I interviewed Head of Creative at Reverb Music, Charlie Pinder about his thoughts on management principles and how the industry has changed for managers over the past decade. Charlie has had multiple management roles in his career, starting out at BMG with unpaid work experience, then going on to become an A&R manager at East West before moving on to Sony Music Publishing, where he worked his way up to become Managing Director in 1999 (Sörin, 2017). Currently, Charlie runs the London office of Reservoir Media, an independent music Publisher. (Reservoir-media.com, 2017).
During the interview, Charlie explained how management is a learning curve that everybody in the music industry should try out at some point during their careers to learn the hard work it takes to put together a successful campaign. In an article by Billboard, it is written that ‘to be a good music manager you need to be organised, excellent with people and have a good understanding of the industry as it stands today.’ (Elkabas, 2017). Charlie agreed with this statement, saying that you have to have the ability to deal with an array of people, from small promoters, difficult artists and big label executives. Along with this, he spoke about the need to be resilient, be good with money and have perseverance to continue to put all of your effort in when things aren’t going to plan right away.
Something to remember when managing an artist is to always put them first. When asking Charlie about the key elements of artist management, he reiterated a few times that a manager has to realise that it is ‘all about the artist’. In this statement, he is saying that you need to put your ambition for personal success into the success of an artist and when they are on top, you are. However, during business deals, signing contracts and sometimes failed ventures, you have to have thick skin as a manager. Charlie spoke about being prepared for people to hate you, as a manager will often get the blame for things going wrong. However, in my opinion it is the manager’s job to ensure that deals go right and that their artists are not signed into contracts with big brands and labels that will exploit them to a point that could be detrimental to their career.
The question that causes the most controversy is whether people are born leaders or not. Charlie believes that good managers are born leaders because good leadership comes down to personality traits. Forbes wrote an article about this, saying that even though there are born leaders, there are also people who can learn to take control throughout their lives. In conclusion to the article, it was decided that to be a good leader you need to be able to ‘invite feedback’, ‘listen’ and ‘become a fair witness’ who takes an impartial stance during heated moments. (Anderson, 2017).
People find their way into management in many different ways, however, Charlie spoke about how he has always wanted to be a part of artist management, to help mould and shape their careers by sharing the contacts and relationships with big brands that he has gained during his career. Nevertheless, he spoke strongly about the fact that artist management is something you should dive into when you are young and don’t need to rely on a hefty income. This is because he explained that you generally don’t make money on management for at least 3 years, even if your artist gets signed to a big label with an advance in hand. I then asked about the difference between having a big management organisation behind you and it just being you and the artist. Charlie’s answer revealed that having an established organisation behind you as a manager gives you a support system that you cannot beat, as it is likely that they will have relationships with many other industry brands and this will be the biggest gain you can get.
The most important point during the interview was the topic of contracts and relationships with your artists. Charlie stressed that it is very important to have a contract between manager and artist, because often a manager will get their artist a small amount of success, enough for them to be noticed by established brands in the music industry. At this point the artist will often get bombarded with offers from big companies or managers and will move on, leaving the manager jobless with no income after spending a lot of time and effort building that artists career. If there is a contract in place, a manager can put in a ‘sunset clause’ which allows the manager to keep making a percentage off of the agreed channels of the artist’s income for a set period of time after they have parted ways. ‘When a band and manager decide to discontinue their professional relationship, there are certain aspects of the contract (signed by both/all parties at the beginning of the business relationship) that remain in effect.’ (Musiciansbusinessdictionary.com, 2017).
At the end of the interview, Charlie warned me, as a young manager starting out, to be aware of ‘stupid, unambitious artists’. He went on to explain that talent is not what makes an artist successful, because they have to have the willingness and drive to succeed and cooperate with people and brands. If an artist is unwilling to cooperate and put effort in, it makes it very tricky for the manager as people will be put off working with them and not only will creating success for the artist be difficult, but also the manager is likely to lose their own personal contacts within the industry as their credibility has been tarnished. Therefore, before you take on an artist, or sign a contract it is better to have a trial-run first for a period of time to establish their goals and ambitions.
Anderson, E. (2017). Forbes Welcome. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2012/11/21/are-leaders-born-or-made/#48d5603f48d5 [Accessed 16 May 2017].
Elkabas, D. (2017). So what does a music manager do, exactly?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/careers/what-does-a-music-manager-do [Accessed 17 May 2017].
Musiciansbusinessdictionary.com. (2017). Sunset Clause – the Musician’s Business Dictionary. [online] Available at: http://www.musiciansbusinessdictionary.com/mbd/index.php?title=Sunset_Clause [Accessed 17 May 2017].
Reservoir-media.com. (2017). Reservoir Media Management – About. [online] Available at: https://www.reservoir-media.com/pages/about/ [Accessed 18 May 2017].
Sörin, S. (2017). A&R, Record Label / Company, Music Publishing, Artist Manager and Music Industry Directory. [online] Hitquarters.com. Available at: http://www.hitquarters.com/index.php3?page=intrview/2001/November14_2_32_25.html [Accessed 18 May 2017].