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Emily White Calls For Professionalism In 2013 / Poll: Who Is The Music Industry's Best?

image from www.narip.comBy Emily White of Whitesmith Entertainment and Readymade Records.

I love music and the music industry.  I’m a geek about doing the work and love working with artists to help achieve goals and build sustainable careers.

As an artist manager and consultant, I work with or create new teams around each artist on our roster.  I love working with specialists within our field who know the synch world in and out, or are focused on how modern PR is evolving, or are seizing the exciting changes within the touring industry from live-streaming concerts (Bowery Presents) to pre-selling tickets (Songkick’s Detour).

As the artist’s quarterback, the manager needs a full team around them with everyone working together with the greater good of the project in mind. We’re always trying to strengthen our teams to help our artists in all ways possible.

Unfortunately, all too often, I spend much of my time following up, chasing down other folks in the industry and ultimately making sure people are doing their jobs. Of course we all make mistakes and aren’t perfect, as that is human nature. However, I feel like our industry would get more done and move things forward more quickly if we collectively stepped up our general professionalism as opposed to spending time chasing each other down. I thought some of this had shaken down a bit over the past decade since the Whitesmithindustry has shrunk and therefore should consist of people who are in it for the right reasons. But all too often, I see the same old behavior and even when it is discussed, we all accept it as the norm in the music biz.

Don’t get me wrong, beyond loving music, a few reasons why I wanted to work in the industry was so I didn’t have to get up incredibly early, it was socially acceptable to listen to music all day while working, and it was part of the job to go to a lot of shows as I love live music. And at least the latter two are definitely part of the job. But it doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t be accountable. And now that I’m immersed in the music industry I certainly get up earlier than I ever thought I would so I can dive into work every day to keep working on growing and expanding the big picture for my artists, step by step, email by email, meeting by meeting.

Obviously we cherish colleagues who not only respond to all emails and phone calls within 24 business hours, if at all, and go beyond what should be standard business practices by proactively helping our artists. They are the team members I return to time and time again because I can trust their work. They are reliable, do the things they say they will, and genuinely care about the artists and projects they are working on.

Back in the day it used to be all about keeping one’s cards close to their chest and protecting their network. I’d like to celebrate the folks who go above and beyond for our artists in my world. Off the top of my head, I’m so proud of the success managers like Christen Greene (The Lumineers) and Christine Stauder (Alabama Shakes) are having. I’ve worked countless late nights sharing office space in the past with both of these women, not leaving until all of the work was done; even if it was past Midnight. Joyce Dollinger is my attorney and is the most proactive lawyer I’ve ever met in my life. It’s so nice to see an attorney who is always working towards what’s best for everyone AND (literally) cares about proper formatting, correct dates, and important details on agreements. I’m sick of sloppiness from a field that charges hundreds of dollars an hour, aren’t you?  

In the booking agent world, props to Liam Keightley from ITB in the UK, who I consider to be one of the most forward thinking agents in the industry.  He is willing to work with artist management teams based on internet data whether a traditional label is in place or not.  And thank God for Terrorbird’s college radio and synch teams. I completely trust Jess Caragliano’s ear and adore that she always gives me honest feedback. Same for Lauren Ross and synch pitching at the same company.

image from Who's The Best?

And I ask you, who do YOU think are the most accountable folks in the music industry? Who proactively seeks deals and opportunities, let alone closes them? Who is the most forward thinking business manager? I’m talking about folks who seize accounting for new revenue streams and aren’t scared off by modern standards such as Paypal and Google Docs / Drive.  Who helps to find support slots and book tours instead of waiting until one lands in their lap? Who is the best merch company? One where the artist isn’t bothered by fans on Twitter by shipping mistakes?

This is not about who has the hottest acts, but at the end of the day, who does the work?

Everyone in the industry deserves a nice break over the next few weeks, it is the time we’ve all agreed to be away from e-mail and reflect for the most part. But hopefully we can come back refreshed and focused on how we can improve for our artists, colleagues, and ourselves at the end of the day. We’re so lucky to work in music and I just hope that our “culture of cool” doesn’t drag us down. It’s a ton of work to launch and maintain successful careers for our artists. Which are two things I’m always happy to see and am not shocked when those words are next to each other: work and success.

I’m looking forward to doing my job in 2013 and I hope you all are too :).

Enjoy the break!