Behind every successful musician/singer/songrwriter there is a manager strategizing the artists career and working hand in hand with the artist to make the best decisions possible. Working with various successful artists and a man who doesn’t stay put in one place for long, Bob Murray shares his vision of what an artist is through the eyes of a manager. He also talks about what being an on-the-go music manager is like and the hustle, pressure, and rewards that go hand in hand with it.
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Forever on the Road with Music Manager, Bob Murray
I’ve not interviewed on for Love and Music a fellow manager, now I am. We met years ago when our respective artists were on tour together and formed a fast friendship. As a manager, it’s so lovely to sometimes be able to turn to another manager and discuss the ups and downs of what can be the best job in the world but also one of the hardest. Our guest has worked with some amazing artists, has been around the world more times than most American Airlines pilots, is a total gentleman and has a wealth of experience hard to beat. Welcome to the show, Bob Murray. How are you, Bob?
I’m well, thank you. It’s good to talk to you.
It’s good to talk to you as well. Tell us, where are you? Tell us all of the locations you’ve literally been on, like you told me.
I’m in New York at the airport at JFK in the lounge. I came from Toronto and I was in London on a weekend and I’m going to be having breakfast in Buenos Aires. London, Toronto, New York and Buenos Aires in four days.
I’ve never known anyone quite like you. You do travel, managers travel but you take it to a whole new level. You do and you always have since I’ve known you.
I always wanted to travel and when I grew up in Toronto, I didn’t have a job that allowed travel then I got into this and it’s been amazing.
You still love it. You love jumping on an airplane.
I do, I’m not even fazed about getting on this 11-hour flight in a few minutes, but I do. I love it. I have my favorite cities.
You must have amazing air miles.
I don’t, I used to and when you’re working with other companies, labels or other people paying for flights and they go on different airlines, it gets spread out. I used to be good but I’m trying to refocus on that.
I used to have gold, platinum and the whole shebang on VA and then literally within five minutes of not traveling so much, you go right down to blue and I’m Miss Nobody. I’m at the bottom of the blue file and it is depressing.
I’m close. I think I’ll get it in a few months to getting a lifetime platinum with American.
I interrupted you earlier when you were just about to say which your most favorite city to visit is?
London and Buenos Aires are two of my favorites. Buenos Aires is incredible because of what they’re going to it their economy. I know you can go down there and compared to Los Angeles where I live, the cost of living there and the cost of eating and going out is going to be an incredible experience.
I’ve had amazing sushi in Buenos Aires. Have you?
I don’t think so.
They have great sushi there.
I have to try that. I go there, I go for steak houses and their pizzas are amazing. I’m usually going to dinner with someone. I will try sushi. I will find sushi. I did sushi there at once.
It was like on the top of some high hotel, something quite luxurious. I can’t remember the name of it.
That wouldn’t be me.As a manager, you need to take a minute and listen to the artists. Be there and be patient for them. Click To Tweet
I know it wasn’t with you.
I’m not luxurious. I like to go to Hotel Palermo.
Tell me, what is it about being a manager that you love or hate? What is it that drives you to be a manager?
I have this inner voice that’s telling me I need to go and I’ve done it all my life. I’ve always worked in some career that’s being like that. I enjoy helping artists find their way from being someone they can confide in and respecting their personal lives are.
Tell me, Bob, what is it that makes you want to be a manager? Why are you a manager?
First of all, it was a dream of mine since I was a little kid, since I was twelve years old. I read a biography of Paul McCartney and I always loved music. I was fascinated reading about what went on in his life and I thought, “To be a manager would be the coolest job ever.” Because I have zero musical talent but I love music, how can I be involved? I also have a desire to help people and I worked for many years as a paramedic and a flight paramedic and it’s the same thing. You’re dealing with crisis after crisis, you’re protecting these artists from being taken advantage of from the rest of the world. Trying to give them a stable of their personal life if possible and in business yet accomplishing their goal. I like being that person that can be in the middle and do that.
I’ve spoken about when I did my intro episode about how it can be the best job in the world and how it can be the toughest job in the world. We are, to a degree, dictated to by the moods of our clients on any given day. For me, I might be in a terrific mood one morning and wake up with some fantastic piece of news but sometimes your artists don’t always receive the news in the excited way that you hope that they will. You have to adapt to how they accept the piece of information you’re giving them even if it’s not in the way that you hoped that it would be and sometimes that can be tricky.
I’ve wrapped my arms around the approach of being transparent and not couching too much information. I’ve had some long-term clients where we have developed agreements of how we work together and what I share and what I don’t share. With one client I said, “You do your job and I’ll do mine and you tell me where I need to be,” and I didn’t want to know all the details. Other clients though, especially younger ones, I try to fill them in. I let them know the good and the bad as it comes in. If it’s important. You can’t share every negative thing that ever gets said or occurs with an artist in the business. It’s hard enough to wake up, look yourself in the mirror and go and fight that battle.
Being straightforward in both the important things is in the best route and it is difficult when you know they’re not going to like something. To feel something happening that you’re excited about and find that, it doesn’t have the same impact on them. It’s one thing I’ve learned. They have their own thing going on, whatever is going on in their life is real and important to them. As much as I try to hope they fit into what the big business plan is for their career, you’ve got to take a minute and listen to them like I learned as a paramedic is listen to the patient. Listen to them and be there and be patient for them. Almost all come around because usually as managers we do what makes sense.
We do what makes sense. Sometimes it’s not always easy to do what makes sense. Maybe it’s easier for you than it is for me. I don’t know.
No. Luckily, I don’t take it personally.
I don’t think you can, can you? Otherwise, we’d all drive ourselves crazy.
I’ve done the things, we’ve had a tour plan and we’ve gotten great advance money, great guarantees by our agent and when the press time comes up, the artist doesn’t want to do any press. If they don’t know me, they’re never going to know me, so I’m not going to do it. The tour gets canceled, money goes away but the artist is like, “You’re right, it made sense to do this but for whatever reason couldn’t motivate your artist to do his part on that.”
The longer that you do this job, you just have to accept your artist for who that particular artist is and if you don’t want to put up with it, then you don’t do it.
That’s one thing. I try not to take on the issues, the emotional situation that an artist might be dealing with. I try to be revolved, be calm and be an objective voice for them. I’ve seen other people where you get into this, “Screw those guys, how can they do this to me?” I try to defuse those situations and look at them reasonably. If something isn’t working then deal with it, but just to be there and be somebody that they can vent to and then in the end, you’re going to figure out the best thing for them.
If I was an artist, I’d say, “Bob would you manage me?” Because you sound the kind of manager that I would want and I’d be one hell of a difficult client. I’d be like calling 24/7, sending 150 emails a day. I wouldn’t wish me on anyone.
What’s your instrument? Do you sing? Do you play an instrument?
I used to play the clarinet, but I wouldn’t say that’s my forte. I used to be a performance poet on the London scene, but again I never was looking for a manager at that point. Also, I went to drama school and I did have an agent, a terrible agent in London. I remember, I was about 20 at the time and I called him up one day and I said, “David, have you got any auditions?” I hadn’t heard from him in months. He went, “I have just landed myself a role in a Hollywood movie, so I’m shutting the agency and I’m moving to Los Angeles.” I’m like, “Screw you,” and I remember I put the phone down and burst into tears. I then went to an audition once when I was acting and was told I’d make a good secretary. That point was the end of my desire to be an actor. First of all, I represented actors and then I moved into music. My podcast is called For Love and Music, so I want to ask a couple of questions about love and how love and music go hand-in-hand. When you travel around the world, it can make relationships tricky. Tell me how has that impacted you, it hasn’t or have did you deal with that?
I’m divorced. I’m mature in age and I have two daughters and grandchildren. For me personally, I’m in a great spot now where I’m traveling and I don’t have that obligation, that responsibility. I don’t mean obligation in a bad way but in a relationship, you have to respect each other and care for each other and you do get caught up. For me, it is easy to get caught up in it. The longest I’ve been gone without being home is six months.
That’s a long time.Diffuse difficult situations and look at them reasonably. If something isn’t working, deal with it. Click To Tweet
If you’re doing international and in different time zones, it’s hard to keep in touch. It’s hard because there were times I bring my wife on tour and it was difficult because even when you’re there, you’re working. You’re doing things and you’re not sightseeing. That’s one thing, it’s funny when you travel if you were going to go with your wife or husband or whoever it is it’s with you, don’t expect it’s going to be like sightseeing, visiting cathedrals and having dinners. You do work and just the nature of how you tour to make as much money as possible, you don’t book five days off in a city at a nice hotel to sightsee. You’re jumping to the next one and trying to keep the cost as low as possible and that means you got a show and travel.
