In My Life
A lifetime ago, I had the distinction of managing and producing a few bands in New York in the 70’s. It seemed like such a glamorous endeavor from the outside looking in, so I decided to give it a try. Although I enjoyed my brief time in the role of impresario, I am happy to say pursuing a career outside of rock’n’roll was appropriate for me. And as we all know, the ensuing years always help to dull the senses of what happened in the past, so that now, only my good memories are intact and I am still happy I spent a part of my youth in that fantasy world.
Many years after abandoning the music managerial phase of my life, I was acquainted with a person who was a devotee of the television soap operas. She and her friends religiously watched programs like “One Life to Live” and literally spent their evenings watching the taped program from that day and then phoning one another to begin critiquing the characters, the plot lines and the direction of the program. Moreover, they regularly took their vacations on ocean cruises that were organized around the main characters of their favorite shows. In essence, these “fans” spent the majority of their waking hours watching and talking about their favorite programs and when they had vacations, they spent that time interacting with similar fans from around the world in addition to interacting with many of the stars of those programs on a ship as they all sailed the Caribbean together.
She even told me that her friends regularly communicated with the writers and directors of their favorite shows to register approval or disapproval of plot lines, actors and actresses. She proudly told me that their influence was strong and if the majority of fans did not like a certain actor, that person would inevitably be written out of the program. This revelation came as quite a shock to me.
As a long-standing fan of the Beatles, I tried to liken her influence to what I could have done in relation to the lads. Somehow, I found it difficult to conceive that I could have contacted Capitol Records or Brian Epstein or George Martin and register my opinions on songs chosen for the latest album, comment on the outfit George was wearing on the album cover or why there were less than 12 songs on the last album. “Mr. Martin, while I approve of your production of “Rubber Soul” I suggest that on the next album you make the bass a bit more prominent.” Or “Mr. Epstein, why doesn’t John Lennon smile more?” Or “You need to replace Ringo” Or “You need to add a fifth Beatle.” As they say in England, the result of my self- important suggestions most assuredly would have probably been, “Not bloody likely, but thanks for your input!”
I remember back when Col. Parker took over the management of Elvis Presley. The Colonel ruled and his word was not only the last word, but the only word. Brian Epstein, in managing the Beatles also was the man in charge. However, Epstein’s and Parker’s prominence was at a time when social media was non-existent, so questioning fans could only write letters in hopes of their ideas finding a willing ear to listen.
All this came to mind when I read an article about the successful band One Direction. Apparently, a story was tweeted about how One Direction was changing management representation. It seems as though fans of the band have been upset for a long time with the current management team whose job it is to be charting direction of this act. Those vocal fans have a litany of complaints about how the band is managed. Really, the fans are upset? Managing any successful entertainment industry act requires incredible skill, patience and attention to detail, not to mention the accounting of large sums of money from touring, recording and publishing.
This rumor of One Direction’s impending management change was the result of an interview given by world-class entertainment manger Irving Azoff on a golf website in which the host listed One Direction as being under the tutelage of Mr. Azoff. The next day, this rumor was laid to rest when Mr. Azoff denied being their new manager while at the same time complimenting the current management company of the band. The glimmer of possibly being the agents of change as manipulated by the fans of One Direction was officially snuffed out immediately the next day.
I know that it is human nature to want to make suggestions on how to improve a process. I have been a Mets fan for many years and quite frankly, the 2015 season did not start out on a good note for the team. Many Mets fans were quite vociferous about the team and its direction and fortunately for everyone, the Mets are now in the World Series after acquiring some players at the trading deadline in July. With everything written on blogs by fans prior to July, I seriously doubt that those suggestions were the impetus to make the required changes in the teams’ personnel, but it sure felt good to vent and make feelings known. Who knows, maybe the fans voices helped the Mets make the decisions to upgrade the team?
For fans to question touring schedules, a bands’ social media participation and the business plans devised by management of their favorite performers is OK amongst other fans Additionally, everyone has the right to voice their opinions, especially in our current social media environment. But in the end, while the fans opinion is important to the fan, it may or may not be important to the mangers of the performers.