Market Leaders Pick Their Market Leader: Who's the manager on top of the rock?

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The Independent Online
Chris Morrison


(Blur, Elastica, Morcheeba, Midge Ure, Ooberman)

A ROCK manager is like the managing director of a company, while the band are the board. You negotiate the deals and you coordinate everybody else's activities, the record company, the booking agent, the promoters, towards a common goal: success. You also have to keep abreast of new technology. Nowadays, there's more usage of music in film and advertising than ever.

You can be a small operation looking after one artist but I believe you give better advice when you have a roster of acts and use the skills of other people around you.

Ed Bicknell was painstaking in his deal-making with Dire Straits. He never has to employ a lawyer, he can quote paragraphs from contracts. He is scrupulously honest. Simon Fuller is the svengali type, almost an entrepreneur; he took over the Spice Girls and grew as quickly as they did, then he put the concept of S Club 7 together. Roger Davies works extremely hard. He pulled Tina Turner right back from the wilderness into the mainstream. He has great vision and focuses on the international territories.

Ed Bicknell

Damage Management

(Mark Knopfler, Notting Hillbillies, The Blue Nile)

HONESTY, COMPETENCE, willpower and the ability to deal with people who are often irrational and don't know the words "thank you" - that's what makes a good manager. And you have to be a bit in your face.

used to be the best manager in Britain who didn't have a big act but now he has Blur. John Hughes mortgaged everything, put himself on the line for The Corrs and that has paid off. A lot of managers are very hands-on with one or two acts but Roger Davies has got quite an empire. He is very involved on the creative side, finding great songs for Tina Turner or Joe Cocker, while other areas are delegated out, in the American style.

Gail Colson

Gailforce Management

(The Pretenders, Peter Hammill, producer Stephen Street)

WHAT MAKES a good manager is the relationship with the artist. I used to say you were basically an overpaid nursemaid, but now I see the manager more as an extension of the artist who can go and sell the music to the record company and the promoters.

Steve O'Rourke has done a fantastic job with Pink Floyd, keeping it going. The same is true of Tony Smith with Genesis and Phil Collins. Management is one of the few professions in which the older you are the better you are. But is the only one of the older generation who has taken on new bands and reinvented himself. He used all his experience and took Blur to another level.

Roger Davies

RD Worldwide Management

(Tina Turner, Sade, Tony Joe White, Joe Cocker, Cher, M-People)

IT'S HARD to read in books what makes a good manager. There are a lot of what I call businessmen managers. You have to have an ear for music and balance it with good business sense. Forward planning is really the key to setting up a new release or a tour, like Tina's next year. And you do your artist a disservice if you don't give them your opinion.

I really like Chris Hufford and Bryce Edge who manage Radiohead and Supergrass. They make good decisions, especially regarding the presentation of their acts. Ed Bicknell is a very smart business manager. And knows every side of the industry inside out.

David Enthoven

IE Music

(Robbie Williams, Archive, Horace Andy)

THERE ARE managers who create acts and go for the quick hit but the market leaders find an artist, listen to what he or she has to say and help the dream come into fruition. The record company needs to be instructed to relate to the artist's vision.

Roger Davies is the master at looking after fairly tricky female artists and he is a true specialist at touring. An act which is successful live will have a longer career.

Gail Colson is one of the few female managers who's lasted; she's a very understanding lady. And must definitely go on the list. All of these people have been good with the artist's money. You must be fair, your reputation is the most important thing.

Martin Hall

Hall Or Nothing

(Manic Street Preachers)

PERSISTENCE AND patience make a good manager. And a winning smile. And you've got music. If you don't like music, you can always go and work for a record company. Ultimately, you're only as good as your band. No one handles superstars as well as Roger Davies. Also Peter Rudge who used to tour with the Stones and The Who and now looks after James and Madness is a real bulldog.

Peter Rudge

Maddog Management

(James, Madness)

A MANAGER'S job is to retain the band's own voice among all the talk of marketing. You're the middleman, the broker, the goalkeeper with sometimes your own team shooting at you. You have to identify the band's strengths and neutralise their weaknesses, keep the loyal fan-base while trying to cross over.

Martin Hall is very good; the Manics are not an easy band to work with but he uses a velvet glove and you want to do things for him. He's very low-key, his ego doesn't get in the way.

Roger Davies sees the global picture. We tend to be very insular in the UK but he knows the international game. He has created an amazing career for Joe Cocker in Germany. He is the best all-rounder because he can critique the musical direction in the studio and then plan a big tour. The bond created between the fan and the artist at a gig is an enduring one. If you can keep your act in the ring, you'll get longevity. That's ultimately the test of a great manager. Roger has been doing it for 20 years. The results speak for themselves.

Robert Rosenberg

with Bill Curbishley at Trinifold.

(The Who, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Belinda Carlisle, Alisha's Attic)

WITH A more established act, the talent required is different from when you're developing an artist. has a wealth of experience. He is steeped in music and works well creatively with Blur who have resonances of artists from the 60s and 70s. The bigger the act, the more important the ability to organise those huge tours. That's where Steve O'Rourke and Roger Davies score - they do that so well.

Rod Smallwood

Sanctuary Music Management

(Iron Maiden, Marillion, Dark Star, Catherine Wheel, The Cuban Boys)

A GOOD manager makes sure his artist comes out, not only with the financial assets his creativity deserves, but also with his health and attitude intact. In the rock area, your plans must be laid out for the next two years in terms of touring and marketing. The late Peter Grant set the rules in many ways with Led Zeppelin. He was the grand-father of proper rock management. Sharon Osbourne did a terrific job transforming Ozzy into an industry in America. Roger Davies combines a lot of the necessary skills and knowledge. He really knows how to get the record companies and the concert promoters to deliver.

Chris Hufford

Courtyard Management

(Radiohead, Supergrass, Medal)

COMMON SENSE, forward planning and the ability to put up with lots of nonsense is what makes a good manager. You also have to surround yourself with the right people. At Courtyard, Bryce and myself work more on the creative side while Brian Message takes care of the business deals. I really like Martin Hall, John Brand who does The Stereophonics and Caroline Killoury who manages Portishead. They have great drive and they're all renegades in their own way.

Interviews by Pierre Perrone