Behind The Music: The Maldives’ manager Leigh Bezezekoff

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Behind The Music - Leigh Bezezekoff

In my words…

For every successful Artist, there’s someone working tirelessly behind the scenes contributing to their success.

For too long now, the Artist Manager (who I call “the glue” holding it all together and the Artist’s biggest fan, confidant, and cheerleader) toils away for the most part in anonymity as the praise and glory shine down upon their Artist.

A Manager never rests.  They wake up each morning thinking about ways to make their Artist more successful and while the rest of the world sleeps, the Manager is still up working on their plans for World Domination.

A Manager’s DNA is not like most mortals; that’s probably why there are so few.  The passion, dedication, selflessness of putting oneself second, loss of sleep, money, and sometimes relationships in the pursuit of achieving your Artist’s dream and vision in an Industry where the odds are stacked against you may make some question your sanity and, at times, so do you until you watch your Artist “kill” a room and then you remember why you’re there.

The Manager, in my eyes, is the unsung hero.  It can sometimes be a thankless job and nothing raises my Irish more than an Artist who doesn’t publicly thank their Manager, especially at The Grammys.  It’s the Manager who will remain with you through thick and thin, because you’re building something together right?  It’s a partnership I liken to marriage; it’s not always going to be a honeymoon.

Artists, treasure your Manager if you’re lucky enough to have one.  If you haven’t thanked them lately, I suggest you call them after reading this and say, “Have I told you lately how much I appreciate you?”

They may ask if you’ve been drinking but I guarantee you’ll make their day.  A thank you goes a long way in a Manager’s memory bank.

Managers, hats off and my deepest personal respect for all you do!  – Robin

Photo by Hayley Young

Photo by Hayley Young

 

This week’s guest Manager is The Maldives‘ Manager and my only female Manager of this series, Leigh Bezezekoff.

GC: First of all Leigh, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your story with our readers and especially other women who might be considering entering the Music Industry or are currently working in the industry.

GC: Leigh, you’ve been working in the Seattle Music Scene for quite some time now in many capacities.  Besides managing, you started Sound and Vision Music Consultancy providing music supervision, music licensing for film and television, and Artist management.
LB: Yes, my ex and I started the company.  He did music placement and supervision and I was getting into management.  We really wanted to provide these services to bands on a local level who may not yet be on the radar.

GC: How did you get into the Music Industry?
LB: I’ve always been a huge fan of local music and our live music scene but never thought I’d be on this side of things.  I started volunteering for KEXP in 2007 as a DJ Assistant to Kevin Cole.  Soon, I began writing for the KEXP blog covering the ‘Song of the Day’ podcast on Fridays which was all local music.  I met and interviewed a ton of local musicians including the first band I ever managed – Hazlewood Motel.

GC: Do you think Managers find bands or bands find Managers? (chicken or the egg theory)
LB: I think it’s a little bit of both.  I’ve definitely been approached more often but I have to keep my roster small as I still have a day job.

GC: What does a ‘day in the life’ of The Maldives’ Manager look like?
LB: Writing and responding to lots of emails.  I’m also trying in vain to grow a beard but it’s just not happening. 😉

maldives6maldives7
 

GC: In your opinion, what should an Artist look for in a Manager and when does one need to seek Management?
LB: I think the Manager needs to be passionate about the artist’s music.  There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into a career in the music industry whichever side you’re on.  If they don’t have real passion for what you’re doing, you’re probably better off doing it yourself until you find someone who is.  They should also be someone who’s well connected, hardworking, and not afraid of hearing/saying no.

When does one need to seek management?  That’s tricky.  In my experience, a lot of bands seek management too early.  I counsel them to work on building their audience and figuring out their place in the music community.  There are a lot of folks out there who want to do favors and connect bands with folks who can help them out.  Bands can do pretty well on their own at first.  When they have to start navigating the waters of record deals, booking agents, and publicists, that’s when it’s time to have management on your side.  All of these people generally want to see a band that’s done well for themselves before taking them on.  That’s more of the chicken/egg thing than anything.

GC: OK flip that, what does a Manager look for when considering representing an Artist and is it mandatory (if a band), that they have a band agreement in place prior to signing on with you and would you consider managing a second artist if the right one came along?
LB: I look to see how hard they work to promote their shows, their flexibility in touring, what their hometown draw is like, where they are at in terms of their career, if they have a presence on the radio or local press, if they’re playing weekends at the bigger clubs, if they have played out of town before, etc.  I typically will also do a few favors for a band to see how they work internally and if we might work well together.  I think every band should have a band agreement in place but it’s not a requirement to work with me.

