An Interview with the Shakers Management Group

The Rock Biz is a very competitive and cut throat biz and it is vital that any band who wants to make a career of making music approach it in a professional way. Sure you can be the latest and greatest thrash punk emo band but if nobody has ever heard of you the thrill wears off real quick. Part of the mandate of The Rock and Roll Report is to highlight opportunities for bands that they might not be aware of as well as featuring interviews with promotion, management and record label owners that will hopefully give them hints and tips to help them grow their careers.

This week we feature and interview with Frank from the Shakers Management Group who not only discuss SMG and their roster of artists but offers some road tested advice for any band or artist willing to listen.

RRR: How long have YOU (Frank) been in the business?

SMG: I have been in the music industry for almost 18 years now. I started out with productions and event coordinating and raised a great deal of money for charities and non-profit groups. This is when I noticed that I had a knack for the entertainment side of this business. I started to work in promotions with key people that could further my career, and sure enough, the cards started to fall in the right place.

RRR: How did you get started doing the management thing? And what was your reason for getting into this cutthroat business?

I ended up in a position as an independent Agent / Publicist that I actually loved because it allowed me to look out after the overall best interest of the bands. This is where I gained the most knowledge about the music business. Ninety percent of the Labels and ninety percent of the Management companies were cut throat and they would often backstab each other. As an independent Agent / Publicist, I worked for the band and got a good grasp of how I could make things better. For the most part, the music business is only cut throat if you surround yourself with the people who are that way, but no matter how you sliced it, you always found someone cut throat.

On Fridays a group of peers would go out for beer and discuss how crappy the industry was with our weekly stories of how some label screwed a band or how a band got shelved. The conversation always turned into “how we would fix it” if we were in control. I always said I could do it better, and here I am, with my own Management Company.

RRR: When did you start Shakers Management Group? (Different meaning and answer than first question)

SMG: The name Shakers actually came from 14 year old girl who suggested the name for a restaurant we were opening up. The restaurant fell through and I decided to keep the name and created Shakers Management Group. It’s going on about two and a half years now. It took about nine months to develop a brand new business model that would set us apart from any other company. So I would say that we have been active for almost two years, and in this time frame we have tripled our business.

RRR: Where are you located?

SMG: We have two offices right now, one in Petaluma and the other one is in Fairfield. Both locations are adjacent in the beautiful wine country, right in between San Francisco and Sacramento. We do have plans to move the two offices together along with practice rooms and a full recording facility.

RRR: What are some of the services you offer through the company?

SMG: The services we like to focus on are exposure through isolated dates, touring, public relations, marketing and branding, although we do provide artist development, sound management, stage presentation and of course the scouting of radio play, movie sound tracks, product placement and label if the bands wants.

RRR: You say you are a different sort of Management Company. How so?

SMG: SMG is different because all of our services are under the same roof. We don’t sub out any of what we do and this keeps costs way down, this puts more money in the artists’ pocket. We don’t have to call Los Angeles to see if the re-mastering is finished on a CD because our own in house guys do it all. We have specialists in all areas working with us…less hands in the pot.

RRR: Are there specific people you are looking for that can use your services? (Do you only accept certain people? Or if they can pay, you’ll take anyone on as a client?)

SMG: First and foremost, we don’t take any money from anyone. Management companies that make you pay up front are not real management companies, beware for they are out there. To the first question, we do look for certain artists in the ever changing rock genres. We know how to forecast and we’re pretty good at finding the right kind of artists that we feel will go to the next level. The bands we look for have to be self contained…we don’t like babysitting bands. They need to be able to write and produce their own music and have great gear / sound. They need to have the look and feel of a professional band. It makes it easier for us to promote the band by not having to spend too much time developing them. We can concentrate on doing what we should be doing, and that is to get them exposure.

RRR: About how many bands are currently on your roster? Give us a brief rundown of them.

SMG: We currently manage 10 bands from 5 different countries. There is a brand new band called Markt who I feel will be a huge success, the more experienced Willie Basse of Black Sheep who everyone will know from the Los Angeles metal era, Surface Rising is our newest, these guys have shared the stage with bands like Trapt and just completed a $30,000 music video called Resonance, we have an Alberta favorite Sophmore Jakes who you just featured as artist of the week, these guys will be on tour with Markt throughout Canada in September. I have to mention the female fronted Curse Icon of Ohio, Sectas out of Arizona, The bold metal sound of Knife and the super energized Them Philosophy from Italy and The Told from Germany. I think I got em all.

RRR: Some of the up-and-coming things that will be happening to your company?

SMG: Besides the tours we’ve had this year, next year will be huge. We are planning a five band, two month tour across the USA, two months in Europe, two more months back here in the USA and finishing it up with two months in Japan. All three bands from Europe should be coming to the USA to tour…it will be their first time here.

Bottom line is we’re growing. We just hired a third booker and another manager. I credit our company’s growth to all the people we’ve hired and work with. Everyone has been great. Our collaborations are so out of the box that every time we do something, it always benefits someone else. It ends up creating kick ass business relationships that are actually unheard of in today’s music industry. This is what it’s about for SMG, creating friendship in business.

Check out part 2 of our interview where we talk about when musicians should consider getting professional management and some of the things that musicians should look out for.

All this in Part 2 set to be published September 8th.

Further Information on the Shakers Management Group can be found at www.MySpace.com/ShakersMgmtGroup