Terry McBride CEO, Nettwerk Music Group

Terry McBride is co-founder and CEO of Vancouver-based powerhouse Nettwerk Music Group. Nettwerk Management includes top-selling artists Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, Dido, Sarah McLachlan, Stereophonics and Sum 41. Nettwerk Productions has released over 400 albums with worldwide sales in excess of 100 million. He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2003.

At what point do you think a band really needs a manager?
I think a band needs a manager when they’ve performed a number of local shows that they’ve booked themselves, a few open mics or things of that nature, and they really have their songs down. But more importantly, they know who and what they are. If you’re still looking for who and what you are, it’s not time for a manager yet.

Besides talent, what attributes make a band an attractive prospect?
Hard working, nice people. And then the music.

What makes a band "unmanageable”?
Ego, more ego and even more ego. You can’t manage an ego, because what is an ego? You create an ego based upon other people’s views of you, so everyone around you is influencing how you act. Think of the essence of what a singer-songwriter is — they write from within. Well, if you’re not writing from within and you’re writing what everyone else wants you to write, that’s what makes them happy, not what makes you happy. So it’s very important that an artist be self-confident and be very comfortable with who they are, and usually those are the people that don’t have egos.

What are some of the mistakes that bands make when they’re looking for management?
They’re not ready and they think that a manager is what they need to get to the next level. What I find is that managers tend to come along at the right time. If you’re out there looking for them, you won’t find the right manager. If you’re out there doing what you basically love to do, they will come along, because they will hear about you, and it’s almost better that a manager finds out about you versus you shopping for the manager.

What would you say is the number one cause of death, once the management is in place, in the artist-management relationship?
Probably the communication between the artist and the manager, in that the artist doesn’t listen, and the manager doesn’t listen, and that it really becomes who’s running the show versus realising that this is about having both parties say yes. If one party says no and one party says yes, it’s almost better just not to go down that road.

What do you think a really good manager is going to bring to a band?
The best thing that they can bring to a band is to educate the artist on the business and make them realise that this is their career — not the manager’s career. An artist should listen, should ask questions, should understand fully everything that they’re basically doing. The manager should explain why, and give options and recommendations about which road should be travelled based upon their experience. But a manager has to realise that every artist is unique and different. You can’t use the template for one and apply it to another. You might be able to apply the principles but you can’t apply the template. Education, education, education!