By Martin Myers
When Ego walks into a room, it is one of the most frightening things to see. It can manifest itself in many forms, but one of the clearest examples is when a manager or close personal aid who has been with an artist since day dot is suddenly kicked into touch.
This article came about after reading about Lorde, the New Zealand act, who just fired her long-term manager Scott Maclachlan. He signed her in 2008, five years before her international breakthrough and he got her a deal with Universal, and nurtured her from schoolgirl to superstar.
My favourite band U2 had Paul McGuiness at the helm since 1978. He was almost the “fifth band member”, but stepped back in 2013, after which Guy Oseary (Madonna’s manager) took over and we suddenly had U2 on every Apple iTunes customer’s account –a PR mess of note. Would that have happened under Paul’s watch? I doubt it.
Jessie J left Crown Talent Management, run by Marc Marot, and Lady Gaga left her Svengali Troy Carter in November 2013, and both have seen their fortunes dip alarmingly.
The industry is littered with more stories like this: think Brian Epstein and The Beatles, Simon Fuller and the Spice Girls, never mind Duffy, who also split with her manager after gaining a smash album with her debut release.
One of the most successful ever managers in my mind was Willi Weber, who managed the stellar career of the great F1 driver Michael Schumacher. Willi was the original “20% man”, so much so that he had his own private jet. Besides taking care of his clients’ contractual issues, he also proved to be quite a talent in finding ways to make money for his clients with creative merchandising deals.
The point is that the most important managers are not there just to take their 20% cut and damn the consequences. At a certain point in their career, when they have achieved the success they and their manager have worked for, artists become surrounded by fawning yes-people keen to keep the money machine in overdrive at all times. And those fawning yes-people have a vested interest in making sure those who might get in their way are sidelined. Simultaneously, the artist’s judgment is liable to decline exponentially as their self-obsession races into the stratosphere. Call it ego. It is very easy to get caught up in the hysteria and think the success will never end. My take on this is to remain humble at all times and respect the fans – they are your ticket to success. Treat them the way you would like to be treated.
It should never be forgotten that at a time in the artist’s careers and in their personal lives when they need it most, a good manager is the only person in the room who will say “No!”. And often that ability to say “no” comes from having been around since the beginning, since before the artist expected that their every word be greeted with approval. Look at someone like Roddy Quinn and Jeanette, who are always in the background, yet have guided Johnny Clegg to wonderful heights .The sum is greater than the parts and artists should never forget that and they should not try and second guess the people they work with. What’s the point then of asking them for advice or help?
Gig of the week: Double bill in Rondebosch
Catch Roeshdien Jaz on Saturday, May 30, at The Reeler Theatre, Rondebosch Boys High School. The ‘Perfect mood’, ‘Inside ’n out’ and ‘Love is in the house’ hit maker will take to the stage along with his five-piece band.
The theme of the show is the fifth year anniversary celebration of his official debut hit single, ‘Feel for life’. Also on the the bill is Siphokazi Jonas, so patrons can look forward to some socially conscious poetry.
Tickets are R150 via Computicket.