Confessions of an artist manager

The music industry is tough. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s builds you up, strips you bare and then runs away with everything leaving you questioning everything you thought you knew. That’s one side of it.

The other side is the better side. It is having an artist manager relationship where all the above to some degree becomes worth it because you battle through it together and build a foundation that is unbreakable.

I’m not saying you will work with that artist forever, because life happens, but you never lose that friendship, trust or loyalty. The loyalty is something that remains in place throughout your life, throughout any situation no matter what ‘job’ you are in.

It’s no secret to some that I hate the music industry. Let’s face it, I wear my heart on my sleeve, I follow my heart, i can’t hide my emotions, I take things personally all too often and I really don’t have a tough skin. Pretty much all the things you need to survive this dog eat dog world. So what the hell am I doing living and breathing it?

The answer is I don’t know.

All I do know is that it becomes part of you. It gets into your veins and when the successes hit a high you are high and when they are low, they are the lowest of the low. It is a drug that you can’t escape from no matter how much your head tells you to. No matter how much you want to protect yourself, you just can’t save yourself from it.

The most difficult part is knowing and believing 150% how amazing your artist is and wanting everyone else to see that. And when I mean everyone, I mean EVERYONE. And god I will try.

It’s true that not each person I come into contact with is going to like my artists music and I get that completely but I have this fierce overwhelming urge to make them at least understand the time, work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears that go into their craft and for them to appreciate that.

You see, we have had setbacks, we have had opportunities that we have worked so hard for given to us and then lost and we have had days where we just don’t want to do this anymore and that for me is a killer.

As an artist manager you begin to question your abilities. You wonder if you have worked hard enough, if you have gone to the right place at the right time, you wonder if you have spoken to as many people as you could have done, if you should have worked 20 hours a day instead of 18, if you should have gone to the latest launch party and the thoughts go on and on and on until you don’t even know what you were thinking in the first place.

Set backs are hard for an artist manager. You feel guilt, deflation, you feel like you are going to lose your artist.

But then you see what your artist is going through and you feel their emotion and their pain and this then intensifies yours because you feel responsible and you feel protective and the very last thing you want to see is them defeated or let down.

So everything that happens, an artist manager you feel it twice. Every success. Every set back. Every achievement. Every defeat. Every high. Every low. Each one is felt twice. Each one with a hard hitting emotion that you feel responsible for.

The music industry is thankless and it is fickle and ever changing. It is not supportive as most people would have you believe.

Let’s take for example, and quite apt for what we have just done and will be in the middle of again very soon, a single campaign.

You of course want your peers to support you because they understand what you have gone through to get this single out there into the world. They understand the time it takes to write the lyrics, to rewrite and then rewrite again. They understand the challenge of recording, mixing, remixing, maybe going back and changing the lyrics again, mixing again and mastering.

They understand the effort to get the music out to radio, to follow up with said radio to ensure airplay, the social media updates, the website updates, the marketing side, the strategy for pre release and post release, the distribution set up, the artwork design, the pre save and pre order links, the gigging, the interviews, the festival applications, the successes, the rejections and often the small factor of having a full time day job and children and families to look after. Oh and maybe getting a couple of hours sleep.

Your peers will get that and support you right?!

Well, as an Artist Manager, I’m going to say you are wrong.

I study everything. And again I mean EVERYTHING. From chart positions and streams of other artists, to the support they give to my artist.

Every week without fail, a message will hit my inbox, “hey, I have this single coming out. It would be amazing if you would support me by ordering/streaming/downloading’ and so on.

Or ‘hey thanks for accepting my friend request. Ive followed your work. Here’s my song if you would download it’

This isn’t a way to build a business.

It isn’t a way of building your fan base. But what my point is, is that every one will always forget what you have done for them.

You bought their single 6 months ago and shared their Facebook post about their next show.

You now have a single coming out and where is the support?

That’s right. Right where they forgot about you buying their single 6 months ago.

But announce that you are quitting the music industry tomorrow and you will get 1,000 comments saying how amazing your music is and how they have always supported you.

No you haven’t!

So as an artist manager, let me just say that the music industry whilst undeniably resentful, full of jealousy, cliques and resistance has given me something that I never saw in myself.

Fierce loyalty and determination.

And that loyalty isn’t to the music industry. My loyalty isn’t to the cliques that’s have formed. I have no intention of putting on a fake smile and pretending I admire somebody’s work just so we can get a foot in the door. I have no desire to be part of a clique. Those will soon disband. There will always be another ‘cool kids’ club that pops up.

