Interview with CINDY WUNSCH, manager for SHeDAISY - May 14, 2001Cindy Wunsch manages the country-pop act SHeDAISY. Made up by three sisters, Kristyn, Kelsi and Kassidy Osborn, the group released its US platinum-selling debut album "The Whole Shebang" in 1999.
HQ: What has been your route to becoming a manager?
I grew up in Nashville and my dad was in the music business. He was the President of Sony Music Nashville, a label he worked for during his entire career. I knew I wanted to go into artist management, but I didnít really know how I was going to get there. I decided to gain experience in every aspect of the industry related to the artist. I started out as Marketing Director at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, where I was responsible for the marketing of all the shows. It really made me understand what artist performance was about. Five years later I became an independent publicist for artists like Sammy Kershaw, Marc OíConnor and the Marlboro Music Tour, etc. It was then that I met Mary Chapin Carpenter (Folk/Country artist) and she asked me if I would be her road manager. I went out on the road with her for a year and a half, and during that time I met her manager, Gary Borman. He told me that he wanted to open a Nashville office as he was based in California. At Borman Entertainment we managed Trace Adkins, Faith Hill, Dwight Yoakam, Garbage, etc. I left them in 1999 to set up my own management company, where I manage SHeDAISY, whom I met about two and a half years ago.
HQ: What characteristics do you consider necessary in order to be a good and successful manager?
Exceptional communication skills and great organization, and I think a lot of passion for the lives of the people you are involved with and also a good understanding of what their goals are. I have a lot of respect for peopleís vision, for when and where they are aiming to go.
HQ: So you talk about where they want to go?
Yes, SHeDAISY wrote a list of goals about two and a half years ago. Every now and then we look at the list to see where we are and if we havenít forgotten any of the goals.
HQ: What are the creative challenges of being a manager?
Specifically, with a group, you need to know who these people are, as a group, and who they are individually. With SHeDAISY, you have 3 very distinct personalities, so what might count for one might not count for all of them. Its fine-tuning, thatís one of the creative challenges. I decided that when I did things my way, I wanted it to be very focused and very involved. Right now my hands are full with SHeDAISY. Iím a person who deals with everything and I work closely with the people around me. We meet every day. Iím very accessible to the artists and to the people at the record label. I get the feeling that Iím the team leader, almost like the captain who keeps everybody motivated and excited. I want people to be able to tell me the truth. I hope people feel that way. There are managers who are very uninvolved, but I just canít do that.
HQ: What are the key tools needed to break a band?
Music, great songs and focus. You canít have anyone on your team who is not completely focused on what they are doing. I have worked with a lot of different artist and the most successful are those who know exactly what they want. Confidence mixed with passion. Artists need to be open too. They will sometimes have to do things that they may not like for the record business.
HQ: How important is it for a country artist to be based in Nashville?
I think it really depends on who your artist is. SHeDAISY is an international crossover. If they were in California or New York, that would be fine. Itís more fun to be in a big city as your label is there too, which creates more focus.
HQ: What tasks does management typically involve?
Everything. Making sure the girls have rehearsals scheduled; that the band is available; talking to the record label about marketing issues; making a plan to call radio stations; finding opportunities for movies, sponsorships, endorsements; talking to our agency; making sure travel plans are set. From one end of the spectrum to the other.
HQ: How do you find new talent?
Right now Iím not really on a search for anything. Usually itís through relationships. Iíll get a call from a friend who is on that small list of people that you get called by. I need to put all my focus into SHeDAISY because of the tremendous amount of energy it takes to build an act.
The girls from She Daisy walked into the room and we had an instant connection. They are very spiritual girls, good people and they had been searching for a manager for over a year. They knew in their heart that they needed someone they could feel comfortable with and someone they could talk to.
HQ: What would your advice be for a wannabe country artist who wants to get noticed by the industry?
Acts often come to me saying, ĎWe just need to find the right producer or the right managerí, and they might have a great voice. Right now, itís not so much about having a great voice, itís more about the complete package. So I would say donít look to someone else to figure out who you are. Find out who you are musically, before you get involved with others. I would also say to artists there is a big possibility that you will fail. If you look at how many acts are out there, itís most likely that you will fail. But have fun, and represent yourself the way you want to be represented.
HQ: What qualities do you look for in an artist?
Focus, charisma, talent. I think itís easiest to identify with people when they know what they want. You need to have a passion and belief.
HQ: Do you work with SHeDAISYís image and how important is it?
All the fans are looking for the new way to dress, or how high someoneís shoes are, so imaging is a huge part of what we do. We are lucky to have found an incredible stylist.
HQ: Do you accept unsolicited material?
We might get 5-6 packages a week. I donít listen to all of them, unless someone calls that I know, whom I have a relationship with. I would rather it came through those channels. If I donít, it simply gets out of hand.
HQ: Can you offer some words of advice to unsigned artists with regard to contracts?
The only thing I recommend is getting a great lawyer. Itís unbelievable how much of a difference a lawyer can make.
HQ: How involved with the repertoire and production are you, and how do you go about choosing it?
Dan Huss, SHeDAISYís producer, is amazing. The girls are very involved with the studio side of things. First a songwriter will write some songs, then weíll meet with the A&R and the girls, and sit down and prioritize. We sometimes have one of the sisters, a 15 year-old girl, come in and listen with us. We have a large young audience.
HQ: What record label do you work with?
Lyric Street Records, distributed by Universal.
HQ: If you could dramatically change some aspect of the music industry, what would you do?
I would say a fairer shot at country radio. The frustration with country radio right now is the frustration with playlists and advertisers.
HQ: How you think the Internet can/will affect the music business?
SHeDAISYís website represents a way for the fans to get to know each other and for the band to meet the fans. We also sell a lot of things over the Internet. On the other hand, Napster is a frustration, as is Ebay.
HQ: What does Ebay do then?
They take pictures and print T-shirts of the band and sell them there. Thereís also karaoke companies who copy your track and sell it as a karaoke track. Thatís a huge problem for us.
HQ: Where does that happen?
All over the place. We hire lawyers to write letters to these companies asking them to stop using our music. You can expend a huge amount of energy on that and spend money on lawyers, but itís difficult to get results. We do our best to protect the artistís rights.
HQ: What has been your greatest moment(s) working in the music business?
One was when Mary Chapin Carpenter asked me into her hotel room while on tour in Switzerland. She asked me to listen to a song she had just written. I walked into her room and she played the song because she wanted to share it with someone. It was amazing.
Also with SHeDAISY, watching the girlsí faces when playing for a crowd of 60,000 people in Texas. The show was only half an hour long and the girls were still relatively unknown. It was their biggest venue up until that time. A truck drove us into the arena. Everybody in the audience sang along with the girls: the audience knew every word to the girlsí songs. It was incredible!
HQ: What do you think of HitQuarters? How much do you value it as a resource for unsigned artists?
I think it can really help the artist reach the right A&R.
interviewed by James Burke
Read On ...