Over the last one month, I have had several musicians, presenters, actors etc, approach me to say they need managers… Most already have managers but are not satisfied with the manager’s work ethic, dedication and/or output.
Managers on the other hand, just cant stop complaining about the artistes or the talent they handle. Things have changed. The artistes are getting a little more popular and making some more money and the managers are beginning to feel like the artistes’ attitudes have changed. Speaking from a manager’s point of view, I know how that feels. When the artiste starts making demands that they never used to make. When they start getting angry about things they used to ignore. When they start becoming “divas” and the easy things become more difficult to do. I know how difficult getting used to that transition can be, especially when the manager has never experienced it.
I managed MI from 2008 -2010, and 2009 was a fantastic year for both of us. MI was making great music (still is) and I felt inspired everyday. Our relationship as artiste and manager was pretty much unrivaled in the industry. We didn’t just work together, we became brothers. He won awards, we traveled the world. As he became more popular , I became popular, his fame gave me access to so many places and so many things... However..
As MI’s brand grew, he became more demanding, and It became harder to tolerate my mistakes. One day he called me and told me something I still live by til this day… After a long argument, he sighed and said, “GTom! Just forget the hype and do your f*%king job!!!!”
It took three years, several costly mistakes and failed business endeavors to understand the power of that statement. I will explain this and how it relates to the job of a manager in today’s demanding music industry.
Imagine a child driving a car while you try to remain calm in the passenger's seat. No! scratch that and imagine this…
You are in a plane and as the aircraft taxis through the tarmac, the pilot begins to make some announcements. Just as the plane takes off the pilot says, as clear as possible...
“I am new to this guys, please hang in there with me as I figure this out… By God’s grace we will arrive at our destination, Amen”
Managers, this is what we ask artistes to do every time!
We start a relationship with an artiste, most times unknown, we ask them to trust us to figure it out. To believe in us, as much as we believe in them. That we will “do our best” to take them to the next level and most times, they trust us to do these things. They allow us fly the plane knowing it may crash, and their journey to fame and riches could end before it starts.
Dear Manager, do you not realize that a day will come when the artiste would expect you to be able to fly the plane better? When coasting just isn’t ok anymore? When the artistes wants more than a person who runs errands?
Your artiste will start to hang out with artistes and management teams whom are more successful, and he/she will begin to see things they lack.
It is inevitable!! The day will come when standards will rise and the artiste will begin to ask for more and time to repay that trust will come. This is what MI was trying to tell me. It was time to step up my game. We were doing well coasting, but it was time to take charge of the situation and do more with the successful brand everyone had worked so hard to build.
Most of us are excited and unfortunately, live by our past glory instead of continually developing ourselves and our skills to be better at our craft or source of livelihood. As talent managers, we add value and this must be consistent. Not for one year but every year. It is a JOB and there are expectations and things we are expected to deliver. The more famous and/or richer your artiste becomes, the more expectations will rise. Often times, people are not promoted at work because they did something spectacular, most times, it is because they have done what they do so well that there is a need to give them a new challenge. As talent managers, we are not in the limelight, we can’t get drunk at events, we represent the artiste, therefore we are responsible for them. We get dirty so they stay clean. Some may say the artistes don’t deserve it but it is a JOB! We don’t get new titles; just the opportunity to earn a living, overcome more challenges and EARN more respect from the artiste and the industry. That is payback! Payback for the trust you were given at the start of the journey. You must EARN it! Consistently ask your self these questions;
Am I bringing value?
Have I truly done my job? (Have I done my job well)
Is this where I want to be?
I would advise a lot of the talent managers in the business today, especially in Nigeria to enroll in some sort of mentorship program or internship. You don’t have to make costly mistakes. We all need some help and assistance sometimes. It could be from a distance.
Study your business. How can you do your work better? How do things work? Please refer to my article “Is that why you are here?” and the other articles as well! :D
I have a word for artistes as well… Please be realistic, as much as the manager has a responsibility to get work done, you have the obligation to create products they can sell. Creating music is hard work and consistency is key; so get off the damn horse and do your job as well.
Managers, we are not here for the Champagne, women or limelight… these things are perks of the job, depending on what your preferences are. We are here to create solutions and build businesses. We all make mistakes, you can’t imagine how many I have made, but focus on creating and taking advantage of more opportunities and those mistakes will become lessons that will propel you to greater heights.
Forget the Hype and do your Job!