My loyalty is to my artist who I see work consistently hard with more determination and stubborn ability than I have, and that is saying something.

It is to my artist who I have often seen deflated by the way the music industry deals some ridiculously cruel cards and to my artist who I have let see me just as deflated.

It is to my artist who is constantly navigating this horribly difficult industry with me. Every one of those highs and every one of those lows.

It is to my artist who I have unrivalled loyalty to and unrivalled belief in and who I know that no matter what happens in the industry, I have a friend for life because you can’t do this thankless job and not have someone who you can tell anything to. You need that sounding board through the good and the bad.

It is to us. Who keep it real even at the worst of times. Who believe that the hard work and commitment will eventually pay off.

And that is why I keep fighting to navigate my way through the industry because in my eyes there is no one more deserving of success than the artist who does that.

Winging it…again!! A-Team updates! 😇

As an artist manager you cross paths with so many people in the music industry; those who inspire you, those who motivate you and those who change you. Very rarely do you come across somebody who does all three.

My journey on this weird and wonderful musical escapade hasn’t been a smooth ride or something that I have wanted to be continually part of but working with my artist, Stuart Landon, has seen us create something that I believe will change the way artist and manager relationships are portrayed.

Spending a lot of time in London & Los Angeles really opened my eyes to how formal some business relationships are and how flawed and unproductive the impact of this can be.

Some artists were only speaking to their management once a month for updates and the rest of the time they were navigating their way through the industry alone worrying about what their next move should be. Some of these artists didn’t even know when their next single release was going to be, when their next gig was, some didn’t even know who their actual manager was as they had contact with numerous people within a company!

There is no right or wrong way for an artist and a manager to work together. You find your own momentum and you figure out what works for you both but once a month communication surely isn’t the way.

In my opinion, artist management should be primarily about trust, communication and loyalty. These are the fundamental qualities that are needed to build a long lasting relationship.

Stuart & I both very much operate an open door policy and an unbreakable loyalty to each other where we talk about anything and everything.

This is important to us as it gives us the freedom to not only discuss any issues that come up but the safety net of knowing that any disagreements can be talked about without the fear of rocking the boat.

Whilst in Los Angeles, I spoke to three artists who were too afraid to pick up the phone to their managers with current issues that they had for fear of being dropped or being seen as troublemakers. Each artist had valid reasons for their concerns but neither one was comfortable enough to speak to their manager as their relationship was too formal and they didn’t feel like they could discuss it.

Those artists won’t succeed whilst under that management and I told them this.

On the positive side, I have been extremely lucky to meet an incredible manager who looks after a world renowned artist.

Colin Lester, who is the manager to Craig David, was attending the MUSEXPO in LA the first time I met him. His relationship with Craig almost mirrors the one I have with Stuart and the similarities as to how we work have really amazed me.

The advice and guidance that I have received from Colin has been so valuable and has been a fundamental part of my artist management talks both here in the UK and in LA.

Relationships are everything in the music world no matter what your role is but I have always been about making a change in the music industry. When I first started out 5 years ago, the platform I created was for emerging artists and CEI was made to provide a stage for unknown talent; putting them in front of new audiences and creating a network.

Now, as time has progressed and I find myself in the place where I think I was meant to be, with an artist that I was meant to work with, I still believe in making a change.

However, that change is now for us. It is about developing our profile as an artist and a manager and showing the world what can be achieved when you have a team and a relationship that goes beyond a formal business setting.

How we work won’t be for everyone but the relationship we have built has created a momentum and an interest that we want to share.

We have created a friendship that has carried us through three years of ups and downs in this crazy industry, laughter, tears (from me!), a lot of swearing (from him!), the odd drunken nights out (ok, a few!) and we want to share how we have overcome challenges, created opportunities, started to see success and kept it fun along the way.

So with that in mind, Stuart & I are so excited to be hitting the road this year and hosting our own artist / manager music talks.

We have never done this before so yes, we are winging it but its going to be so much fun and it’s what we do. We know the industry and we know each other so it’s our way of doing something slightly different and allowing people a behind the scenes look into what we do whilst giving back and educating those looking to progress in the music industry.

My own talks which I have given to Live Nation, Kobalt Music and other industry leaders have been a great experience but to do these talks with someone who has become my best friend is going to be so much fun.

What’s even better is that we are going to be joined on a few of the dates by a couple of very special people.

All of the dates are going to be announced at the end of the month. We will share all the locations, ticket links and more information then.

We appreciate all the support we have continuously had and can’t wait to share our journey and stories at these shows!

