Canada’s East Coast music scene has been churning out some of our favourite tunes for the past several years. Lucky for us, we got to pick the brain of Sheri Jones, the “business mind” behind the careers of Joel Plaskett, David Myles, Mo Kenney, and many other eastern Canadian artists who have been making waves. Sheri is also on our judging panel, so we look forward to getting her expert feedback on this year’s entries! Read on to find out about the day-to-day duties of a manager, when an artist needs one, and what you should be doing on your own before you seek management.
1. What do you enjoy about the Canadian music community, and the East Coast music community in particular?
I really appreciate that artists and industry, particularly on the east coast, are very supportive of each other. While there is sometimes a healthy competition, people don’t take it personally. Everyone is smart enough to know that the better each artist does, the more our community will thrive.
2. What is the day-to-day role of a manager?
You name it, management is responsible. A typical day can range from negotiating international contracts to organizing merch for an upcoming tour – and everything in-between.
3. When and how should an artist seek out management?
I always tell artists that should take good management when it’s offered to them, but the reality is that the entire industry is getting tougher so management deals are even more difficult to come by. An artist should begin to seek out management when their level of activity warrants it, and when they feel they are no longer able to maximize opportunities on their own. An artist who understands the music business and has been running their own career effectively is a far more attractive client to most managers.
4. Many of your clients have been with you for several years. What does it take for an artist-manager relationship to last?
I am attracted to an artist’s songwriting, performance potential, and work ethic – but that is not enough for me to embark on a long-term relationship. A common vision, trust, and the ability to communicate freely are all very important in maintaining a lasting relationship. My clients and I share the same values and we appreciate and enjoy each other’s company.
5. What is more important for a musician’s success: talent or marketability?
I’d like to believe that talent can sometimes compensate for apparent lack of marketability, but that marketability cannot replace talent in the long term. Today I think that an artist needs talent and the ability to develop, or help their team develop, a marketable brand.
6. Name one of your all-time favourite songs, and what you love about it.
Impossible to narrow it down to one song – I’ve heard so many great songs in my life! My own clients aside, couple of my Canadian favourites: Life is a Highway – this song made me feel good the first time I heard it and it still does. I’m a sucker for a killer hook. Ron Hynes’ Atlantic Blue on the other hand, breaks my heart every time I hear it. Sometimes it’s about the overall mood a song evokes, the poetry of the lyric, or an undeniable melody. In general, I gravitate to songs that feel like they were crafted by the writer. And it’s not a great song if you can’t play perform it with an acoustic guitar or a piano! To me, that’s the test of a great song . . . when you break it down, it’s still outstanding.