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‘Comedy, music, with a lot on management’

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Another in a series of articles by Dec Cluskey (The Serious Writers Guild) changing, attitude changing, bank balance changing!

If you write music, perform, produce or just mess about with Show Busiess then this article will help you a lot.....

Ever seen a great comic talent with just no idea on music content in his presentation?

Have you ever complained about your management, agency, representation? Then read on....

I saw an astonishing comedy talent in the UK this week....dare I say his name? No, I’ll just call him by his initials: Gary TT....OK?

If ever I saw my idea on being ‘dangerous’ in choice of material, it was there evident in this guy! His act was just that: ‘DANGEROUS’. THE COMEDY WAS SO CLOSE TO THE EDGE....AGGRESSIVE...CLASSY...INNOVATIVE AND SUPREMELY CONFIDENT...SO FAR SO GOOD.

Then came the vocal material.....YUCK! The musical content.....UH?

I could not believe it when he went into the Cliff Richard bit, then worse still...the Elvis Presley stuff....COME ON! Get a life! I won’t even mention the 1960's style Tom Jones.....

He had absolutely killed the audience with such modern aggressive gear then he turned immediately to SAFE with a capital S....

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle”

With that logic in mind (do I have to explain it?) we stayed up together until three-thirty in the morning...he doesn’t drink and I just had we were in serious discussion....He was whining on about the fact that his career was going nowhere and nowhere fast. “IF ONNNNLYYYYYYY”

His biggest “If ONLY” was the old management one...If only I had a good manager....He was actually confusing the whole issue of manager/agent with a person like me! Try comparing me with your average manager/agent.....get real here! On listening to him describe his manager he was nothing more than a glorified agent.

Managers, in this present world of Show Business, and in that I mean the whole business of writing, producing, singing, performing...the lot, generally speaking, do not have a clue about presentation, production, in other words CANNOT ADVISE YOU ON THE MATTER OF GETTING A COMMERCIAL, MONEY MAKING EDGE!!! Does that make sense?

Most artists, be they singers, comics, writers, whatever, confuse the role of MANAGER with PRODUCER. Unless you happen to come across someone like me...and we are a RARE BREED INDEED.


When you decide on who is to manage you, make sure you understand exactly what it is YOU require in a manager.


To repeat, most managers haven’t the foggiest idea about what makes a killer song, a killer act, a killer spot on a TV show...and don’t ever think they can help you in that is a genre of Show-Business management person that is not really defined in our business. You see, I can do all that stuff for an artist AND ALSO do the complete business management side as well! And that is not boasting...that is a fact of life...said to really warn you not to expect your future or present manager to be able to do that stuff....the manager will not.

Most ‘so called managers’ feel that their role is just to swan around in the limo with the artist, making sure that there is a hot water bottle in their prize possession’s bed... TRUE!

This is the role of a ‘TOURING MANAGER’ not a ‘manager’. Confusing though, isn’t it?


Be everso careful in picking the right dude...or lady! ONLY A LIMITED ‘trial’ CONTRACT. Being tied to an agent or manager you cannot get rid of is JUST NOT FUNNY. And can be very pricy when it comes to ditching him/her.


He was making such fundamental mistakes:

  1. He was insistent on paying the least percentage possible for management
  2. He was not using a reputable main stream agent.
  3. He was not using a ‘third eye’ to ‘examine’ every second/third appearance
  4. He was trying not to offend the audience with ‘in yer face’ music.

You will gather from the way we are discussing this that we are into heavy duty ‘star’ stuff here...I sincerely hope that you are hell bent on making the MILLIONS. So I talk differently to you. OK?

Gary has, in fact, been on telly a lot. Wants desperately to get into that medium, on a long term basis...probably as a game show host....but won’t take the chances! Does he have a mortgage to pay? YES! Does he believe that he needs security? YES!!!

Maybe I should give him an immortal line (wot I wrote!):

“Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday..... and all is still well!”

If I was advising him I would immediately reverse a lot of what he is doing...

He is at a stage in his career where he needs to set his stall other words just say to himself:

“This is the direction I want to go in...I believe in my own talents so to heck with ‘SAFE’ I’m going the whole way....I’m going to the TOP”

He needs to now pay for SERIOUS agency people....always provided that they deliver the goods...We all know the old maxim: 75% of $50,000 is better than 100% of S F A ! (Do I have to explain that more?)

I have never shrunk from giving a bit of the action to others who can help me! And, I want to instill that into you. The idea of a 10% agent (who doesn’t charge VAT or Service Tax etc.) is totally flawed and to me, PLUS ALL SERIOUS PLAYERS IN THIS GREAT MUSIC BUSINESS, totally farcical. Yes, I understand that it is an unattractive proposition to pay huge percentages if you are only earning £100, $200 per GIG....But, a reputable agent would not take 15% or 25% of small amounts....that sort of sharp practice does not exist among the ‘PROPER’ agents. However, it is quite normal to take 15% for agency and 10% for management...

I have told so many folk starting out in our wonderful Industry: “you only need the big agent when you are rolling and you also only need the big management when you are really rolling.”

It’s also worth repeating that if an agent does not charge you VAT or the equivalent Service Tax, then they can’t be earning that much themselves! Understand? Therefore, what could a forward thinking, going to the top, mega writing and/or performing talent do with an agent who earns less than £30,000 per year (in the UK) from all the artists the agency handles, that he couldn’t do himself? Am I the only one who understands this logic?

Sorry girls, got carried away again...should have said him/her....oh, you understand now, don’t you?

Another big NAME I was with last week commented that “If what you do on stage is crap, it doesn’t really matter how good your agent is.”

Interesting and very true comment from a hugely successful artist!


But then again, he is not even a MEMBER of the ‘SERIOUS WRITERS GUILD’!!!! Only a pal who asked for my help.

I just hope that he doesn’t fritter his life away being SAFE and miss his big chance. There is every chance that he will bore the pants off anyone who will listen, when he is seventy know the deal: “I could have made it big...but, but, but, but.....”

Points to remember: