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Signing Bands and Helping them Grow

What makes a manager “good” or effective?  What do I have to offer?  When Kevin, Jen and Matt approached me about becoming a guru for The Entertainment Institute I was honored.  I’d spoken at a number of conferences and gotten great feedback about my involvement.  However, as the week approached for me to teach my two first workshops, I wondered what I should focus on and how it would go.  By chance, the answer appeared right in front of me.

My wife and I were cleaning out some papers in our home office and she had made a pile of things for me to go through.  In there I found a piece of paper which simply said “I.N.K. has won!! P.S. Great Memes.”  That piece of paper had been handed to me in 2012 as Sumerian Records founder and producer of the All Stars Tour, Ash Avildsen had finally conceded that Ice Nine Kills was victorious in the voting contest to open the All Stars Tour.  I posted a picture of it as it had made me nostalgic of that time period three years ago (Coachella is this weekend and next weekend, three years since I was last there).  The paper made me realize that though many people at the time knew there was a contest, none know of the “story” behind INK winning.

The All Stars tour was using a voting app which required people to like their Facebook page before voting for their favorite band to play in the summer of 2012.  Outerloop Management had the top two bands going into the final days; Capture the Crown and Ice Nine Kills were neck and neck.  Capture the Crown was signed to Sumerian Records, so Ash presumably would have really liked for them to win.  Just shy of the final day, the app was disabled and the results were not easily obtainable.  This is where the power of my managerial connection with the tour owner came into play.  As a manager, however, I would have been happy had either of the artists won.  But, as a manager, who was familiar with the trajectory of each artist, I knew Ice Nine Kills would benefit much greater than Capture the Crown.  

Capture the Crown had an incredible amount of internet hype. The band had released their video for “You Call That a  Knife? This is a Knife!” video just before Christmas the previous year.  The band was signed to Sumerian and was going to get their pick of the litter of many tours to come (in fact their first tour materialized shortly thereafter in January of 2013 when they toured with Of Mice & Men).  Ice Nine Kills needed validation. They’d spent a bit of time on a label who did very little to help their career, and once I began managing them we did a lot of strategic things to align them properly for growth. The voting for the all stars tour was a testament to the work they’d done, and the band made some amazing memes throughout the voting process to motivate their fans to vote.

As Ash and I sat in a house in the desert the day prior to Coachella, I told him that he had to make a decision.  Ash isn’t who enjoys being told what to do, but I presented the facts of the case - Ice Nine Kills had been ahead of Capture the Crown and had been tallying more votes per day when the app was disabled.  I can’t say what he’d done without my influence, but I am sure that with my influence he had to consider all of the facts.  I knew I needed to get him to document it somehow, so I grabbed a small notepad and had him write that INK had won!!!  I folded it up and put it in my wallet and kept it as a keepsake for my career with the band.

That’s the story behind Ice Nine Kills winning the opening slot.  Since then the band has continued to make great strides within the industry.  They made a lot of friends on the tour and sold more merchandise than many of the bands who had been placed on the bill by the tour organizers.  This additional piece of validation went a really long way and has continued to allow the band to grow and thrive.

As I went to bed that night, I thought about the fact that I’d posted the paper without much of the story.  I thought that the story itself was really interesting, and that got me thinking about all of the other stories that I have.  Being involved in music over the past twenty years, I’ve made a lot of connections and a ton of stories have stemmed from those connections.  For the week leading up to the workshops, I decided to post a few more pictures and briefly tell the stories associated with them.  It was a ton of fun to look at the breadth of my career, and how I manage a range of artists.  I’ve watched many of the artists I began managing within the past four to five years grow to a level where ether are really starting to get recognition.  I also paid homage to the bands I’ve been managing a long time, and how our careers have grown together.

Below is a recap of the posts I made on my instagram account (mikeoloop).  I didn’t tell the detailed story of each one, but did give a bit of history.  Each one has required myself and my company to back the band and advise them on great decisions.  In the coming weeks I will spend more time elaborating on the history with each artist and some of the great ways we’ve worked with them to allow them to grow and thrive. (Click the image below to expand it.)

PALISADES

Bands - Do you need a manager? @wearepalisades asked themselves that same question. They were known as Marilyn is Dead back in 2011 when @outerloopmgmt began working with them. We got the band signed to @riserecords found them a booking agent, negotiated their place on many national tours and worked on branding. In a short, four year period, the band is supporting @memphismayfireofficial and @crowntheempire on the back of their sophomore album, Mindgames, and will be on the entire @vanswarpedtour this summer. Bands don't succeed without hard work and the proper guidance. I will be doing a small workshop for bands curious if it's the right time for them to find a manager: http://www.thinktei.com/mikemowery

The relationships you form early on can be quite rewarding later in your career. I first met the guys in Refused in 1995 while touring Europe with Chokehold, a Canadian Straight Edge band. Dennis and I hit it off and remained penpals for years. In the late 90s/early 2000s, I tour managed his band The (International) Noise Conspiracy all over the world. Soon after I started @outerloopmgmt. In 2012 when Refused reunited their Swedish manager asked me to come on board. It was an honor for me to be involved with such an influential band. These were my friends but I respected them on such a higher level. From that first meeting in 1995 I could've never foreseen where we would be today. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself at where I've come. Everyone has to start somewhere.

I'm always proud to say that my first client is still a client. Many have come and gone in between, but the last 11 years would have never been the same if it weren't for that fateful call from my good friend Mike Schleibaum. Darkest Hour (@darkest_hour_official) just been informed they'd be doing 2004's OzzFest and it was time to find someone who could help steer the ship. We stumbled along the way and clawed and scratched for respect, but I must say their passion for music and people is unrivaled. We shook hands and agreed to work with one another and we've done so every day since. The band announced their 20 year anniversary dates which will include performing Undoing Ruin in full, in honor of its 10 year anniversary. We haven't always done it right, but we've always done it with mutual respect and without a piece of paper binding us to one another. When expectations are in line with reality it affords everyone to succeed. 

After years of attempting to work together, I finally signed a band to @equalvision. @wecameasromanswas managed by a young guy based in Cincinnati who called me for advice. Based on my excitement about the band and my desire to mentor young managers, I hired him and then negotiated the deal with EVR. Based on our quick development we were looking for more projects to work on. One day they told me they'd signed a new band from Tampa. From the moment I heard the music I thought it had amazing potential. The Horrible Kids EP by @setitoffband was a great blend of Panic! meets My Chem. I was hooked on the sinister yet melodic delivery of the vocals. I was incredibly excited about the sound which could appeal to a larger fan base. We picked up the band for management and have been working with the band ever since. The band is currently headlining the Glamour Kills tour and the live photo is from their sold out show last night in NYC. The strong relationship @outerloopmgmt had with the label allowed them to trust us with their newest project at the time. There is no formula to how bands are signed to labels nor how managers begin working with artists, but there are some things you can do to set yourself apart. 

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