Band management
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What I learned working for Satan

by Susan Ferris

I had been a manager for a while, but it didn’t really count since I didn’t get paid and I had no idea what the hell I was doing. To give you a bit of background, I was writing for a local zine and reviewed a band that I thought was great. They found out where I lived, knocked on my door one day (you can imagine the creepy coolness of that when you open the door), said they liked what I wrote and would I manage them. I said yes. How hard could it be? (The band was called Clyde, though they haven’t been around for 20 years).

A year or so later I had the chance to work for a “big at the time” music manager. He had one band that had been around for a while, they were starting to see some success worldwide and he realized he needed an assistant… and into the ninth ring of hell I stepped. I am sure the red flags were there at the start, but I didn’t care. I was working for a cool band and a semi-successful guy, and I had a steady weekly paycheck. What more could I have asked for?

The office was in his apartment. He had not really set anything up yet, so the first week on the job was going with him shopping for office furniture (he had no taste so it was brutal). The living room was going to be the “big dog” office – fancy desk and couch. The second bedroom is where the assistant sat. Lots of cheap glass desks that had to be put together, a horrible flecked black couch (you know the kind I am talking about — it’s in every bad late 80s movie), potted palms to add ambience.

My job was simple: do whatever he wanted. I got to the office between 9 and 10 in the morning. I would let myself in to make coffee so it would be ready when he got up. Yes… 90% of the time he was still sleeping when I arrived. He had the master bedroom windows covered in foil (Truly. I never understood this…).

I answer phones (make sure they didn’t disturb him) and only bother him if it was really important. And the “important list” was super short.

We didn’t have computers or email then, only fax machines and phones. We had three lines and I answered the phone “Management”. He didn’t want anyone to know what company they called. It was his opinion that you knew where you called, so we didn’t need to tell you.

He would wake up around 11 and walk around in his “tightey whiteys” — which was soooooo not appealing, although he did see himself as quite the stud. He was the guy who had a super sports car, a receding hairline, shirts he wore open so you could see how manly he was (yeah… it’s making me a bit queasy just thinking about it).

I spent two years at that desk. There was nothing I didn’t know about the band, the music business.

I anticipated the problem before it actually happened, I was able to get you into any show, anywhere in the world with complete VIP access. I busted my ass.

The band had one of its biggest shows ever in NYC. One of my jobs was to put the after party together, and I had put together a party that was the hottest ticket of the night. Before I could go, “Satan” handed me a list of drugs to collect before I arrived. (You know one of those “don’t show up unless you have everything” lists).

Being sober (for a few years at that time, and something he knew), this proved to be one of my hardest tasks. Don’t get me wrong — I did it. It was my job.

As two years came to an end, he came into my office, sat down and said… “I don’t think this is going to work out.” He handed me a week’s pay and sent me on my way.

As I was walking out the door, he called to me and asked if everything was set for the show that night. I turned to him… flipped him off and walked out. Not my finest hour.

I got home and thought… if “Satan” can have a management company, then how hard can it be? I can do that. I called my parents, told them about my plan, and here we are almost 23 years later.

I ran into that guy a few years back. We were both at a show where our clients were performing. I went up to him, shook his hand and thanked him. I realized that I am the great manager I am today because of what I learned there.

Then he went to his client…. who was opening for mine.

Susan Ferris

About Susan Ferris

I have been in Los Angeles for almost 30 years. I'm originally from Boston (but spent time in Arkansas - yes… Arkansas). The most important things someone should know me about are: 1) I manage; 2) I produce; 3) I read (a lot); 4) I am a cigar smoker; 5) I am a Red Sox fan. Please follow Susan on Twitter: @szferris and her company, Bohemia Group: @bohemiagroup1

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