I remember I took Alyssa with me once in the early days of our relationship on tour. After day two, it nearly killed her. She couldn’t cope with the pace after two days and we ended up in the emergency room with her having chronic stomach issues. She couldn’t keep the pace at all. It’s quite tough when you’re the partner of the manager because it’s different when you’re the partner of the star. That’s a whole different game altogether, but when you’re the partner of the manager, you’re the second place because you’re there to look after your artist and the artist comes first.
You do ignore your partner. That was tough bringing them on the road because it’s like, “Entertain yourself,” there’s nothing I can do.
I have to say though, Alyssa is good on the road and I enjoy having her there because she’s quite self-sufficient. She’s happy to be left to her own devices. When I can bring her, I do, but it doesn’t happen often.
It doesn’t with me. You’re right when you’re the artist, it’s a different relationship. I’m lucky. I work with artists that I believe in. I enjoy the people and we develop a close relationship. That’s a big one. That matters a lot.
We’re similar in that respect, in so far as we do get involved with the artists that we work with. Some managers don’t, some managers are at the end of a phone and have a number of other people who are doing the day-to-day. I’m not good at delegating a lot of the time. I like to be in control of everything that’s happening. From what I know of you, you’re quite like that as well. You like to run every element of what your artist is up to.
I worked at a big management firm for a while, part of the Artist Nation Group and I loved it. I had a lot of friends there and it was great but the senior managers operate a different than I did. They had a larger client base. I liked having a small one. That small client base means focusing on doing a good job on them.
I’m there and I agree with you 100%. If you were stuck on a deserted island, what would your three songs be that you would take with you?
That’s tough. Probably something by the Beatles, something Canadian because I’m Canadian, maybe Bachman-Turner Overdrive. I grew up listening to that music. It would be a good one, Takin’ Care of Business. The Beatles, one of deserted island. Maybe Savoy Truffle because I’d be thinking of food. I wouldn’t pick that song and probably something by Led Zeppelin and maybe like Kashmir.
If you were stuck on that deserted island, the fact that you were an emergency responder, which I want to hear a little bit about, would help you look after yourself because you’d know first aid?
How did you go from emergency responder to music manager to the stars?
It’s funny, there was a little period in between of about four years where I was working in business management first. I was having a family and I needed to make more money. It’s that simple and I said, “I love being a paramedic. I love it to this day and I need to make more money.” I got my securities license and I became a business manager. After doing that for a few years, I said, “I’m at the point in my life where I can go after something I want, my dream.” I’m living the dream.
You sure are and I just have to tell everyone a little story about the fact that you helped me out that day. As an emergency responder, when I was in my long-distance relationship with Alyssa living still in London and she was over here. She was living in this little place on Burbank Boulevard and I can’t get ahold of her. I was being typical neurotic Tara and I’m like, “She won’t wake up.” It was like 10:00 on a Sunday or something and I called you up and I’m like, “Bob, I think Alyssa is dead. Please, can you go around there with your emergency kit or whatever it is and make sure she’s still alive?” You actually did. You got in your car and you drove around there, probably in your pajamas on a Sunday morning. You literally were about to knock on her front door when she called me. I’m like, “I literally thought you were dead,” and she’s like, “No, I was hungover.” “Your hangover is end now. If you’re with me, you don’t get drunk anymore.” She has been good ever since. I am eternally grateful for you for being such a good friend.
It’s a pleasure. It’s what people do. I was glad and it worked out the right way. I didn’t know how can I call you and tell you anything else. That’s all I was thinking about as I was driving there.
She’s got some young blond in bed with her. That would have been another story.
That’s the whole thing. I’m thinking about it’s not what I find, it’s how I explain it.
Hopefully, it worked out in my favor. Tell me what is next for Bob Murray? What are you hoping for over the next five years? More grandchildren? More traveling?
I don’t think my girls are going to have any more children, they’re full up. I’ll keep traveling, keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve been healthy. Living on the road, you’ve got to take care of yourself and I work hard at that. I feel like I’ll keep doing this. I’m trying to expand out of management, you’re around a lot of ideas and other businesses. I’ve started working with another one called Sweet.io. It’s like a social engagement platform that rewards fans of artists for activities they’re already doing like watching videos, listening to songs on Spotify. I like that concept of rewarding fans for work they’re doing to support your artists. I’ve been involved in that company and I tend to stick with my artists for a long time, so I imagine I’ll still be with them for years and I imagine it’ll continue.
