/‘Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever make a living out of music.’

‘Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever make a living out of music.’

MBW’s World’s Greatest Managers series profiles the best artist managers in the global business. This time, we speak to Clarence Spalding, a partner in Maverick and the founder of Spalding Entertainment – home to country megastars like Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, Kix Brooks, Brooks & Dunn and many more. The World’s Greatest Managers is supported by Centtrip Music, the FX and banking solutions provider – which helps artists, managers and music businesses obtain an optimum currency exchange deal.


At one point, MBW asks Clarence Spalding if he was always destined to work specifically in country music.

His reply, delivered in a suitably southern drawl: “Have you paid any attention to this fucking accent?”

He laughs as he says it, and goes on to admit that it’s not as dumb a question as it sounds. “To be honest with you, I listened to no country growing up. My father, every Saturday afternoon, would watch The Porter Wagoner Show. Me and my brothers would walk into the room: Holy shit, that’s on again, no thanks – and just turn around and walk right out.

“We were listening to rock music, the Stones, the Beatles. But I was also listening to Al Green, to Ike and Tina; and then later on I was listening to Electric Light Orchestra and things like that.”

His interest in country was finally awakened by the genre’s ‘outlaw’ movement of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. You can see why.

Spalding’s a hugely successful music business exec, managing, amongst others, one of the biggest mainstream country acts in the world, Jason Aldean. But he’s far from conventional or cautious. No outlaw, perhaps, but no sheriff either. And a hell of a straight shooter.

Here, Spalding talks honestly about his life, his shortcomings, his breakthrough moments, about the music business in general and country music in particular.

Having (literally) made his name with Spalding Entertainment, he is now part of the worldwide Maverick management team and, as anyone who has spent any time with him will testify, is definitely not the outfit’s country cousin.

There’s no denying his roots, though, or that accent, both of which go back to the State of Kentucky, and a town with a licence for liquor…


How did you get your first break in the business?

Well, I’m from a small town in Kentucky. And that town happened to be dead in the middle of a wet county, surrounded by dry counties. Because of that, we had four nightclubs, which all did live music.

I was a paperboy and I delivered papers to this club, the Club Cherry. One day, there was a band sound checking, and the guy who ran the place said, ‘Sit up here for a second and listen to this; you’ll remember this for the rest of your life.’

“I thought I was going to be in corporate America.”

So I sat on the bar and listened to this woman singing with this band. I got home, told my parents about it, and they asked me who the act was. I said I thought they were called something like Ike and Tina Turner…

I continued to fall in love with music and then, when I went away to college, I started booking bands. I had a little agency to book bands that weren’t worth a shit, but I thought they were great. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever make a living out of music.

I got a degree in communications and I thought I was going to be in corporate America. But, one thing led to another and I ended up managing a nightclub.


Was that in Kentucky?

In Lexington, Kentucky, yeah. There was a group based there called Exile who had had a big hit in 1978 with Kiss You All Over [a US No. 1, written by Chinn and Chapman].

Their pop days were over – they were playing country and they went on to have 10 [US country] No.1s – and they were managed by a gentleman by the name of Jim Morey.

Jim and his partner, Sandy Gallin, managed Cher, Neil Diamond and Dolly Parton and the Pointer Sisters; they were probably one of the largest management companies in the world at the time.

“If this guy from Nebraska can make a living at this, then maybe some dumb ass from Kentucky can too!”

Jim was from somewhere in Nebraska and that’s when it started dawning on me: if this guy from Nebraska can make a living at this, then maybe some dumb ass from Kentucky can too!

Jim really took me under his wing and I ended up going on the road with Exile. I was their tour manager, and Jim would invite me to Los Angeles, let me sit in on various things, and I just fell in love with the whole business.

