The Boys in the Brand
When Diana Krall is on stage, nobody sees Sam Feldman and Steve Macklam. But when it comes to selling the acclaimed jazz artist, they’re the two guys who really make the operation sing
By David Hayes, National Post Business, March 2002
At the end of a gruelling afternoon at a Paris rehearsal space, a frazzled-looking Diana Krall emerges into the building’s lobby. Wearing a black sweater, black leather skirt and black knee-high boots, she looks smaller and more frail than in her glamorous photographs. Milling around in front of her are over a dozen people – musicians, a British film crew, the French promoters of her sold-out Paris concerts and a few theatre employees, most of them strangers to her. Outside, some techies are behind schedule. They’re trying to attach a rig to the side of a black Jaguar on which a camera will soon record Krall driving around Paris, providing the film crew with transitional footage to use in an upcoming TV special based on the concert she will be doing in four nights’ time.
Krall isn’t a temperamental diva by the standards of show business, but right now she’s exhausted from a day of doing media interviews and working with her band and orchestra; frustrated because the Jaguar shoot will mean pushing back dinner reservations with her parents, whom she’s brought to Paris; and irritated by the hoarseness in her voice – an assistant has been sent out in search of more packets of Fisherman’s Friend. Within moments, though, she spots a pair of friendly faces: her managers, Steve Macklam and Sam Feldman, who have recently returned via the Chunnel from visiting Joni Mitchell, one of their other clients, at a recording session in London. Instantly, Macklam is at Krall’s side, talking to her in a soothing voice. A short time later, when they arrive at their hotel, the swanky Four Seasons George V, an expectant crowd is gathered on the pavement across from the front doors. I notice Krall, whom Macklam is still protectively escorting, as she glances in disbelief, probably wondering whether it’s possible that her popularity in Paris has reached these new heights. (It has not, I later learned. The mob had been waiting for Jennifer Lopez.)
Once Macklam sees Krall off to her suite, he settles into a quiet corner of the hotel’s lounge. He’s a slightly built man with a boyish appearance despite his thinning hair. He’s in a charcoal-gray sweater, black slacks and black suede loafers, with a navy-blue scarf draped Parisian-style around his neck. Like athletes, he explains, successful artists have career arcs, and there’s a period on those arcs when they’re as successful as they’re going to be. It’s the role of management, he adds, to make as much money as possible during that peak without compromising the artist’s integrity.
Right now, thanks to the success of her latest recording, The Look of Love, Krall’s career is on a trajectory that has exceeded even her two managers’ most optimistic projections. Vancouver-based Macklam and Feldman, though, are used to dealing with success. They have, for instance, been instrumental in extending the career arc of The Chieftains, a group that specializes in traditional Irish music. Indeed, the scope and scale of their business are no different from those of the scores of power brokers I see throughout the George V. Only Macklam and Feldman’s wares are different. Artists like Krall and The Chieftains aren’t like conventional goods, nor can they be manufactured like a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy. But they can, with sufficient respect and sensitivity, be treated like a brand.
Macklam and Feldman specialize in classy brands, like the 37-year-old Krall, whose talent, they believe, points to a long, respected career stretching beyond the white-hot celebrity generated since the release of her CD. Feldman, who travels less frequently than his partner, spends more time building their business while communicating with Macklam almost daily. Macklam, who concentrates on personal management, has a knack for taking the ephemeral qualities of artists and, by exploiting opportunities, transforming them into successful commodities without endangering the artist’s image.
Another image, that of the “Svengali manager,” is a persistent one in the music business. Macklam and Feldman, however, have no desire to control their artists. Rather, their philosophy is to work with clients who have strong artistic visions. In the case of Krall, their role – for 15% of gross earnings – is to help position her further into the mainstream, giving her a durable career that exploits global markets and gains additional support from carefully considered corporate partnerships, while ensuring that she doesn’t lose her jazz bona fides. “Management, at its best, does not come in and make an artist,” says Macklam, “but a strong, sympatico team of managers can enhance an artist’s business environment much the way a strong team of musicians enhances an artist’s musical environment.” For her part, Krall says she was influenced by Macklam and Feldman’s clients. “Joni Mitchell, The Chieftains,” she explains. “These aren’t flash-in-the-pan pop people. They’re artists who have seen a lot and they’ve put their trust in Steve and Sam.”
