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:

Mark Newbanks:  ”I don’t think there are any specific ways that we look for new people. I think you have a feeling for it. You know who is the right mix to be with, personality-wise. For me, it’s a combination of the artistry and who I can feel really comfortable with; who I can say, ‘Wow, I get up in the morning and I am so excited to open up my e-mails and do my first bit of work’, for all of my guys because I think they are all amazing. Yeah, we have our tough days and our difficult discussions, difficult contracts and I screw up every now and then and they yell at me but I still love every bit of it.”


“I think a lot of it is already happening, it’s just that we don’t talk about it. There’s not a lot of that endorsement where you actually have the name of the company. A lot of it happens because they want to get access to the artist, its all about access. It’s about getting tickets, it’s about exclusive backstage, it’s about product placement and ensuring that your artist is wearing their watch. It’s generally high-end brands and it’s all quite subtle. There’s only three relationships I currently have, and two of them you would never know exist because they are nowhere to be seen. But they pay money, they want to be a part of it, they want to be associated, they want to have the time of the artist but its much more low-key.”


Simon Burke-Kennedy: “I think with popular music, and certainly of this newer generation, brand deals are almost as much a part of our daily routine as putting a record out. For this new generation of artists, it is almost expected of them. Financially, it something we have to do.”


“Professor Green is not just a musician or an artist, he’s a brand. That’s how you’ve got to view him. Which is probably different to how you view your clients [to Mark]. But ultimately, he is a brand and other brands buy into his brand. He is a way of selling things to people. It does sound a little bit ruthless, but we have to see him as more than a musician.”


“We don’t make money from record sales. Hands up I say that now, we’ve had number one hits, we’ve had top five albums. We don’t make money off record sales. There are other areas for us that are more exciting revenue streams.”