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.

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
books
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
film
Arts and Entertainment
Go figure: Matt Parker, wearing the binary code scarf knitted by his mother
comedy Mathematician is using comedy nights to teach and preach sums
Arts and Entertainment
Ryan Gosling in 'Drive'
filmReview: Ryan Gosling is still there, but it's a very different film
Arts and Entertainment
Urban explorer: Rose Rouse has documented her walks around Harlesden, and the people that she’s encountered along the way
books Rouse's new book discusses her four-year tour of Harlesden
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Franco Zeffirelli's production of 'Aida' at Milan's famed La Scala opera house
operaLegendary opera director in battle with theatre over sale of one of his 'greatest' productions
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Juergen Wolf won the Young Masters Art Prize 2014 with his mixed media painting on wood, 'Untitled'
art
Arts and Entertainment
Iron Man and Captain America in a scene from
filmThe upcoming 'Black Panther' film will feature a solo black male lead, while a female superhero will take centre stage in 'Captain Marvel'
Arts and Entertainment
The Imperial War Museum, pictured, has campaigned to display copyrighted works during the First World War centenary
art
Arts and Entertainment
American Horror Story veteran Sarah Paulson plays conjoined twins Dot and Bette Tattler
tvReview: Yes, it’s depraved for the most part but strangely enough it has heart to it
Arts and Entertainment
The mind behind Game of Thrones George R. R. Martin
books

Will explain back story to fictional kingdom Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Dorothy in Return to Oz

film Unintentionally terrifying children's movies to get you howling (in fear, tears or laughter)
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robert James-Collier as under-butler Thomas

TVLady Edith and Thomas show sad signs of the time
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Dad's Army cast hit the big screen

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge

books
Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning?
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
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.

    Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

    Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

    Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities