain,” on Z-100. That’s the job of major labels and management companies with dollars to spend on staff or independent radio promotion people who have relationships that may get a song added into the finite number of slots available in a week.
Zach Matari has done a great job of making relationships for the past 7-8 years. His most recent song, “Dançando,” has been featured on 4 good Spotify official playlists because of his own connections. That helped the over all algorithm to the song, which was then added to some additional playlists. His song “Mirror” took 20 months to reach 200,000 streams. “Dançando” will only take 3 1/2 months.
Which brings us back to the day-to-day. I had to submit the song twice because I filled out the information, saw I wanted to add something else to a previous page, clicked on the Back button, and saw that all of my work had just been erased. Shit! I start again and lose another 10 minutes of my life that could be better spent helping my bands or reading about how awful the Mets are (I’m a big Mets fan, 6 foot 1 inch, and am sad about their 2019 season; but don’t get me started.)
I just now put on the background music I’d wanted because the “Rain” playlist submission process got in the way. That’s what happens for managers. You go to do one thing and then another pops up. Oh, here’s a pic of what the screen looks like once you submit a song to Spotify for playlist opportunities:
Here are some bullet points of what else I did today:
- I slept in (7 AM).
- Got to Starbucks at 8:30 AM and answered texts from Lexi and Alyse about the DreamWalk Fashion Show we have planned for September 15th at the Gramercy Theatre. The event stars 60 models, or Dreamers, who apply to walk on our custom-made runway. Yesterday was the last day for Dreamers to apply for the show. Lexi and Alyse asked me to proofread emails they were writing to those who are going to be Dreamers and those who won’t. There were minor changes. Live Nation is working with us on this show. I went running yesterday (for exercise, not because I was being chased) and had to stop twice to email one of our contacts there about some nice, added marketing they’re going to do on behalf of our show. Tickets go on sale next week and they told us they’d email a special pre-sale offer to Citicard holders and their internal Music Geeks newsletter. They asked questions and needed answers. It was Friday at 5:30 PM. I had to answer before they left for the day. (I did finish the run, by the way. 38 minutes. You should have seen me sweat. It was gross.)
- Back to Saturday: I started pulling up a document I’d written for Zach about music publishing collections: Do we go with a service like Songtrust or Missing Link? Or do we go it alone and sign up for the Harry Fox Agency and Song Charts? I look up and there’s Zach, right on time for our 9:00 AM meeting.
- Meeting with Zach is all over the place. We have 1,000 topics to go over. He has a gig in the afternoon at 4:30 and, 20 minutes into our meeting, we go off of the 1,000 topics because he needs to communicate with the band about who’s meeting where and when for the gig. Meanwhile, I’m getting texts and emails from Emily at Switch Mob and Bob Makin, a NJ-based writer who’s also promoting a 2-week concert tour in July that will feature Switch Mob on 7 dates. Bob needs an image of the band at 300 dpi and 2,000 pixels, plus a band quote, plus an mp3, for the electronic press kit he’s building and other PR he wants to put together for his tour. Emily wants the band to play at a good set time for a show in New Brunswick as part of the tour. I have to stop focusing here because Zach is back. We talk about publishing. We talk about shows (he’s perturbed at a show I booked until we realized he had approved it). We talk about putting together our own quality shows, fewer of them, starting in the fall. Zach has just finished recording 7 new songs and he’s grown as a person and a writer and a performer. Before “Dançando” the plan had been to release one song a month for 7 months. We don’t need to do that anymore. Considering “Dançando” is still streaming three months after its release, we can take more time between songs. We agree on a Wednesday release date, June 26th, for “Risk It All.” It’s not a now-traditional-in-the-music-biz Friday new release, but Zach was told by somebody that Wednesday gets songs on the Friday New Release Spotify playlist more effectively, and sooner. Let’s give it a try.
