Below is my interview with Marc Debiak, Eyeball Records manager and Astromagnetics owner. His answers are extremely informing and I thank him a lot for taking the time out to do this with me.
-------------- Frank- What is expected of a "label manager" and what does your job consist of? Marc- When you're running a label you're focused all day on minutia details like "Is this the right barcode number?" and "why are we out of stamps?". At the same time, you need to stay focused on the big, abstract picture like "Is this record any good... should we sign this band?" and "Which people are going to want to buy this record?" and "How can I make people buy it?" It's a delicate balance between running a smooth office with plenty of paperclips and supervising the creation and promotion of successful records. Having a label manager also gives the label owner (in this case Alex Saavedra) more freedom to travel and explore the really big picture. He can take comfort in knowing there are asses in the seats back home and things are getting accomplished while he's focused on the overall growth of the company.
----- Frank- Does artist management and label management go hand in hand, or are there significant differences between the two? Marc- There are definitely differences between the positions. The label manager is responsible for the business operations at the label, and the artist manager is responsible for the business operations within the band. A band is a miniature company and should always be run that way.
----- Frank- Obviously, as a label manager, your best interest would be to do what's best for the label and to protect the label's well-being at the cost of anything. An artist managers task is to do what's in the best interest of his artist and to protect his artist at the cost of anything. Is there ever any tension between yourself and the band managers since both of you have conflicting interests, for the most part? (Note: I am not implying that you don't care about the bands you work with). Marc- It kind of depends on the manager and the band. Some bands like to have a manager who can call us and say "f you", and the band doesn't have to look us in the eyes. Others still take an active role in how they're represented, even when they have a manager. I recommend the latter... you should never leave all your communication in the hands of a third party. At the end of the day the band is what matters and if a manager with a big mouth is burning bridges around the industry all day, the artist he represents is going to suffer for it.
----- Frank- From my understanding, you generally have knowledge in all aspects of record labels and how they work. How does a kid, looking to become a manager of a label, obtain all of this knowledge? Marc- Read books, read interviews and most importantly ask for advice. Actually, even more importantly, take advice from people who have been there already. I can't even count how many start up labels have asked me for advice and looked straight past my head when I gave it to them. They nod with a blank expression like they get it... but they don't. They have an idea in their head for how things need to go and they ignore the advice. I've been guilty of this myself many times and learned a lot of lessons the hard way. Honestly though, just get an internship. Those are free and abundant. I could seriously use an apprentice though. You can even give my email address out. I want a kid who will dress and act just like me.
----- Frank- So you own Astro Magnetics, as well as manage Eyeball Records, How do you make time for both? Marc- I'm out of bed at 8am every morning, and in my office by 9am. I come home at 6pm, eat dinner with my wife, and work from 7pm till 12am. That gives me more than enough time for work, but it's the other stuff I need to keep an eye on. I haven't seen my Grandma in months! She should start a band. Then we'd have plenty of time to talk.
----- Frank- What's the best advice you can give a band looking to "make it"? Marc- Don't start thinking about labels until they start thinking about you. The best thing a band can do is worry about getting a van, making merch, and touring. You can't "make it" without those things in place, and most labels aren't going to be able to put them in place for you (especially when they can sign a band that's already set up to tour). When you're a smooth running machine, the labels will come calling. Most importantly, just because you have 10 or 15 songs written, doesn't mean you have a "record". A record should be your best songs, not your only ones. Take a serious look at your catalog of songs and don't be afraid to throw away the ones that aren't completely amazing.
----- Frank- Any last words, thank yous, advice, jokes, stories, etc? Marc- "The music industry is a fickle, dangerous mistress; she is a gorgeous siren who will seduce you with her many promises of untold riches, erotic adventures, and endless deli platters. She is also a sinister temptress of the deep, who will stop at nothing to latch onto your jugular and suck you dry, leaving you ravaged, and naked as the day you were born."
Absolutely excellent! Thank you a lot! I am personnaly highly interested in knowing how the music business is running. I'd like more interviews of people working in there. Band's manager, people from label, even staff people, concert hall manager, etc... That would be very interesting.