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Are you afraid to commit? A note about managers and…

October 15, 2010

I have this issue with a lot of artists and bands, particularly those in Los Angeles.

For some reason, artists are often afraid to commit to anything.

Which I understand. Contracts can be scary. You don’t want to get burned by getting stuck in a long-term and/or bad contract with a manager or company that is not reputable.

And you’re probably thinking, in the back of your head, “Shoot, what if I sign with this company, this manager or what not, and then someone better comes along?” Either tomorrow, next week, or next month….

It’s not a shell game people.

You can’t think that way.

If you find a manager or company you like – and trust – go for it.

Now, don’t be stupid and sign a 7 year deal — but do a deal that rewards your manager if they do a good job and let’s them keep you as a client for at least 3 years if things are going well – but that also lets you out in a year or two if they don’t. Because any reputable manager won’t invest 100% of their time, energy and resources into a client they have signed for a short period of time. Would you? Knowing someone could walk as soon as things go well? I’m not a fan of being used and any other reputable manager feels the same way. I see artists trying to use managers and “trade up” as soon as they can and it’s just disloyal and sad. Managers also aren’t stupid so when we see you’ve had like 3+ managers in the past 3 years, we’re likely to be gun shy about YOU and say, “Why should I manage this act? They are obviously making some poor management choices and can’t commit to a good team! Next!”

***

The irony is, if you try to “play the field” and “keep your options open” for too long, you miss out on many, many opportunities to have someone valuable and reputable on your team.

You also run the risk that no one better will come along and you’ll be stuck doing everything on your own forever. Which is fine. Unless you really want to get somewhere.

***

So if you’re a bit gun shy, do your research. Ask for references. Check them out. “Do your homework” as my mom likes to say. I’m happy to be asked if I know a particular manager and I’ll give you my honest impression if I know of them. Chances are, if I haven’t heard of them, you’re better off with someone else. But also don’t be fooled by the “name” as I see bands sign with “name” managers all the time and then get nowhere. Even big name managers have lots of acts you and the general public have never heard of.

At some point, you’ve got to take a bit of a leap of faith.

Because if you play the field for too long, other artists, who have committed to great managers or companies like me, will get ahead and leave you behind while you’re stuck trying to decide what to do.

Successful people make smart decisions. And they don’t drag their feet.

Hope that helps!

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management

9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320

Beverly Hills, CA 90210
http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

http://www.truetalentmgmt.wordpress.com – Read my music blog for advice on making it in the music business


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2 comments

  1. Your blog reminds me of when I was signed to a publishing company that offered me good money up front then the other half of it after I submitted 10 songs to them that they hired me to write. I sat on it for almost 6 months, afraid to sign with them…eventually i just did it. Soon after I signed, i realized there were MANY other companies/libraries out there…but AFTER I signed…I started asking advice from people as to what I should do and some people were telling me I shouldn’t give such good songs away and lose ownership…even people at ASCAP told me that…

    So, I consciously wrote 10 pretty bad songs fairly quickly (although I had 7 really great songs but I was worried about giving them to this company, especially now that I had realized there were so many others offering non exclusive deals…actually it was around this time that i discovered True Talent Management too) and gave these bad songs to them hoping they wouldn’t notice the lazy uninspired songwriting. I didn’t hear anything for a week. Then my publisher sent and email asking me for a good time to talk on the phone. I called and he just flat out told me these songs were bad and not what he expected of me. They hired me because of my raw songs/emotions/ability to connect to angsty teens and these songs all sounded fake and forced. He felt he could only pitch maybe a piece of one out of the 10….I didn’t know how to respond but i finally admitted the truth, that I was hiding the good stuff from him because i was unaware of how this film/tv music industry worked and I wasn’t sure who to trust. Anyway, he was pissed off and wanted to break off the contract right there, and then i realized this is a situation where I need to do the right thing and be a good person. I told him I would give him the 7 I already had and allowed him to choose 3 additional songs from previous music of mine. He loved those songs.

    So I guess I’m responding to how you say artists ask “what if something better comes along?” and something better probably will, but when you’ve made a commitment, stick with it. It’s the right thing to do and the last thing you want is word going around that you’re an unreliable person whom nobody should ever work with.

    In any case, I still get nice royalties from them (even though I feel bad to this day about what I did – and I bet a piece of him doesn’t trust or like me because of that) and they’ve been good to me…they own 10 really personal songs I was afraid of parting with but I can always write 10 better ones. Plus, I’m sick of writing depressing music and way more excited with my new band. Those 10 bad songs have never been given to anyone either.

    Paul


  2. I really enjoyed your article! I know what you mean about dealing with artists. Having been an artist manager since 2007, I know it can be pretty rough dealing with artists and getting them to trust your judgment. Many times, I’d be trying to save them money, but it was difficult to make them understand the concept of recouping artist advances and setting aside money for income taxes. I got so fed-up being a manager that I transitioned into being an entertainment attorney instead (luckily, I went to law school and passed the bar before I started managing).

    If you’d like to check out my firm site, here’s the link: http://www.johnson-moo.com.



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