November 27, 2019

Top Aussie managers unpack success, Chuggi pokes Live Nation

Former Assistant Editor
Top Aussie managers unpack success, Chuggi pokes Live Nation

Artist managers representing four of the acts set to perform at the 2019 ARIA Awards tonight joined a panel at Tuesday’s ARIA Masterclass in Sydney.

Tones And I, Guy Sebastian, Human Nature and The Teskey Brothers will all appear during the ceremony on Wednesday evening.

So it’s fair to say that the likes of Private Idaho Management director Jen Fontaine, Applejack Music artist manager Jeremy Furze, Cath Haridy Management director Cath Haridy and Lemon Tree Music director Regan Lethbridge were well placed for a discussion on the keys to good artist management.

It was one of several panels to take place during the three-hour masterclass the day before the 2019 ARIAs, with other panels featuring YouTube Music’s Tuma Basa and ARIA Icon inductee Michael Chugg.

Here are some of the key wisdoms from the panel, moderated by journalist Lars Brandle:

Managing breaks is difficult, but crucial

All four panellists agreed that ensuring your artists are able to take sufficient time off is a key part of being a successful artist manager.

It’s tough because you want to handle as much business for your artist as possible, explains Fontaine, who manages Human Hall of Fame inductees Human Nature and awards host Sebastian.

“You have to let them be the talent,” she says.

“Managing an artist who has children is very difficult and being an artist manager who has children is very different,” adds Furze, who looks after the Teskeys.

“We’ve blocked out six months for the Teskey Brothers so a child can be had. When farther’s have children there’s a certain expectation for you to keep touring.”

“Managing with mental health breaks are vitally important… enforced breaks [in the artist schedule],” says Tones And I co-manager Lethbridge.

Syncs are no longer taboo

“Ten years ago sync was a dirty word,” says Lethbridge, when asked about the importance of commercial partnerships. Now, “It’s a crucial revenue stream.”

When it comes to which brands to say yes to, he says that it comes down to what the artist is comfortable with. “You treat everything on merit.”

Haridy agrees: “The artist chooses they want, I’m just there to point out potential pitfalls of their decisions. It’s all about the artist, their set of beliefs, what they’re willing to bend to.

When it comes to her artist Guy Sebastian, Fontaine explains that a partnership with Toyota made his latest regional tour a viable exercise. “Guy drove himself around regional shows with supplied cars from Toyota.

“Supporting a brand could previously be seen to be negative, but now it’s positive and it’s vitally important for artists to make money.”

Tips for emerging managers

Each panellist had a different thought come to mind when asked by Brandle about what one piece of advice they’d give to an emerging manager.

Furze insisted that one of the most important pieces of advice he ever received was to not be afraid to ask questions. Lots of questions.

“Ask questions of other managers and take the time to be patient… when waiting for their responses,” he said.

Lethbridge tacked on to the answer by adding “Make a lot of mistakes, but don’t make the same mistake twice.”

Haridy wrapped up by suggesting that if you’re the sort of person who likes the feeling of completing a project, artist management might not be for you.

“If you’re a person who likes completing something… something that has a start, middle and an end, it doesn’t exist in artist management.”

Chugg becomes an Icon

Ahead of becoming the fourth person to be given the ARIA Icon award at the 2019 ceremony, promoter Michael Chugg reflected on a storied career.

Asked what his main motivation is for being in the business, Chugg didn’t hesitate to say it hasn’t changed since day one.

The motivation for me is standing at the side of the stage and watching 50,000 losing it and having the time of their lives and forgetting everything.”

“It’s humbling to receive the icon award. I’ve not always said the nicest things about ARIA,” he laughs.

“I suppose it’s more special because you can be honest, tell the truth and what you believe.”

It wouldn’t have been a chat with Chuggi without a jibe at Live Nation, the major competition for Chugg and Frontier Touring.

They do bad things like cutting ticket prices which is bad for the industry,” he explains. 

Fighting against Live Nation was a big reason for his reasons for re-joining forces with long-time friend and sometime enemy Michael Gudinski.

If an act doesn’t sell out on the first week, so what? Work hard. Turn them around,” he says curtly. “These clowns put it up on socials. If they don’t sell out straight away they cut ticket prices.

“It was a big part of the motivation to get back together with Gudinski.”