- Thu, 2012-11-29 18:06
On Tuesday night we were invited to the annual Artist & Manager Awards 2012. A celebration of the art of the artist, the craft of the manager and the collaborative relationship between the two, we left the awards reminded of the importance of working with the right people, doing what you believe in and navigating the current music industry with a combination of knowledge, creativity and at times, caution.
After eight awards and eight acceptance speeches, it became clear that finding a manager you can trust is of crucial importance for any artist or band.
From one end of the spectrum to the other, Breakthrough Manager of the year Owain Davies thanked Ben Howard "his best friend and an incredible talent," while super-global-pop princess Kylie paused to compose herself mid-way through an emotional speech, thanking her manager of 25 years Terry Blamey for "helping a 19 year old girl become a woman and an artist and take on the world."
With the MMF set up in 1992 to "educate, inform and represent managers," the FAC formed as a non-profit organisation to "provide artists with a collective voice" and offer "guidance and advice on their rights."
With high profile board members including Billy Bragg, Kate Nash, Radiohead's Ed O'Brien and Blur's Dave Rowntree, the FAC can be a useful extension to the artist / manager relationship, not only lobbying for artist rights in an ever changing digital music landscape but supporting the investment in new and innovative music.
Before sitting down for an award ceremony dinner of posh steak and chips, we caught up with Blur drummer and FAC member Dave Rowntree to talk about the challenges new musicians face in the music industry and why the relationship between musician and fan remains the most important one.
ILM: How are the Featured Artists Coalition relevant to musicians today?
Dave: Once upon a time, we had a very different music industry where there was a lot of money, there was money invested in new artists. That really isn't the case anymore, now it's so much harder to make a living. We're a group of artists, all of whom have made music for a living, many of us for many years, and we have a lot of experience. We're all about helping each other.
ILM: Surely investing in new artists is the way forward?
Dave: As the music industry contracts, the industrial part gets more and more scared and wants to control more and more. The downside of investing in new music is that you're very unlikely to get your money back. A small handful of bands in each generation are properly successful and go on to sell millions of records. But you need to invest in that whole generation to find the few that are going to connect with the public.
ILM: And investing in a whole generation of new music is expensive...so where is the investment going?
Dave: In things that are more likely to make money, boy bands, girl bands, the kind of things they can control. The temptation for people investing in new music is to have more and more of a dead cert.
ILM: Which means new musicians and artists are struggling more than ever before...
Dave: It used to be the case that if you had a good idea, there was a good chance you would be funded to have a crack at it. Now it's even less true. There are virtually no record deals left. The only likelihood of getting one is if you've already got the band, the fans, everything in place. Then it's a guaranteed money spin. That's the only way that really people are going to invest in you. If all the hard work is done already.
ILM: And if it's not, what's your advice to those innovative new musicians?
Dave: You need to do lots of things unconnected with writing songs and playing your instrument in order to get noticed by the people trying to sell your music. So, within the FAC we have lots of experience doing all that stuff. If you want to do it all alone, perfect. But if you want help come and say hi...
ILM: How do music fans fit into what you do?
Dave: We think that musicians and music fans have the most fun when they're closest together. What we're encouraging is for removal of the middle men. Traditionally most of the money in the music industy is made by people who have made it their business to get in between the musician and the fan and control the interactions between them. We're about removing the middle men, having artists and fans talking directly to each other, buying and selling directly to each other, communicating directly with each other, hanging out, having parties, marrying each other.... no. Probably not the last two.