A veteran manager who formed Moral Compass Management over a decade ago, Karl Louis developed his skills at Warren Entner Management and Lindy Goetz Management, and has also worked on the label side as A&R for Flip Records, A&R for Victory Records and in the promotions department at the world famous rock station, KROQ. Over the years Louis has been involved with a prestigious list of acts including Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine, Deftones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Collective Soul, Creed, Sevendust, Matchbox Twenty, David Bowie, Paul Rodgers and Bubba Sparxxx.
HAS YOUR APPROACH TO MANAGEMENT CHANGED
In the past most managers, including myself, would either manage an artist full on, or not at all. Nowadays, however, the landscape has changed. New tools and technology have made things a lot more interesting. But, they’ve also created more work for everyone. Because of that, I’m more likely to co-manage an act and handle part of their career rather than their whole career, or simply consult with them on an as needed basis.
HAVE MANAGEMENT FUNCTIONS CHANGED
They have, and it has made the job much harder. A manager today has to know something about everything. In fact, most managers function like a label. It’s not just about giving artists advice and guidance anymore. Today, managers have to assemble a team that will expand an act’s reach and create a sustainable model.
THE MOST IMPORTANT TEAM MEMBERS
You need a balanced team today. There was a time when a manager was all you needed and A&R execs were kings. Now, the most important players are a manager, a booking agent and a song placement specialist. You can build a career with those team members.
WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL DIY ARTIST
A successful DIY artist knows who they are musically and artistically. They also know who their fans are and who comprises their community, or tribe. They’re usually business savvy and are driven to succeed. They’re creative, obsessive and work every day on their career as if their life depends on it––because it does.
ARE MANAGERS ATTRACTED TO DIY ACTS
I am; they inspire me. Some old-school managers are threatened, though, because it presents a challenge to their authority. But, self-management is part of the new landscape. Most modern managers would welcome an artist who is a real team player, especially one who takes an active part in their own career.
WHAT TYPE OF MANAGER WORKS BEST WITH A DIY ACT
The best management for a DIY artist is not always the biggest company. You need someone who is passionate about the artist and their music. You need a visionary who understands that the business has changed significantly. You need someone who will help the artist realize their vision and develop their career in creative ways.
BEST BUSINESS ARRANGEMENT FOR A DIY ACT
DIY acts might want to consider joint ventures between a manager and a label. It’s more of an equal partnership. And artists who have achieved success on their own have greater leverage in negotiations. That way you get to have more control over your career and you don’t have to rely on someone else for everything.
ADVICE FOR ARTISTS WHO WANT TO SELF-MANAGE
Do it. In the beginning, you really have no other choice. If you have real talent and a compelling work of art that gets results, you will attract people who want to work with you. In fact, I advise every artist to check out the concept of “1,000 True Fans.” Even a few hundred fans––if they’re true fans––can build a career and generate income. Artists who have the right stuff and are willing to work at it can make from $20,000 to $200,000 per year. And that should be the goal of every artist and manager––in other words, to create and maintain a sustainable career.
By Bernard Baur