Another week, another Behind the Band interview! From working with countless bands we know and love, to starting his own management company, to partnering with the new (but successful) Sad Summer Fest, Josh Terry goes above and beyond for everyone he works with. It probably comes to no surprise that we wanted to sit down and chat with him.
Take a look at the things he thinks are necessary to be successful in this business while also growing friendships and maintaining a healthy balance between work and home-life!
First, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. We’re really excited about it. We want to take some time to focus on YOU, so let’s start with an introduction. Can you tell us about you and your start within the industry?
I’m the owner of Workshop Management & a partner in the Sad Summer Festival. I got started in music when I was 18 [and] in college. I had 14 different music internships in college but fell in love with management from the start. I started my own business in college managing & booking regional bands — a few of them had successful followings regionally and a few signed record deals. I kept that business running for a while also going on the road as a tour manager/road manager for acts like Motion City Soundtrack, Howie Day & Jump Little Children for about a 2 year period.
After that my small company was bought by Aware Records & A-Squared Management in Chicago & I was brought in to work in their management division. I was there for 9 years as the company exploded — our label had John Mayer, Train, and Five For Fighting in their prime years. [I] was able to work on the management teams for The Fray, Mat Kearney, Liz Phair, Motion City Soundtrack, A Rocket To The Moon, This Providence and many more. After 9 years with the company, I left and started Workshop Management. We’ve been around for 4.5 years now and manage Mayday Parade, Four Year Strong, I The Mighty, Ashland, Lowen, and producer/songwriters Chad Copelin and Jakob Vanyo.
My company also has a licensing division where we curate a roster of over 12 sync artists who’s music is featured in ads, TV shows, and movies. And I’m a partner in the Sad Summer Festival which had it’s inaugural year last year with headliners Mayday Parade, The Maine, and State Champs playing to over 50,000 people on a 3-week touring festival.
What is it about this career choice that truly excites you and makes you want to get up in the morning to go to work?
I really enjoy the behind-the-scenes aspects. Negotiating, making deals, structuring tours, strategy in record rollout. But the main thing I love about this job is I get to help people I believe in build a sustainable career that supports the art they are making. I’ve been part of helping many young people whether it’s artists, employees, or interns figure out a strategy to not only achieve but exceed their dreams and do it in a sound, logistical and pragmatic way that suits their personality & lets them see the bigger picture to obtain a long and successful career on their own terms.
“[M]ake sure you want to be
Image: Lupe Bustos
We can imagine that there is no such thing as a “normal day” when you’re managing a successful band. How do you find or create
structure for yourself?
I’ve been lucky to create a structure for myself that works for me. I have very specific hours I’m in the office and when I’m there, it’s the place I feel the most efficient and in control. I have a great staff that not only supports but compliments what I do. They make the office run, they come up with shortcuts & systems to streamline our work & also help me organize my thoughts in a way that’s productive for our clients and for our office. They take a lot of the weight off my shoulders & let me focus on the bigger picture things that more benefit our clients with my time.
What do you think are the key components of a great manager-artist relationship? How much is chemistry? And how much is diplomacy and just learning to work together?
I think it has to start with respect. If there’s no mutual respect, there’s no relationship. I see my role as an advocate and a compliment to what the artist is doing. I do not have a job without an artist that has a message and a vehicle to get it heard. In the same respect, the artist has to trust my experience level & vision for where we can take this and we have to both be mutually accountable for our actions and realize the goal is to serve the band’s business and not either of our respected egos. The healthiest client relationships I’ve had came from a place where we all were working 24/7 and giving our heart to the project, but also to place where we could defer to the other on what area’s each of our skill sets
There are plenty of music fans who are dreaming of going down the same career route as you, what advice were you given at the beginning of your time as a manager that you would pass on to future hopefuls or people just starting out?
When I was getting started most people I worked for told me to only do this if it’s something I couldn’t see myself living without. It’s a very taxing job, it’s 24/7, it affects your personal life and is unlike any traditional job someone could get out of college. So just make sure you want to be all-in, because it’s an impossible job to do if your hearts not in it, it’s not one of your top priorities or it’s not a passion. The money is just not there early on and only comes if you develop a reputation and a track record of helping others earn significantly more than what you earn.
That said, if you’re humble, work hard and provide value to every act you work with, whether they become famous or only stick around for a few years, you will have learned how to develop talent & build a business from the ground up. With that knowledge, you can do this as long as you want & make a very comfortable living for yourself and derive a lot of personal value out of what you do for a living and the help you give to those who trust you with their careers.