What Macklam and Feldman have already done for her is clearly working. Jazz artists seldom experience Krall’s level of success. Since its release, the CD has sat at or near the top of the pop and jazz charts in the U.S., Canada and other countries. But the Krall phenomenon is about more than her recordings. Since the fall, she’s completed sold-out tours of Canada, Europe and Southeast Asia, appeared on major TV talk shows in North America, Great Britain and Europe, and been the subject of hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. She’s been a central figure in ad campaigns for Eatons, Rolex and DaimlerChrysler Canada. During the Christmas sales period, People included her in its “Most Intriguing People of 2001” issue, which became an NBC special, which was, in turn, a news item on Dateline NBC. The concert that is about to be filmed in Paris will be a CBC-TV special and will also be a DVD and video, providing a boost to her momentum in the post-Christmas lull. It seems to me that all of this fits perfectly in synch with Macklam’s master plan, but can anyone really co-ordinate so many elements simultaneously? “You absolutely can,” he says. “You need a little luck, but it’s like hockey. You’re skating down the rink, passing the puck back and forth. All the fancy footwork and moves won’t guarantee you’ll put the puck in the net, but if you’re focussed and you make every pass matter, the chances of scoring are really good.”
Personal managers can be considered both the CEO and COO of an artist’s business. They are involved in day-to-day career development and personal guidance, as well as planning a long-range strategy for an artist’s career. While a record company is focussed solely on maximizing revenue potential for the CDs released under the terms of an artist’s contract, managers co-ordinate every aspect of an artist’s business. Along with trying to ensure that clients are made a priority at their record companies, managers work with booking agents to make sure tours run smoothly and profitably, negotiate sponsorships and field overtures from media, charities and other parties. Among big-time managers, some are abrasive bullies; others, like Macklam and Feldman, are smooth and unflappable.
For the first few days in Paris, Macklam and Feldman are monitoring details of the upcoming Olympia concerts and shepherding Krall through a hectic schedule of media sessions and rehearsals. At the same time, they are monitoring the affairs of their other clients and are involved in discussions relating to their corporate interests. “We’re like a hub with all of these spokes coming out,” says Macklam. “Often our biggest role is being a co-ordinating centre.”
At 11:30 on the morning after the first concert, Macklam looks remarkably alert and rested for a man who was doing business with Southeast Asia at 2:30 a.m. before going to sleep, then was up five hours later with an espresso and orange juice working the phones again. Right now, Macklam is standing with Feldman in a quiet corner of the George V’s lobby conducting a two-minute postmortem of a meeting they’d just had with the principals of a huge, London-based media firm about a possible association. The meeting had been punctuated with references to seven and eight figures.
Later, when Feldman returns to his room, Macklam joins a meeting in the lounge. There, Darrell Gilmour, who works with Macklam and Feldman, sits with Gerard Drouot and his assistant, the French promoters for Krall’s Olympia shows, and Arne Worsoe, a prominent Copenhagen-based promoter with whom Macklam has a partnership to help him oversee European tours.
The discussion, which is conducted with considerable passion, involves who is paying for the overruns of Krall’s ground transportation costs. Drouot is arguing that Eagle Rock Entertainment plc, the British company recording the Paris concert, should be contributing more. The conversation is punctuated with references to three and four figures. At one point, Macklam leans toward me and whispers, “This illustrates the range of my work. From hundreds of millions to hundreds in the space of half an hour.”
Afterward, sitting at a desk in his suite, Macklam discusses the challenges he faces trying to control the arc of Krall’s career. “This is a jazz project,” he says. “It doesn’t follow the same formulae as pop music. We don’t have at our disposal all of the conventional tools: the hit records, the MTV-style video airplay. We don’t have most point-of-purchase advertising, either, because the retail space available to jazz artists isn’t normally very large. So that leaves you with two traditional tools: performance and press. Which means Diana’s international success depends even more upon management.