Eventually, I met a guy by the name of Stan Moress. Stan was a Los Angeles manager, but he also managed country acts – including K.T. Oslin and Eddie Rabbitt – so he decided that he was going to move to Nashville. I begged Stan for a job, but he simply didn’t have one. And then, one day, out of the blue, he calls me and goes, ‘You know that job you want? You’ve got it.’

I went from Kentucky to Nashville the next day and lived with Stan for a month, until I got my family down to Nashville. That was really the start of me truly being a manager. Stan and allowed me to come in and do day-to-day on, Eddie Rabbitt and K.T. Oslin.

I basically got a PhD from Stan.


What did he teach you?

He was just a great mentor. He taught us about the business and about artist management, and I learned that most of it is about personalities.

I remember telling somebody that I felt like everybody I was dealing with in the business who was successful, they must be so fucking smart. I always thought, Where did they go to school?

“I understand people are afraid, they’re concerned about their career, which is a very tentative thing.”

And as you move up you go, Eh, not so much. It’s more about the people and the personalities. I don’t consider myself brilliant by any stretch, but I know people, and I feel like I can bypass a couple of steps in talking to them because I’ve sat on the bus with people who have been in the same position. And I understand people are afraid, they’re concerned about their career, which is a very tentative thing.

It’s all great when you’re that 22-year-old artist who’s written three songs, and all three of them hit at same time and it feels like fucking magic dust has been sprinkled on you. Only now, [the industry] wants three more, and those next three are so much harder, because it took you 22 years to write the first three and now you’ve got four months to write the next three.


So you ended up in Nashville. What’s your next big break?

I got a phone call from a guy name of Bob Titley. Bob had signed this duo named Brooks & Dunn (pictured inset), and he felt like he needed some help.

Eventually, I went to see him and he explained they wanted me. I told Bob, I’ll come to work for you for three years, and at the end of three years, if you don’t feel I’m a partner, I’m going to leave.

After three years, Brooks & Dunn blew up, it became bigger and bigger, we were both having a great time and Bob brought me in as a partner. Then, after year 10, he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore.


What was that like for you?

I was comfortable. I mean, I was sad because Bob Titley, and I mean this, he was probably 10 times smarter than I will ever be.

I’m emotional and I cuss like a sailor at any opportunity, and then he would walk into the room and say, ‘What are you so upset about?’ I’d go, ‘This, this and this… and this!’ And Bob would say, ‘Well, have you ever thought about looking at it like this?’

At which point I’d I’d go, ‘Fuck no! I’m too fucking pissed off to look at it like that!’ But then, of course, I’d realize he was right.

When he quit, I started my own thing. And that’s when we went from Titley Spalding to Spalding Entertainment, in 2003.


Who was on the roster at that point, when you were finally flying solo?

It was probably Brooks & Dunn, Terri Clark and maybe Chely Wright was still on the roster at that time.


What becomes Spalding’s big break, as a standalone company?

Irving Azoff called me; he and Howard [Kaufman] were putting Front Line back together. I didn’t know Irving; I had met him, but I didn’t know him. And when Irving Azoff calls, it’s heady stuff. Irving Azoff knows my fucking name? I’m already three steps up from I was yesterday, I promise you that.

But I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be in another thing. I can’t remember how long it had been, but I hadn’t had my company that long, and I was doing was doing pretty well on my own.

But Irving was persistent, and I entered into an agreement with he and Howard – and we were Front Line. I had a blast.

“Irving Azoff knows my fucking name? I’m already three steps up from I was yesterday, I promise you that.”

I made a comment to Irving right at the beginning, I said, ‘I don’t know if I need you, Irving. I feel like that if there’s something I want to sign in Nashville, I can do that; I can go up against you here.’

And he goes, ‘You can, you can. I can hear you now, talking [to artists] about how busy Irving Azoff is. But here’s the thing, when I come to Nashville, everybody knows who I am, and when you come to Los Angeles, not a fucking soul knows who you are.’ [laughs]

There was this side of me that really wanted to be upset, but I couldn’t be, because it was so fucking true. You’re this fish in a small pond in Nashville, people know who you are; but still you’re not even the biggest fish in this small pond!

