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The Biz

Published: 2005/05/28
by Allen Ostroy

Business or Law? and Promotion Budgets

Business or Law?

Hi Allen,

I really enjoyed the first installment of your column and thought I might
ask a few questions as well. I graduated from college a few years ago and
decided to do some traveling before I decided what I wanted to do with my
life. In doing so I realized that the music industry is what I am most
passionate about, but I also have the least amount of contacts in. I was
thinking about something along the lines of management and did happen to
meet some well known "jambands" at some smaller shows in Japan. I spent
some time talking to a manager of one of these bands and the advice he
offered was to go to law school because most of the upper level executives
in the record companies had law degrees. I was leaning towards pursuing a
master's degree in business since it is cheaper, less time consuming, and
more interesting to me. My idea was to go to a school with a good local
music scene, for example somewhere like Austin, and try to build contacts in
the area and work from there. What is your opinion on which kind of
advanced degree will be more beneficial to me and provide enough of the
training and skills to use in the future in the music industry.

Another question I had was that if I wanted to start by trying to find some
low level grunt work in the industry first, do you have any suggestions on
what kind of entry level jobs I should pursue as a way to meet as many
people as possible and learn as much as possible, and how to go about
applying for those jobs.

Thanks for your time,

Matt Maher
Houston, Texas


_Thank you for the question. I think I will have to agree with my fellow
manager. As Pacino says, "the law is the ultimate backstage pass." I wish
I had a law degree. I can wing the business stuff but I spend a ton of
money on legal advice and services. However, Austin is a great place to
hang out and network especially if you're able to land any job at a venue to
help pay for that business degree!_

_Try booking agencies and take anything you can get. Booking agents are in
contact with just about everyone from promoters, to managers, to musicians,
to labels. What you're looking for is an opening as an agent's assistant.
If you're willing to start at the bottom and have a good head on your
shoulders then there is real possibility for career advancement._

Keep in touch!

How do you Justify a Promotion Budget?

How do you justify a PR budget to the band you're managing? If a budget is out of the question, what ways can you promote your band in a "grassroots" (re: "free-ish") way so that everyone wins?

Jeremy Willis


I think you know what I’m going to say but how do you justify not having a PR budget? If you are serious about having a career as a manager then you need to get the word out about your band(s). I think the better question might be, how do you justify eating food? Most businesses in any industry operate at a loss when they first start out and this is especially true in the music industry. So if any musician thinks they are going to start a band and start making money right away then they need a firm smack in the head (unless you are putting together a band to play weddings). The key is to minimize your expenses and not spend money on anything other than PR and production for as long as you can – getting people to the show and putting on the best show possible.

I think every band struggles with this question for the first 5-10 years. I just had this conversation with RAQ. They are arguably one of the hottest young bands in the scene and trying to balance their PR costs with touring costs, general business expenses, and food.

The short answer to your second question is, take advantage of every opportunity and offer of help that is free. Of course you have the internet and the message boards and music related web sites and then you have the three "F’s" – friends, family, and fans. All three can be instrumental in your PR campaign and success of the band. Cultivate those relationships and use them to help the success of the band. They want to help and want to see your band succeed so get them involved early.

Thanks for the kind words and keep in touch!


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