The problem of managers
I had what I thought was an interesting experience with a band last week and I was going to write about it here as a sort of FYI to young, local bands. I wasn’t going to name the band since things turned out well but I was sure anyone could figure out to whom I was referring. But then, a commenter on We Own This Town based a comment on some bad information that originated from me (even though I didn’t give it to her) and I figured I ought to clear things up.
When I contacted this band last week via MySpace and told them the Rage would like me to do a “Why I Rock” piece on them, their response was:
will do. thanks. you can contact our manager over the phone at xxx.xxx.xxxx, his name is xxxxx xxxxx. we’ll have him e-mail you as well.
Um. Hi, I’m Todd. I ran NashvilleZine. I go to shows every week. I started the Carter Administration. I’m a dumbass just like you. I don’t work for the New Yorker. I’m a freelancer for the freaking Rage. When I ask for an interview, the response should be something like “Tuesday is good” or “Sorry, we’re not interested.” But making me go through a third party to set up an interview is bad form. It makes you look pretentious and douchey. And I don’t suffer pretention in a rock band.
The only reason I should have to go through a “manager” to get an interview with a local band is if you are on the road and the words “Budweiser presents” precede your name on the marquee. If I can get your cell phone number from a friend we share, then you are not successful enough to make me contact a manager.
Now, mistake #2. If you are going to have a manager get in touch with me, make sure he doesn’t begin his email like this:
Thank you for taking the time to highlight xxx x xxxxxx xxx xxxx in your publication. Let’s set up an interview for some time this week.
Um. Hi. I’m Todd. So start your email with “Hello Todd.” Secondly… “publication”? It’s the Rage. Don’t send a form letter to a local writer writing for a local publication. I seriously wondered if this was all a joke. If it was, it wasn’t funny.
So, all you young bands who want to get local press, just be friendly and informal. Spell correctly, sure, but don’t look pretentious. Be approachable or we won’t approach. You may have noticed: there’s no shortage of bands in this town on which to write.
The rumor that appeared on We Own This Town stating that there was some approval process for the questions is untrue. And once the manager and I spoke on the phone, everything went pretty smoothly. We were rushed by the Rage’s deadline, but the band did a great job and — I think — provided an entertaining interview. So I don’t think the manager business was a sign of any personal jerkery just institutional jerkery.
“Managers” (and let’s face it, it’s just a friend of yours) may be nice for centralizing booking and making contact with labels, but they’re usually a hinderance to all other rock ‘n’ roll relationships. Keep that in mind.
Your friendly neighborhood rock critic,