“I’ve worked international markets very hard,” continues Macklam. “When you’re only going to sell 5,000 records in Hong Kong and 5,000 in Singapore and 5,000 in Kuala Lumpur and 5,000 in Buenos Aires, and you’re losing money to record piracy in Asia and your royalties are being stripped off you in Brazil because there’s no trade agreement, it can be a very time-consuming and unprofitable business. Instead, at this moment, Diana has a number-one record in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Portugal, the number-three record in Mexico and the number-seven record in Paris. A rock artist with a hit might sell 10 million records in America, but not a jazz artist. But I can go around the world and make sure that instead of selling 5,000 records in all these territories, I sell 50,000 or 100,000.”
Every day Macklam analyzes the relationship between the time he’s devoted to a territory and its effect on retail sales. “We were in England 10 days ago and we did the Michael Parkinson show, which in terms of impact is a bit like doing Letter-man” he explains. “I spoke to Universal, her record company, and they said our sales increased by 275% this week because of Parkinson, her concerts and the reviews. We were in Germany last week, doing press and concerts in Hamburg and Frankfurt and TV in Berlin and Cologne. I don’t have the retail numbers yet, but on the pop charts her record leaped from number 66 to 32. When you see a significant chart jump like that you can presume there’s a big retail jump as well.
“It’s a moving target, this game,” Macklam adds. “At the beginning we tried to determine whether this record would sell for 18 months or two years. We didn’t want to be in the market for longer than two years because you risk losing momentum. It’s a balancing game, knowing how long you can sustain the sales of an album so you can maximize it.” Taking out the Krall itinerary, which is the blueprint for his strategy, Macklam says: “Do you know what we call this? ‘The Book of Lies,’ because everything is constantly changing.” Pointing at it, he explains: “You take your calendar and you say, ‘Right, let’s start at the end rather than the beginning.’ The end is the release of the next record. Since we project a two-year window for this one, that means September 2003. Her label needs time to telegraph to all its offices that a new record is coming, assess sales goals and put together a marketing plan, which takes three to four months. That means we want to be delivering a record by May. Working backwards, Diana needs at least three months to plan and make the record. So now I’m at January, 2003. That means I need to be finished everything by then. So I look at my map and say to myself, ‘What can I do between now and the end of 2002?'”
The answer: anything he can do to keep the momentum going. Macklam explains that the globe is broken up into two parts. North America, which includes the U.S., Canada and Jamaica, has retail record sales of US$15 billion. Over US$14 billion of this is the U.S., with Canada at US$819 million. The rest of the world, though, accounts for US$22 billion. In the past, pop artists regarded the world markets – with their myriad languages and cultures, travel expenses and, in some countries, a history of record piracy – as an afterthought. An established artist would tour the U.S. to death, from time to time swinging through a handful of major international centres. The Canadian market was mostly viewed as Toronto, with Montreal and Vancouver as secondary stops. Being Canadian, though, Macklam understood that artists could make a living by targeting the many second-tier cities – from Victoria to Halifax. And by doing so, their popularity could reach a critical mass.
The first step to achieving critical mass, he explains, is to expand an artist’s popularity into the general public and entice people to buy concert tickets. Macklam first did this with The Chieftains when he began managing them in 1994. It was a respected act within the niche world of folk music, selling records at a small but steady rate, touring the folk circuit and contributing to movie soundtracks. But, like Krall, The Chieftains had been unable to capitalize on videos or radio hits. Macklam and Feldman agreed that if there was a way of attaching the band’s indisputable talent to a project that would catch the broader public’s fancy, it could be wildly successful. Noticing that whenever pop artists like The Rolling Stones or Sting wanted to bring an authentic Celtic flavour to their music, they called upon The Chieftains, Macklam suggested the band make its usual traditional-style recording, but invite these stars to participate. Then, when Long Black Veil was released in 1995, he organized tours into first- and second-tier centres in territories around the world. The result catapulted The Chieftains into the mainstream and helped to launch the Celtic boom of the late ’90s.
