By Kenny Kerner
Recently, one of my students surprised me by asking a pretty relevant question: How honest are you with the artist you manage? Do you tell him everythingeven if it's really bad? And how much does he really need to know, anyway? Hmmm. Good one!
Those of you who know me might be aware of the fact that I currently manage a Los Angeles-based Pop singer named Heiarii (www.heiariidance.com). Heiarii's daily chores include going to school to work on his dancing and singing, answering fan e-mail, promoting his new CD called Dance! on Allure Records and playing liveno complaints there.
But how could we have reached any level of respect for each other without open, honest dialog between us? It would have been impossible. Heiarii (pronounced like Ferrari) is a wonderfully talented singer/performer who has plenty of ideas of his own. However, being born and bred in Tahiti, he's a bit unfamiliar with how the industry works but extremely clear about what he wants to do.
I always found it refreshing when we discussed certain situations and disagreed. Will he eventually see things my way? Can he persuade me to think that he is right? What's important is that by hiding the truthor certain elements of itwe are not being honest with each other as people. And that in itself is wrong.
Keep in mind that as a Personal Manager, I work for the artist. I report to him. And over the years, Heiarii has asked me some very important, pointed questions that I could easily have dodged. When, for example, a record company passes on an artist, it is my duty to tell the artist the bad news and then to explain whyso that he learns from the experience and tries to avoid it in the future. This is one reason we decided to go strictly independent with his new CD.
After a terrible show, I need to review the performance and critique it clearly and informatively so it never happens again. If a show sucks, I need to tell Heiarii the show sucked. Period. Fortunately, that has not happened.
In return, I expect Heiarii to be brutally honest with me; to confide in me. We all need to know that we are sharing all of the information relative to his career. As for the part about how much he really needs to knowthat depends on each artist. Everything that's really important is revealed and explained. However, I do not recount my entire day, all the meetings and phone calls. Just the facts; the bottom line. That's the deal we have. And he reciprocates. Including telephone calls and e-mails, we probably communicate about five to 10 times a day.
Artists and managers must communicate with each other all the time. They must plan rehearsals, writing sessions, gigs, promotional activities, and have a daily exchanging of ideas. Managers should also be aware of these activities and be given a schedule of them. The business side of things is equally as important as the music side. Therefore, the manager should communicate his business activities on behalf of the artist on a daily basis. It's not a difficult concept to understand.
Additionally, it's always a good idea to schedule more formal artist-manager meetings three or four times a year where their entire career is reviewed and plans are laid for the coming months. This brings everyone up to par. You'd be surprised at how honest artists get after a couple of six-packs.
Personal Managers tend to treat artists the same way they treat others in the industry. And that alone says a lot. It is therefore incredibly important to select a PM with great care. If your manager is basically honest and concerned and committed as an individual, he will be someone who will genuinely nurture your career.
Telling the "whole" truth is sometimes painfulboth for managers and artists. But ignorance is never an option. Let it hurt for a few minutes and then grow with the experiences.
In all cases, honesty is the best policy.