Mark Newbanks, founder of Fidelio Arts, and Simon Burke-Kennedy, of Bitter and Twisted, spoke at ‘Music Management Undressed’, the first of a new cultural event series hosted by Noted. Comparing what turned out to be the hugely differing worlds of classical and pop music management, it appears that the two almost have even less in common with each other than Tom does with Jerry. But what could they learn from each other?
Newbanks, with an enviable and elite list of Gustavo Dudamel, Lionel Bringuier and Esa-Pekka Salonen, spoke of how in classical music management, the manager oversees all activities including concert bookings, promotions, tours, photo shoots…the lot. Simon Burke-Kennedy on the other hand, manager of Professor Green and O Children, noted how managers in the contemporary pop world oversee all activities of the various agents, concert bookers, brand consultants photographers, tour organisers…that is, the 40-50 people who are behind a success story such as rapper Professor Green.
What emerged most strongly was the emphasis that the pop world places on branding and brand placement of their artist. Burke-Kennedy said that much of their time is spent, and by far the majority of their money made, from brand partnerships with their artists – the most famous one being between Professor Green and energy drink Relentless. Newbanks said that in fact some of his conductors do have luxury brand links, they are usually so subtle that no one would notice unless they were in the know.
Pushing these worlds even further, is the difference in social media, photography and video usage. Only last month there was uproar in the classical music world when Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman anrgily declaimed that Youtube is ‘destroying music’ when a member of the audience distracted his playing when trying to video him. The exact opposite appears to be the focus in the pop industry. And Cecilia Bartolli had a public disagreement about controlling which photographs of her could be used in the press.
Interestingly, Mark Newbanks spoke of how he looked to book publishing as a model for classical music management to have in mind in that there’s a goal and trajectory for books to be following. An ideal situation for a book would be to have an initial manuscript which over time goes from book to audiobook to TV series or film with many-a-re-print en route. Mark sees this line which draws on different media to get to a particular goal as being one that classical music should be looking to consider.
It will be fascinating to see: where these managers next they take their artists; whether classical music management will begin to focus more heavily on partnerships; if pop music management borrow any tips from the classical music world where managers directly manage all aspects of the artist; and whether Newbanks and Burke-Kennedy bring the two industries together in any kind of way.
Some quotes from the evening: