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01:00 Mon 01st Apr 2002 |

Q.� I'd like to manage a rock band, how do I start < xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

A.� First of all, you need to be very sure that this is what you want to do. Managing a band is second only to playing in a band, in terms of the potential for heartbreak, lost sleep, broken relationships, homesickness, and financial ruin!

Q.� It sounds like a nightmare!

A.� Probably not, but neither is it a picnic. You need to be fully aware of the commitment you are undertaking, and the potential for problems and pain that you will undoubtedly encounter along the way, even if your band is successful, in fact, especially if your band is successful.

Q.� What do I need to do to get started

A.� At the bottom rung of the management ladder, most people start with a band they know, either friends, or acquaintances, who look like they have a promising future. It's pointless approaching a band you don't know and offering to manage them, unless you have some sort of track record and experience. It's really a 'Catch 22' -�you can't manage a band without experience, you can't get experience without a band to manage. So we'll assume you already have a band in mind, and they are happy for you to give you a shot as a manager.

Q.� So assuming I have a band to manage, what next

A.� Although most young bands start off being managed by someone they know, this can often be a disaster. Just because Fred goes out with the guitarist's sister does not give him the necessary skills to take the band to the top of the tree. You will need to show an aptitude for the skills of band management, and you will need to skate the very thin line between being friendly enough to get the best out of your charges, and professional enough to make sure that none of you finish up bankrupt while you do it.

Q.� This sounds like I need a list of skills.

A.� Fine. You need some business acumen because you have to work with money, hopefully increasingly large amounts if success comes to you all, but you will need to establish everything on a firm legal footing before you get going. You will need to secure gigs for your band. This means having a good idea which local venues will suit your band's musical style�- it's no use putting a hardcore rap band in a workingmen's club, or a cabaret covers band in the local Students' Union, so know who to aim for. Make sure your approach is professional�- have a good demo tape and some decent publicity shots and a typed biography made into a press kit which you can circulate around potential venues. Professionalism is everything.�If you look like an amateur. you will get treated like one, and worse, your band will get paid like amateurs, which will not enhance your popularity, or chances of a long term arrangement.

Find your band an accountant, and a lawyer, preferably someone from a firm who specialises in looking after musicians. Your local Musicians Union will assist you here.�If your band aren't members of the MU, they'd better join, it saves all manner of hassles later on, and can be a major assistance with advice and support. Open a separate account for the band's income and expenditure, and keep proper records ready for the Inland Revenue. When it comes to the tax return, claim for anything and everything, and let the Tax Inspector tell you if you can have it or not.�Don't on any account try to be 'creative' with the accounts�- they've seen it all before, and they take a dim view of people who treat them as idiots. Be straight, and get good advice from your accountant.

Q.� What about payment

A.� A manager works on commission�- successful managers command between 15% AND 25% of their band's earnings, but this varies. You need to establish from the start if you are going to take an equal share of profits�- a good starting point until you get established, and whether your proportion is going to be taken from the 'gross'�- the fee at the start, or the 'net'�- the amount left when all the expenses have been taken care of. Obviously asking for 25% from the start is pointless, but make sure everyone knows that your fees will increase if you bring success.�That's what managers are for after all.

Q.� If we start to get gigs, how do we get a record deal

A.� That's further up the line, but assuming you are making a good living as a live act, and you have good songs, you need to get a record company interested. This is one of the most disheartening aspects of management, so be prepared for it. You can send out hundreds of demo tapes to dozens of record companies, and not even get a reply; it's that hard to get people interested. That said, every company is looking for the next big thing.�Take heart from Alan McGhee who happened to arrive early to meet a contact and heard the replacement support act called Oasis, and signed them on the spot. Such fairy tales are rare, but they do happen�- no one starts at Wembley Arena, they star in their local pub, and everyone who gets to the Arena has a manager, so hang in there. You need to be thick-skinned, determined, and optimistic, in that order.

Q.� How can I make sure I make the right decisions

A.� Management is largely common sense. Your band are the creative ones�- they write the songs and play the shows, you deal with the nuts and bolts day-to-day stuff, and you do learn as you go. If you get a chance to chat with other band managers,�the manager of a band your band is supporting for instance, then pick their brains. They've been where you are, and they are usually keen to pass on some of their experience. As long as you think, then check with your lawyer�before you sign anything, and discuss everything with the band first, you won't go far wrong.

Q.� What if it doesn't work out

A.� Management can be a rough business.�You can be blamed for everything, including the band's lack of success. Remember, there is no one single factor that is responsible for a band's success, or indeed its failure, so if they try to blame you, rise above it. If you come to a parting of the ways, bow out gracefully, and make it a rule never to fall out with anyone, even if they fall out with you. It's amazing how often�you can bump into venue owners, other bands, tour managers and so on, so if you have a reputation for being a good guy, and a professional, you are unlikely to find needless obstacles put in your way. If things don't work out, there are plenty more bands out there. When you've managed one, you can manage another, and the next�time, you have experience to back up your interest.

Q.� Who should I look at for inspiration

A.� There's a long list, but people like Paul McGuiness who looks after U2, Roger Davies who takes care of Tina Turner, and even Tom Parker who took care of business for Elvis, all know, and knew what they were doing. As Colonel Tom said, "I'm Elvis's manager because I say I am, and because Elvis says I am." And that really sums up how easy it is to get a start in music management. Making a success comes with practice, and luck, and a good band, but if you have the enthusiasm and willpower, it can be a wonderful way to make a living.

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By:� Andy Hughes.

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