Three music management companies are highlighted industry insiders in this week’s Music Monday Feature. This is a lengthy post with answers from three dynamic women:
Michelle Escobedo of Alpha Entertainment Group http://alphaentertainmentgroup.biz (under construction) based in Nashville; Josee Deschenes of Dimeaglass Entertainment http://dimeaglass.com based in Nashville; and Diana Barnes of Suede Management, http://suedemanagement.blogspot.com/ based in New York City.
What sets you apart or makes you different from other managers in the music business?
Michelle: I take a different perspective when it comes to the management of artists. When you spend 24/7 with artists they become a part of your family. If you don’t take a personal interest in your artists, they tend to become just another artist or someone who just pays you. My passion for music allows me to have the same passion to further the artist’s career. I have spent time on the road as an actor/singer, so I know what it’s like. I bring that experience, my passion for music and a family environment to my business.
Josee: Having been a manager for about six years, I’d like to think that I find myself in the “new generation” of managers but I’ve been in the business longer than that. Music managers worked differently 15-20 years ago. My management career started in the generation of the Internet, the cell phones and digital world. I might think in contemporary ways, but the end goal is still the same: To bring awareness to my artists’ music. My goal as a manager is to give 100% of my commitment to my artists. Since they do the same in their careers, it’s only fair that I work as hard. That’s why I only work with one or two artists at a time. I believe in quality, not quantity.
Diana: I like being part of the “clique” of music managers. I like to think what sets me apart is that I’m willing and prefer to take on the up and coming artists that most (not all) managers won’t take on. I feel that record labels are not investing or taking the time to develop artists much anymore, and to me that is the core, the beginning, outside of their musical talents. My niche is I’m the manager that will teach the artist to manage themselves and to know when they should delegate duties, and be able to monitor what their management is doing is correct and in their best vested interest. I’m known as the non-manager, the anti-manager. Those of us who have chosen to become managers should be honored when we are chosen to manage an artist because they are placing their careers and the continued long-term progression of it in our hands.
Do you focus on a certain style of music?
Michelle: I started out working with Christian bands and artists, and gradually started working in the rock genre; and recently began working in country music. So you can say I’m a fan of all music.
Josee: Not really. I go where the music moves me. When I see that the artist shows drive, ambition, maturity and core values, chances are I want to help them in some way or another.
Diana: I love all types of music. I’m grateful to have been exposed to all types of music so my personal tastes vary greatly depending upon my mood. As a business professional, I choose not to work with rap or hip-hop for reasons of being a woman first; and then as a parent. I must be very mindful of what I expose my son to, as well as how I want to always be respectful of women.
How did you establish yourself as a music manager? What experience do you bring to the position that sets you apart from other industry insiders?
Michelle: I started working with indie artists who came on a radio show I did in Dallas called Youth Wake. We had various indie artists come in to do interviews and promote their new music. I began to fill a void that artists needed and that was being a go-getter and promoting the artist through radio promotion, CD releases, and concert bookings. As the artists’ demands began to grow, I began to feel a growing passion to help the artist pursue their dreams and goals.
I began to develop relationships with radio stations, record labels, managers, venues and booking agents–anything to get the artist I was working with out to the masses and in the public eye. I’m a type of individual that will do whatever it takes to get the artist to the next step. My motto is, “In order for me to be successful, you have to be successful. In order for you to be successful, I have to be successful.” As a partnership, I expect the artist to work as hard as they expect me to work.
I was a creative arts director, worked on a radio show, and toured with a catalyst group for a year. Experiences as an artist, and a director gives me an edge since I not only know the business, but know the arts from every perspective.
Josee: I was working at the Federal Courts of Canada and dabbled in singing part-time. I was connected to the music industry in a somewhat inexperienced way. I was up and coming. I quickly found out that the “behind the scenes” of music is what excited me the most so I switched gears and started focusing on law and the music business, taking various courses through different avenues. I stared joining music associations, attending music conferences around the world, attending educational panels and befriending other managers that had been in the biz for a while so I could have them as mentors and teachers. My desire was also fueled by meeting one of Canada’s top independent artists – singer/songwriter guitarist, Trevor Finlay. I was impressed by his ambition and talent and started working with him on his record release and things just started to grow from there.
