Music's top managers reveal the highs and lows of working with their headlining acts

Behind the two greatest acts of the past 50 years stand two of the greatest managers. Colonel Tom Parker and Brian Epstein guided Elvis Presley and The Beatles to superstardom. Could those artists have reached the top without their guiding lights? Both had rare talent, but sometimes in the music industry that's not, on its own, enough.

"Not even a great manager can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear," says Adrian Jolly, manager to the summer's two most touted new acts, The Feeling and Lily Allen. "Bands do well because they work hard and write good songs that people like." But it is the manager's job to make sure things don't go awry. Every potential creative genius needs someone with the drive, ideas and determination to first find that golden act and then guide them through the business side of the music industry. We asked 13 managers of today's biggest acts to tell us what skills a good manager needs.

ADRIAN JOLLY

Acts: The Feeling, Lily Allen

Which current band would you most like to be managing?

For now, I'm quite happy with my lot!

What do you look for in a band?

Great songs that make the hair at the back of your neck stand up.

What's the best thing about being a manager?

Seeing things work. Being involved from the start and signing deals to seeing great reactions from the public.

Worst thing?

There's always something you have to do that you're dreading. But when you're the band's mediator, you do their dirty work. That's your job.

Most important skill a manager needs?

Being a good people person because you can't afford to make any enemies.

A band need a manager because...

They need a bit of objectivity. And because they need someone to fight their battles for them.

Who's the all-time top manager?

U2's manager Paul McGuinness. To manage a band like U2 for the amount of years he's done it for and for them to be still be at the top, you've got to be doing something right.

BOB MILLER

Acts: Corinne Bailey Rae

Which current band would you most like to be managing?

If I had the time, Back Door Slam. They are young, unsigned, unsullied and ripe for development.

What do you look for in a band?

Talent, commitment, loyalty and good teeth.

What's the best thing about being a manager?

Seeing the flower blossom and faith rewarded.

Worst thing?

Giving bad news.

Most important skill a manager needs?

The ability to win the trust of some very fragile egos and motivating them when you hit wall after wall.

A band need a manager because...

Every ship needs a rudder, and who else would they give 20 per cent to?

Who's the all-time top manager?

Colonel Tom Parker and Brian Epstein. They had to write the rules, break them and rewrite them a dozen times while bringing through the two most significant and influential talents in the history of pop.

CERNE CANNING

Acts: Franz Ferdinand, Mumm-Ra

Which current band would you most like to be managing?

I'm more than happy with my lot but if I had a twin brother he would want to manage the Arctic Monkeys.

What do you look for in a band?

Conviction and charisma are high on my list, liking a band as people helps.

What's the best thing about being a manager?

Being around creative people is always interesting and invigorating.

Worst thing?

The responsibility and buck-stopping nature of the job, conversely this is also addictive and compelling.

Most important skill a manager needs?

Being intuitive and being able to plan and problem solve.

A band need a manager because...

It allows them to concentrate on being creative. If someone as savvy as Madonna needs a manager, everyone does.

Who's the all-time top manager?

Brian Epstein. He ventured into the unknown with incredible flair and helped create what is still the most influential band of all time.

DAVID BIANCHI

Acts: Boy Kill Boy

Which current band would you most like to be managing?

Antony and the Johnsons. It's very rare that you hear an album that you know will be a classic, delivered by a total star.

What do you look for in a band?

Songs and the ability to deliver them. Genre doesn't matter.

What's the best thing about being a manager?

Being involved in music. It's what I have wanted to do since I first raided my brother's record collection in the early Eighties.

Worst thing?

No time to yourself, too much flying, too much beer, 3am phone calls from Finland asking how to get into a hotel room, etc.

Most important skill a manager needs?

Patience.

A band need a manager because...

They would have very little time to manage themselves even if it was a good idea.

Who's the all-time top manager?

Sex Pistols' manager, Malcolm McLaren. He paved the way for creative management.

ESTELLE WILKINSON

Acts: Coldplay, Morning Runner, Interpol and Polly Paulusma

Which current band would you most like to be managing?

You're kidding right? I'm happy as I am thanks.

What do you look for in a band?

You've got to love the music, otherwise what's the point?

What's the best thing about being a manager?

Free tickets for pretty much any gig.

Worst thing?

Requests for those free tickets.

Most important skill a manager needs?

Common sense and the ability for a bit of straight talking now and again.

A band need a manager because...

An artist shouldn't have to deal with the business side of music; sometimes it's not pretty.

Who's the all-time top manager?

Led Zeppelin manager, Peter Grant. He changed the world of music management to the benefit of the artist.

JAMES SANDOM

Acts: Kaiser Chiefs, The Cribs, Mumm-Ra, Magnet

Which current band would you most like to be managing?

Guided By Voices. Could I have prevented them from splitting up? I'll never know.

What do you look for in a band?

Style, charisma and a will to be musically creative.

What's the best thing about being a manager?

I'm fortunate to be managing a fantastic group of people, many of which have become very close friends. And it's great to travel the world.

Worst thing?

No weekends, no set hours.

Most important skill a manager needs?

The ability to listen to the artist and help communicate their thoughts to the outside world.

A band need a manager because...

They need someone to blame!

Who's the all-time top manager?

The Rolling Stones' manager, Andrew Loog Oldham. He was a pioneer - the first man to truly get his fingers dirty, working the media like he owned them.