- At 10:15 AM, Zach is gone. His head was no longer into our meeting. He head was focusing on the afternoon gig. I knew that might happen, but needed him to go over things. We agree, as he’s leaving, to meet again Monday or Tuesday at 7:30 AM for an IHOP breakfast. That’s a fitting place since Zach, a recovering pop artist, has had a Palestinian Awakening. His roots are in Brazil and Palestine and he wants the world to know more about the culture and politics of Palestine, which can be extremely controversial. We’ve had many long discussions about how to do this. Politically in America, you’re either pro-Israel or you’re an anti-semite. Zach is pro-human. He believes Palestinians are getting a raw deal, and he doesn’t blame or hate Israel. It’s the political culture around the subject. And he wants a voice there. We’ve decided to go all in with how he feels. Well, he’s decided. As Danny Goldberg recently said on the Music Biz 101 & More radio show/podcast I co-host, and I’m paraphrasing, it doesn’t matter in the end what the manager thinks. If you want to keep managing the artist, then what they think is the only thing that matters. On my end, I need to learn more about this and have my own Palestinian Awakening. I’m on Zach’s team and need to support him. It would be lazy of me to not learn more. For a manager, every day is about learning something new. I think for many that’s what keeps them in it. I know that for me, learning new things all the time invigorates me. I’ll be the worst retired person ever. I’ll never be the guy on the golf course at 78 years old. I’ll hopefully be driving my ’85 Volkswagen Vanagon to the next Zach Matari or Switch Mob or DreamWalk Fashion Show. (More about that Volkswagen vision in the coming weeks.)
- I stay at Starbucks until 11:30 AM, learning on the fly how to turn a Switch Mob image into the requested 300 dpi, 2000 pixel format requested of us. I text back and forth with Brian, a cool guy who’s promoting shows in the Glens Falls region of upstate New York. Both Zach and Switch Mob have 4 gigs up there between June and July. Brian and I negotiate money, hotel rooms for one of the nights (it’s a 3-hour drive and if the last set ends at 1:00 AM, the earliest band members get to bed back in NJ is 4AM), and continuing a text conversation from the night before about a sound system that is needed for Downtown Social, the venue, and if the bands can put out a tip jar, like every band does in Nashville. He said yes, by the way, to the tip jar.
- Meanwhile, I text Switch Mob (Emily wants us to switch – pun intended – to Slack as a means of communication) about a gig next week at a Teaneck, NJ venue called Debonair, suggesting they promote the shit out of it starting this second. We also have a 10:00 AM call Sunday. Sara, one of the band’s two lead singers, is somewhere on vacation this weekend and can’t speak on the phone. But she can do FaceTime. So I tell the band that I’ll FaceTime them at 10AM. The topic: A marketing plan I put together around the song “Rain” that I alluded to above. Emily has put together a 10-second teaser video for the song and gotten the band to approve it. I ask her to put a call-to-action in the video telling viewers to pre-save the song on Spotify, once again to help the algorithm like the song more.
- And now it’s 3:18 PM on Saturday. Zach is on his way to the gig. I have to work on a Wikipedia page for DreamWalk. I sent out Day Sheets to all the bands playing next Friday and Saturday in Glens Falls and Teaneck, respectively. I started reading a book today called The Mailroom: Hollywood History From The Bottom Up that I heard about on the Promoter 101 podcast – a must listen for anyone in the music industry. So far, I’ve only had time to read it while on the toilet, and I have the runs right now from drinking my Starbucks drink too fast, so I’ve gotten 17 pages in.
There’s more. Always more. But let’s stop here. Assuming I remember and have time to do this next week, you’ll have some more almost-real time info about what a manager does. And remember, people like Scooter Braun, who manages Ariana Grande and Justin Beiber, do what I do to the millionth power. I hope this little blurb help you figure things out or know more about what a manager does. See you in 7 days.
Professor David Kirk Philp is a dadager at Dadager Entertainment and Assistant Professor Music & Entertainment Industries and Popular Music Studies at William Paterson University. He is the co-host of the only FREE advice college radio-based music & entertainment industry talk show in America, Music Biz 101 & More, which airs live most Wednesday nights and is available as a podcast HERE every night (days too). Your favorite professor is also co-author (with Dr. Steve Marcone) of Managing Your Band – 6th Edition. Reach him at PhilpD@wpunj.edu or find him on LinkedIn HERE. The WPU Music & Entertainment Industries program is ranked one of the best by Billboard Magazine. Don’t believe us? Click HERE for truth!