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Mobiles skwerking, mobiles chirping, manager Shore takes money and runs bands’ finances

Boston University alumna Rob Shore is the business manager for LCD Soundsystem, Ed Sheeran and Radiohead. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROB SHORE
Boston University alumnus Rob Shore is the business manager for LCD Soundsystem, Ed Sheeran and Radiohead. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROB SHORE

For Boston University alum Rob Shore, music means business, and business means finance. As the founder and CEO of Rob Shore & Associates Inc., Shore manages artists from hard-edged Slipknot to recently acquired Radiohead. The Daily Free Press spoke with Shore about his job as a music business manager and what the title entails in today’s climate for artists.

The Daily Free Press: What’s the mission behind the company, and, more importantly, what’s the mission behind your job?

Rob Shore: I don’t know if I would call it a mission, but certainly the goal I come in with everyday is to justify the tremendous amount of trust and faith that artists place with me to oversee their business and finances.

It’s kind of unlike every other business in that most people who own [businesses] are the business managers … In the case of an artist, it’s not efficient for them to oversee all the aspects of their business, and, often, it’s not their forte.

So, that’s why I have this job, but it’s a tremendous leap of faith in trust that they give me. I take that very seriously and try to honor that every day.

FreeP: Can you walk me through a day of being a music business manager?

RS: I never know what’s going to happen, which makes it exciting, and after 30 years, there’s something new not every day but every week.

I have a staff of about 10 people, and we oversee at any time 40 to 50 bands. There’s always an issue somewhere around the world wherever a band happens to be at any given time [laughs]. I guess the typical day is that there is no typical day.

FreeP: What services do you exactly provide for artists?

RS: [It’s] unlike a creative manager, which I’ve done before, where it’s more involved with the creative decisions of producers to use, record companies to work with, the first single and album artwork … That’s more grey decision-making.

What I do is much more black and white. It’s helping with tours around the world and making sure that moneys that have been contracted are correct and that the tour managers are properly accounting for it and that withholding taxes throughout the world are done properly and reduced as much as possible. It’s really all facets of the finances of an artist or a band.

As important, around what I was saying about the trust, is making sure that within a band they feel comfortable with how the finances are. It’s very easy for a band to “fall out” over a million different issues, but one of them shouldn’t be the finances. Hence, it is important for band members to know about various investment platforms and investment techniques that could prevent the band from a financial fall out.

FreeP: It’s to my knowledge that your company manages artists like Ed Sheeran, Hozier, Icona Pop, Parquet Courts and now, Radiohead. That’s a pretty wide range of genres. What’s it like working with variety?

RS: The answer is that there’s no difference between any of the bands in terms of the services we provide.

When I first started my career, I worked for a management company that had bands like Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden and Slipknot, and I was sort of pegged as a metal or hard rock guy. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve gotten more pop-oriented.

But when I was doing metal, it was the same thing as doing pop and vice versa. In terms of the job itself, it’s very similar.

FreeP: How is handling the finances of a music group different from, perhaps, handling your own personal finances?

RS: Well, good question. I try to handle it in a similar way.

The difference is the obvious. My money is my money, and when I handle someone else’s money, I’m handling their money. I never forget that it’s their money.

The biggest thing that makes me not sleep at night is when I advise a client to be frugal with their money and they don’t listen to me. I’ve seen enough people to know how the story ends. They lose their money.

The difference between handling my own money and handling someone else’s money is that I’m hired to try to help.

FreeP: We’re in the middle of festival season right now. Have you ever worked with clients that have done big festival circuits? How does doing so affect a band’s finances?

RS: I had six artists at Coachella this year. For certain artists, it’s huge money, especially artists that haven’t been together for a while that come back [together] at a festival. They’re the biggest paydays that you can get.

FreeP: Do you have a dream artist to manage?

RS: Radiohead is an honor to work with.

I suppose it would be a dream but also incredibly intimidating to [work] with one of three: Bob Dylan, Neil Young or Van Morrison. A fourth would be Paul McCartney.

FreeP: In Boston, being a city with a large number of small venues, there seems to be an emphasis on do-it-yourself. How does your job play into that culture?

RS: Right. Well, by the time they get to me, they don’t want to do it themselves anymore.

It’s much harder to break in as an artist, on some levels, now than it used to be because it used to be that if you were talented and someone from a record company saw you, then they could put all their money and energy into breaking you as an artist.

Now, because record companies are hurting so much, they just don’t have the funds to break an artist. So, people have to do it themselves even in terms of recording, which is a lot easier than it used to be 20 years ago. And certainly promotion online has gotten a lot easier.

In order to need my services, they need to have finances, and in order to have finances, they need to have a record deal or a publishing deal. I don’t see them at that stage, which is nice for me because they’re already somewhat successful by the time they get to me.

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