Lessons about performing, lesson five: Hire a manager!

If you don’t know what I’m doing, well… Keep up?!? Sheesh!

I’m making a list of rules that performing musicians should follow – except nobody ever tells them these things. These are lessons learned over a pretty long career. They’re not things you’re going to find in a book and they aren’t things that people talk about.

I’m not sure why we don’t talk about them. We’re usually pretty open about our art. For some reasons, these things don’t usually get discussed. So, I’m going to explain them. Someone’s gotta do the work around here!

Our next rule is from a reader. They’re one of my favorite fellow performing musicians and are pretty good at giving solid advice. I don’t want to give their name away, but it rhymes with Trees Pfleuger’s Roast!

If you want to see the rest of the rules, this magical link will help!

(See that? Yeah, professional use of the ‘read more’ tag! Eat your heart out, editors of Rolling Stone Magazine! You’ve got nothing on Play Guitar!)

Rule #4: Hire a ‘GREAT MANAGER’ (and great beer gitter)!

That’s actually pretty solid advice. It just lacks some information. Let’s see what I can do to help?

What’s a good band manager?

A good band manager can not only find you replacement amps in the middle of the night, during a snow storm, but can placate a drunken drummer or a crazed lead singer that’s convinced he’s a cross between Jim Morrison and Axl Rose.

A good manager doesn’t need you to tell him you want hookers and blow back stage – they’ve already got them waiting. Also, fruit cocktail and canned spinach.

A good manager is hard to find.

Your bassist’s brother is not actually a good band manager. Well, he might be – but I’m skeptical. Is his brother actually a raging alcoholic? Is is brother sober enough to drive? Does he have connections in the industry? Does he actually know anything about the industry?

If the answer is no, he’s not a good band manager.

No, the lead singer’s current girlfriend is not actually a good band manager. No, not even if she’s cute and shows her tits. Those are good qualifications, but they don’t actually make a good band manager.

How do you find a good band manager? Gotta tell you, I don’t know. Nope… I don’t know how you find a good band manager, but I assume there’s some ceremony involving pentagrams, black candles, and chickens. At that point, one just magically appears and you sign a few unimportant pieces of paper that say things about your soul belonging to someone who has a strange sulfur smell about them.

I’d love to be able to tell you how to find a good band manager, but I can’t. I don’t actually know. As near as I can tell, a good band manager finds you. So, get out there and make some noise and maybe one will find you? Until then, you’ve got to do it yourself.

No, that’s not a joke.

I can tell you that it’s really easy to find a bad band manager. If the band manager does more drugs then you, cross them off the list. If the band manager is unwilling to jump into a fist fight (and on your side, no matter how wrong the lead singer actually was), don’t hire them. If the band manager is the type to be sitting beside you in a jail cell (instead of calling your lawyer), they’re not to be considered.

I can list a bunch of ways to not find a good band manager. But, try as I might, I can’t actually give you a magical formula to find a good one. I can also suggest you not get attached to them. They sometimes change more often than the lead singer changes his girlfriend.

But, when you do find the right incantations and the declination of the moon is just right, you’ll find a good one. They’ll make sure there’s even vinegar for the canned spinach. They’ll know where you left the first aid kit. They’ll helpfully point out that someone’s trying to steal your equipment. They’ll be on the other side of the Plexiglas panel, telling you that everything is going to be alright, that they already called the lawyer, and that they’ll call your wife as soon as you let them leave. Even more importantly, they’ll agree with you that the lead singer is, in fact, a blithering idiot.

They’ll probably also tell the lead singer that it’s okay, they understand, and anyone would have done the same thing in that same situation. By that, I mean they are willing to tell lies to keep the band going. They actually care about you and are as passionate as you are about the music. Well, they at least really like the money. They’re not actually much different than well-paid (sometimes) babysitters – but they’re worth their weight in cocaine money!

So, I hope you find, keep, and appreciate a good band manager. They’re rare.

Sometimes, I shake my head and wonder why you all read these. I’m glad you do. I enjoy writing them and I hope they actually help some of you. I also hope they inspire some of you to screw your courage up and get out there to share your passion for music.

It’s great to make music, but it’s even more awesome to share that music. The crowd looks very different from the stage. Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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