And that really kind of pushed me over the edge of going, Okay, I want to play with the big boys; I want to see how I stack up against everybody else, and it was a great move for me.


What did you learn from Irving?

I took a certain type of tenacity from Irving. He’s incredibly smart, but he’s also incredibly tenacious. Everybody’s heard all the stories about Irving, but I never experienced anything negative with him.

“Everybody’s heard all the stories about Irving, but I never experienced anything negative with him.”

He was just a great mentor. He was very helpful with anything that I needed. All of a sudden the world became open to me in regard to having Irving picking up the phone, and making an introduction to attorneys in New York, in Los Angeles… you know, ‘This is my guy in Nashville; he wants to try to do this; I would like you to help me.’

There’s no one in the music business – and not many outside the music business – who doesn’t know the name Irving Azoff. He’s still an incredible friend of mine and I still love seeing him.


And then the next step takes you to Live Nation…

That’s right, Irving sold to Live Nation. He and Michael Rapino became the head honchos and I was a part of Live Nation for I forget how many years.

Then one day Michael calls me and starts talking about… Oh, in that time, by the way, I had signed Jason Aldean, I had signed Rascal Flatts, I signed Darius Rucker; my roster had grown and grown. But Michael called me one night and said Guy Oseary wants to talk to you; I’m going to let him explain it to you, but there’s no pressure, it’s more of an introduction.

The next day, Guy calls me, he made it clear knew all about me, and we started talking. He was managing Madonna and U2 and whatever else at the time, but he was spending a lot of time in Silicon Valley and he was talking about his experiences in the tech world.

“Michael called me one night and said Guy Oseary wants to talk to you; I’m going to let him explain it to you, but there’s no pressure, it’s more of an introduction.”

He said, ‘In tech, you bring your friends in; you have a great idea and it’s like, Do you want to get in on this with me? And I want to apply the same principles to the management world. We all feel like we’re at odds with each other all the time, but I would like to put together a group of like-minded people, whose only thing is to help each other.’

So I flew to Los Angeles, I met with him and I was very intrigued by the idea. At the time I had Randy Goodman, who now runs Sony Nashville, working with me. I’m walking him through my meeting with Guy and I could see he was intrigued as well.

So we went back out there, we talked it all through again with Guy, I got in the van with Randy and I said, ‘Okay, tell me what’s wrong with this?’ He looked at me and said, ‘Nothing; there’s nothing wrong with this. This is a great opportunity.’

And so we started Maverick and it’s been the best time of my management career.


Why is that?

I have partners all over the world that I can call on – and that I do call on. If I’m touring Darius in Europe, which I am, I call [Paul McCartney’s manager] Scott Rodger (pictured inset). I can use his office in London and get people to help me on the ground there. And it’s the same with Adam Leber and Larry Rudolph – and the same the other way round; if they have Miley or Steven Tyler coming to town [Nashville], and they need help, we’re here to help them.

Larry had Britney in Las Vegas, he actually lives there, and I was trying to structure a deal for Brooks & Dunn at Caesar’s, so I called him. And he just gave me so much insight into that world and that kind of deal.

“It’s like going to a great university, having your pick of the best professors on campus.”

As a one off, could I do it? Sure. But trying to look down the road three years and to figure out how to make this a very successful run, both financially and in terms of it being an enjoyable experience for the principals, he was able to sit me down and go, ‘This is what I did with Britney.’ And things just click and you go, Okay, that makes a lot of sense – and by the way I would have never thought of that on my own.

I have all these very, very successful managers and I get to glean all this information from them. It’s like going to a great university, having your pick of the best professors on campus, getting to spend as much time with them as you want and asking them any questions you want.


How do you read the health of country music in general at the moment and its journey to becoming a more global phenomenon?

