Friday, July 04, 2014

Shep Gordon: Manager Extraordinaire

As I was winding down for the night from a long day (it's now early A.M.), I happened to catch Mike Meyers talking about artist manager Shep Gordon on Late Night with Seth Meyers...which reminded me I've been wanting to post about Shep Gordon.

If you don't know who Shep Gordon is and are in the music industry, or aspire to be, you should.

Shep Gordon is one of the most legendary managers in the music business. Not famous legendary...Legendary as in, one of the most beloved people in the behind-the-scenes music industry. Everyone in the business who knows and works with him holds him in great esteem.

Shep Gordon is one of the good guys.

If you've never heard of him, it's because he's the kind of manager who believes, as I do, that managers belong behind the scenes. Not trying to be famous. Not appearing on reality shows. Just doing the best possible job to make your clients shine.

Shep Gordon is the guy who made Alice Cooper a star by helping Alice to invent and craft his his image and stage show. He also created the concept of the celebrity chef with Emeril. Those are just two of his many accomplishments.
But most of all, he's a well-loved connector of people. And a very nice guy.

I grew up reading album liner notes with Shep Gordon's name in them, and I can't remember not knowing who he was. (Yeah, I'm that geek.) When I got into the industry working phones, the first time I answered a call from Shep Gordon I was more starstruck than when Alice himself called in. (Sorry Alice, you're great, but your manager's a legend.)

It took a very long time for Mike Meyers to talk Shep Gordon into allowing him to make a  documentary about him. I'm so glad he finally said yes. The result is Supermensch, and  I hope tons of people go to see it.

That sounds contradictory because of my "stay behind the scenes" theory. But artists who are new to the industry need to see examples of really good managers who are good people who care about their clients.

Shep Gordon is one of those people.

If you ask most young artists today, they don't think such managers exist, because the media highlights controversial, leechy, over-the-top, bad apple managers..

I think presenting that picture leads to young artists settling for really bad managers, because they don't know good ones are out there. 

Today's young artists don't have liner notes where they can learn the names of these people. And the trade media have taken on a tabloid tone rather than being the helpful, reliable resources they once were.

So, artists, if you're fortunate enough to have a good manager and a young artist asks you for advice, tell them what makes a good manager, and explain why yours meets that criteria.

Meanwhile, support media stories about good mangers by going to see Supermensch.


P.S. I often hear people refer to crew members or people who work behind the scenes in a derogatory way that implies people on the crew do it because they want to be famous.  (Then they proceed to follow every crew member they can find on Twitter.)
My colleagues are highly skilled, creative people who think fast on their feet. Some of their jobs, such as hanging sound and lights and the rigging that supports them, are extremely dangerous. In recent years other crew members have literally died trying to protect their artists.

The vast majority of crew and people who work behind the scenes love what they do and have no desire to be famous. Seeing fame up close usually puts an end to any desire for it, if it was ever there.

Speaking for myself, fame looks like a colossal pain in the ass, and I wouldn't be good at it. (I blog and Tweet to help musicians, and for my Klout score. People who hire you for certain jobs check it.)

Besides, if crew members wanted to be famous, wouldn't they just use their connections to facilitate it? (Many crew members are extremely talented musicians.)


Follow Me on Twitter @ MusicBizAdvice .

FTC Disclosure: No current financial relationship to the film, Shep Gordon, or Mike Meyers. Worked for Mike Meyers' agent as well as with agents of several of Shep Gordon clients, and a promoter of Alice Cooper shows and shows by other Shep Gordon clients.