We continue our discussion with Frank from the Shakers Management Group from last week where he discusses the bands on his roster he is really excited about and what bands should look at when looking for management today.
SMG: Well, you’re putting me on the spot here Mark. I’m excited for all my bands or we wouldn’t have signed them. However I know you want an answer, so If I had a couple of bands to be excited about, the first one would be Curse Icon. If you listen to their music, you would never know it was written in 2005, that’s how cutting edge they are. They were able to forecast trends in music that still stands out today. They took a hiatus and reformed the band just recently and I heard their new tracks..you know what I’ll say next…it fricken rocks… and they’ve done it again. I know this band will be successful.
The second band is Knife from Italy. Their musicianship is second to none. They are about as professional as it gets. The music is hard and edgy with melodic tones and sharp riffs. They are making big noise in Europe and have been written up in music magazines throughout. We’re taking them to the UK in January and February and then they will rock the States for three months. I can’t wait and I know they have tons of fans here that can’t wait either.
I’m going to sneak in Surface Rising…this band amazes me. They are truly on the verge of breaking it. I honestly feel they have at least 4 hits with two that will definitely reach radio play…very contagious and huge with the 14 / 18 year old female demographic.
RRR: In this world of the Internet and Web 2.0 where there are so many ways for bands to promote and book their own gigs, why do you think having a team like Shakers matters?
SMG: For several reasons, for one thing Mark, I think it’s important for bands to be hard workers. It allows them to build an established base so it’s ready to hand over to a management company like ours to take them to the next level. Besides all the benefits of our services, something magical happens when a band gets signed. They seem to get more respect from venues and other areas of the music industry.
Bands can certainly book and promote themselves, but we know how to get the extras using our trade secrets. Venues like to hear from bookers who represent management companies like ours. These bookers have built a rapport with these venues and they know the talent buyers on a first name basis. The talent buyers trust our bookers because they know they won’t send them second rate bands. These bands are signed and the venues know there will be show support, advertising and marketing involved. So it really does make the difference.
RRR: At what point should a band consider signing with management?
SMG: A band should consider signing when they are approached and are ready themselves. SMG looks for bands that are ready “musicianship” wise, however more often than not the bands won’t sign due to jobs, family or one band member that prevents it from happening. In reality, we go through about 1500 bands before one will sign. It’s a huge process for both parties. Simply put, a band should not sign if they can’t tour. That is the very first consideration that should be thought about.
Also, if you have been offered management from several reputable companies and you turned them down because you want a better deal, chances are they won’t bend for you and most are pretty standard with percentages. It’s better to look for the extra services they offer instead of less percentage (which you won’t get) and grab one and settle for it, because if you don’t, there might not be another quality company coming your way. There are only a hand full of real good quality management companies.
RRR: What should young bands be on the lookout for these days? What advice can you give them for avoiding common pitfalls?
SMG: Don’t ever pay for management, these guys are con artists and just take your money. Don’t ever pay to play. Paying to play happens because bands actually do it. If you can’t get the gig on your own merit, you shouldn’t be playing. Stay away from promoters that handle several clubs for booking. They don’t care about you and they take huge percentages out of your pocket. Try and bypass the promoter by going straight to the club manager or owner. Lastly, I can’t understand why a band must have the status of a label, when you can get very close to what a label does for you with management and cut out their 85% of CD sales. If you get huge you might need it, but until then don’t count on a Label knocking on your door.
Read the blogs about getting “burned by old school” and “why we don’t shop labels” on our site, it pretty much sums it up.
RRR: How has the industry changed since you first started?
SMG: The million dollar question…MySpace changed the face of the music industry. Labels now don’t offer big money for signing bonus…because there are 350 thousand bands to scout. If your one of the hottest bands and they offer you a 100 K contract, and you don’t take it because you want more…good luck because you’re not getting it anywhere else. I actually know a band that turned down a $150 K & A $200K label contract. They have not been contacted by anyone since then and they may have lost the moment…it’s all about timing. They will simply say, OK, next band. You couldn’t live long enough to hear all the bands on MySpace. There are gold mines out there waiting to be plucked.
ITunes out sold WalMart in retail sales for the first time in the history of music sales this year, and they did it selling single downloads, one at a time. Buyers, especially PC savvy kids can now buy the one single hit a band has without the purchase of an entire CD.
The tour is back…this is where the bands are making their money. Bands are getting creative with huge stage presentation and merch sales. There is no way they can get radio play because the top 1/2 percent only get played and that is determined by the media and corporate giants that force you to listen what they want you to hear.
It’s nice to know that for same price of a movie ticket, you can still see a kick ass show…there is something to be said about that. It’s cheap, close to home and entertaining. In this economy it’s one of the few things that is surviving because it’s affordable. So when you see the Sophomore Jakes touring with Markt at a local venue near you, support the bands by being there and let the world know that music will be around forever !! Thank you for this interview Mark, you are one of the businesses that make that small difference in this ever morphing music industry.
Further Information on the Shakers Management Group can be found at www.MySpace.com/ShakersMgmtGroup