I’m lucky that working with The Maldives keeps me pretty busy.  They are growing and that takes a lot of time, energy, and passion.

GC: There are so few female Managers.  Do you have an opinion as to why and do you think they’re treated differently?
LB: I just think there are so few Managers in Seattle in general.  Do I think we’re treated differently?  Not really.  There’s been a few instances over the years (probably more to do with my ambiguous name than anything).

GC: Do you tour with The Maldives?
LB: I don’t generally tour with the band, but that’s a personal preference.  I go to some regional shows for fun but I’m not into the ups and downs of life in the van.  I love being on the road with these guys because anyone who is there is family.

GC: I’ve heard you want to look like a woman yet act like a man.  Do you think female Managers have to be more “guy like” or “tough” in business yet still remain feminine?
LB: I don’t know if you have to be, but I do feel like both elements are important.  I think it’s true of any profession though.  It’s the same way with my day job and I think it’s a more universal thing that all women face.  I tend to be on the tougher side in business though.  I’ve been in some tough situations and have had people tell me that they’d rather have me on their side because I fight hard for my client.

GC: Some publications on the industry report that it can take up to 3 years to break an Artist and 3-5 years (if you can keep a band together long enough), before you might start reaping the rewards of your efforts.  What’s your take on that?
LB: It really depends on where the artist is in their career.  I do think it takes longer than either party hopes.

2010.07.25: The Maldives @ Capitol Hill Block Party - Main Stage

The Maldives at Capitol Hill Block Party 2010

 

GC: Since you work in Music Consultancy, many Artists are looking for tips on how to get the press to notice them.  How did you get the Maldives noticed?
LB: I can’t take credit for getting The Maldives noticed.  They did that on their own by making a great record that was really supported by KEXP.  We face our own challenges of needing to rewrite our story a bit as the band changes directions.

I worked many years with Brent Amaker and the Rodeo.  Brent taught me a lot about getting noticed.  While most bands don’t have his flair for dramatics, he showed me the power of putting together a really killer bill, every time.  A strong show (ideally with a good story behind it) works wonders.  Bands should get to know their local bloggers in addition to traditional media outlets.

GC: What would you say to someone who would like to become an Artist Manager?  What qualities do you think they need most to be successful?
LB: Get ready to work hard.  And do things that may go unnoticed and may not be so much fun but need to be done anyway.  Know that whatever motivates you (be it money, perks, public acknowledgement of you or your band, etc.) doesn’t come in as much as the stress, doubt, frustration, and indignation does.  You better be someone who can stay focused, keep positive, and really believe in what you and the Artist are doing.

GC: It’s also been said that a Personal Manager is part: Friend, Confidant, Advisor, Protector, Cheerleader, Psychiatrist, Educator, Supporter, Wrangler, and wears many different hats on any given day.  Is this an accurate description?
LB: For sure.  It’s the best part of the job “and” the worst.

GC: Describe your “worst” days as a Manager.
LB: When you’ve worked hard, done everything right, and your Artist is only a little bit further.

GC: Describe your “best” days as a Manager.
LB: When you’ve worked hard, done everything right, and your Artist is a little bit further -or- any day when you get a sweaty, elated hug from everyone as they get off stage.

GC: When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered in Rock History?
LB: I don’t really care.  I would like my bands to be happy with the success they achieved.  That’s all that really matters.

2010.08.21: The Maldives @ No Depression Festival, Redmond, WA

The Maldives at No Depression Festival 2010

 

Next Monday’s Mystery Manager said this: “Working with a Seattle artist and seeing such a great music community in action continues to inspire me.  I look forward to sharing some of my story!”  Who is it?  Check back next Monday!

About Robin Fairbanks

Robin Fairbanks has spent 30+ years in the music industry in many capacities. Working in the Seattle music scene since 2006 as a Manager/Booker, she's known for her ethics and artist development skills. Robin has guided the careers of many, but most notable as the former manager of Seattle's Fox and The Law for 3.5 years. Robin has spent the last 2 yrs consulting with Artists who seek her help as a music consultant and publicist with Setlist Music Solutions LLC. She also gives of her time as an advisor to Seattle Wave Radio, an Internet music station where she helped shape its sound as the ROCK Channel Music Director for 2+ yrs upon its launch in 2010 and where you'll find her music blog, "Bird On A Wire".