This Article Originally Published April 2002 by Kenny Kerner
I was sitting at a local coffee shop recently when an old friend approached. We got to talking and he asked me if I was still in the personal management business. I told him that I was and mentioned the acts that I represented. “Oh,” he replied, “you’re still managing that act? Seems you’ve been with them forever! How long do you stick with an artist?”
Naturally, I answered him quickly and intelligently, but his question did make me think. How long do you stick with an artist? How long is too long? Is there such a thing as too long? If you set a series of goals and do not meet those
Whoa, boy! Slow down just a second. Let’s go back to the very beginning. At the start of every artist-manager relationship, there needs to be a mutual set of goals to accomplish: Write great songs, develop sound image, prepare kick-ass live show, record an in-your-face demo, etc. As time goes by and you achieve these goals one at a time, you cross them off the list and add new ones. This process is neverending.
Taking an even closer look at this list, it becomes obvious that the elements are not ones that are easily accomplished. Write great songs—sure, we all want to do that, but how long does it take to write a dozen great songs? How about five great songs? How about ONE great song? A day? Week? Month?
Develop a great image—easier said than done. And just what does that mean? What kind of image? And how do you make certain it meshes with the music you play?
Prepare a kick-ass live show: Yeah, right. I can count on one hand the number of acts that have a great live show. And what about the entertainment value of that show? Do you need props? Will there be a production? Other guest performers?
Record an in-your-face demo: Where? In what studio? Who produces? Who pays for pre-production? Who pays for the studio time? Analog or digital? Which songs? Where do you mix? Do you master the songs? How many copies do you manufacture?
Starting to get the picture? Success shouldn’t be measured by your relationship to superstardom but rather to your individual achievements as you move closer to superstardom.
Is your band taking several baby steps forward every week or are you standing still most of the time?
Do you accept the daily challenges with open arms or are you constantly bitching about all of the work?
Do you strive to always do things in a professional manner or is “just good enough” always good enough for you?
Are you thorough and meticulous with your career or are you double parked and can’t wait to move on to the next thing?
Are you always looking for short cuts or do you realize that there is no short cut for knowledge and hard work?
Are you self-motivated or waiting for a baby sitter to come in and clean up after you?
There isn’t a single person out there who can predict the success or failure of an artist with any consistency. And that’s what makes this business so intriguing. So, the best we can hope for is to ready ourselves for success. To do everything we need to do in an intelligent, professional manner—-regardless of how long it takes to do. And when success comes, we’re ready to go for the ride of a lifetime.
Now, how long do I stick with an artist as a personal manager? As long as the artist continues to believe in himself and continues to work relentlessly toward achieving success, my belief in undying. As long as we can both look back and see where we came from and where we’re going, my belief is undying. As long as the artist-manager relationship is still sound and we’re all pushing the train in the same direction, my belief is forever.
Is that too long?