The Rock Fairy sheds light on band management
Updated: Mar 2
Lauren Hutchinson is committed to promoting wellness in an industry that she has seen over the years, has a dark side.
Lauren also started a project called #EarthFriendlyRocker to raise awareness about the impact of rock and roll on the environment. Lauren hopes to inspire people to reduce the amount of single use plastic that is used. Since then, a earth-friendly store has been set up to produce products such as bamboo drumsticks and guitar picks. Everything sold is plastic free and supports small businesses. Lauren hopes to someday employ rock artists and learn skills about running a business. She is also launching a podcast called 'Boss Your Band' to help bands run their businesses by building basic skills.
Lauren even has her own radio show 'The Rock Fairy Show' on Fab Radio International. Here, she plays great music from 7pm-9pm every Monday.
I was lucky to chat to Lauren herself about the reality of band management, her business, the dark side of the industry, and mental health.
Lauren said: "I’ve always loved music and I’ve been coaching people for over 15 years now. When I started to go out to more gigs and find out a bit more about the music industry, I realised it wasn’t the magical place I first [thought]. Lots of bands were being ripped off by managers and promoters, lots of these bands were friends of mine too. So I decided to start doing things a bit differently and to try and carve up a sparklier bit of the industry for myself and the bands I love."
In an arguably dark industry, I wanted to know what are the highlights of the job.
Lauren: "The best part of the job is a tough one to nail down but I would say it’s a toss up between being in a room full of fans loving a gig that you’ve organised or seeing a light bulb moment with a band that you’re working with. Whilst this is my business now, I don’t fully regard it as a job, that implies you can finish for the day and switch off!"
Although most jobs are stressful to a degree, is this job stressful and if so, how?
Lauren: "This job is as stressful as you make it in my opinion. I’d say there are three things that make it more stressful than it needs to be which are; The way women are treated in the music industry. Whilst it’s changing, generally you do have to fight harder to be respected as it’s generally assumed you’re in a relationship with a band member or just doing merch. It’s a little bit behind the times in comparison with a lot of other industries. If you’re a strong, confident woman - which are really helpful traits to have to achieve things in business, it’s often assumed that you’re a “bitch” rather than just good at what you do.
[Then there's] The lack of money. There isn’t a lack of money in the music industry, that’s a fallacy as there are billions of pounds in the music industry, it’s just all in the wrong places. The people who should hold the control and wealth in the music industry should be the very people who create the art that is making the money. Sadly it’s often the case that artists have the smallest piece of the pie and that’s unacceptable to me. It’s a source of much frustration and the lack of finances is something that prevents many great artists from achieving their goals.
The lack of knowledge - and wanting to gain any. There is another fallacy in the music industry that it’s somehow different from other industries and some really special case. It’s not. The only difference in my opinion is the fact that there are loads of people who don’t have the first idea about business and loads more people who are out to cash in on that. In the same way that small business owners and entrepreneurs benefit from constant learning and development, it’s important for artists to be doing the same. Ultimately as an artist you have a product and you want as many people to fall in love with that product as possible. There is no person who is more passionate about music than the person that created it yet they’re so eager to farm out promotion to PR companies and record labels who don’t have the same connection to the “product” as the artist. It’s an insane operating model to me."
Is the job different to how you thought it would be?
Lauren: "Massively. There’s a huge curtain over the not so nice bits of the music industry and I myself thought it would be a great opportunity to work with some incredible bands. Whilst that’s the case, it’s long hours and stressful. It’s also really frustrating seeing so many artists literally mastermind their own demise by hopping from one bad decision to the next."
Can you tell me a bit about the bands you have worked with?
Lauren: "I’ve worked with a lot of bands over the years and developed real friendships with them. When you work as closely with a band as you need to as a manager, you become everything to that band. You’re an agony aunt, a PA, a life coach and all sorts! My favourite band that I’ve worked with in a management capacity is The King Lot, a Scottish rock band. They’re currently on hiatus which is heartbreaking to me but a necessary evil sometimes. I adore their music and they have become great friends over the years that I’ve been working with them. I love them all to pieces and I know that whatever happens with the hiatus, they will all achieve great things in their lives."
Does your personal life influence the job?
Lauren: "Yes, without a doubt. Working in the industry is unsociable hours and often long hours too - especially if you have another business to run like I do! This can impact on your personal life massively and it can be challenging to find a balance. I don’t have kids and don’t have any plans to, so that makes life easier and my other half loves gigs too which really helps! He’s a great support to me in all that I do and I’m thankful he’s so understanding.
I also suffer from mental health issues which can really impact how I see things. I live with ADHD and bi-polar amongst other things which often lead to intense bouts of anxiety and depression. These are tough conditions to manage but I also feel that they help me see the world in a slightly different way, one which is really beneficial for a career in the mad world that is the music industry."
What are your plans for the future?
Lauren: "I have lots of plans for the work I do as The Rock Fairy. I’m embarking on a quest to empower more rock musicians to take charge of their careers and really learn the business skills to run their bands as a business. There isn’t enough of that in my opinion. I’m starting a podcast called Boss Your Band which will take bands through all the basics of running a business, but make it applicable to them as artists. There are unique challenges in the music industry that standard business courses don’t always cater to, but by applying the basic principles that not many seem to do, you’ll be setting yourself up for much more success than you would be without them.
I also have plans to expand #EarthFriendlyRocker, which is a sustainable lifestyle brand for rockers and part of the work I do as The Rock Fairy. There is presently both an online and physical shop for #EarthFriendlyRocker which aims to support rockers who want to reduce the impact they have on our planet. I plan to expand this even further and take it on the road to festivals in 2020 so I can reach even more people."
See Lauren's website here: https://therockfairy.co.uk/