Association ofArtist Managers

  • John Watson 406

14 Apr 2015

AAM Member Profile - John Watson - Executive Member & AAM Patron

Your Name: 

John Watson

Membership category: 

Executive

State: 

NSW

Current artists on your management roster:

Birds Of Tokyo, Cold Chisel (co-managed with John O’Donnell), Gotye (co-managed with Lunatic Entertainment), Missy Higgins, Daniel Johns, Paul Mac, Silverchair, Dustin Tebbutt

Company Name (and website link):

John Watson Management / Eleven: a music company (www.elevenmusic.com)

How did you get into management?

I managed my own band and a few indie artists in my late teens and early twenties but then I spent 4 years doing A&R and International Marketing at Sony. John O’Donnell and I signed Silverchair to the murmur label there and in 1995 I left to manage them so that was really my first ‘proper’ management gig. I’ve been managing Australian artists ever since.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in 2015 for artist managers and/or their artists?

The good news is that artists and managers have more direct control than ever before due to social media. The bad news is that this control necessitates a lot more work. Now, more than ever, managers and artists have to get the ball rolling on their own rather than waiting for other parties to do the hard yards on their behalf.

What is your hot tip for getting started in artist management:

Bite off more than you can chew and chew like hell. Ask lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but when you do try to fix them fast and never repeat them. Get good legal advice. 

What is your hot tip for helping/sustaining your artist management business:

Always remember that your job is to grow the artist’s ‘cake’ by more than the size of the ‘slice’ you get in commissions.  On the day that you stop doing that you are on your way to getting fired and rightly so. Ultimately you’re there to provide a service to artists. So while you may become close friends with some of your clients it’s ultimately always a commercial relationship; any love’n’mercy you receive is strictly a bonus. 

Name 2 people within the music industry who have helped you get where you are: 

I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of great mentors including Denis Handlin, John Woodruff, Michael McMartin and George Ash. If I have to pick just two names though I’ll go with Melissa Chenery and John O’Donnell. Mel and I knew each other as teenagers and worked together at Sony before she joined me in managing Silverchair in early 1996 so everything the company has achieved over the last 20 years has been made possible in no small part by her great work. JOD and I have been friends for nearly as long as I’ve known Mel. We’ve shared several amazing journeys together as genuine partners and like Mel, I trust him totally. 

What are you currently listening to?  

Well I’m typing this on a train to Tokyo and the person next to me has got some really heinous ‘J-Pop’ leaking out of their earphones but hopefully that doesn’t count! The last music I bought was a Springsteen live recording from 1975 and the last new music I bought was Courtney Barnett’s album … she’s a fantastic story.

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