Speaking one day to Arne Worsoe, the Copenhagen-based promoter, he explained to me that many American managers, motivated by the bottom line, simply work their artists in the lucrative U.S. market. “Steve and Sam could make more money with Diana Krall in America,” he says. “But they don’t ignore the European market. That’s intelligent and shrewd. It builds a much longer career.”
Macklam first met Krall in spring 1998 at a Grammy Awards party. Not being a follower of jazz, he’d heard only that she was from Nanaimo, B.C., that her career was on the rise, and that she was dissatisfied with her management and wanted to meet him. When he mentioned her to Feldman, his partner told him that he’d tried to buy tickets to Krall’s annual charity concert for the Vancouver General Hospital but it had been sold out three months before the show. As it happened, Krall and Macklam were in Vancouver the week after the Grammys to attend the Juno Awards and ended up at a party at the Vancouver Art Gallery hosted by producer David Foster. In mid-speech, Foster, who was standing next to Quincy Jones, began raving about Krall, inviting her up to play a song. “She played something impromptu, I forget what it was,” recalls Macklam, “but I was transported. Suddenly the penny dropped. I said, ‘If this is what she’s doing to me, this is what she can do to everybody, all over the world.'” A short time later, Macklam and Feldman began working with Krall.
Just as Macklam had sensed an undercurrent in popular culture in the mid-’90s that suggested the public would embrace traditional Celtic music, by ’98 he believed that Krall’s lush interpretations of the Great American Songbook – the works of George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Hoagy Carmichael – would also find a wider audience. Why? Partly because Wynton Marsalis had increased the popularity of jazz and sparked interest in older traditions. And partly because Harry Connick, Jr.’s success in the early ’90s had shown that mainstream audiences would accept a big-band vocalist emulating Frank Sinatra. And more recently, the sultry singer Cassandra Wilson had expanded her jazz audience to include fans of blues, folk and pop music, as well as bringing a female voice to the forefront.
Macklam and Feldman’s first goal was to realign the direction of Krall’s career by getting her off the circuit of jazz clubs and festivals. Most jazz artists, without the clout that top-selling records provide, are at the mercy of a network of low-paying clubs. Festival promoters, typically funded by government grants, care about their festival as a whole, not individual artists, and lack what Macklam believes is the necessary profit motive. “It’s important for me to know people are coming to see Diana Krall,” Macklam says. “Not only do I want to see the financial benefits, but I want to see the follow-through impact across her career. We play to people who come to see Diana Krall, who bought a Diana Krall record, who are in the Diana Krall world. That’s what we’re selling.”
I ask Macklam to outline this stage of the career arc he’s building for Krall. Last year, just before The Look of Love was released, he took her on an around-the-world promotion tour. While Krall did media, Macklam talked to promoters and looked for sponsorship opportunities. But perhaps his most important mission was to inspire her record company’s executives. Krall is signed to Verve, a respected jazz label that is a division of the Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company, which is itself part of Vivendi Universal, the media conglomerate. Since few jazz artists sell records the way Krall does, most jazz labels, including Verve, have tiny marketing and promotion budgets. Unlike in English Canada, which shares a language and culture with the U.S., in most non-English-speaking countries domestic artists dominate the charts. Subsidiaries of the major U.S. record firms play two roles: they handle world-wide distribution for the parent company’s international pop stars and develop their own domestic talent. Macklam lobbies relentlessly to convince Universal subsidiaries that Krall’s sales more closely resemble that of a pop artist and they should fund her accordingly. As a result, in many territories Krall appears on the domestic charts, indicating she is a local phenomenon, as is the case in France.
There, his efforts have paid off. Daniel Richard, who runs Verve in France, would normally use his modest budget to develop French artists or push Universal catalogue. Instead, he has in effect made Krall part of his domestic roster and released unprecedented resources to promote her. In case it wasn’t sufficiently clear that Krall is a priority to Universalas a whole, I saw Richard ushering Vivendi the Universal chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Messier backstage to meet with Krall after a show.
Krall is a big enough star that Tommy LiPuma, the chairman of Verve in New York and Krall’s producer, is in town to oversee the live recording being made of the concerts. (LiPuma, a 40-year veteran in the music business, says that Macklam and Feldman are among the relatively few great managers he’s known.) When he and Macklam had a private lunch one day, I asked Macklam what they talked about. “Jazz labels usually accept that they aren’t going to sell a lot of records,” he says. “I refuse to accept that, so I’m sitting down with Tommy all the time, assessing the personnel within the Verve and Universal family, finding out who at the Universal level I can convince to upsell Diana into a priority position.”
What if that doesn’t happen?
“If I’ve been trying to get people in a territory to commit to buying the advertising and getting the promotion and retail coverage we need, and they can’t or won’t, we simply do the business ourselves.”
One way to do so is to attract corporate sponsors. In Spain, for example, Telefonica S.A., the largest telecommunications operator in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world, faces competition due to deregulation. With a massive advertising push underway and Krall enormously popular in Spain, Macklam is negotiating with Telefonica to sponsor a tour. The potential deal, he says, represents a value of half a million U.S. dollars in TV and print advertising.
“Then I can go back to the record company and say, ‘Okay, I’m coming back into Spain with a partner who’s putting in half-a-million dollars to sell Diana Krall. Now you’re gonna give me half-a-million dollars, too, because why should I pony up and sell records for you when you’re collecting a bigger royalty than I am?'”
“Can they say no?” I ask him.
“Of course, and they very often do, but we keep banging away.”
Telefonica is but one examples of how the Krall world reaches into the corporate world. Late last summer, a creative team at PentaMark Canada (a division of ad giant BBDO) suggested building DaimlerChrysler Canada’s TV campaign for the 2002 model year around Krall. When the idea was presented to Pearl Davies, brand manager for Chrysler and Jeep, she was immediately sold and the commercials – depicting a sleek Sebring convertible and the luxury 300M, with Krall playing a grand piano and singing “The Look of Love” – launched in mid-February.
“You can say she epitomizes the core essence of the Chrysler brand,” Davies explains. “We talk about four things: expressive, refined, athletic and romantic. When we talk about expressive, we mean the self-evident beauty of the vehicles. You could call them drop-dead gorgeous. When you look at Diana, you don’t have to say another thing about that. Then we talk about the refinement of the vehicles, the quality of the craftsmanship, and we can draw a parallel between her art and our vehicles. When we talk about athleticism we mean performance and grace. When Diana performs, and everything else about her, it suggests graceful poise. And this year we’ve added the concept of romantic. That’s about passion, building cars people fall in love with. What better way to express it than with Diana Krall, who sings about love, the look of love, let’s fall in love…”
Rolex has been another successful partnership. Last year, the company paired veterans and rising young stars in various fields for a campaign called “Perpetual Spirit.” (Among those chosen were skaters Peggy Fleming and Ekaterina Gordeeva.) Around this time, Krall was opening for Tony Bennett on a concert tour. “You could imagine that the spirit of what Tony Bennett represents in the jazz world has been passed through to Diana Krall,” says Bill Sullivan, a former senior vice-president at Rolex Watch USA. “The claim that’s associated with the product is very subtle. It doesn’t say, Hey, go out and buy a Rolex watch. It just says, These people represent quality. Isn’t it natural that the perpetual spirit of their activities relates to the perpetual spirit of the product?”
When athletes associate themselves with corporate partners, the public doesn’t seem to mind. When a blatantly commercial pop act like Britney Spears sells Pepsi, it hardly seems like she’s selling out. But for others more closely associated with art, there’s a risk attached to every corporate co-venture. “You wouldn’t give a second thought to Tiger Woods pushing an American Express card,” muses Macklam. “But the moment you see a jazz artist doing it, someone’s going to go, Man, that’s not right”
He points out that the market is extremely competitive today. Most artists aren’t doing the kind of business they might have in the past. Even effective promoters are restricted by budgets, which are tied to the size of the venue, ticket prices and other factors. Corporate ventures are one way of improving an artist’s fortunes. Both Macklam and Feldman were hesitant when they heard about an overture from Target Corp. to involve Krall in a Christmas campaign. After all, isn’t Target a U.S. discount outlet more or less like Wal-Mart? Well, yes, but it has aspirations. Target wants to be seen as a classy, upmarket discounter that, among other things, carries moderately priced houseware items done by sophisticated designers such as Michael Graves. With over 1,000 stores, Target is America’s fourth-largest general merchandise retailer. Since women account for 80% of its shoppers, Krall’s image and music were a good fit.