I think that country music is as healthy as it’s been. We’re catching up in streaming, we were late adopters, but we’re catching up.

For a long time it was still Wal-Mart and Target and Kmart where they [country music fans] were getting their music. Then it was SiriusXM, and now we’re very quickly catching up. So that’s great news for us, it’s great news for our labels, it’s great news for our younger artists and I think it’s great news in terms of spreading country music worldwide.

I do think that there are going to be acts that are going to lend themselves to the world and there are going to be other acts that are going to have a limit. And I think part of that limit is what [you] write about. If you’re writing about a rural lifestyle and, you know, a dog sitting in the front seat of your pickup truck, there are areas of the world that just don’t understand what that is. They didn’t grow up in South Georgia living that lifestyle.


Do you think that country gets a fair crack of the whip from streaming services today, or do hip-hop and pop tend to dominate in those areas, not just in terms of the listeners, but in terms of the levels of priority or otherwise that you get from inside those companies?

I think they have dominated, but we’re starting to get a fair crack at it. As always, you follow the money, and when this format starts really catching up, you’re going to see further change. Whether you call it ‘fair’ or ‘not fair’, it’s a business. And when the business of country is good, then country on Spotify and Apple and Pandora and all these places is going to be huge.

“Whether you call it ‘fair’ or ‘not fair’, it’s a business. And when the business of country is good, then country on Spotify and Apple and Pandora and all these places is going to be huge.”

I look at Pandora and that seems to be a place that registers early and registers big for country; Jason Aldean is the top streaming country act on Pandora, over a billion streams.

Once the country music fans get more and more comfortable with streaming and with getting their music on their phones… the kids growing up are already there. Plus, they’re going to go to a Jason Aldean show one night and a Drake show the next; I don’t think it matters to them.

That little bit older demo, who historically we have depended on, they haven’t yet gotten into [streaming] fully, but every day it gets bigger and bigger. I see the numbers and I hear the label heads talk about the increased consumption. There’s nobody in Nashville whining about this; we all see it growing.


Do you think that sometimes the rest of the industry sees country as its own independent, walled state? Less open to collaboration and crossover – and almost happy with that situation?

Maybe there have been walls around country more than other genres, but I think that’s changing every day.

Country music is a broad church: it’s Jason Aldean, it’s Alan Jackson, it’s Eric Church, it’s Florida Georgia Line (pictured), it’s Miranda Lambert; you’re going to find something here that you like.

If you love urban music, or you love soul music, there are artists in [the country] format that you’re going to fall in love with if you give them three minutes. Just give them three minutes – and I think that’s easier now we have streaming.

The labels in Los Angeles and New York, they know what’s going on down here; the artists that are really paying attention understand what’s going on down here; and the managers who are looking for some really creative pairings, they know what’s going on down here.

There’s a CMT Crossroads coming up with Zac Brown and Shawn Mendes. Now, let me tell you, not even in my biggest drug days would I have thought of that, but I guarantee you, when you watch it you’re going to go, Holy Shit, that makes a lot of sense.


Along those lines, you mentioned that the Big Loud guys have got a very outward-looking mentality. Can you talk about that deal, how it came about and how it’s working out? [Maverick acquired Florida Georgia Line’s managers, Big Loud, last year, for an undisclosed sum.]

Well, Seth [England] and ‘Chief’ [Kevin Zaruk] they’re young guys, they’re aggressive, they have FGL [Florida Georgia Line] and they’re making a commitment to spending time in Los Angeles and to co-writing with pop writers – and sometimes that’s what it takes.

I love both of them; they’re incredibly smart. So, when the opportunity came for them to come into Maverick … I’m a 110% supporter of bringing in people like that.

“When you’re sitting at the Maverick table, I want you to deserve that seat, not get it because your fucking brother’s a big act or whatever.”

When you’re sitting at the Maverick table, I want you to deserve that seat, not get it because your fucking brother’s a big act or whatever. You should get a seat because everybody else around that table thinks you’re a great manager.

