Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

If you only read one interview with a music manager today…

Career advice galore from Scott Rodger as he kicks the truth to bands and managers about the current state of play within the industry

Scott Rodger. Photo: Billboard

Mon, Nov 2, 2015, 09:46


Much to our chagrin, this blog has form with Scott Rodger. Readers with long memories may recall an OTR spat from back in the day over all-in ticket prices involving Rodger’s clients Arcade Fire. Rodgers was not content to sit idly by – or send in the lawyers/PRs as many would have done in his position – and he got stuck into the comments (which are sadly no longer attached to the piece due to technical what-not) with gusto and give as good as he got.

Aside from Arcade Fire, Rodger also manages or has managed Paul McCartney and Bjork and his Quest Management company is one of the big players when it comes to music management worldwide, especially since his tie-in with Guy Oseary and other big management kahoonas to form Live Nation’s Maverick consortium. There’s an in-depth interview with him conducted by Tim Ingham over on Music Business Worldwide and it is well worth reading if you’re an act or if you’re a manager.

The best bits are where Rodger dispels myths, like the one about how managers whose acts score record deals are supposed to be on the pig’s back or how live revenue is going to replace all the lost revenue from recorded music (“the live thing is a bit of a myth unless you’re established. If you’re a young manager with an [emerging] artist there isn’t much money in live. You lose money or break even at that stage”).

He’s also excellent about the power of leverage. When you’ve an act like Arcade Fire, who sell two million albums every time and who’re a huge touring draw, you can call the shots. “We’re not going to give anyone a cut of live or any ancillaries. Are we really going to sign a deal that’s just going to give us a 25% royalty with packing deductions etc? That’s not very exciting. Why would we ever do it? Why would we want to take 25% of streaming revenues?”

When it comes to whining about streaming payments, Rodger is clear and unambiguous about where the fault lies. “This is the whole streaming myth: you read artists who say they don’t get paid from Spotify and Deezer. The reason they don’t? Well if you’re an artist who had one hit in 1972 that still sells today, unfortunately you probably signed your record deal in 1972, in perpetuity. With packaging dedications, breakage and all the rest, before you know it that artist is on a gross of something like 7% of every dollar spent. They’re not getting paid because the money’s going elsewhere. If you’re on 90% of every dollar [paid out], it’s a very different ballgame.”

Of course, as he points out, not every act can get those deals and it comes down to leverage again. “You only get them if you have an act who’s in a position to negotiate them, and/or owns the rights to their music.” Acts at the start of their career sign away rights in return for advances and seed capital and those rights dictate terms which have a long-term effect on their bottom line.

But there may be some light on the horizon. Ingham asks Rodger does he ever envisage a day when this will change. “I think it will have to happen. Artists can’t survive out there. Maybe on physical, [major labels will] keep the traditional royalty model – which, on paper, is [more understandable] because it’s a crappy business involving a lot of resource and risk. But digital is not the same. There may be a shift to do more equitable deals on streaming or downloads, but they don’t seem in a hurry.”

And there’s tons more to dig into where all of that came from. If you only read one interview today with a music manager who rightly tore into OTR on behalf of his client, make sure it’s this one.