Graham Reid | | 4 min read
So how do we know Nick Atkinson, let me count the ways: One-time member of Supergroove, for his radio and television appearances, as a player/songwriter/member of Hopetoun Brown alongside Tim Stewart (now three albums into a lightning fast career), for playing on stage with Aldous Harding . . .
Now we turn the spotlight onto him as he wears another hat, that of a manager.
Atkinson is one of the three finalists in the self-managed artist of the year category (for Hopetoun Brown) at the forthcoming Music Managers Awards to be held at the Tuning Fork in Auckland on Wednesday May 9. (For more details see here)
Given how important a role that is for any artist, we have devised a special Famous Elsewhere Manager Award Questionnaire (others in the finals of the categories will appear soon) and the attention is on the managerial rather than the musical.
In a way.
Over to that renaissance man Nick Atkinson . . .
What three pieces of advice would you give anyone aspiring to be a manager?
Learn to play a musical instrument, if you don't already.
Overtake as little as possible on the open road. You don't save time when you're travelling. Leave early. Take it easy.
Aotearoa is brilliant place to promote, perform, record and release music. The best in the world!
Ever thought, 'This is a mug's game, I wish I'd listened to my parents'!
When the tickets are selling, musicians and their crews are the luckiest little bastards out there.
What is the most constantly irritating part of your job as a manager?
At the moment what's really grinding my gears is that no matter how hard I try there's no way I can do a better Elsewhere questionnaire than Finn Scholes!!
Management: is it an art or an arm-wrestle?
It's a bit like sailing a boat. If something ends up being difficult you've used the wrong method. Never raise your voice.
The three songs (by you, your artist, or by others) you would love everyone to hear . . .
Funnily enough I've been in awe of Jimmy Barnes' voice on Forever Now recently.
Any song by Tiny Ruins or Aldous Harding.
Normal People by The Mots.
The New Zealand venue you or your people most enjoy playing would be . . .? And why.
It's a tie between the Rakino Island Community Hall, surrounded by water on three sides or the Dell Stage at WOMAD, which may have the most generous audience I've ever encountered while being on stage, but I reckon we'll have a new fav after our current 36 date Arts on Tour run that takes in a bunch of unusual and remote halls I've never heard of before.
The best book on music or management you have read is . . .
I love the Miles Davis autobiography co-written by Quincy Troupe, but I re-read it recently and I was struck by Davis' growing sense of entitlement as jazz - and his career along with it - receded from the centre of popular culture. That can so often be a wrecking ball for someone's creativity, a sense that you're owed success. I also enjoyed that two part bio of Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones manager. It was a brilliant idea to include numerous passages about Loog written by his contemporaries. Having said that I'm far more likely to read a book about sailing adventures than about music.
If you could have a conversation about their life with any international manager it who would be . . .
I have no idea who any international managers are! How embarrassing! I confess I don't have huge ambitions to be successful overseas. I certainly have hopes that our recordings may travel beyond these shores and perhaps if a Hopetoun Brown song got a life of it's own we'd certainly follow it. I always enjoy talking to Campbell Smith, he's almost international eh, with his second home in LA and all. He always hits you with some mad knowledge and a lol and he's a part-time model with a great haircut.
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
I got given the latest Carnivorous Plant Society album A New King and I've been hammering it in the hatch. Same story with the latest Miltones rekid.
What is the importance to you of the Music Managers Forum?
The Lorraines are amazing, both Owen and Barry and of course Teresa, who bosses the whole thing, is a tower of power. I think our woman in management are absolutely killing it locally. They set the standard. The MMF are brilliant at connecting people. You can feel isolated doing this job and thank heavens the MMF have brought scores of managers together to exchange ideas and info.
When you go on tour what three things can you not do without?
My bass clarinet, my Tim Stewart and my Finn Scholes.
What has been the most absurd or funny situation you have found yourself in as a manager?
There was that time I got given some magic mushrooms after a gig and ended up flying my motel-room double bed across the treetops of Christchurch.
I'm not sure I managed that night very well.
Ever woken up in a strange town and for a while and not remembered where you were?
On a long tour I sometimes have trouble remembering which way to turn when leaving the hotel room.
You might have a run of rooms where you're tuning left to get to the elevator, then suddenly you're in a room where you have to turn right. It's a disaster.
And finally, what do you as a manager bring to an artist which you believe can be your unique contribution?
Tim and I are very much a team, but the thing I probably bring is the plan, the timeline and the chilly bin.
For more on the Music Managers Forum and the awards see here.