As discussions proceeded, Macklam and Feldman were impressed by the tastefulness of the company’s plans. In the end, Target bought 250,000 copies of a special version of The Look of Love containing two bonus tracks, which it had exclusive rights to sell. In addition, Krall was featured in national TV, radio and print ads, exposure that Macklam estimates to be worth US$17 million. What’s more, Macklam knew that with Krall’s U.S. tour not scheduled to start until winter, Target would offer an invaluable boost over the Christmas sales period.
Half of Krall’s proceeds from corporate partnerships are channelled into her main charities, the Leukemia/Bone-Marrow Transplantation Program at Vancouver General Hospital and the Leukemia Research Fund of Canada, in addition to local foundations created around the world. (Her mother, Adella, suffers from multiple myeloma.) In the case of the Daimler-Chrysler Canada deal, which represents a value of about a million dollars, the company donated two cars in addition to a financial contribution. “We won’t do a sponsorship only for the money,” says Macklam. “There has to be a large charity component attached to it.”
Macklam and Feldman say they’re so selective that they turn down 90% of the corporate offers they receive. Some of them are seductively lucrative but would incorrectly position the brand, Krall Inc. Others want the artist to be a high-priced salesperson. It was Feldman who told me: “You can’t fuck with an artist’s integrity. We run a risk every time we allow a representation of a client to be used. We have to be very, very careful.”
When I ask Krall about her experience with her managers, she says: “Sometimes I’ve been agonizing over decisions and I’ll say, ‘You have to help me with this.’ They would say, ‘We’re going to manage you and help make happen what you want to happen.’ But they’ve had the courage and strength to say, ‘You’re just going to have to figure it out for yourself With some artistic decisions, it’s been challenging, but I’m better for it and they’ve always been there for me. I’m very thankful for them. I’m very thankful.”
Backstage at the Olympia, an hour before the second of the four Paris shows is to begin, Macklam sits on a bench, a trench coat folded across his knees, talking on his cell to the leader of The Chieftains. It seems there’s a scheduling snafu involving a satellite uplink for an outdoor concert in Siena, Italy, and Macklam promises to take care of it. I’d been asking him about brand-building and the financial rewards of sponsorships.
“How much do we put in our pocket?” asks Macklam, feigning shock at the question. He pleads solicitor-client privilege, then says: “If you can bring a value-added component to the table that doesn’t compromise an artist’s image, it’s always a good thing. To make it worthwhile, though, you have to reinvest it, so you sell more records, put more bums in seats and build the long-term stature of your artist.”
One of Macklam’s rituals is to usher his artists onstage at the beginning of a show, then be waiting for them when they come off. At the end of the evening, as Krall reaches her final song, Macklam positions himself at stage right. To the sound of thunderous applause, Krall steps out of the spotlights and into the darkness. “Great show,” Macklam enthusiastically says to her. Then adds, “Great show, guys,” as her band members follow close behind. A minute or so later, Krall and her band return for an encore. It’s an upbeat number, and as Krall launches into a spirited solo, the band members exchange excited glances, wide smiles on their faces. In the darkness, Macklam peers intently through the curtains at them. “See the look on the face of the bassist?” he whispers in my ear. “See the look on the face of the drummer? See the look on the face of the guitarist? They’re so happy. They look like they absolutely love what they do.”
Pausing, he adds: “That’s the way I feel every day.”
SIDEBAR: STAR POWER
A Mini-Entertainment Empire with Links to Actor William Hurt, Singer Sarah McLachlan and the Film National Lampoon’s Senior Trip.
