I MANAGE MY MUSIC
The most important people a musician will ever need throughout their career are other musicians.
Without each other, we’re rooted. I’m talking about independent predominantly self-funded (and often self-managed) musicians, because they’re the only kind I know. There’s a whole world of music out there that has become irrelevant to me – I can’t remember the last time I watched Video Hits (does this show still exist?) but I can tell you the last time I walked into a pub and watched live music that blew me away.
It was about a month ago at the Grace Darling on Smith Street in Collingwood where Melbourne band Teeth & Tongue fronted by Jess Cornelius, were playing a residency. They were everything you want a rock band to be – edgy, exciting, sensual and original.
Last year I was offered a place at The Seed Management Workshop, a fund to assist independent musicians and managers founded by John Butler and his wife Danielle Caruana (Mama Kin). I was in the middle of a NEIS business course to start my own workshop for self-managed artists, so the opportunity came at the perfect time. Myself and twenty-four music managers flew in from around the country to bunker down (and I don’t use that term lightly) for a week in the Blue Mountains. Over the course of the five days we heard from the cream of the Australian music industry, managers like John Watson and Phil Stevens, powerhouses like Sound Australia’s Millie Millgate and of course the most powerful man in Australian music – Richard Kingsmill.
By the end of the week I was munted (and I don’t use that term lightly). My brain felt like a hive of bees being smoked before honey collection. I crawled onto the train to Sydney and burst into tears of exhaustion/elation. I had my guitar with me and this guy asked if I was famous. An awkward moment. If I was famous, you would be asking ‘aren’t you Jen Cloher?’ I ate my bad train station sandwich and watched him and his girlfriend make out in a kind of gross way; I was too tired to move so I wrapped myself in my coat and fell asleep.
Now back in Melbourne, recovered and inspired from The Seed experience, I have started a series of workshops for self-managed artists called I Manage My Music. So far we have run two weekends, both of which booked out in record time!
The third one takes place on the 25th and 26th of June with some incredible speakers including Wally de Backer Gotye and Jesse Lubitz from Tinpan Orange. I’ve found the weekend brings out the best in everyone; we come together, our own little community and share information, slowly breaking down the fear most of us have in regards to releasing music.
Sure a booking agent is important, a good record label can be a godsend and social networking and online marketing have revolutionised the way we consume music, but at the end of the day we need each other. To tour with, to play in bands with, to cry on each other’s shoulders when the going gets tough with. Without each other, we’re rooted.