🎶💕🎶

Everyone makes a mark

Life is short and whether we have a year on this Earth or if we live to be 90 years old, our lifetime is affected by people and circumstances that impact us. They either leave a mark or leave a scar.

Walking on the beach yesterday reminded me of the ‘Footprints’ poem that my Nan used to have hanging up in her living room. Not for any religious reason but more for the sentiment of it.

As you walk along the beach you will see footprints in the sand. Footprints of somebody’s mother, father, daughter, son, brother, sister, friend, pet, long lost relative, an old school friend, an ex lover.

The footprints of a happy, life loving girl who is battling cancer, the footprints of a elderly man enjoying the afternoon but inside is in turmoil after losing his wife of 60 years, a young child who looks just like everyone else but can’t communicate their emotions, a surfer who has no cares in the world but has just lost his job and is wondering how to survive the next month.

Footprints with stories.

Now walk back down the beach. Those footprints have gone. The waves carrying them away as though they never existed.

There’s no evidence left in the sand to show they were ever there. There’s no impact on the sand. No damage. You would never know if someone has kicked the sand from anger, sat on the sand and cried in sadness or danced around happily in that moment of freedom.

As people, we don’t always see the impact that we have on each other.

Sometimes we leave a mark for the better, sometimes we leave a scar.

Life is hard and we all have troubles, worries and fears. There are people that we don’t instantly click with and there are people who we just don’t relate to. That’s ok. Let them be them and you be you but understand that you don’t have to negatively let that affect you or them.

Human relationships are a work in progress. There will be so many people who come into your life and so many people who pass through it.

What you have to do is treat each one with the same intentions. The intent to leave a mark for the better, no matter how small.

If they leave your life then that’s ok. They were never meant to stay but in that moment of interaction, you should never leave a scar.

When people treat you like they don’t care, believe them and then when they treat you like they do, believe them too.

Just be kind to everyone.

Everyone leaves a mark. You just have to choose the right one.

💕

Chasing the small time

The definition of success in the music industry is different for everyone.

Some will say it is maintaining a standard of excellence. Some will think it is selling out their hometown venues. Some will say it is mastering their skill of their instrument.

Whatever success means to you, that’s great. That’s one factor. But there is so much more to it than that.

Will those factors alone get you to the big time?

People will argue that they don’t even want to get to that stage and they just do it for the love of the music. Again, great. And if that’s what you think, it’s probably best you stop reading now.

Music is increasingly, notoriously hard. No longer are people mind blown by an artist who can play that guitar technically better than Hendrix or Clapton! Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a talking point amongst your peers, but 90% of the audience won’t even know what chord you are playing so it definitely doesn’t define how successful you are going to be.

So what does?

And why are artists not doing it?

These are my thoughts and whilst they not everyone will agree, I’ve used these to create the framework of my all of businesses and sculpt into it what I want with some key success.

Individuality & Originality

I’m not sure which one of these an artist thinks its ok to not be.

How many times have I been to a gig and the artist sounds the same as the support artist?

How many times have I witnessed the same cover song performed over and over again by pretty much every artist on the scene?

How many times have I been lost in my own thoughts because song after song is being bashed out without any audience interaction?

Too many!! More than I wish to remember.

This is why venues are not full. It’s the reason why tickets to your gigs aren’t selling.

It’s the reason why promoters and booking agents cleverly choose their support acts. If a solo female is headlining, they won’t have another female solo artist as a support artist who played the same venue last week who does the same cover song that you think you do so originally well!

Or is it because you think you are playing it safe?

Do you think you are playing what your audience wants to hear? Do you think within time that live video of you filmed by one of your 20 audience guests is going to go viral and land you that big gig?

I’ll tell you now, it isn’t. The music industry doesn’t work this way and it surely doesn’t give opportunities to those playing it safe.

Be bold. Be dedicated. Be different. Or for gods sake put that guitar away.

Never trust a sheep

So you admire that artist who just had a number one hit on iTunes or just landed a big tour or have just started a weekly live show etc etc.

You are impressed by their following on Facebook and will go and pay to get that many fans.

You think their style is unique and you might try that.

You want to cover the song they just did because it had a great audience reaction.

Don’t do it!! Why are you being a sheep?!

Before you start copying what they are doing, asking yourself what are they doing that you aren’t. And then ask yourself how you can do it better.

Remember, it takes nothing to join the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone and this is how you will make people notice you.

Be a lion.

Get a team

Ok, so I’ll be fair. Music is hard. And it isn’t just about performing anymore.

