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A Real Story?

Artist Management
a la Johnny Bozobusiness

Have A Friend Who Needs Music Business Help?

Artist Management Goes South

Here is a little adventure story...fiction reality of sorts. The names have been changed to bring humor to an otherwise sad story.

Girl Bruce, after playing in LA clubs for five years decided he needed a manager. By coincidence, Johnny Bozobusiness, a local unemployed "talent manager" approached him after a gig. He asked Girl if he would be interested in hiring a business agent to tie up loose ends and maybe pull a few strings in the front office of one of the majors--Dud Records.

So, they talked.

After lying to each other for a few minutes about previous accomplishments and dropping each's quota of names, they talked turkey.

Their agreement went something like this:

Girl: "Johnny, I would like you to be my business agent. You know, shuffle money, coordinate, and keep track of things in general. I will give you 20% of the gross receipts. OK?"

Johnny: "You got it, it's a deal."

Johnny's no dummy however. He got burned when an artist walked on a verbal contract last time out.

Johnny: "We'll put it in writing…my secretary will type it up."

Girl: "Sounds great!"

So, Johnny scribbled down what was said and had his sister type it up on some fancy 30 pound paper. They signed it and another artist-manger association was off and running.

About a year later an A&R man from Dud Records signed Girl to cut an album. It turned out to be a bullet. In a few more weeks they had a monster on their hands and everybody was wheelbarrowing the money to the bank. Everybody was happy-right?

Enter Blonde Ambition at "The Drug Abusion Blues," or just "The Blues," as it was known locally. It was the nightclub where Girl, Johnny, and the band hung out.

Blonde Ambition: "Hi Johnny! How come Girl hasn't shown."

Johnny: "He's not coming. He said you guys partied too hard last night…said to tell you to drop by his place tonight."

Blonde: "Oh, yeah? And what are you up to tonight Johnny?"

Johnny was really up to nothing, but flashed a great idea when he realized Blonde was flirting with him!

Johnny: "Well, I've often thought of leaving the country. Maybe go to Saudi Arabia and start a paper route. You know, self-employed, big money, early retirement…"

They both laughed. Johnny always had a good one-liner. Blonde liked that about him.

Blonde: "Well, Saudi Arabia is a long way away. But maybe to get the feel of foreign adventure we could go to Mexico tonight! I know it's no Saudi Arabian paper route, but it could be the start of something good!"

Johnny was lost for words for a second. After all, Blonde was Girl's girl.

Johnny: "I'd love to but I just remembered I have to meet Girl at my place tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. to go over next month's gig schedule.

Johnny felt safe.

Blonde Ambition: "We can make it back. I know a place right on the border. If we leave now we can catch the last hour of Happy Hour! Come on, I'll drive."

Johnny: "Why...why...why not!"

They dropped Johnny's car off at his place and bolted.

Next morning Girl called Johnny at 8a.m. Just the recorder answered. So, Girl figured Johnny was down at the corner coffee shop trying to bury a hangover. He figured he could stop by and grab a cup himself.

When he pulled in he saw Blonde's car! It reminded him that she never showed up at his house last night. Then, through the window, he saw Blonde sitting next to Johnny in a corner booth!

Girl pulled a U-turn and headed home.

He called Johnny's place and left a message on the recorder…"You're fired!"

Johnny returned home. His answering machine was blinking red. He played back his messages. He freaked when he heard the notice terminus.

Johnny quickly looked up an attorney's phone number in the yellow pages-"First consultation free." He called and set an appointment.

Johnny met with the attorney that afternoon. He took his contract with him. The attorney read it over and asked Johnny if he had kept his part of the contract. Johnny affirmed that he had.

The attorney noticed the contract lacked a termination clause. He told Johnny it was his opinion that Girl could not fire him and would have to continue to pay Johnny his 20%. Unless, of course, Johnny agreed to the firing, or failed to continue to perform his part of the agreement.

Johnny called Girl and told him what his attorney said. Girl hung up and called a competent and well respected music attorney.

To make a long story short, the music attorney got the contract declared illegal by the courts. He proved Johnny had and would continue to violate state law by performing some of the duties required in the contract. Namely, when Johnny "coordinated" Girl's nightclub performances he did so without the proper state license, i.e., he acted as a licensed talent agent while being unlicensed.

That is the good news.

The bad news is Johnny was ordered by the court to pay back $40,000 in commissions he had already received from his illegal activity.

A week after the bad news the State Employment Department called Johnny. They told him someone had filed for unemployment compensation benefits and gave Johnny's name as their employer.

Since Johnny had hired, paid, and fired band members and sidemen he was recognized by the state as an employer. He consequently owed back workmen's compensation insurance payments. He also owed disability insurance payments.

Soon, other government agencies contacted Johnny. He owed back state income withholding tax, federal income withholding tax, federal social security taxes…

When the snowball stopped rolling Johnny owed about $70,000. The leasing company repossessed his Jag. He had to sell his house and move to a studio apartment near the La Brea Tar Pits. He was unemployed.

But wait! Is everything that happened in this story gloom and doom? No! Blonde Ambition married Girl's music attorney and moved to Aspen. She now drives a Jag!

