this is how to manage a band
A very i-D industry insider from Crista Simiriglia, manager of NYC band Sunflower Bean.
It’s that feature again where we pull aside the coolest, most inspiring young people currently killing their various music industry roles and ask them: how did you end up in your job? Can we do it too? Give us all of your advice?
26-year-old Crista Simiriglia manages one of our all-time favourite bands. Born and raised in Arizona, the music fan moved to New York for college in 2012 and soon fell in with the local DIY scene where she met her best friends Nick, Jacob and Julia. That talented trio eventually formed a band, called it Sunflower Bean, and appointed Crista manager. “They didn’t even ask if I wanted to do it,” she says. “Nick was just like, ‘You’re organised, you’re smart, you’re gonna manage us now.’” She was still studying at the time and had zero experience managing bands but a lot of experience being around them. Taking years of gig-going and running with it, Crista picked things up as she went along and soon found she was doing a pretty great job of managing one of the most talked about indie rock bands in the US.
“We started it from nothing,” Crista remembers. “All four of us have been absolutely grinding non-stop for the past couple years. Ask my parents, they hardly see me anymore!” We reached out to Mr and Mrs Simiriglia for comment but… just kidding. “I didn’t ever think working in the music industry was a possibility until I moved to NYC and got involved in the local scene,” she adds. “We didn’t have anything like it in Arizona.”
Managing a band, it turns out, is all encompassing -- especially if, like Crista, you double as a tour manager. As the main point of contact between your band and the rest of the industry, not only are you constantly bound to your emails, you’re also tasked with making big decisions that will invariably impact careers, running the lives of three other humans and ensuring absolutely everything goes to plan. By default, you probably also end up driving tour vans, carrying equipment, standing in as a make-up artist, creating social media content for your band and generally lurking about in the background of photos.
Thoroughly impressed with her work and hearing she was safely back in Bushwick after joining the Beans for a long European tour (during which their second album Twentytwo In Blue scored a top 40 position in the UK charts!) we asked Crista for her top tips for those hoping to follow in her footsteps.
This is her 10 point guide to managing a band:
1. Learn how to multitask
“When you’re a manager you have a hand in every aspect of the music industry. You have to connect all the dots; be the mass communicator between the entire team around your artist. You also have to handle the day to day logistics, making sure you and the team are working towards what’s best for the artist and their goals. Every manager probably has one specific area they thrive in more than others, but regardless, you still have to be knowledgeable about the following: touring, publishing, marketing, publicity, releases, contracts, budgets, etc.”
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice
“Have your shit together. If you are a woman in the industry, you are held to a much higher standard and seen to be representing all the other woman in the industry, so do your best. Remember: it’s always okay to ask questions or admit you don’t know something, that’s how you learn and grow.”
3. Work experience is the best experience
“You can get a degree in music business but it’s not until you’re in the thick of it that you gain insight.”
“There’s constantly a million things going on at once and always a lot of people who need a lot of things from you. If you aren’t organised, things can fall through the cracks. Intuition is another key quality needed. This maybe helped me the most. You have to feel out situations and go with your gut.”
5. Be honest with your band
“Honesty is always valued. I’m Sunflower Bean’s biggest fan and I’ll always tell them how it is. I’ll tell them what I’d like to see as a fan of a band.”
6. Health > wealth
"Touring is exhausting both physically and mentally. It doesn’t matter if you’re touring at DIY level or a Kanye level; you’re gonna get burnt out. Pace yourself. Take care of yourself.
7. If you don’t care, what’s the point?
“Only work with bands and projects you’re passionate about. It doesn’t do you or anyone involved any good if you aren’t fully behind it. Love the artists and people you work with.”
8. Stand your ground
“Don’t let anyone make you second guess yourself. If you feel strongly about something stand your ground. But at the same time, don’t have such an ego to where you can’t see the truth.”
9. Remember, this is business
“At the end of the day, it’s business. If someone isn’t doing their job or meeting expectations don’t be afraid to let them know. Sometimes you have to be The Bad Guy.”
“You should have fun and love what you do. But don’t have too much fun, to the point where you can’t get the job done. Strive to have a level of professionalism in everything you do.