There is so much to do to be able to get yourself ahead of everyone else.

Now more than ever, statistics matter. Streams matter. Views matter.

Like it or not, this is what the industry are looking at and monitoring.

The admin side of Music is a full time job. How many hours do you spend a day trying to find gigs, updating your social media, doing PR, reaching out to promoters, engaging with fans and so on. All of this and still finding time to write, create and perform is never going to happen.

And if you are doing it alone you are not doing it effectively.

If you think you can do it alone then you don’t know the industry and need to get educated.

Work fricking harder

Lets be honest for a second.

We all have dreams. We all want the best of everything.

But why do so many people think that the world owes them?

So many people crave success but actually no one is willing to work for it.

It’s pure common sense that to achieve what you want, you have to work for it.

If you put more energy into focusing on your business instead of watching everyone else’s, you will soon start to see your work paying off.

Charl x

Happily Dissatisfied…

For one girl, I sure have a lot of jobs to juggle and sometimes that can get really chaotic so I am challenged daily to keep everything organised and on track.

From event management to artist management, speaking at conferences and attending Women Influencer networking events and lots of other things in between, I find it impossible to be happy with every aspect of each role all of the time.

This is why today’s speaking assignment had me working until the early hours of this morning.

When I am speaking and telling my story, I have to speak from the heart. I have to be able to stand there and believe in what I am saying so my client is getting what they have paid for and getting the best results for their audience but most importantly so that the audience are receiving an authentic experience. Anyone can stand on stage and create a story but if that story isn’t real, lacks emotion or gives them nothing to take away, you have also failed at what you have been asked to do.

The talk was about being Mindset and how Positivity doesn’t always mean winning.

This was tricky because I LOVE winning. I always want to be the best in my field and if I feel like I’m not at the top of my game I become  restless but the problem is I fight against myself. I become restless but then i’m so completely driven to the point where most people would burn out that I work constantly until I win or until I reach i point that I feel I have done everything I can do to get the best outcome.

So how could I stand up there today and say ‘don’t worry about not winning’ and ‘losing isn’t failure’ when I know I would drive myself crazy.

But I knew I had the answer somewhere within me.

Fast forward to 3am and I found it.

The words ‘Happily Dissastified’ came out of my mouth and I knew that this was the backbone of my speech.

This is me. Happily dissastified.

After the end of every talk, I always do a Question & Answer session.

Today, I only got one question. “How have you made dissastified, sound like a good thing to be?”

My answer was this:

Without dissatisfaction, there is no growth. We can become so complacent in life that we start to go with the flow and ignore the highlights as well as the low. We become used to not winning, not earning enough, not being as good as someone else that we stop trying.

What we don’t always notice when we do this is that our mindset changes in a negative way. We accept this. We don’t try hard anymore. We believe we aren’t good enough.

But how positive is it to be ‘Happily Dissastified ‘

Really, it’s amazing. It means that you still have that fire in you. It means that you have the tenacity and the drive to keep going and to keep achieving.

I don’t think you should ever be completely satisfied. There is always more to aim for. Always more to do. Always something to learn.

Having a positive mindset no matter what the outcome and seeing the best in every situation will keep your fighting spirit and make you succeed when everyone else gives up.

I used this photo today as an example:

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How powerful is this?

You can be the best at everything but not be satisfied. You can be the best and not be happy.

Or you can participate and still achieve something. You can still be a winner. You can still take something from the experience. It’s all about how you choose to see the world. How you choose to feel and how you choose to live.

It’s up to you to be Happily Dissastified with a smile on your face and work harder to achieve that next goal.

Charl 💕

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond country…

Something struck me this weekend whilst I was hidden away in the Scottish mountains contemplating my life and my contribution to the music industry.

What I thought, and subsequently tried to work out was Why do artists only network in the genre in which they perform?

It would seem like an obvious answer and probably to 90% of people it would be a logical thing to do. But just how detrimental is that to their career?

On Wednesday night I will be attending the Brit Awards as a guest of a multi genre A&R company. I’ll be attending as a country music artist manager.

A country manager at a pop/rock event. Strange? Probably to that 90% yes, but to me it is crucial to the plans I have next.

Despite what everyone will have you believe, Country Music is still not big in the UK. Yes, the annual C2C festival is a sellout and the American artists that are coming over thick and fast are building a ever growing legion of fans here but that still isn’t helping our homegrown artists anywhere near enough as it should be.