S.L. Feldman & Associates has become Canada’s leading full-service entertainment company. In addition to artist-management and artist booking, its divisions include:
– CHARACTERS: a theatrical talent agency. It represents everyone from actors, directors, producers and cinematographers to voice-over artists and costume designers
– UNFORSCENE MUSIC: a record label specializing in film and television soundtracks. A joint venture, its releases include music from The Brothers McMullen, which generated a hit single for Sarah McLachlan
– BIG PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT: a film and television production company that has co-produced a TV series, Big Sound, as well as Rare Birds, a feature film with Andy Jones, William Hurt and Molly Parker
– MUSIC SUPERVISION SERVICES: supplies music to series television, movies-of-the-week and feature films. It has provided music for TV shows such as Due South and Queer As Folk and films such as Free Willy 3 and National Lampoon’s Senior Trip
– KIR MEDIA INC.: specializes in national publicity, marketing and promotion services for music, film, television and special events, as well as acting as a corporate-communications consultancy.
SIDEBAR: A STAR IS BOOKED
What Do Top Acts like Nelly Furtado and Barenaked Ladies Have in Common?
Booking agents are the middlemen between artists and promoters, the people who put on concerts. In addition to its artist-management division, S.L. Feldman & Associates is also the country’s largest booking agency. It represents 200 performers. Among them: Barenaked Ladies, Nelly Furtado, Amanda Marshall, Sarah McLachlan, Anne Murray, Our Lady Peace, Chantal Kreviazuk, Sum 41, Tom Cochrane, Rush, Natalie MacMaster and Jann Arden. Feldman & Associates’s New York division is Little Big Man, which provides representation in the U.S. for international artists such as The Chieftains, Robbie Williams, The Verve, Stereophonies, Manic Street Preachers, David Gray, Tricky and current music industry darlings Starsailor, as well as handling U.S. tours for Canadian artists such as Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Nelly Furtado, Chantal Kreviazuk and Ron Sexsmith. Little Big Man is both a partner in, and co-ordinator of, McLachlan’s successful Lilith Fair festivals, featuring artists such as Sheryl Crow, Jewel, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Indigo Girls and Tracy Chapman.
SIDEBAR: HOW THEY GOT THEIR START
Sam Feldman Was a Doorman. Steve Macklam Wrote About Punkers.
The modern era of music management started in the early ’60s, and the name most often mentioned is Albert Grossman, whose roster included Bob Dylan, The Band and Janis Joplin. For years the record industry had exploited artists. Grossman was the first to take advantage of the leverage that artists had. (“If the bird ain’t happy, the bird don’t sing,” he used to say.)
In 1971, Feldman, a former Vancouver nightclub door man, and Bruce Allen, a rock manager, created a talent and booking agency. A few years later, the company took Bachman-Turner Overdrive to stardom, then Loverboy, Trooper and Bryan Adams. But in 1979, Allen’s volatile personality prompted Feldman to walk out and form S. L. Feldman & Associates. Their joint business was so interwoven, however, that Feldman and Allen, anxious to avoid a costly divorce, formed A&F Music, an umbrella firm under which Feldman and Allen’s separate operations could co-exist.
Today, S. L. Feldman & Associates is a diversified, full-service entertainment agency headquartered in Vancouver that has several divisions (See also “Star Power” and “A Star Is Booked”). In recent years, Feldman’s management division – operated in association with Macklam Management – has attracted much attention.
Macklam was an army brat who moved from place to place, which may explain why he has adapted so easily to being on the road. While finishing an undergrad degree at the University of London, he travelled back and forth between the U.K. and his home in Vancouver during the punk era of the late 70s, moonlighting as a freelance music journalist, and later he became a local promoter and talent scout. In the early 1980s he was a partner at Homestead Productions, which signed k.d. lang. After that, he managed blues artist Colin James. In 1992 he formed a partnership with Feldman. Today, in addition to Krall, Joni Mitchell and The Chieftains, they manage flamenco guitar virtuoso Jesse Cook, two rising Norwegian stars and, their more recent signing, Rufus Wainwright.