Chris Collins, band manager
Chris Collins has a long background working with artists in roles that see him travelling the world. He shares what the music industry is really like and why it's a great place to be.
What is your home town?
I grew up in Oslo, in Norway.
What is your job?
I am Band Manager for The United.
It has always been an interest for me from a very young age. I played in different rock bands for a while, and then I went to do concerts. I realised that I really liked to work behind the stage, building up the bands and managing them.
What qualifications did you do?
I played the trumpet in the school band and then I decided to join the music industry outside of school. I just started really young working in music and events.
I did my first course when I was 15 years old. When I was 17 years old, I started doing small concerts in the city that I grew up in, Oslo in Norway. I was the youngest person in the audience at concerts.
What previous roles did you do?
I moved to Olso permanently, and started my own record label called ‘Tribe Records’. It was up and running for five or six years, and now it’s been distributed by Universal. I worked with Europop and dance pop music, and had many hits.
“You shouldn’t just be an internet act, you have to be out there and meet fans.”
We got quite a lot of money for a record company. Under our management, I had artists from Norway, like Caroline Dina Kongerud who sang Bli hos meg (Stay with me) and had a number one hit.
We were there in the last era of selling singles and CDs, before the norm became albums and digital records.
I’m also doing the tour concept in other countries, such as Scandinavia. ‘We Love The 90s’ is the latest tour, where we are bringing in many famous artists from the 90s like the Vengaboys, Scooter from Germany and Eiffel 65. We even have David Hasselhoff this year!
It’s really fun and involves me talking to potential partners in the UK and the US.
What do you do in your job?
I’ve been focused on building up The United over a long period of time. We’ve been in studios, travelling around and meeting different contacts.
I’ve started to build this platform because, if you’re trying to go on shows like ‘X Factor’, this is a great way to start off. When you’re on a TV show all around the world, people learn your name pretty fast.
It’s all about teamwork. My job is to think how my team and I can promote the band. We are going to build them up step by step, because we are doing this more ‘old school’. Like how a rock’n’roll band would have done it.
I’m showing the guys to target groups, doing radio interviews, doing target interviews, performing some mini acoustic concerts. It’s really about trying to build up a fan base. I think so far it’s been pretty successful.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I would say, of course, it’s working with music. It’s also the travelling. We’re able to travel round and meet new people almost every day.
"We’ve been in studios, travelling around, meeting different contacts."
The highlight of every day is when we’re doing a concert and performing. We see the reaction from the audience, and we can relax at the end of the day and say ‘guys, we did it’.
And the worst thing?
Music is a high-risk industry. There are so many great talents working really hard, so there is a lot of competition.
Money can also be tight. You just have to make a lot of PR and get together a tour bus with a little bit of money. It can also be the worst part, especially if you’re hungry after three days of touring and you can’t afford to buy any food.
How do I get into music?
From my experiences, I want to share these four tips:
1) You just have to start doing it
A smart thing would be to start working with a band from your local area. Start getting experience promoting concerts and bands. Maybe ask a lot of the managers in the city if you can help them as a volunteer. That way you can get some experience.
2) Be prepared with a backup
For that for the first year, you probably will be volunteering and building experience up. You'll need to invest the time if you really want to do this career.
It is expensive, so try and get some back up plan in place and have two jobs. One can pay your expenses, allowing you to do what you really want to do, which is music and managing.
3) Balance being a manager and being a teammate
Sometimes you have to be hard on your band members and tell them how they should and shouldn’t perform. You're the manager and you have a responsibility to help the band succeed.
But, you are also part of the team. Being nice, smiling and just being yourself goes a long way to making other people happy and creating a calming atmosphere.
4) Everything in music has ups and downs
Sometimes it can be a great day, and sometimes a bad day. That’s just how it is. Get over it, take a deep breath in and out and take it as it comes. If you meet a problem, find a solution.
Why is music important?
It’s about entertainment – everyone can relate to music. Most of all, you have to like music.
I think the music industry is getting better and better. There was a problem a few years ago when the CD sales stopped, and the industry got stressed out. The digital sales are getting better now though, and it’s getting more sponsorship. The live scene is getting bigger, so I think there is a bright future.
Also social media opens up more opportunities. For a band with a young target group, social media connects to this group. You really need to be on all types of platforms. Of course, you shouldn’t just be an internet act, you have to be out there and meet fans to play and perform.
YouTube is a fantastic area to show yourself. But you have to do more than put up a video on YouTube: you have to promote it. And if it’s no good, it will never work.
You shouldn’t come into the industry empty-handed. You need to have projects you started by yourself, even if it’s a small gig at school or community. And then you can say, 'check out what I’m doing'. This will prove that you know what you’re doing, you have a strong interest and you’ve already taken a risk.