Andy Wibbels just floated a great quote from John Waters about finding something you love and making it your life’s work. And while you may need to dabble–against John Waters’ advice–to really discover whether a passion is worth pursuing, it’s going to take hold of your life pretty darn quick.
Some folks find my book, Music Management for the Rest of Us, because they’re looking for ways to break in to the music business. But I really wrote it for those folks who have just discovered their real passion: to help spread the music created by a close friend or a family member. History shows us that the most successful music managers of all time maintained real passion for their clients, usually from those early, drab days of booking dive bars and scraping for recording budgets.
If you’re in it just for the bucks, you’re not going to get very far. That’s because there aren’t many bucks in those first few years as artists grow and develop. Your passion may force you to find other ways to pay the bills while you help your project get off the ground, but that’s not dabbling. That’s finding other skills and connecting other passions to your main mission. Barbara Sher calls that becoming a Scanner.
Folks ask me, from time to time, why I’m not managing anybody right now. It’s not just because I’m busy, it’s because my passion’s with other projects at the moment. (You could say that my current passion is helping people connect with their own passion, whether that’s starting a business or saving enough money to buy their dream home.) I love meeting artists who can completely express their passion on stage, but I won’t represent someone unless their work connects with me in such a way that it becomes my passion. If somebody rang my bell that way again, you bet I’d be busting out the shingle.
Of course, for really powerful music management professionals, it’s possible to be passionate about many artists at the same time. After all, you’re not married or anything. But you do have to balance your passion around the ebb and flow of your clients’ creative output, their recording and touring schedules, and their own need for you to help them navigate their careers. Managing the capacity to stay passionate is among the most critical skills for prospective music managers to cultivate.