You need to bring something to the party and Seth and Chief bring an incredible amount to Maverick.


In your experience, how has the line of demarcation changed between labels and management, both in terms of the shift of power, but also the shift in responsibility and workload?

I certainly hear people going, ‘I’m doing everything that the label used to do’ – and I think there is some of that. But I look at every label we work with – we work with four different labels here in town – and I feel like I just have an incredible partnership with all of them.

There’s no team on earth that doesn’t have some links that could be strengthened. I hope we bring to each label the ability to strengthen certain areas, but I think that works vice versa.

“People say every day, ‘I don’t need a label.’ Well I don’t recognise that term; I need them and I want to be in business with them.”

There are incredibly smart and aggressive people at these labels, people that make us think. I tell my staff all the time that we’re blessed here because every morning we wake up and we get to play in a major league ballpark. We have very big acts, and with that comes an incredible amount of responsibility – to be aggressive and to be forward-thinking and to really be paying attention, every day, to their careers.

To do that, you need to surround yourself with incredibly smart people. And that way I get to hear a take on Jason Aldean’s career that might be different than mine, and that’s great.

People say every day, ‘I don’t need a label.’ Well I don’t recognise that term; I need them and I want to be in business with them.


Let’s talk about Jason for a minute; how did that relationship start?

I think it was 11 or 12 years ago. I didn’t know Jason. I’d heard his music some, and I liked what I’d heard. And then one day I get a phone call from a friend of mine named Kevin Neal, who was at Buddy Lee Attractions at the time [Neal is now a partner at WME].

He told me Jason had let go his manager and would I be interested? Oh yeah, I’d be interested… He was on tour and was playing Jacksonville, Florida, the next night, so I booked a flight and headed down.

“Jason took some other meetings, but he decided to come here, which we were very excited about.”

At the time, Chris Parr was working at CMT [Country Music Television] here in Nashville. He and I had been talking about doing something together, but I kept telling him, Chris, I got to sign an act for you to work on; I just can’t hire people for the sake of hiring them!

About an hour before my flight took off, Chris calls and he says to me, I heard the Jason Aldean fired his manager, and man would I love to work on that. I said, ‘Well, wish me luck because I’m flying to Jacksonville to meet him and I’m going to make you part of the pitch.’

Jason took some other meetings, but he decided to come here, which we were very excited about, and I brought Chris in. And you don’t know, you never really know for sure how things are going to work out. If I did know, I’d be sitting on an island somewhere. But I thought there was definitely something there.


He was still on his first [eponymous] album [2005] cycle at that point, right?

Yep, and getting ready to go into his second album [Relentless, 2007]. It’s an interesting thing, because he was on Broken Bow, who had an office here, but Benny Brown, who owned it, lived in Redding, California. And he was the biggest car dealer in Northern California.

He just loved music, he wanted a record label, so he started Broken Bow.

“All of a sudden I’m dealing with a guy who didn’t know nor give a shit about corporate America.”

It was interesting for me because everybody I dealt with was raised in a record label. They started off as an intern and rose up through the corporate ranks, and all of a sudden I’m dealing with a guy who didn’t know nor give a shit about corporate America.

He’s Benny Brown, the car dealer! But, you know what, it worked.


A lot of people would have thought that the new manager comes in and one of the things that you want to do is get a bigger, better record contract with a bigger, better record company. But that hasn’t happened. You’re clearly very happy with Broken Bow. You must have had other options…

Yeah, of course. Everybody in town wants Jason Aldean! And there was this thought of mine: how do I get a more traditional label, I guess, and a better deal?

But Jason was, I think, three days away from going back to Macon, Georgia and start driving a Pepsi cola truck for a living when Benny Brown made him an offer.
So we were in that contract when we took over management, and the more that Chris and I dealt with Broken Bow, what we saw was a very passionate team. When they signed Jason, they didn’t really have any gas in the engine, they just had one act, and that was Jason Aldean. So they became the Little Label That Could.

