Bert Landry is an artist manager out of Chicago. Recently, he was kind enough to take some time out and answer some questions for Music Gorilla about what he does and how he does it.
MG: To start off, tell us a little about yourself, what you do, and how you got started.
BL: The first thing I always like to make clear is that Artist management chose me – I started doing it out of necessity.
And luckily it has evolved into a career that I love. i was in bands myself for a good 8 plus years… About a year in, I got tired of showing up for shows at venues that were closed down or not getting paid at the end of the night / so I started handling all the business of my own bands.
The first act I ever managed that I wasn’t also in the band was Meriwether. I got lucky. Actually, I started a label and made an album with a producer friend of mine. We all worked hard and got them a record deal with Interscope Records. Not a bad first run. Things have just snowballed from there.
*Fun fact/ I was actually a petroleum engineering major in college at LSU. Imagine a classroom of all guys and the most boring dull collection of people ever. Maybe there’s $ in the oil business but that just wasn’t for me. I don’t live for $.
MG: You manage some pretty big bands, and some lesser known acts, how does working with them differ?
BL: Every act is different. Every act has it’s own set of specific needs. I think ultimately it’s my job to close the gaps where the artist needs help. Early on, the manager usually does pretty much everything whereas down the line things get a lot more specific as we build a team of people to do things and I then manage that team on the artists behalf.
MG: How many bands are currently on your roster?
BL: Am I a bad manager if I don’t know the answer to this? The artists that I personally work most closely with on our company roster, In some capacity, are All That Remains, RX Bandits and Royal Teeth. If I didn’t mention you – don’t worry – I still love you 🙂
MG: How would an artist get on your radar? And how would they get signed to your roster?
BL: Honestly I hear of most artists via word of mouth. I have a handful of trusted sources that I share music with. But the best has to be just stumbling on an amazing act live. I also spy on what other people are listening to. Spotify playlists, Facebook likes, stuff like that.
Bert Landry at Key West Songwriters Festival 2013
MG: If an artist isn’t yet ready for the level of your roster, what can they do to improve their chances for future consideration? And how should they keep you informed of their progress?
BL: That’s a tough one. Just keep working. I always like to say the only artists that don’t “make it” are the ones who quit. Yes. Keep me informed but keep it sharp and to the point. At some point I may just quit reading your emails if I don’t see any development.
MG: How should an artist approach you? How do you feel about cold calls, press kits and the like?
BL: Cold calls are the worst most awkward thing ever. That could be Bc I hate the phone. I only use it when I have to. But if you get a call from me – at least you know I mean business.
There’s something to be said about a good press kit. Be creative. Otherwise, just send me bulletpoints or most importantly, A link to “the song” or show me that other people care – not just your moms and girlfriends.
MG: What should artists look for in a manager? What should they be wary of?
BL: Find someone that you will feel comfortable talking to every day of your life. Find someone connected. And someone who shares your vision.
Be wary of the guys out there that are in it for the $. That isn’t what it used to be so that’s probably not as bad of an issue as it has been in the past but they are still out there. Beware those who talk bad about others to pull themselves up. I think that’s the biggest red flag to me. Shows a lot about that persons character and whether they have any true friends that will help them champion a band when the time comes.
MG: How big a part do artists social network profiles and numbers play in your evaluation of them?
BL: Not much actually, If the numbers are low, that’s not a problem. Unless your been around for 2 or more years, then I start wondering what’s wrong…and digging around.
Obviously high numbers are a plus. I know there are ways at manipulating that and myself and I believe most legit managers, labels etc can sniff it out pretty quickly. There are always exceptions. (Actually that’s a statement in which you can probably apply to every response to every question here)
MG: What’s the most frustrating thing about your job?
BL: Honest answer? The fact that any knucklehead with an email address can call himself a manager. Finding an amazing artist attached to one of these knuckleheads is rather frustrating. That said, I’m highly against going after artists with existing managers, Ive never done it – at least intentionally. I also understand that everyone starts from nothing (like I did) and am highly respectful of that. It just sucks.
MG: What advice would you give a band just starting out? What mistakes do you see artists making the most?
BL: Never quit working. The one big mistake I believe I see the most is just that. I’ve seen so many artists quit working once they get a manager. Or even worse, when they sign to a label. Or after they just played their first label showcase. Sounds silly, but happens all the time. Boy I wish I could drop some names 😉 And stay humble. Artists tend to believe their own hype more than they should. Trust the people you hire to work with you. Or fire them. It’s a business. Treat it that way.
MG: Does a band need to work just as hard to stay on your roster as they do to get on it?
BL: See above!