HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Can you believe it’s already another new year? Time flies! This year, my theme word is, “LOVE”. And part of what I will be doing is showing the love to music industry peeps who are doing amazing things here in KZN.
My first interviewee is none other than artist manager and overall superwoman, Lisa Welsh. Not only is she a fierce woman in music, but she coaches women on boundaries and confidence too. These are vital attributes for anyone in the music industry. It’s a hard business to be in, and you have to be able to stand your ground. Anyway, here is a little bit about Lisa and her role on the Durban music scene…
Me: Please give us a short intro as to what it is that you do?
Lisa: I’m Lisa Welsh, I manage a phenomenal Durban based band, The Kickstands, a musical collaboration between Gary Nixon, vocalist and guitar player, and Rudi Greyvenstein, guitar player and producer.
Me: What exactly does being an artist manager involve?
Lisa: An artist manager works on behalf of the artists to handle the business side of their career. This can include a number of things, which change from day to day.
I actively seek out new opportunities, venues, events and corporate clients – and then maintain relationships with all parties. I promote the band and secure opportunities for them, negotiating and securing the best fees.
I manage the strategic decisions of the band, including tours, festival planning, packages and prices.
I also assist the band in promoting their music, via radio and other media outlets.
And a big part of my work is administration – managing the calendar, sending out quotations, invoicing, preparing contracts and staying on top of payments. Plus, I am responsible for making sure that the band members know where they need to be and when and ensuring that everything is in place for them on arrival to each gig.
Me: How did you become the manager for The Kickstands?
Lisa: My husband was the lead singer for a band called Gus Brown, and I started out in a booking agent role for his band. Over time, my network of venues and relationships with local artists grew. My knowledge of the Durban music scene also developed, and I was in a position to connect a number of artists with gig opportunities.
I have a strong work ethic and venues valued my quick turnaround on their requests, as well as my professional attitude. I was always transparent with my fees and the artists appreciated that too.
I met Gary and Rudi a number of times at their live performances and eventually we agreed to work together on a non-exclusive basis, with me contacting them with gig opportunities.
They are so easy to work with, professional and talented, and the relationship of ‘booking agent – band’ naturally progressed to the point where it made sense that I managed the business side of The Kickstands exclusively.
Me: What challenges have you faced being a manager?
Lisa: My main challenges came when I was working as a booking agent in Durban. Both bands and venues are often struggling to make enough money and didn’t always value the role of a booking agent. It meant that I was often cut out of the equation as quickly as possible, making it impossible for me to maintain this as a viable career.
As a manager, my main challenge was the initial learning curve – I don’t know of any other managers in Durban – so I was learning this role on the job. Thankfully, Nana Stapelberg, former manager of Rubber Duc, took me under her wing and was so generous with advice – even sending templates of contracts for me to look at.
I am very grateful that The Kickstands are so easy to work with – they don’t cause me any headaches. We understand each other, and they never complain when I nag them all day! Gary and Rudi are always keen to work hard and do what it takes to make sure their performance is of a great standard.
Me: What is your perception of the music industry in Durban?
Lisa: I think that Durban is overflowing with great talent – but it takes a lot of work for artists to earn enough money to make music their career. This can lead to apathy and frustration.
It’s true that some venues are struggling to pay fair fees – but there are opportunities out there.
Plus, there is a great vibe amongst the local musicians in Durban, they support one another, share equipment, attend gigs and collaborate whenever possible.
For an artist to make it in Durban, they’ll need to get stuck in and network like crazy…build relationships! They’ll need a lot of creativity and persistence – and of course talent!
Me: If there was one thing you could change in the music industry, what would it be?
Lisa: I would love for South African music to be considered as important as the International music that comes into the country. The talent here is phenomenal and often undervalued.
Thank you, Lisa, for your insight into the Durban music scene! It’s not easy to market yourself and book gigs on your own, so it is sometimes necessary to hire a manager. Of course, that transparency that Lisa mentioned is important, so in my next blog post, I’m going to chat a bit more about transparency, money and how to make sure you don’t sit unpaid after a gig. I will also make mention of some advice that Lisa gave me personally in one of her amazing one-on-one coaching sessions. You can find Lisa on the following platforms: