There are many snakes, but few ladders in the music business. Here's a quick tour of villainy for you, painstakingly pieced together from the tatters of my chequered past in the Church.
Old Mr Twenty Percent. What's he good for? Nothing! Self-obsessed fatso with exercise bike 'n' briefcase. Can't sing, can't play, can't move amplifiers—but he gets his slice off the top ... before costs. You had to learn to play; what did he have to learn to do? Snort coke? He hired you an attorney, an agent, a tour manager and a production manager ... so what the hell does he do? Take care of the big picture? Yeah, right. Isn't that another way of saying: aggrandising yourself? He drives a four-wheel-drive Merc.
This is Mr Ten Percent—pizza-eating ex-rocker with a phone in both hands ... Yeah, people can talk right through his ears to each other. He's really sorry about that dump you played in the Blue Mountains and hopes the injuries were only superficial ... haven't you got the cheque yet? Look, he'll call you right back. He drives a Beemer.
Another failed rocker who's probably jealous of your success and out to do a hatchet job. He'll misquote you, take it out of context, edit, delete and use a bad picture of you that shows up your fat belly or bald spot ... and remember, he'll always have the last word. He'll call your Renaissance man lyrics 'florid verbiage', he'll call your second brilliant album a 'turgid mistake', he'll call your Cage-esque sonic experiments 'music for dentists' waiting-rooms'—and never forget that he loves all the groups you hate. He drives an old Saab.
This guy takes a big cut out of your songwriting hide. He's got a long, complicated contract that you'll have to hire an expensive lawyer to decipher—which will eat up half your advance. But there will still be tricky clauses that mean he'll be able to fuck you over forever, anywhere in the universe. He won't know a good song from a bar of soap and has lotsa suggestions like: 'Why dontcha write a hit?' He drives a little Lexus.
The Record Exec
An endangered species now, in the olden days these chaps could be the bane of your existence. Shallow, insincere, scared of losing their jobs, flattering, cynical ... ah, that's just their secretaries. Ridiculously overpaid, they always wear the worst clothes. They're booze-swilling micro-celebs having a long lunch of lolling about at a music expo in Tahiti. Shaking yer hand on the way up, stabbing yer back when you're there, and turning a cold shoulder when you're down and out. Often recruited from the first four categories I've mentioned, which tells you something. He drives a big Lexus—until the divorce.
Although in some ways similar to you, the musician, roadies should always be treated with caution—especially if they're working for the other band. Adhering to some creed no one else can understand, roadies are unpredictable and impossible to domesticate. They are nocturnal and are ravenous feeders, and turn aggressive during mating season. A good roadie can be man's best friend, but beware of the 'pop star roadie'. He drives a Falcon.
The Record Producer
Oooooh, this can be risky ... get the wrong guy and your career is kaputski, mister. The producer comes in many different incarnations and you better hope you get who you ask for. It's hard to define what he does. Some of'em do nothing and it's too much, and some of'em do everything and it's not enough. The producer goes in and out of fashion just like the musician, so he's fragile, tired and emotional, sometimes resorting to substance abuse. He started out buying sandwiches for George Martin at Abbey Road and the rest is history. He drives rental cars.
Some big old big shot! You only pulled half of what he was hoping for so you got fizzy white wine instead of champagne and the soya chocolate puddings were melted. He's lost his shirt on you but don't worry cos next week he's got blah blah blah at the Megadome and it's sold out!
He doesn't say much but maybe sighs every time he sees you before the gig. He's got four laptops and three mobiles going at once, smokes like a chimney and is very pale and sweaty. He drives a Hummer.
Oh boy! The fan comes in all shapes and sizes and they love you so much that they could just ...
Give 'em an inch and they'll take a kilometre, hanging around and driving you mad. Sometimes you drive them mad and they turn into stalkers, which is the American word for mega-fan gone bad.
Fans have all 45 of your cassettes and need them signed at four in the morning outside a club in Belgrade, in the rain. Fans love your bad records more than your good. Fans fade away just like the stars they love. Fans give you gifts such as teddy bears. He drives a Hyundai.
A necessary evil, believe me. Sometimes known as 'the audience', the punter is a strange beast. Often inebriated and shouting through something he just paid a hundred bucks to see, the punter is often distracted during mating cycles or aggressively territorial when confronted by other male punters. The punter takes his life into his own hands, what with mosh-pits and security guards and high decibels and the suffocating, sweltering, sardine-like conditions. The punter is therefore a hardy creature and unimpressed that you are big somewhere else. He'll laugh at your miserable band if he wants to. And he paid to get in so you should do as he says. He drives a Holden Sunbird.