Here is a list of mistakes our fictitious business manager made:

1) He did not seek competent legal counsel when he drew up his artist/manager contract,

2) He violated licensing laws,

3) He violated employment laws,

4) He violated tax laws,

5) The attorney he finally did consult after disaster struck was incompetent in the field of entertainment law, and

6) He became romantically involved with his bosses' girl friend.

The consequences:

1) His "contract" was declared illegal by the courts,

2) He had to pay back $40,000 in commissions already received,

3) He lost tens of thousands in future commissions,

4) He had to pay state and federal agencies $30,000 in back workmen's compensation insurance, disability insurance, income withholding taxes, and employer and employee social security taxes,

5) He lost his job,

6) He lost his house,

7) He lost his car,

8) He lost his high living life-style,

9) He lost his friends, and

10) He lost his shot at "true love."

Of course, Johnny was a loser in every sense of the word. He suffered from both self deception and legal ignorance.

Yes, unfortunately, it is often the case that artist/manager associations have legal ramifications of which one or all parties involved are in varying degrees ignorant. Consequences can be devastating. It is advantageous to be informed from the outset by procuring competent professional counsel. Legal ignorances almost always cost more to rectify than to prevent.

It is easy to deduce that an investment of a few dollars in a competent entertainment attorney at the start would have saved this artist manager tens of thousands of dollars.

The business, legal, and social aspects of artist management can be far reaching. There is a purpose for revealing, up front, such a disastrous story. The story was designed to get the attention of the artist manager (or aspiring artist manager) because this discussion has really only scratched the surface of the responsibilities an artist manager may be required to shoulder!

The sad reality is that this amusing tale is not so amusing if it happens to you!! So, to avoid all this, you should get plugged-in to the knowledge sources that can steer you clear of these, and many other types of disastrous situations…

La Costa Music has two online membership websites that can help you answer all your important Artist Management questions:

1) StarMagic Professionals Membership (SMP Membership)
2) The Music Business…Inside Out! (TMBIO Membership)

With these online memberships on your desktop, you will have fast and easy access to the info that will help you avoid the heartache and financial ruin typically faced by those who are unprepared!

So, get started today! After you join as a SMP Member, just click on this link to open the door to your own career success story in Artist Management:

SMP -- Learn Artist Management Step-by-Step (SMP Accounts Only) | Join SMP! |
Step-by-Step Instruction to Learn Artist Management from the Ground Up!

Then later, you can also accentuate your knowledge of the entire music industry via membership site number two…the TMBIO Members Website: With online membership to The Music Business…Inside Out! you will be able to round out your knowledge of the entire music business!

TMBIO -- Learn The Music Business...Inside Out! (TMBIO Accounts Only) | Join TMBIO! |
Over 1500 Alphabetical Topics Fully Cross-Linked…
Music Business, Law, Taxes, the Internet and Tax Guru Solutions

Here are some words from E.J. Wakham, Attorney at Law:

Throughout history attention to the consideration to details that others have forgotten has been one of the hallmarks of success. Frequently those considerations that seem less important at any given time will later loom large as they have a greater than anticipated impact on our ability to meet our goals. In these times it is the person who can quickly and surely solve the diversionary problems who will more quickly return to his primary interest and progress more rapidly toward success.

If you are a member of a "creative profession" you know how quickly you can get bogged down in the business aspects to the disadvantage of your productivity. Frequently, those who march to a different drummer have little interest in such things as business, taxes, sales and marketing strategies, publicity campaigns, or other of the ingrained forms of frustration that a modern society can impose on our time and energy. However, these problems must be addressed or you find that you are so busy working that you do not have time to make a living.

The person who has made it can hire the experts, but those who are still struggling must find another solution--one that diverts the minimum of creative energy. Even the most successful person should have as much knowledge as time permits. Otherwise, he becomes the prey of the informed opportunist. This is where this on-line service can help you…

If you have chosen a career in, or associated with, the Music Industry, or are considering one, this long awaited on-line service may soon become the most important weapon in your music business arsenal. This on-line library, the first of its kind, reduces the almost endless hours involved in obtaining and organizing the information needed to stay abreast of the wide range of music and non-music knowledge needed for success in your chosen field.

This on-line service will not assure success. No information source can do that, but it does offer accurate and authoritative information in a clear and concise format. It is comprehensive and current.

It can give you the competitive edge, save you valuable time and money--probably a lot of money!

Having this information at your fingertips can allow you to devote more time to the creative aspects of your business. Not knowing the information offered in this on-line service may keep you from achieving your goals and may allow someone else to seize your opportunity!

The Music Business…Inside Out! makes available the information you need to address most situations you will encounter in your music career with confidence and success.

E.J. Wakham
Attorney at Law
La Jolla, California

TMBIO -- Learn The Music Business...Inside Out! (TMBIO Accounts Only) | Join TMBIO! |
Over 1500 Alphabetical Topics Fully Cross-Linked…
Music Business, Law, Taxes, the Internet and Tax Guru Solutions

SMP -- Learn Artist Management Step-by-Step (SMP Accounts Only) | Join SMP! |
Step-by-Step Instruction to Learn Artist Management from the Ground Up!

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