My first experience as a “touring” manager was booking a seven-week, 27 performance date tour in Australia for Trevor and his band. His music was being heard in that part of the world. After that, I knew this was my new path in life. It felt like home to me, it was my passion, my calling, and I wasn’t afraid to work. I don’t think that sets me apart from other managers since we all basically do the same thing for what I would like think is the same reason. We love doing what we do. I guess the type of manager you are in terms of passion, patience, understanding and work ethic is what differentiates you from another.
Diana: I don’t think of myself as established yet. To me that states I don’t have more to learn and I do, daily. I like to think that I evolved into a music manager, by jumping in feet first. Blindly, just asking to take on duties to some bands in college; being able to travel with them as a road manager/tour manager. This was very much on the job training but at the end of the day I was able to bring my real-world knowledge and experience to my job.
Speaking of which, my corporate accounting experience and MBA in Finance and Masters in Sports Management has allowed me to be able to “sit” at the table among my fellow managers. I know, understand, and live for biz and finance, so my motto is “If it can’t make money, it doesn’t make sense.”
How many years experience do you have working in the music industry?
Michelle: I’ve been working with independent and signed artists for 13 years.
Josee: I’ve been in the business approximately 12 years as a singer, a paralegal, a stage manager, music program director, and artist manager.
Diana: I started as a road/tour manager with some bands in college, then left to go on to the real world of finance and accounting as my parents told me to get a real job. Since they paid for my education I had no choice, and after more than 20 years of that, I decided if I don’t do what I want to do then I will live with regrets. I’ve interned in every area of the music industry to understand the new music biz and worked with many artists and bands for free. I acquired a third Masters degree in Artist Management and three years ago I opened my boutique niche firm.
What are the biggest obstacles indie artist face right now?
Michelle: I believe every indie artist faces the ability to gain respect n the music industry. This industry deals with whoever can pay the most money to get their music played. Getting radio airplay has been very difficult for the indie artist.
Josee: One of the biggest obstacles indie artists face right now: “How bad do I want this?” There are so many ways of making your music heard today, there is so much music out there, that one has to be creative, work hard, and keep the faith. Building relationships and gaining trust from people takes time and the artists forget that. They need to be smart about their business, not just wanting to be a rock star. They need to be strategic and understand their career and where they want to take it and how.
Diana: Lack of artist development from labels, managers, etc. and finding their own creative and unique way to generate multiple revenue streams to sustain a living off of their music. Not taking the time to understand and participate in the process of the ever-changing and evolving music biz to allow them to form the right and necessary partnerships they will require for their music career. I don’t feel artists today have the time to make the mistakes of the artists before them. Do what all the major biz leaders say and do –why reinvent the wheel? Invest in and surround yourself with a team who can fill in the gaps that the artist doesn’t know or doesn’t want to do.
Artists today need to have a plan, a strategy for their career, their Plan B and their life, then seek out someone to assist in all of it. They must be willing to invest in themselves and know when its time to add to their team. Some think having a manager is the most important without the ability to know they may need developing first, or a manager to devote the time to their development before securing deals. And some artists don’t and won’t hear it when it is said to them.
What are the three most important assets a manager in music must possess?
Michelle: Passion, honesty and integrity.
Josee: Passion and drive for the job; patience and commitment.
Diana: Continued training and knowledge of the changing “new music biz,” creativity, the flexibility to adapt to the trends and build upon them and implement them for their artists. Have a plan and a strategy for both the artists and the manager to accomplish this.
Most managers no longer financially invest in artists today unless they see an immediate ROI, and that does both the manager and the artist a serious disservice.
Adaptability, flexibility strategic planning, creativity. I know and have heard that having tons of industry contacts is they key to a good manager, and to an extent that is correct. But anyone can reach out to someone else and make a necessary connection. It seems that as managers we don’t want to appear as if you don’t know it all and know everyone who is anyone. But to me it’s more important to know when you have to reach out to someone on behalf of the artists and not appear to be the end all or know it all. We have to know a lot about this industry, including licensing, publishing, record deals, etc. and no one manager knows it all. But we can and should continue to learn and be open. There should be required training and licensing for managers, just like they do for agents in California and New York.
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