I hope that you do and I am so happy that you came on the show. I hope you have a safe flight to Buenos Aires. Readers, if there’s been a little bit of Wi-Fi crackle throughout, it’s literally because Bob is on the road and he is a superstar for taking the time to do this amidst his busy schedule. Is there a website or a link to anything we can give anyone if they have any questions or shall they just come through me?
They can go to you and I have a website. It’s not evolved. It just has links to clients called Elev8ent.com and I appreciate being on this show. Thank you for thinking of me. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you and we’ll go to Sweet Bread as soon as I get back.
Definitely, we have our little coffee shop down in Sherman Oaks that we particularly love. Coffees and Southern fried chicken salad. That’s it. I’ll be looking forward to that. Thank you to the fabulous Bob Murray. Safe travels as I said. If you have any questions for Bob, please email them to me at LaLaLanded.com, our website. You can also check us out at Instagram on @LalaLandedPodcast and on Facebook at La La Landed. Until next time, thank you all for reading and you will hear from me again very soon. Lots of love, bye for now.
About Bob Murray
For the past 20 years, Bob has been active in the entertainment business as a personal manager, company consultant and producer involved in music, television and film projects that have sustained global success.
Sweet.io (2017 – Current)
As a launch partner of social media platform Sweet representing talent, Bob has been involved in the early design and artist/fan applications of this new platform. Sweet enhances the fan experience for artists by rewarding fans for on line engagement activities that they are already utilizing.
Elev8 Global Entertainment (2015 – Current)
For the past 5 years Bob has been personal manager for global artists in a wide range of musical genres including instrumental, classical, pop, Latin and alternative rock. Current roster includes Jonathan Antoine, Jorge Blanco, Tina Guo, Shaun Jacobs and Kellen.
Established by long-time client Ric Wake, RB360 is a marketing agency that provides disruptive reality branded marketing initiatives. Bob has been involved in working with “A” list celebrity partners and a client base of some of the globe’s largest corporations, RB360 has provided many globally relevant campaigns to engage brands with their target customers via celebrity activations.
Opera Project “Inspirato” (2012-2013)
Bob is the manager of the collaboration between Yanni and many of the world’s best voices including Placido Domingo and Renée Fleming. Bob was responsible for negotiating artist contracts with 11 of the world’s most established stars of the Opera world. In addition, Bob managed the entire recording process taking place around the world over a 4 year time period. In partnership with Sony International the project includes a global TV broadcast and concert tour along with the album release.
Disney (2009 – Current)
Over the past 10 years, Bob has negotiated and worked closely with all aspects of the Disney Company in relation to music acts represented by Bob. Over this time, Bob has negotiated 6 different artist deals including Yanni Voices, Nathan Pacheco, Jorge Blanco and “College 11” with multiple album releases, created TV projects, negotiated feature film deals, music recording and music publishing agreements. This experience includes working with Disney worldwide, specifically in USA, EMEA and Latin America.
Yanni (2007 – 2016)
Bob was introduced to international composer/performer Yanni in 2007 as project manager for a unique project, Yanni Voices. This global project resulted in several TV specials, an international arena tour, releases of 6 CDs internationally. As Yanni’s personal manager, Bob has developed and negotiated international touring and sponsorship opportunities for over 500 concerts in over 25 counties in the past 4 years generating touring revenue of more than US$80 million.
Additionally, Bob has been the Producer for 8 Yanni Television specials viewed in over 50 countries worldwide and negotiated 7 Recording deals.
TV Production (2007 – Current)
As a credited Producer and Executive Producer, Bob has been the creator and hands on producer of 9 TV specials and documentaries that have been broadcast on PBS and around the world.
Wright Entertainment Group (2000-2003)
Bob was introduced to the music/industry in 2000 after putting together an investment group to acquire joint ownership of Wright Entertainment Group. During this period Bob was introduced to all aspects of music and entertainment as Wright Entertainment Group managed superstar Pop acts *NSYNC, Britney Spears and other developing artists. Additionally, Bob created and operated independent record label, WIRE Records during this time.
Wake Entertainment Group (2000 – Current)
In 2000, Bob established himself as an independent artist manager with Ric Wake of Wake Entertainment Group as his primary client. Regarded as one of the top music producers in the world with over 400 million albums sold, Ric produced and written songs for many of the world’s biggest artists including Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Caroline Jones and many others. Ric is a multi Grammy and Academy winning music producer.