Interview with PHIN DALY, manager for 3 Doors Down - Nov 1, 2001
“If your manager is not that experienced make sure he will take the time to learn to understand legal matters”
Based in New York City, Phin Daly at In De Goot Entertainment is part of the management team for 3 Doors Down, whose album "The Better Life" was the best selling debut rock album in 2000 with sales exceeding 5 million in the US alone.
How did you get started in the music industry and get involvement in the artist management side?
I started playing music when I was in high school. In 1991 I came to work for McGathy Promotions, the leading rock radio independent in America, and In De Goot Entertainment is the management division of McGathy Promotions.
What characteristics do you consider necessary in order to be a good and successful manager?
Every artist has different needs. You need to be able to provide a balance to their strengths and weaknesses, so I guess you could say versatility is one characteristic. Most good managers know the importance of being forceful. You end up dealing with a multitude of different personalities. Great people skills are an absolute must.
What are the creative challenges of being a manager?
There are a lot of different challenges and one of the most important is of course dealing with the record company and getting them to do the right thing, while still maintaining a good relationship. You also have to talk your band into doing some things that are important for them to make it a profitable situation for everyone involved. All this while protecting the image and integrity of your artist.
Are there any large misconceptions about being a manager?
I think a lot of people see it as a really glamorous thing that you're always with the band and out late at night. That's a big misconception. I spend most of my time on the phone painstakingly going over details.
How did you find 3 Doors Down?
On the promotions side of the company, I work with radio stations all across America. One day the program director of WCPR in Biloxi, Mississippi, called me and said, "A local band came in and gave me a CD that I put on, and I've got tons of calls!" I said, "Oh, that's great, but they're local and it's probably just friends and family. Send it to me anyway." I listened to ‘Kryptonite’ and thought it was really good and fun, but since I was really busy, I didn't do anything with it. Two months later he called me up and said, "Have you listened to the CD yet? I've never in my 20 years as a program director seen anything like it!"
Later that night I played it for Bill McGathy, who owns In De Goot. Bill said, "Play it again". After the second time he said, "Let’s fly them in." So we brought the band up to New York City and had them do a showcase at the legendary CBGBs. Once they got on stage and started playing it was apparent the magic was in the music. So we moved to sign them.
Which were the important factors in breaking 3 Doors Down?
No question about it the important factor was radio airplay. For a long time, mainstream bands were out of vogue. People had been into the heavier rap/rock sound. The timing was right for a change. Creed had started to break the mould and radio stations were finding their T.S.L. (time spent listening) was dropping whenever they went to a rap/rock song.
As soon as a station added 3 Doors Down the phones lit up. The request chart for Album Network made the imminent success clear. Metallica charted 25 stations, AC/DC came in with 24 and 3 Doors Down showed 79 stations reporting top 5 phones!
How do you normally find new talent?
We are a very music intensive group of people. We listen to everything, including unsolicited material. Since the success of 3 Doors record companies will send us new artists in need of management, our radio clients send things, but we still go out and hear new bands on our own.
What is it you look for in an artist?
We look for songs. We work for all of the major labels and most independent labels. Which means we hear everything that goes to rock radio. It’s that knowledge that gives us our edge.
Do you usually work with acts that are already signed to a record company or do you find and build acts yourself?
On the promotions side we work with signed acts but very rarely on the management side. We prefer to find bands that aren't signed to anyone. We have an extensive list of people we work with. The bands usually aren’t dealing with the day-to-day stuff. It’s important for the manager to have a team he can work with.
What would your advice be for an unsigned artist or act that want to get noticed in the industry?
Send out your CDs, play a lot of shows, especially in New York and L.A. and hope that someone shows up. You should of course send your CDs to us - we will listen to it. We also have an internet service called Rockstar2k for unsigned bands. We just did a huge contest all over America and got a record deal with MCA for the winner of the contest. We've managed to get major deals for at least three other bands.
Do you work with the artists' image and how important is it?
Yes we do, and it's very, very important. That's a delicate thing because one wrong move and it takes forever to fix.
Would you work with acts based outside the US?
Oh yes, we would love to! Actually, we held a party in Amsterdam for McGathy Promotions last year. 3 Doors Down played and so did the Dandy Warhols and At The Drive-In. I got a couple of CDs which were really good. We just weren't ready then. We are now. I've been to London twice in the last three months. I’m heading there again in November.
What are you currently working on?
We are working with a band called Earshot, signed to the Warner Bros. label, and Chevelle, three brothers from Chicago, who sound like a mix between Tool and Velvet Underground. 3 Doors Down have just finished their tour and have started working on their next album.
Can you offer some words of advice to unsigned artists, with regard to contracts?
Get a good attorney and make sure you have a good manager. If your manager is not that experienced, make sure he will take the time to learn to understand legal matters. You have to trust your instincts on a lot of things, but you've got to have somebody with great knowledge of legal matters on your side.
Which are the key tools for you, in order to break a new act?
I think radio is one of the key tools, especially in America. Live performances and promotions are also definitely important. 3 Doors Down have spent nearly two years promoting, it's a really tough job. There were a few times when they were ready to just scream and go, ‘Give us a break, you're trying to kill us!’ You got to remember that it is hard work and if you expect to get anywhere, you really got to put out.
How has the U.S. rock scene changed in the last couple of years?
Right now rock is very hot in America. Two years ago, before 3 Doors Down, there were no rock acts in the Top 10 sales chart, maybe 1 in the top 20, but definitely nothing new. This week there are 5 rock acts in the Top 10, so that has completely changed. It's more of the melodic rock too, like Staind, Nickelback and the new P.O.D.
Which has been your greatest moments working in the music biz?
Last week I got to sit in on The Who's rehearsal for "the Benefit For New York" concert.
Interviewed by Kimbel Bouwman
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