PETER LEAK

Acts: Dido, Martha Wainwright

Which current band would you most like to be managing?

U2. They're the best live band in the world and they have always stayed passionate and relevant.

What do you look for in a band?

Originality, great songs and vocals, and the intelligence to understand what needs to be done.

What's the best thing about being a manager?

Being able to be involved in everything - from the writing of the songs and the release of albums to the touring. And everything else in between.

Worst thing?

Never being able to completely relax!

Most important skill a manager needs?

Tact, patience, self-motivation and an openness to whatever ideas their artist has.

A band need a manager because...

In order to follow their creative muse, they have to know there's someone taking care of the business.

Who's the all-time top manager?

U2's manager Paul McGuinness - he's meticulously guided their career.

PHIL MORAIS

Acts: The Rakes, The On Offs, Absentee

Which current band would you most like to be managing?

I could say someone I admire musically, like Graham Coxon, but as I'd like to drive an E-type Jag, it'd have to be the Arctic Monkeys.

What do you look for in a band?

Something special that sets them apart. And three Top 10 singles please.

What's the best thing about being a manager?

Watching a band succeed having been involved with them from day one.

Worst thing?

Dealing with bands.

Most important skill a manager needs?

Enthusiasm is key, people will believe what you say about your act if they see you're passionate about them.

A band need a manager because...

Who're they going blame when it all goes wrong?

Who's the all-time top manager?

Led Zeppelin's manager, Peter Grant. Have you seen The Song Remains The Same when he roughs-up someone selling bootleg Zeppelin posters?

ROGER MORTON

Acts: Razorlight, Dogs, Action Plan

Which current band would you most like to be managing?

Beyoncé. The challenges of a non-testosterone-driven artist would be interesting, and it would get you respect down the pub.

What do you look for in a band?

A powerful, original voice, thick skin, an absence of syringe marks, and most importantly, magnetism.

What's the best thing about being a manager?

The three minutes when you first hear a demo of a new song.

Worst thing?

Seeing great music going under-appreciated.

Most important skill a manager needs?

You have to be able to sync with the perspective of a new media expert and his cross-platform marketing strategy and then instantly switch to the mindset of a 16-year-old fan.

A band need a manager because...

They drop things.

Who's the all-time top manager?

Whoever's managing the band at the bottom of the bill of [small London venue] The Barfly tonight is the one that should be getting the greatest respect. Success has many fathers, failure's a bastard child and belief is a mad, lonely, implacable orphan.

SIMON NAPIER-BELL

Brothermandude

Which current band would you most like to be managing?

The one I am managing. They're a truly classic rock group producing timeless music which is also thoroughly contemporary.

What do you look for in a band?

Individuality, creativity, self-sufficiency.

What's the best thing about being a manager?

Travel, intelligent interplay with a complex industry, the rewards of helping talented people move forward and expand their artistic horizon.

Worst thing?

The same things in reverse.

Most important skill a manager needs?

Patience, guile, manipulative stealth.

A band need a manager because...

Most artists are stuck in a strange position between super confidence and permanent lack of it. They need someone to prick their ego when it's getting too big, and build it up again when it shrinks uncontrollably.

Who's the all-time top manager?

The Who's manager, Kit Lambert. He was a dreamer with unbelievable energy and a desire to achieve.

STEFANO AND COLIN SCHAVERIEN

Acts: Maximo Park, Envelopes, The Research

Which current band would you most like to be managing?

Radiohead. They've always been ahead of the curve. They are also one of the great live bands.

What do you look for in a band?

Ambition and great songs.

What's the best thing about being a manager?

The ability to see a band grow and develop. There's something incredibly rewarding about standing in a field and hearing thousands of people sing your band's songs.

Worst thing?

The long hours.

Most important skill a manager needs?

It's a myriad of skills to bridge both the commercial and creative side of the business.

A band need a manager because...

Creative people should be allowed to concentrate on what they do best.

Who's the all-time top manager?

Colonel Tom Parker - he was the first to take an artist to "brand" level.

STEPHEN TAVERNER

Acts: Ash, The Crimea and V//Formation

Which current band would you like to be managing?

Radiohead. They're in the unique position of being at the top of their game without a record company for their next album.

What do you look for in a band?

Originality, melody and presence.

What's the best thing about being a manager?

Each day brings a different challenge.

Worst thing?

Dealing with people that say "no" without looking at the bigger picture.

Most important skill a manager needs?

Intelligence, vision and confidence.

A band need a manager because...

They need someone to be the bad guy.

Who's the all-time top manager?

U2's manager Paul McGuinness.

TIM VIGON

Acts: The Streets and The Zutons, Engineers, Gerard Starkie and Babel

Which current band would you most like to be managing?

U2 or Springsteen; bands that play stadiums and move people on a grand scale.

What do you look for in a band?

Great songs. Beyond that, pure natural talent.

What's the best thing about being a manager?

It's a privilege to be able see a band grow from rehearsal room to playing to thousands.

Worst thing?

Being a surrogate parent to a bunch of kids and having all the worries and pains that go with it.

Most important skill a manager needs?

Ultimately you are the bridge between art and commerce.

A band need a manager because...

Bands should put all their energy into creating the best music they can. Someone else must deal with the rest.

Who's the all-time top manager?

Paul McGuinness. His single-minded belief in U2 and his absolute commitment to them. He's been instrumental in every step of their phenomenal career.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

art
Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album