We then find ourselves working hand in hand with these people, saying to each other, ‘You know what, they’re really, really good at what they do. They just happen to be independent and be owned by the biggest car dealer in Northern California.’

When you say that out loud, it doesn’t make sense, but it did for us.

When it first came time to renegotiate, I went to Jason, we had a conversation, and he said, I really want to stay with Benny, I want to stay with Broken Bow; I want to be loyal to the guys that gave me a chance. There was a ‘but’ somewhere in there, of course. As in, But if they don’t… etc. etc. then we’ll have to go.

So I went to Benny and I said, ‘Look, I’m not going to shop this round town. I want to talk to you first and let’s see if we can work out a deal.’ And we did. And, much to the chagrin of three or four label heads in this town who had felt for sure that it would fall apart, it didn’t and we’re still there and still very happy there.


Then, of course, not very much later Benny sells to BMG in a nine-figure deal. Has that made much difference?

I think it’s made a difference. We love Zach [Katz, president, repertoire & marketing, BMG US].

Zach is a corporate guy in the music business, but he’s passionate, he used to be a manager. It’s good. Benny was ready to leave, he was ready to sell – and he could have sold to somebody that we hated, but thankfully he didn’t.


What did you make of Jason as a person when you first sat across the table from him?

Well, when I first take a meeting with somebody, I pray that there’s some part of us that’s cut out of the same cloth, some type of common ground. But, also, for me, I want to fall in love with the music first; if I fall in love with the artist [before the music], it’s always terrible, it’s fucked up.

I’ve had artists that I love [making] music that I hate. So, now, I hope that I love the music and can then like the artist. In this instance, I loved what Jason was doing, because Chris and I really felt like that there was a Jason Aldean lane that nobody else was in.

“Jason Aldean knew who he was and knew the direction he wanted to go. I think for an artist, you can ask no more, right?”

And also, to realise, Hey, you’re a good person and you’re going to work your ass off for us; that’s really important. I always say if I’m working harder than you [the artist], there’s something wrong with this project. I just really believed that Jason was that kid that was going to step up and work his ass off.

I always really had a true sense that Jason Aldean knew who he was and knew the direction he wanted to go. I think for an artist, you can ask no more, right?

I used to bring him songs, and I’d have convinced myself that this song or that song is fucking Bridge Over Troubled Water and Let it be, blended together. I take it to Jason and he goes, ‘Yeah, that’s a good song.’ I go, ‘A good song?!’ He goes, ‘Hey, it’s a good song Clarence, I just don’t hear myself singing it.’

What a great thing to say; it’s like, Okay, somebody else might sing this song, but I’m not going to sing this son of a bitch, I don’t care how many times you play it for me [laughs], because it’s not me right now.


Do you think that’s key to the consistency of his success? Because it’s been 10 years now and the last four albums have all gone to No.1…

Oh that’s nothing but pure fucking management right there [laughs]. I’m kidding, don’t quote me on that!

No, you’re right, it’s not that I can sit here or Jason would sit here, and tell you that every album is the greatest record ever made. But what we can say is that every album represents who Jason Aldean was at that particular time.

I think that’s a real ability: to find and record songs that the consumer thinks he must have written, because it’s from the heart. And yet he doesn’t write. He will hear a song that could well be a hit, but he will say, ‘That’s not me, that’s not where I am at this time.’ And I love that about him.


Can you talk a little bit about the success Jason has had over the past year?

It’s been a fantastic year, and everything goes back to that album [Rearview Town]. You go into launch and you book a tour and you have a great plan. But you need great music to go with it, and with this record a great warmth comes over everybody who listens to it; it has so many different layers and colors and flavors to it.