Managing a successful band is something that many people dream of one-day achieving, but what would you say are some difficult aspects of the job that you can share to prepare anyone who is considering your field of work?
Like I said before, it’s a taxing job. You’re always on call, you’re always expected to put your own needs behind the clients. You have to be a great listener, you can’t be easily offended, you can’t take things personally, you have to be willing to compromise and see multiple perspectives. You have to learn to work with challenging people and get those challenging people to work with other challenging people. It takes a tremendous amount of patience. It’s hard sometimes not wanting to say “I told you so” or “we should do it my way because I know I’m right,” especially when you’re trying to explain logic to someone who is emotionally activated. The pressure of the job and the expectations is also taxing. No matter what success you’re having, someone always wants to know what’s next or what else can be achieved.
I also wasn’t aware of how much personal therapy goes into the job. Sometimes people just need to be heard and you’re the person they’re trusting with the stories they’re too afraid to tell others in their life. Those are all the things that can make the job challenging at times. But it’s realizing that whether how large or small, you’re a positive example in someone’s life who may not have many people who haven’t disappointed or abused their trust. You can become a coach, a parent, a mentor role in people’s lives, and the respect you get from always doing what’s best for them is something that makes the hard days easier and more tolerable.
At what point were you able to look at what you’re doing and really feel like you’ve made it within the industry?
The easy answer is the moments I’ve had clients that have had certified gold or platinum records. [The] moments they’ve gone from selling 100 tickets to in some cases selling out theaters, amphitheaters or arenas. When you’ve watched someone achieve a goal they never thought they could & then have to dream bigger. Those are powerful experiences to share with people. They’re moments that will last far longer than you even realize [while]
“[T]he main thing I love about this job is I get to help people I believe in build a sustainable career that supports the art they are making.”
Image: Ashley Osborne
Is there another individual in the industry who manages bands just like you who you seek inspiration or guidance from?
I have lots of colleagues who I draw inspiration from. Dalton Sim at Good Harbour is a phenomenal manager that I think is incredibly forward thinking. Paul Steele at Triple 8 is great at building brands within businesses & making all aspects of their businesses click. What Tim Kirch at 8123 has done with a band like The Maine and all the marketing initiatives he’s constantly thinking up, has helped that band evolved and stay relevant. I love managers who are journeymen, who aren’t looking to just be on a Billboard Power Players list, but would rather be in the background and focusing on making the lives of their clients easier & better.
What are three things a manager needs in their life to be able to do what they do? What’s in your “manager survival kit?”
A solid support system & team who’s there for them during the ups & downs and can aid their weaknesses & accentuate their strengths. Some extracurricular activities to get them out of “work mode” from time to time. Whether that’s vacationing, exercising, or an interesting hobby. You need moments to decompress and enjoy life without the pressure of being “on.” And lastly, I think every manager needs a purpose. A reason to get up and fight for their clients every morning. It can’t be about money because that comes & goes and is too infrequent to be stable in your life doing this. It has to come down to a drive & passion that what you are doing is important and gives some meaning to your life.
Finally, as we’ve said, bands create ripples of all sizes and we’re truly fascinated by it. However, we all know they couldn’t do it alone and we’ve loved focusing on you and how you’ve impacted the experience of consumers and fans of music. Can you shoutout two or three people who are also part of the behind-the-scenes that you think deserve more recognition?
Jenn Stookey & Maddison Wilcox are the backbone of my business. Jenn is a manager for us & has been with me since the companies inception. She’s taken to this career faster than most & constantly impresses me with her instincts & when focused her potential is unmatched. Maddison is my executive assistant/admin & literally takes care of everything in my professional life. She catches my mistakes & corrects them. She is the heartbeat and at times the moral compass of our company’s vision. It’s a thankless job & neither of them gets the credit they often deserve. I’m sure working with me can be exhausting, so they deserve some kinda gold star just for that. But they make every aspect of our business run far more efficiently & our clients are better served [with] having them on the team. They’re also just quality people who mean a tremendous amount to me.
Do you know someone in the industry who deserves recognition and you think would like to chat with us? You can email us at email@example.com with the subject “Behind the Band” or send us a tweet @TheHoneyPop!
Interested in finding out more about what happens Behind the Band? You can check out our entire segment here!
Featured Image Source: Andreea Farcas for TheHoneyPOP.com