Interview with DAN COLUCCI, manager at Left Bank for for Tantric (US Gold) - Mar 11, 2002
“If an artist is a touring artist, fans are always the best way of breaking...”Dan Colucci manages US rock band Tantric (among others) for Left Bank Management, Los Angeles, USA. Here he gives advice on how an unsigned band should approach the music biz and the important marketing tools for breaking a new rock artist.
How did you get started in the music biz and how did you become a manager?
I started in radio when I was in high school, doing the morning show for my school’s radio station. Then I got a position as a college reporter for Def Jam. In 1991, I moved to Florida and started doing promotion for bands down there. Later I promoted rock shows throughout the mid-West, mostly in Michigan and Ohio. I also owned an after-hours club and part of a nightclub, where we staged a lot of shows. I ended up getting a job with a manager and he taught me the business. While I was doing all of this, I got a regional A&R position at Columbia Records and was also managing acts on my own.
When I decided I wanted to expand my career, I left Columbia and moved out to Los Angeles, where I worked with a management company. By then I had established myself as a young, up-and-coming manager, and I talked to a lot of different management companies. Left Bank Management was a research-based company with a strong infrastructure, solid relationships, and home to a lot of groups that I'd grown up with, like The Bee Gees, The Go-Go's, Motley Crue, Meat Loaf and Blondie. I knew that those bands weren't going anywhere, that this company was going to be a great source of learning for me and that I could bring some musical attitude to the company. We also had bands like Orgy, Loudermilk and Project Wize.
What experiences have been important to you in developing your skills as a manager?
Just listening skills, really. And the ability to perform various tasks at once.
What goals motivate you as a manager?
To do everything that I can do for the artists. To get them into as many different beneficial situations as possible whilst maintaining their artistic credibility.
What acts do you currently working with?
Tantric, a project that is the result of the break-up of Days Of The New, one of the main acts at the first management company I worked for. I managed a band called Merge, whose lead singer was Hugo Ferreira, an amazing talent I've been working with for years. When the leader of Days Of The New, Travis Meeks, fired his band, they called me and asked if Hugo would be interested in singing with them for a new project. I asked Hugo, and when we got the music, he liked it, so we went down to Kentucky, he tried out with the band, and never left.
I also manage various other bands: Rooster, Plan of Man, Mantra, and a rap group called the Calloways
How do you find new talent?
I look around and ask people who the hottest bands are. Whenever I travel to new cities, I ask all the younger, local bands that somehow find their way to me. People also send me stuff and Hugo, the lead singer of Tantric, finds bands, because they give him demo tapes, and if he really likes them, he gives them to me.
I believe in artist development. I believe if you find something special in a person, it doesn't matter what project they're in at that particular time. I keep in touch with the person and help him or her grow into a musician, working with them on different things.
What do you look for in an artist?
I look for dedication and determination. I look for people who want to make a difference and who believe in what they're doing.
Do you usually work with acts that are already signed to a record company or do you find and build acts yourself?
I do work with artists who are already signed, but I also build acts from scratch myself. It means more to me.
Do you work with the artist's image? How important is it?
I make suggestions, but I don't want to take anything away from the artist. As a manager you have to find a balance, because you're the liaison between the band and the rest of the world, and you have to take into consideration what everybody else thinks. You have to make the band acknowledge people's opinions in such a way that they can maintain their vision without having to compromise too much.
Do you accept unsolicited material?
Yes, I do, but I usually have a couple of people check it out first. Most of the music that I listen to is from unsigned artists. To me there's something special about finding talent, finding something that no one else has heard. I've felt like that since I was a kid. I always wanted to be the first to have a particular album or to see a particular band, to be the champion for that band.
What advice would you give unsigned artists on how to approach people in the music biz?
Play out there as much as you can; get a buzz going. If you can sell enough of your music, then people will come to you. The music business is very small, and we eventually find out about new acts from club owners, local magazines, regional A&R people, and friends.
Can you offer some words of advice to unsigned artists with regard to contracts?
When artists have a contract presented to them, they should find the best music business lawyer that they can afford, and in whom they trust. They should have a lawyer who can explain to them in layman's terms what that contract will actually mean for them.
What marketing tools are important when breaking a new act?
The Internet is definitely a marketing tool. I believe street teams are good in particular situations. But if an artist is a touring artist, fans are always the best way of breaking him/her. The more fans there are the more the press and the media will follow.
Has the amount of time labels give new acts before they break decreased in recent decades? If so, why, and do you think it is a problem?
Labels are under a lot of pressure right now, because there are all these different mediums for people to get music. When people are downloading music for free, labels are not being picky about what kind of artist they're selling: they just want to make sure that they have a good rate of return on their money investment.
Imagine recording artists being in a similar situation to that of actors, being able to record for different labels without being contractually obliged to stick with one. Do you think this might be desirable, and do you think it would work?
The problem with that is that it wouldn’t be clear exactly who is going to push the record. You want to have a team behind you and when the team members change too often, you loose momentum. You want to be able to have those same people who are excited about your music with you as long as you can.
Is payola a problem in the music business?
Problem? I thought it WAS the music business. Everyone likes to get taken care of, but there are laws to abide by.
If you could dramatically change some aspect of the music industry, what would you do?
I would change everything, but wouldn’t know where to begin! I think the biggest problem is that an artist has to work so hard to sell a million records, and even then, it's not good enough. There's a lot of great music out there, but because of the Internet there's an overload of music, people are constantly hearing new stuff, and they move on to another artist so quickly. In the past, there weren't that many artists to choose from. Now that there are so many things to listen to, particularly on the Internet, some of the great bands get overlooked.
I think we're moving into a situation where people are going to go by the song and not necessarily by the band. It's going to be particular songs that people like.
How do you think the Internet can or will affect the music biz?
It already has and its influence will continue to spread. It's both a good and a bad thing. It's often just means overkill. The main issue at the moment is that the Internet is decreasing the amount of money record companies are making. People are getting music for free, and there's never going to be a way to stop that.
I don't use the Internet to get my own music; I'd rather buy the album and give the artist the money in some way, and to be able to look at the artwork. But I do use it all the time to check out new groups, and to find information. It makes it all a lot easier, obviously.
What has been the greatest moment of your music career?
What do you see yourself doing in 5-10 years?
I’ll know be involved with music in some way.
Interviewed by Kimbel Bouwman
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