Billboard reports that the International Music Managers Forum has more than the usual helping of sanctimony about the terms of Spotify’s deal with Sony (and by inference all other major labels). Curiously, Billboard doesn’t seem to question the credentials of managers to speak on behalf of all artists. We do.
Ask yourself this–how many managers have screwed artists to the wall? Want to talk about sunset clauses? Commissioning income the manager had nothing to do with producing? Expense charges for first class tickets to MIDEM and $1000 dinners that suddenly appear when the artist wants to leave the manager? Charging cars for the manager’s mistress to the artist’s credit card so the wife doesn’t catch him? Sure, there are plenty of great managers who would take a bullet for their artists or dangle an offending promoter out of a window, but let’s not pretend that managers as a class are without sin.
Let’s also not pretend that artists feel like they can question their manager’s transparency or conflicts of interest.
Speaking of sin and the sanctimony of transparency–here’s a few questions for those in the glass house of the IMMF.
1. How much money do you get from Google, directly or indirectly? There have been rumors for years that IMMF is in Google’s pocket, so how about publishing your books online? Anything to hide?
2. Did any of your members get stock from Spotify, Bit Torrent or any tech company your organization promotes? Were you given the opportunity to invest or did you get the stock for service rendered?
3. Any IMMF members been hired as consultants by Google? Spotify? Bit Torrent?
4. Do your members have an obligation in their management contracts to disclose all sources of their income to their artists (like Spotify stock)?
5. Who gets to decide whether the manager has a conflict of interest? The manager? Or the artist?
6. How many of your members knew about the Spotify major label terms before the Verge leak?
7. If your member got stock from a tech company what was it for? Their wisdom or their access?
We’re reminded of a story about a manager who made a fortune managing a particular superstar and then wanted to sell his management company (and the superstar’s contract) for a bundle. The artist wished him well and had just one question:
Where’s my 80%?