Brian Hetherman began his career as a Club DJ in the 80’s and quickly landed at one of Canada’s premier Indie record labels Duke Street Records. In 1990 he moved to MCA Records, which would soon become Universal and worked his way up from Sales, to Radio Promo and Marketing. In 1995 Brian became the youngest head of A&R for both MCA Records and MCA Music Publishing where he remained until 2001, and from there Brian was hired as the inaugural Executive Director of Radio Starmaker Fund, where he set up one of the largest Funding agencies in Canada.
In 2003 he pursued his dream of becoming and Artist Manager, Record label owner and Music Publisher with Curve Music and Cerberus Artist Mgmt, and in 2005 was tapped to become the President of the Music Managers Forum Canada, and soon thereafter became the Director of the America’s of the Board of the International Music Managers Forum. In 2009 Brian was asked to join FACTOR, another of Canada’s largest funding agencies after serving as a Board member for 5 years, within 6 months Brian was running FACTOR.
In 2011 Brian returned to one of his true passion’s his label and management company. In addition Brian continues to work as the International consultant for Canadian Music Week, as a Director of the IMMF( in 2012 Interim CoChair) and is also Vice President of Business Development for Mega Music Canada a digital music initiative that provides free music downloads to the public, but ensures the Artists, Labels and Publishers get paid for the music.
What inspired you to want to be a manager?
Some would say I fell into it, although partially true I felt after years of running Universal Music's A&R dept, I felt like I had already "unofficially" semi-managed a bunch of acts already, and after I left Universal to run Radio Starmaker Fund (one of Canada's biggest funding organizations, I had the chance to leave there and manage an act I had signed at Universal who was a platinum act….those chances don't come around very often where the first act you manage is already established….that was 10 years ago and I haven't looked back (well briefly, but who's counting ;) )
What was your first industry job and how did you get it?
I was a Club DJ and I worked in Record retail originally, but my first "real" job was at an Indie label doing retail marketing, and I got the job through persistence…..its funny I had 2 job interviews that day and after my first interview at CBS (Now Sony) the guy called my second interview at the Indie and told them them to hire me….and they did…I sort of had the job before I got there….fate is a funny thing in my career….my career could have been drastically different if I had gotten the first gig.
What determines your desire to work with an artist?
I obviously have to like the music, but as my career in Mgmt has moved on, its less about that for me….its more that you have to believe, not just in the music but the person…..they have to be motivated…and I don't manage crazy people anymore no matter how talented….its just t hard
In your opinion, what makes a great artist “great”?
Its the intangible, of course great songs, something characteristic about them (i.e. Great voice, great playing, interesting look) but its really the thing that makes you look at them and say "this person is a star"…..many years ago I met Avril Lavigne when she was 14 years old….we hit it off immediately, she was country back then, but I within minutes of meeting her I just knew she would be a star……ultimately she didn't sign with the label I worked for at the time, but I will never forget that experience.
What is your greatest professional challenge today?
Juggling…..literally, all of the different hats that I must wear to keep my business going, Label, Mgmt, Publishing not to mention active consulting and the work I do with the IMMF.
How did your business transform over the last several years?
What started as a management company, became a label out of necessity within 1 year of Mgmt….I used to joke that my job as manager was to get Artists out of Major label deals not into them…and thats what I did for the first 2 years of management, …then my company added a publishing division again out of necessity ….and finally after a brief stint away from my companies to run the other funding agency in Canada, when I returned I realized I needed to add consulting to my companies. I have also changed the way I work with bands as well and the way they work with me.
Where do you see this business 5-10 years from now?
The million dollar question….I used to say 5 years ago that the business would be much more focused and that we would be clear of some of the digital challenges ….seems we haven't gotten that far in 5 years….so I am hesitant to say the same 5 years from now…unfortunately I don't see it being that radically different in 5 years, but I hope and expect in 10 years that things will have evened out a bit, and when you consider who thing have changed in the last 10 its not a stretch to say that our business will be radically different in 10 years….maybe look nothing like it does now?
What is the best advice you have received over the years as a manager?
Without sounding like an ego maniac the best advice is that which I have given to myself "when an artist becomes huge and successful it is because they are great, when they fail miserably its because I am a shitty manager"….of course I am being tongue in cheek, but so far that has been the truth for me.
What would you tell a new manager coming into the business today?
Be prepared to do everything yourself, don't look backwards but look forward…..if you don't build the story no one else will.