HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?

Damian: My career began in the late 80s, selling tees for Madchester bands. You meet a lot of people that way, and my address book was soon full of various band members and DJs, promoters. Aside from that I was always obsessed with music, bands and the mechanics of the whole process.

I was the frontman for an band in the early/mid 90s, and had some minor successes with that. It was good experience, particularly playing live. I was surprised at how poorly unsigned acts got treated, so when I set up my live agency in 1998 I wanted to do things differently. It’s nice to have the view of life from within a band, and outside of it.

WHICH BANDS HAVE YOU WORKED WITH?

Damian: When I set up Brave Music, I was arranging dates for rock star DJs; names like Mani from The Stone Roses, Peter Hook from New Order, Mike & Andy from The Smiths, and dozens more names you’d know. I organised after-parties on tours for Suede, Oasis, Prodigy and loads of others. All good fun.

I dabbled with management for a while before making it a more formal process, managing Mike Joyce from The Smiths, and a band called Screaming Maldini for a few years – and getting them close to a major label deal before the band fell apart for various reasons! I learned a lot from that experience, about contracts and managing conflict.

I now work with The Orielles and Julia Bardo.

 

 

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“We have a standard Management Contract, but we also have a level of knowledge and trust that paper can’t give you”


 

 

HOW DID YOU FIND & MEET THE BANDS YOU MANAGE?

Damian: They’ve either come to me, or been recommended. For example I was invited to see The Orielles (then under a different name) at Sound Control by Jez Kerr of A Certain Ratio. The band came on and I immediately loved their sound. They had an entire aesthetic around them: sound, artwork, clothes, that I immediately bought into and loved.

 

 

 

WHAT KIND OF AGREEMENT DO YOU HAVE WITH THE BAND?

Damian: We have a standard Management Contract, but we also have a level of knowledge and trust that paper can’t give you. I’m as passionate about what they do as they are, and will protect them and their interests. I fight their corner. You have to prove you can trust each other.

 

 

 

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“It’s all about my contacts and relationships. Getting out to meet people is the key”


 

 

WHAT DOES YOUR AVERAGE DAY OR WEEK AS A BAND MANAGER INVOLVE?

Damian: My role has changed a little more recently, as before we had a label, agent, press, radio plugger and publisher in place, I was doing all of those things.

Now I help co-ordinate the bigger team, and everything funnels through me: decisions, finances, planning, diaries. Some days are busier than others, and it’s never 9am to 5pm, but it’s always exciting. I love seeing the band do well. It’s incredibly satisfying.

 

 

 

HOW DO YOU HELP YOUR ACTS SECURE SHOWS?

Damian: In the case of The Orielles, now we have an agent, but for the 3 years when we didn’t I booked all the shows. This was the hardest part of the job. As an agent, I knew how to work shows, and had great contacts around the UK and Europe, but I was used to promoters coming to me asking for DJs. Now I had to ask them to put a relatively unknown band on.

I addressed this by making the band as visible in as many other ways as possible. Make sure there was always something for bloggers to write about and getting a buzz going.

Once promoters can see that you’re working hard on publicity, and there’s enough of a buzz for people to attend the shows, they get more confident in booking you. We built a good live reputation that way. Being pleasant and professional helps a lot too, both me and the band.

 

 

 

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“The main thing is to always have an angle, and always have something interesting to say”


 

 

HOW DO YOU HELP TO PROMOTE THE BANDS YOU MANAGE?

Damian: The main thing is to always have an angle, and always have something interesting to say. ‘Band releases song’ isn’t noteworthy, but if you can find more than that to say it will get noticed.

That comes down to what I said earlier about the band creating a world around themselves. You can buy into the look, the influences, the artwork, which make it much more interesting and noticeable. All the bands I’ve ever loved talked about their own influences: books, films, other artists, and I encourage my acts to talk about that, to add depth to their own online presence.

 

 

 

WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFICULTIES YOU’VE FACED AS A BAND MANAGER?

Damian: Not many to be fair. Initially inter-band relationships are a toughie. If people aren’t getting on. That old classic ‘creative differences’ rears its ugly head. I’ve not had that with my current bands.

Sometimes the band agree to stuff and then haven’t told me, and we have to extricate ourselves from agreements, but that’s rare and they’ve learned not to. Time-management is important, and some bands are terrible for that – so I hear! There’s an element of being sensitive to the stresses and strains that a band might feel, especially if they are young.

 

 

 

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WHAT ARE THE MOST REWARDING THINGS ABOUT BEING A BAND MANAGER?

Damian: Incredibly cheesy as it sounds, it’s seeing a band achieve all the things they set out to do, and enjoy it. My job is to allow them to do that. Professionally, if I get a bit of glory for that it’s a bonus.

 

 

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO BUDDING BAND MANAGERS?

Damian: Choose wisely and check out the band’s background. If they’ve been going for ages and not got anywhere, what’s the underlying reason?

Don’t rush in, be mindful that months or even years of work could go down the pan because you find out that the act isn’t mentally prepared for success. Or maybe they entered an unwise contract years ago that only comes to light later, or they just don’t have more material beyond what they already have.

Don’t be blinded by your love for their music, step back and be rational. Otherwise, enjoy it and always take advice, don’t be arrogant, you can never know everything!

 

 

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WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO BANDS CURRENTLY LOOKING FOR A MANAGER?

Damian: Write good songs, build a following and one will come, honestly. If you’re attracting fans you’ll attract the manager. Do all the checks and have the same caution I’ve just previously advised for managers looking for acts. Take good advice from music business professionals. In my experience, if someone’s offering a load of money but no contacts or strategy, run for the hills. If they have the latter and will help you get the former, that’s a more sensible bet.

Joining the Musicians Union is a good bet too, there’s a great team there and top legal advice for hardly any money.