music career trend self-management

Music Career Trend: Managing Yourself

music career self-management Dead Rock West

Artists: Cindy Wasserman (CW) & Frank Drennen (FD)

Dead Rock West is a jangly West Coast alt-country act that veers into pop and punk territory. It’s a dream combination for roots-inspired, punk-spirited rock fans.  They are also serious road dogs, who have toured with legendary punk rockers X, as well roots-rockers Dave and Phil Alvin of the Blasters.

Have you always managed yourself?
(FD) We’ve had a couple managers over the years but they weren’t a good fit.
(CW) We seem to spend more time telling them what we didn’t want, rather than agreeing on a plan. They just didn’t get us.

What’s the best part about self-management?
(CW) The freedom it gives you. Knowing that you can make things happen in your career is very rewarding.
(FD) But you have to be determined and never give up…keep your head down and follow your heart.

What’s the hardest part about self-management?
(FD) There’s a learning curve (about the business) that can take time, but you also learn more when you manage yourself.
(CW) Time management is definitely a challenge, especially on the road. I frequently conduct business in the car on the way to a gig. Negotiating deals while traveling isn’t ideal, and sometimes you have to fly by the seat of your pants.

Do you each have specific areas you handle?
(FD) It turned out that way. We try to complement what the other person is doing and, in the process, we’ve learned what functions suit each of us. For example, Cindy is better at settling accounts (getting paid) at the end of a show.
(CW) That’s not always easy. Music is very emotional and getting down to business after a performance can be difficult. But, I’ve done it so often it became easier.

Do other people help you?
(FD) It’s absolutely essential to have a team. You can’t do it all on your own. So we have a network of people and industry professionals who help us out and give us advice, depending on the situation and their expertise.

Do you follow a routine to keep organized?
(CW) It really depends on how busy we are. We have goals that have to be prioritized, but priorities change depending on what’s happening.
(FD) We always have a lot of irons in the fire. But we discovered that how things come together is often not up to us––it just happens, so we go with the flow.

Would you consider hiring a manager?
(CW) It would be nice to have someone handle some of the things we do. But they would have to understand our vision and totally get who we are.
(FD) Also, today artists can do a lot for themselves. We can license our music, book shows, get our own distribution and do it our way. A manager would have to do more than we can do.
(CW) A manager would have to complement what we’re doing and only commission what they bring to the table. Because, at this point, we’re not desperate for management. •

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