Thursday, 20 August 2015

Exploring managers and their relationships with bands/artists

by Jozua Zhang

Music Manager: Keith Tan (far right) and Edwin Waliman (left) sat down for a couple of hours to discuss an array of topics about the local music scene, such as the role of a manager in a band to gaining more publicity if and when your band starts getting attention after an EP release. PHOTO BY: FASIHA NAZREN

“As an artist you are sort of in your own little (creative) bubble, and then your manager is the one who actually reaches out and is a liaise point between the world and the band itself,” summarized Edwin Waliman, an associate for Secret Signals and who is also an artist.

Speaking at the TRCC Lab on 19th August on a Wednesday evening, Edwin was joined by Keith Tan, a music manager whose clients’ list extend from singer-songwriter Daphne Khoo to instrumental band In Each Hand a Cutlass, to conduct a Music Management Workshop by Macbeth.

Right off the bat, the duo started off the discussion talking about the motivations for a band having a manager, and that is it vital that an artist has his “work of art protected and that he sees a return (financial, or whatever) basically.”

“I’m guessing the most important thing for any manager is having integrity, a manager who is honest, who you (as an artist or group) trust most importantly and also someone who shares the same vision as you/or your group,” recounted Mr Waliman, who is also the bassist for the pop/rock band The Summer State, a band who released their self-titled EP as well as music video for their hit “I Do, I Don’t” a couple of years ago.

The duo reiterated that not every act or artist necessarily needs a manager and that the best manager a band can get is not the one who is the most famous or most successful, but the one who is the best fit for your band.

Keith also spoke about how if a manager rejects a band: “It’s not that the artist or band sucks, but it’s just that it might not be the right fit.” One example was if a metal band approached a manager who was active in the hip hop industry, it might not be great fit as he might not be as influential or prominent in the metal scene and could not have the right or necessarily the best contacts for that group.

However, they stated that there was no rule for that and partnerships between an artist and a manager of different genres do happen, and that it could very well be a great working relationship.

The duo delved into many areas of the business side of the music industry and how when some artists reach a level of success, they would tend to need a larger team who is able to meet the expectations of the artist or the group.

“There’s your manager, booking agent, a business manager, a lawyer and a publicist. So basically how it all works is that your manager is the one who controls all the traffic at the top, “ explained Keith, who then went on to talk about how a local band’s set up might function. For example, some managers double up as booking agents sometimes, and they take on different roles.

It isn’t always easy to have a band, let alone manage one. It was an eye-opener as the duo spoke about their experiences in band management, and the workshop, an IGNITE! Music Festival fringe event, was certainly beneficial to all the aspiring musicians and band managers out there in the local music scene.

IGNITE! Music Festival happens this week on Friday and Saturday, 21 – 22 August 2015, at Republic Polytechnic’s Lawn.

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