Is bigger really better when it comes to artist management?
The newly minted Maverick group signals a significant sea-change when it comes to music management
One of the most interesting news stories of the last few days on the music business beat has been the coming together of some of the most promenient managers in the business. Led by U2′s new Mr Fifteen Percent Guy Oseary, the Maverick group of managers includes such heavy-hitters as Laffitte Management’s Ron Laffitte, I Am Other’s Caron Veazey, Blueprint Group’s Gee Roberson and Cortez Bryant, Reign Deer’s Larry Rudolph and Adam Leber, Spalding Entertainment’s Clarence Spalding and OTR’s old pal Quest Management’s Scott Rodger. You’ll find individual manager profiles here.
It’s quite a starry collection of talent when you bring all those individual rosters together. Maverick will now look after such acts as Madonna, Pharrell Williams, Paul McCartney, Arcade Fire, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus, Lykke Li, Britney Spears and a ton more.
It’s even more striking when you take into account the fact that the new Maverick group will collaborate with Live Nation for the plan and, per the Billboard piece which broke the news, “report to (Live Nation boss Michael) Rapino and Live Nation’s Artist Nation management group, which houses more than 100 managers overseeing 250-plus acts like Maroon 5 and Kings of Leon.” It would seem that the Live Nation’s expansionist tendencies show no sign of diminishing.
You have to wonder what the artists, the people who employ these managers after all, think of the plan, especially as it appears that they only found out about the new entity after the fact. Those with superstar careers, an already established audience and a lot of lucrative current revenue streams will know that they’ll always be priorities as long as they’re in clover. They’ll also know that it’s their talent and pulling power which has facilitated this union so they may well decide to play hardball when it comes to contract renegotiation time and shave a few percentages off their commission rates. After all, Maverick needs them a lot more than they need Maverick at this stage.
But not everyone will be happy with the new format. There will surely be some acts who’ve hired these managers to look after their business interests who may wonder if some of these individuals may take their eye off the ball now that they’re part of a bigger group. There may even be certain acts who are a little suspicious or circumspect about the Live Nation involvement and who would query just how good it is for everything to be consolidated in one silo. Live Nation promote their gigs via their global chain of promoters, sell their tickets via Ticketmaster, facilitate the resale of their tickets via the Get Me In marketplace and now have an interest in their management too. It’s quite something when you write it all down like that and join up the dots because it means a lot of power and influence is vested in one company.
Of course, a merger of this kind undoubtedly has huge advantages. You’ve a pooling of expertise and contacts which will lead to more opportunities and advantages for those inside the tent. There will also be new managers joining the group in time – Jill Scott and The Roots’ co-manager Shawn Gee is mentioned in the piece – and we can expect Maverick to be flexing its muscles in non-music areas, given some of the principals’ interests in such sectors as technology, sports and movies.
It also points to the increasing importance of the management class when it comes to developing and sustaining an artist’s career. Unlike the record label or the promoter or the agent or the publishing company, the manager has oversight on every aspect of the artist’s career and can help to facilitate a lot of the non-traditional business which now comes an artist’s way. There are probably plenty of brands and agencies who will feel a lot happier working with a group like Maverick because of the amount of additional opportunities it presents them. But there will also be acts within the bigger roster who will wonder if some cash heading to one act should instead be coming to them. Interesting times ahead at the management mill.