I must admit that the original title of this blog post was “Exciting Tales of a Business Manager”, but honestly, if a Business Manager is doing his or her job well, there should be few tales about their work that are very exciting. Be cautious of any Business Manager proudly telling a story involving unusually large reptiles, the mysterious disappearance of a client, and an industrial-scale popcorn popper.
I’ve had the pleasure of operating and investing in some wonderful creative businesses, over the years. For the most part, my clients and business partners have been a joy to work with, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done. Creative businesses, however, are rife with examples of poor decisions.
One of my favorite examples of a poor decision involves a well-known musician that found himself in a bit of a financial crush. Attorneys working towards selling some of this musician’s assets came across a piece of property upon which the musician had had a warehouse constructed to store the toys he had acquired during the heyday of his career. As many of the toys had since been sold off, the attorneys felt that selling this warehouse would be wise, but when they looked further, it turned out that the warehouse had been built on land that the musician rented, not land that he owned. As is commonly the case, the rental agreement provided that any improvements to the rented land became property of the landlord. In other words, this musician spent a great deal of money to construct a warehouse that ended up being given to someone else.
Of course, creative businesses are not the only enterprises with examples of poor decisions. In my opinion, though, creative businesses are more likely than others to have poor decisions made as a result of one particular common denominator – ego. As musicians, it’s likely that we’ve all felt the rush during and following a great performance, the satisfaction of a wonderful recording session, or pride in a terrific composition. Those are all feelings that keep musicians practicing their craft, but beware of that rush, satisfaction, and pride expanding to a sense of invulnerability. This often leads poor decision-making, be it with business, or life in general (insert your favorite “trashed hotel room” story, here).
My advice to aspiring musicians is to be as good as possible at what you do, seek assistance and support where necessary, and be wise enough to know when seeking assistance and support is, in fact, in your best interest.
Craig Chamberlain is an experienced business professional and entrepreneur, having founded and operated many successful companies related to the arts and entertainment technology. Craig is a Berklee College of Music alumnus (class of ’91), graduating magna cum laude with a degree in Music Production & Engineering. Craig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.orpheumconsulting.com