Uncharted: Crime and Mayhem in the Music Industry, episode 18: Rock’s unscrupulous managers

If you’re an artist and things are working out well, there will come a time when you need a manager. You need someone to take care of the business end of things while you focus on the music That’s when you need a manager.

A manager does everything from booking gigs to devising career strategies. That includes promotion and marketing, networking, and conducting any negotiations on your behalf. The manager is in charge of the financial management of your career.

A manager is incentivized by your success. The usual fee is 15% of whatever you make. The more you make, the more the manager makes and everyone is happy, right?

The entire relationship is based on trust. You, as the artist, must believe that your manager always has your best interests in mind. And you must trust that your manager will never take advantage of you or rip you off.

In most artist-manager relationships, things are professional and legal. The best managers will take a bullet for their clients. Some are legendary for their skills, dedication, and loyalty to their artists.

That includes Peter Grant, who did whatever he needed to protect Led Zeppelin and to extract maximum profit from record deals and concert tours. It includes Paul McGinness, a veteran who took a very young U2 under his wing in 1978 and built them into the biggest band in the world.

And then there’s Peter Mensch and Cliff Bernstein who have looked after Metallica, AC/DC, Smashing Pumpkins, The Chili Peppers, Muse, Def Leppard, Snow Patrol, and Cage the Elephant, among others.

But it’s not always sunshine, chocolate, and unicorns. There are bad managers, too—and I’m not talking about general incompetence. These are people who steal, embezzle, and extort from the very people they’re supposed to protect and nurture.

This is Uncharted: Crime and Mayhem in the Music Industry, episode 18. These are three of the worst, most unscrupulous, and most disingenuous managers in rock. Have I got some stories for you…

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38569 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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