The ‘UK Country’ artists as they are so often referred to are not getting the support from the majority of fans who support the big label, established names and whilst that is a choice, they are also not being supported anywhere near enough by the organisers working within the scene.

So what is a manager to do? How do you look outside the box? How can you believe so strongly in your artist, yet move them away from a scene that they have spent years in and still make that a success?

When I say move away from the scene, I don’t mean their genre, I mean exactly that, the scene.

The network.

The network is probably a managers best weapon. The artist can have the best voice, the best songs and be the best product but how do you steer that to success?

A country artist shouldn’t only network within a country scene, just like a rock artist shouldn’t be afraid to cross over and network with other genres.

A music event isn’t about the genre. It is about meeting your peers, discussing music, creating opportunities, finding opportunities, talking about different artists and learning about them. Educating yourself on a wider spectrum.

So on Wednesday night, as well as convincing Ed Sheeran to write a song with me (obviously!), I’ll be discussing the music industry with some of the leaders.

People think it is difficult to cross into a scene that is not your genre but that is the word that trips everyone up. Genre.

Great music is great music. A great artist is a great artist. Don’t pigeonhole yourself or your artist. Let the music do the talking.

Whether you are country, rock, punk or metal. Find a crowd. Believe in what you do. Talk about your achievements. Know your field. Believe beyond all doubt that what you do and who you work with are worth them knowing about. The rest will follow. Make them listen. Make them believe.

Get out there and do it.

Charl xx

Keeping the music going at Christmas

Christmas is the easiest time to lose momentum in business; the array of films on tv, party food galore and parties to attend. It’s only a natural reaction that business starts to slow down as we look forward to time off from our every day grind.

For me though, I always avoid the risk of losing momentum, business and bookings by making time to review and prepare.

A well planned review and some work will allow you to hit the ground running in January.

As an artist, if you don’t have bookings in January or any music planned for release then you may find January will be a dead month for you.

There is nothing harder than trying to fill the diary for what is essentially a quieter month in the music industry.

Sitting back until the 2nd January, you will find those gig slots have been taken by an artist focused enough to have secured their dates before you. Those artists releasing music will be at the forefront of every promoter & booking agents mind and before you know it February has rolled around and you have not achieved anything in January.

There goes your New Year Resolution!

So here are my tips on keeping the momentum going and keeping that music happening!

Celebrate your year

Review the last year and celebrate everything that you have achieved. Go through your diary and highlight the best gigs you had, the chart position you achieved, the people you met. Whatever is an achievement to you. Write it down and then look back at how much impact your music had on the world this year.

Then do the same for the things that didn’t go so well. Doing this isn’t a negative thing to do. In any business we have to look at what we could have done better in order to learn from it, adapt it and make it even better. Being able to identify what didn’t go so well will allow you to plan how to stop it happening again and highlight even more just how important your successes are!

Change your mindset

Don’t assume Christmas is a completely dead time for making deals. During the Christmas of 2017, I made so many more contacts than I had during the past two months. This was only through networking. Remember, people are generally happier during the Christmas period so a friendly face and a glass of bubbly means you are half way there!!

A lot of industry people will still be working and you may find that they will be surprised that you are too. Showing a bit of drive and ambition at a time when most people won’t, puts you one step ahead of the game and may just land you that slot in their diary for January!

Don’t forget the 30 day rule

If you have never heard about it, there is a 30 day rule that dictates that the work you do for 30 days will pay off for the next 90 days. If you take December off then March will see you stall.

Keep your social media content going

So you aren’t gigging or in the studio or on tour but that doesn’t mean you should let your social media channels slip. Your fans still want to hear from you and it doesn’t have to be music related. Let them have a little insight into your life at Christmas. Just one post a day will keep the logarithm of social media going and you will be thankful you did. Social media is ever changing and the way they present your posts to your followers is ever changing too. By taking just 2 days away from Instagram for example, can see you lose up to 60 followers and that’s then 60 followers you need to get back. Just a quick post of that holiday film you are watching #diehard (is it a Christmas film or not?!) or that extra shot of whisky you just poured #whynot?

These are just some of the things that I work into my plan to make sure that January is a sure starter. There’s nothing worse than taking time off to find you have to start pressing the panic mode button because you have stalled.

That said, Christmas is an amazing time and everyone deserves a break after an hectic year.

This year has been successful and hard but worth every minute and 2019 looks set to be one of the best yet with new music, tours and promotional gigs all ready and sat in the diary.

I hope you all have the most amazing Christmas and New Year and that 2019 is successful and happy for everybody.

Love,

Me 💕 xx