AAM unveils new code for Australian artist managers
The Association Of Artist Managers (AAM) launched a new Code of Conduct for members to provide “the utmost ethical, professional and innovative artist management in Australia” to the artists who have trusted them with their careers. The Code is scheduled to come into effect in July 2015, after consultation with the music industry.
AAM Executive Director Yvette Myhill told TMN that the idea of a Code was first mooted 18 months ago, when the London-based International Managers Music Forum started work on a Global Code and consulted with the AAM. The Global Code did not eventuate but the Australian organisation decided to continue with its own. “The management industry is self-regulated, so a Code puts in writing the ethics that it works by,” she explained.
These are the 11 guidelines offered:
Devote sufficient time to fulfil the agreed responsibilities of management in the interests of the artists as both parties understand them;
Possess and obtain the knowledge and skills to carry out the required duties of management as agreed and understood with the artists they represent;
Communicate and negotiate with the artist their responsibilities, obligations, duties and remuneration as a manager of the artist and have those preferably notated in a written agreement;
Seek support where required and commit to expanding their knowledge base and skills to assist in representing the artist’s career with diligence in all phases of the artist’s career;
Operate and conduct their own management business and the artist’s business in a professional, transparent, accountable and ethical manner;
Ensure relevant financial and legal matters are communicated to the artist and where relevant refer the artist to an independent, third party advisor specializing in such financial and legal matters;
Uphold client confidentiality, ensuring appropriate use of information whilst exercising diligence and duty of care;
Declare and fully disclose to an artist any conflict of interest whether it is actual perceived or potential, including any income or other consideration earned by the manager directly or indirectly in conjunction with their artists’ performance or services;
Ensure the commission rate agreed with the artist is in line with standard industry norms;
Be aware of and operate within the parameters of any relevant State and Federal legislative requirements;
Be culturally aware and act respectfully toward all the nationalities, religious, gender and ethnic groups.
Rick Chazan, a qualified solicitor whose Ground Control Music Management includes The Church and The Boat People, told TMN that the Code was a necessary one.
“Within the artist community there can be skepticism and maybe concern that managers are not ethical and their practices not always fair,” said Chazan. “So to have senior managers set up the boundaries of conduct is an important step.”
Brisbane-based Leanne de Souza, who manages acts including The Medics and Thelma Plum, commented, “In principle, I support a Code of Conduct insofar as it outlines the best practice guidelines for the significant relationship between an artist and manager. Trust, respect and a mutual willingness to work together are important, however no code can enforce that. The music industry is as brutal as it is exciting and fun – you have to like each other and want to work together at the end of the day.”
The Code was launched at BIGSOUND in Brisbane, at a robust panel of music managers at which Myhill, Chazan and de Souza spoke. Joining them were Greg Carey of Umbrella and Jodie Regan of Spinning Top Music, with The Church’s Steve Kilbey representing artists.
The panel touched on deal structures, conflicts of interest and particularly how the role of the manager changed in recent years, especially for those with independent acts as clients where they are virtually also running their labels and social media. Kilbey was quite vocal, asking why artists had to pay commissions to both managers and agents and inquired about some clauses in traditional contracts. The panel also agreed that the era of the aggressive take-no-prisoner manager was over, to be replaced by more sensitive and intelligent types.