Hello Intermediaries class, Berklee people, and any other readers!
The Music Intermediaries class has really allowed all of us to better understand the workings of an Artist’s team, and even inspired some of us to get involved with the band Nanai! Nanai is an amazing group who has allowed us to help them along with multiple aspects of their present career. In all of our class discussions, and hands on work helping the band, lots of questions have come up. In life, most of us strive to do work the “right” way, but in the industry, is there really a right way? What are the rules within the industry? What makes a good manager? What does it mean to be a hard-working artist? What defines success? There are many more questions, and many diverse answers, but I figured for this week, I would reach out to a manager and see what he has to say.
Colin Ramsay, a 21 year old 6th semester student at Berklee College of Music, is one of the nicest, smartest, and most hardworking people I have ever met. He is the exact person you would want managing your career, and he began managing his best friends a little over a year ago. Colin GRACIOUSLY gave me a few minutes of his time to answer some questions I had about his experience being a manager.
Tell me about the band you manage?
I manage Bear Language, a rock and funk trio from Boston along the lines of Radiohead, Muse, Mars Volta, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The group formed in early 2011 between three friends and has grown steadily since. We released a self titled EP in September of 2011, are about to release our second EP the Ventriloquist, and are beginning work on a full length album and a summer East coast tour.
What is your favorite part about being a manager?
My favorite part about being a manager is getting to be involved in all aspects of the bands career from recording music, to putting on shows, managing their presence online, etc. In a way I’m almost the fourth band member because besides actually playing the music, I’m involved in every aspect of the band. It’s extremely rewarding to help take a raw musical product and turn it into something bigger that people want to pay money for.
What is your least favorite part about being a manager?
There’s nothing that I “hate” about management, but there are a lot of challenges that you have to deal with. For one, it’s a 24/7 job. A “work day” doesn’t really exist. It can also be stressful simply because you’re at the center of all aspects of the bands career. You can’t just focus on one thing, you have to juggle making sure upcoming shows are promoted while you’re scheduling time for the band to record their album, coordinating merch orders, etc. This also means that you have to put yourself at the forefront of all these things and take the shit when it comes. As a manager, you work for the band so sometimes you have to shoulder the blame and handle a problem you didn’t cause, or be willing to do unglamorous things like get waters for the band or call them early in the morning and piss them off to make sure they’re awake for an engagement.
Is it difficult to manage your best friends?
Managing my best friends is awesome while simultaneously being awful. I spend all my time hanging out with my best friends which is hard to complain about, but it can be difficult to balance and differentiate between business and personal relationships or business and personal time. When I get in a fight with a band member that’s completely unrelated to the band, it’s difficult to put that aside and put myself in a business mindset. Similarly, when we hang out all the time, dedicating time specifically for band work or meetings can be challenging. I’ve spoken with a lot of managers that are obviously friendly with their clients but try to keep their relationship professional just to avoid these problems. I think the other argument is that a businessman can look more objectively at the band and do the job of making them money better as they’re not clouded by friendship. Ultimately though, I put up with all the stress and bullshit I go through because they’re my best friends and no one’s more pysched on the music than I am.
Do you believe you have to love the music of the band in order to manage them properly?
I don’t think you have to love the music of the artist you’re working with. It’s a definite plus because it gets you excited to work with them, but the more practical situation is that you believe in the music and understand the market. Plenty of pop artists are managed by people who in all likelihood don’t go home at the end of the day and put on Katy Perry. They do, however, understand the value of the music and artist they’re working for, and they have the business savvy to propel their career forward.
What makes a good manager?
Check out Bear Language if you want to listen to a great new band!