Keith Harris is afgelopen maandag op uitnodiging van MCN overgevlogen vanuit Engeland om een masterclass te geven over muziek management. Sinds 1977 staat Keith de grote Stevie Wonder bij, voornamelijk als personal manager. “If you wanted to speak with Stevie, you speak to Keith first.” Daarnaast werkte hij als marketing manager bij Motown. Hij promootte Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, The Commodores, Rick James en The Supremes.
Wat zijn de ervaringen van deze topmanager en wat kunnen we van hem leren?
Om te beginnen, en goed om te herhalen, zegt Keith aan het begin van zijn college: “We are working with art. So there are no precise right answers. All I share today is the way I see it.”
“The manager is the interface between art and commerce. You are right in the middle. If you wanna make a living out of art, you need to know the commercial opportunities. Make sure you know what the artists’ needs and goals are for adapting the commercial targets.”
“When you engage with an artist look for three points:
- Fundamental talent:
Someone you can believe in as a manager. 90% of the time people will bring you down in the industry (record labels, tv-shows for instance). So you need to have total faith in your artist.
- The artist must have something unique:
And other people can see it too.
- Artist must be prepared to work (very hard):
You have to take every chance you will get. There is too much competition. If that means doing a morning show at 05.00 AM in the morning after a live concert till midnight, you do it. If you don’t wanna do it, someone else will.
“A manager needs to know a little bit of all (at least). And more vital: you need to know when you need specialists advice. For instance a record deal. Lawyers can notice the small changes which take place in recording contracts you can’t tell.”
“Energy is vital to make things happen.” A favorite quote of Keith: “Luck. The harder I work, the more lucky I get.”
“Back in the ’60’s loads of record companies applied 360-deals. Boundries were broken down because of the unfairness for artists. It is nothing new what is happening now.”
The Robbie Williams deal (classic 360)
“What is missing in 360-deals for the standard artist? The 60 (?) million pounds Robbie got for signing this deal.”
“A downer of 360-deals is that if you fall out with your record company, you have no way to get income without involvement of the record company.”
Detailed information: “Good to know of is The Matrix-agreement. The record company of the country that signed the artist (i.e. Universal Holland) always get more money then the country where it is an success (Universal France). Therefor Universal France will put more efforts in French artists. Universal France will not benefit when a Dutch artist of Universal Holland will have big successes. Something likely happend with Kylie Minogue ‘I Can’t Get You Outta My Head’. It was major in Australia but other big EMI (?) labels around the world refused to put efforts in the song. The big boss had to insist personally to release this song in every country, selling more than 6 million copies. So be aware when a contract says ‘worldwide’. It only means they have got the rights. Not a promise to release worldwide.”
“Artists are getting record companies.”
“It used to be: music first. Now careers are not set up round music anymore. It is the ‘heat’. How much story/media attention and action can you set before the release?”
“Control is commerce.”
“To attract a fanbase is the hardest part.”