WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES
B R I A N M E S S A G E
TALENT MANAGER + PARTNER
Photograph by Dave Imms
I. Through my twenties, thirties and early forties I verged on being reckless when it came to decision-making; I once lost £400k on one artist - a wild adventure chasing hope more than a solid business plan. It was more important for me to ‘be in the game’, to ‘chase inspiration’ than to be successful. It was almost enough to have failed because at least that meant I was in there, pushing boundaries. Wisdom has helped me balance the recklessness with mostly sound decision-making that doesn’t throw out the hunt for inspiration but also doesn’t allow you to cut your own ‘business’ throat.
II. I was lucky enough to be part of the team that worked with Radiohead during their In Rainbows chapter. The wisdom I gained from this was experiencing how empowerment and a sense of adventure inspired creativity across everything we touched. It was like cracking the atom, the energy that we all lived with was intoxicating. Subsequently, I met with Nick Cave, both of us got fired up by the concept of doing things differently, of ditching the rule book and going on an adventure. The danger of doing this, the notion of challenging a successful formula in the pursuit of inspiration delivered great results and a real inclusive spirit from which many great creative concepts were delivered. We changed up how we released his 15th album, going for the pretty much untried label services option as opposed to a traditional label approach, turned the touring structure on its head and elected to do no promotion in favour of creating an exciting digital campaign.
III. Disappointment for me is not so much something that comes from the action of others but rather from my own personal failings or the mistakes I have made. Time has allowed me to accept that whilst my professional life has been something of a catalogue of mistakes and disappointments, punctuated by a number of important successes, this is OK and dare I say it, normal. To survive the mistakes and disappointments, to fight another day, to learn from them, to have them sit equally alongside the good times is what it’s about.
IV. The Artist Management game has traditionally been the path of the loner, him or her pursuing the interests of themselves, or the artist they represent. Over the last few years a bunch of us encouraged a far more collaborative approach under my chairmanship of the MMF. Once we had momentum I stepped down to allow others to step forward and benefit from the momentum we had started. I was very happy to continue the pace of my efforts but from a lower profile position.
V. Wisdom for me is knowledge and insight but wrapped in inclusiveness and human sharing. It’s not a tool for self gain in isolation but self gain through the collective of those you share your life with.
VI. We need to talk more about working together, as the current hostility between streaming services such as YouTube and rights holders such as Universal Music is hurting everyone.