So as I’ve been talking the past month or so about some of the things that happen day-to-day behind the walls of a label, what I haven’t yet mentioned is that I actually also…I can’t believe I’m about to say this.. am a manager (putting my head down).
Why am I being so weird about admitting that, you ask? Because first, like I said before, managers are truly a unique and special breed of people; and secondly because it’s really cliché to say you’re a manager.
It’s like I said about rappers last week, there are a few roles/titles in this game that people love to say they hold: everyone’s a rapper/singer, everyone’s a marketing consultant, everyone’s a publicist, and everyone’s a manager. Oh, everyone’s a producer too.
It’s really frustrating when folks think what you do is so easy that you can do some bootleg version of it and proclaim that this is your place in the world. So having said that, let me be clear that I manage two unsigned artists, both still in development, and I do not claim to be Benny Medina, Mathew Knowles, Blue Williams, or any other major manager.
I also hesitate to tout the fact that I’m a manager is because it was honestly the last thing I wanted to do in this game. The last. I’ve been resisting it for years. Plently of people I know, trust and love and come to me asking if I’d like to partner with them at different times and my answer has always been a resounding “Heeyellll no.”
Management is a lot of work, and it’s a lot of risk. People always hear stories of shady managers trying to beat artists for all their money, but there’s also the other side: management putting in time, money, resources, and relationships, and then the artist blowing up and blowing them off. And even all that aside, like I keep telling ya’ll, I’m not a fan of a lot of stuff I hear out here, so I couldn’t imagine an artist, especially a Hip Hop artist, that would be so phenomenal that I would want to give of myself to them like that.
Then, my boy who’s now my partner came to me with an artist he found online. He was amped about this kid. He found his contact information, tracked him down, and had set up a meeting with him before he even called me to tell me about him. I thought he was speeding. The kid was aight, in my opinion, but nothing I’m throwing a party over. He asked me to join him in the meeting, and I reluctantly agreed.
We met the artist, we talked about his story and what his vision was, what his needs were, etc. He played us some music, and I was actually surprised. There was some real talent there, not just catchy beats or slick hooks, but real lyrical skill. So I agreed to be a part of the partnership, and then all the fun began.
An artist/manager relationship is a hybrid of a marriage, a sibling relationship, and a parent/child relationship. You’re trying to guide someone and steer them in the right direction while still respecting the integrity of their vision and who they are as an artist, and at the same time foster and maintain a sense of trust and understanding between you, and there’s a lot of disagreements, bumping heads, and flat out arguing.
In my case, I happen to have an artist and a partner with very strong opinions/beliefs that don’t always agree. And yes, I’m pretty stubborn myself. There’s also the fact that Industry Rule #4080 is real. (If you don’t know what Industry Rule #4080 is, you need to brush up on your Hip Hop fundamentals and the resume reading this blog.) This game is so tricky, and there are no guarantees, so just being a dope artist is not enough. Stories li