Everyone knows, there was this terrible tragedy [Aldean was on stage in Las Vegas when a gunman murdered 58 people at the Route 91 Festival], and that will always be part of who we are now. So this record and this tour was a new beginning in a way.

What happened will never be forgotten, and nor will the victims, not by Jason or by any of our crew who were there that night. But it won’t define him either, and that’s why this record was such an important one, and why he really appreciates how much people love it, and that he gets to play it for his fans.


Does this round of success feel different because of what happened?

I think you find yourself feeling more grown up; does that make sense? You go through things in your life and they peel away different layers of your personality to reveal the truth. In this case there were 40-odd people in the Jason Aldean camp that went through this together.

And then Jason allowed himself to go back out there. He and I and his wife flew out, a week to the day of it happening, and we visited three hospitals. He was dreading it, I was dreading it, and it was everything that you would think it would be and more. It was just heartbreaking and beyond.

We both walked out of there and he looked at me and said, ‘That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but I’m so glad I did it.’

We didn’t announce we were coming, the hospital staff just said someone would like to come say hi to you, if it’s okay. And so when he walked into the room, it was just such an emotional thing; lots of tears, lots of tears.

“I saw a very, very compassionate man, not an artist, a very compassionate man coming in and struggling, because he couldn’t fix anything.”

I tell this story because the whole thing affected me, but also because I saw a different Jason Aldean in that room. I saw a very, very compassionate man, not an artist, a very compassionate man coming in and struggling, because he couldn’t fix anything: I can’t bring you back to life, I can’t heal that wound. All I can do is tell you how, sorry I am, and by the way, I was there with you, with my wife and with my unborn child.

There was a lady on one of the floors who was in a coma and her family asked Jason to come up. So Jason went into the room and he did a video for her: Hey, I shared your room today, and when you wake up I want you to come out and see me on the road and we’re going to have a beer together.

Honestly, we didn’t know if she would live or die. Thankfully, she comes out of the coma, and six months later, she lives in Phoenix, Jason was doing a show there and he went over to see her. He didn’t tell anybody, he just went over to tell her, ‘Hey, you don’t remember me, but I was in your room, I visited you and now here we are.’ And then he invited her to the Academy of Country Music Awards, where it was a pleasure to have us as our guest.

So I just think… it’s not that I didn’t know he was a compassionate man, but as a manager, sometimes you don’t get to see that side of your artist. I have a lot more respect for him as a man, forget everything else, just as a man, than I did even before going through all that.


Final question: what advice would you give to young managers today?

You can’t be afraid to sit down and tell your artists the truth. And sometimes that’s really, really hard.

When, I’m signing acts now, I tell them – and sometimes they think it’s a joke, but it’s really not – that I’m an acquired taste. Because I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m never going to be mean-spirited, but I’m going to tell you the truth, because you are going to pay me an incredible amount of money, and for that money, you should want the truth.

I go, Look, we can drop the commission and I’ll blow smoke up your ass all day because I won’t care! In fact, for 5% you can go out and get somebody to pick up your fucking laundry. But you came here because you were looking for something different.

“Each of my acts is the CEO of their own company. I don’t run the company; I’m here to advise.”

You also learn along the way about the balance between you and the artist, and how to work together. With me, each of my acts is the CEO of their own company. I don’t run the company; I’m here to advise.

But I should always, always have a vote. You can override my vote, but the day that you don’t want to know what I think about it, is probably the day you should find yourself a new manager. Because believe me, I’m not in the business of sitting around making the same mistakes that I made 25 years ago, just because you want to give it a try.


Centtrip Music already works with many of the world’s largest artists and is recognised as a leading provider of FX support and banking solutions to the music industry. The Centtrip Music account specialises in providing transparent foreign exchange (FX) rates, payments and expense management to global artists, managers, labels, promoters, collection societies and music industry accountants. It comes with a Centtrip-prepaid Mastercard which holds 14 currencies simultaneously and is accepted worldwide.Music Business Worldwide