Behind the music with Leander Gloversmith

Posted: 12th January 2021

Being in the music industry for over 15 years and managing Architects, Lower than Atlantis and Neck Deep has taught Leander Gloversmith a lot about life in modern day music. We caught up with him to share the full story behind his career so far.

Read time: 10 - 15 mins

How would you describe your job?

Being a band manager, you’re taking care of the day to day and long-term interests of your charges; be that a songwriter, a producer, a solo artist, a band, whatever.

A lot of the time jobs come down to the specific needs of the artists. Of all the bands I’ve ever worked with there are some universal truths that each artist might need but there’s no rulebook or guidebook. Some artists only want you to be involved in the bigger picture stuff and other artists want you to be involved in everything.

Each manager has a different approach as well. Some come at it with a business focus where they would be liaising with the business team and then not really being involved with the artistic output. On the other hand you then get managers like myself, who are much more interested in the creative side of an artist’s development. There are fantastic business managers out there who can be brought on to caretake an artist’s financial interests and the development of the band as an ‘entity’, but I believe that if you don’t get the art right, you might not have a business to manage in the long-term. It’s long-term legacy over short term gain.  

I think I’m the best asset to my artists when I’m plugged into the creative elements and I can elevate the artistic expression and figure out how to take their raw ideas and translate them to everyone else. It depends on the manager as to how you describe the job but for me it is a creative role first and foremost, more akin to a traditional A+R position.

So, the job is very personal in terms of its approach?

Yeah there’s no specific fundamentals to it, in a way that there is for a “real” job. If you’re a lawyer you’re working within the confines of the law, but I think with a job like this there are no confines.

Another factor that is extremely important is how you fit with your artist and the compatibility. If a new artist came to me and wanted a manager who would work the business side of their career exclusively, I would not be comfortable taking that artist on - no matter how much I liked their music or how well we got on.

It’s still vital to establish a sound business strategy in tandem with your artistic career, but there are better qualified, better equipped people who can be brought on to a team to prioritise those aspects. It's similar to bringing on a booking agent to prioritise your show booking and live fee negotiations. I know that I wouldn’t be the best asset to a band in a straight business role, and I’ll always be open and clear in saying that from the off.

You used an interesting term about doing a 'real' job. Do you find that working in music is something that people don't take particulary seriously?

Yeah, it’s such a strange job and sometimes you feel disconnected from other people. It can be really hard to translate working in music to other industries because people find it baffling. If people ask me ‘Oh what do you do?’ and I reply I’m a band manager the response usually is ‘Do you help them get tours then?’ or ‘Do you go on tour with them?’ and there’s a moment where I say ‘well no… but yes, but not just that, I also do this and that and also this.’ There’s never really anything basic that I can say about what I do.

Sometimes it can get confusing to people who don’t know about the industry. There aren’t many jobs that are parallel in the “normal” world. People seem to think we’re all just having fun. I’ve always felt like my mum has been asking ‘When are you going to get a real job?’ and there is that kind of stigma attached to it. Also people often think that I’m actually in a glamorous position and if you’re Oasis in the 90’s or Motley Crew in the 80’s then that’s probably true but working in music in the 21st century isn’t that at all!

There is no way to just “get into the music industry”. You can go and study music business or whatever else but it doesn’t mean that you graduate then just start in the industry. Everyone has a weird journey to get into it and that adds to the feeling of it not being like a real job. I think the fact that I ended up ‘falling’ into my role adds to that perception too.

"In any entertainment industry role there will always be an element of personality and creativity in how you approach it."

You say that everyone has a weird journey into the industry, what’s yours?

It was never something I particularly set out to do. I was always in bands and by 2001 I was in a semi-professional band with an agent, publicist, manager and we were signed to a little indie label. I was also doing some writing because my intended career path was journalism and then a novelist; I did a media studies degree and then continued to a postgraduate in journalism. I had a whole plan, I wanted to work for TotalFilm at the time, and then end up scurried away in some log cabin somewhere by a lake writing novels on a typewriter, that was the rose-tinted vision of how my life would be!

I was kind of just plodding along, doing a few bits here and there and that’s probably when I took a step back to assess the situation and thought this isn’t going anywhere, so I started thinking about what I might want to do next. I reached out to our publicist, manager, agent and I just asked questions. As many as I could, as many as I had, and I ended up shadowing our manager. He was the manager of a band called Mclusky who were in need of a US team so I ended up going to New York with him to watch him, sit in on meetings and learn as much as I could from him.

Then when my band broke-up I started taking on as much journalism as I could, but I also answered an ad that I’d seen for Warner Music Group who were doing a graduate scheme. I didn’t end up getting the job but I was asked by the press office at Atlantic Records (part of Warner Music Group) to come back and do an internship, which was unpaid but still a massive opportunity for me.

So I spent my summer working in the Atlantic press office. I remember it being the summer that The Darkness were releasing their second record and Funeral For A Friend were releasing ‘Hours’. I found it interesting to see and experience what a publicity office was like. I got to be in this thriving press environment and understand a little bit about how a publicist’s role works. By pure good fortune of being sat at an Atlantic Records computer for a month I got to see all the industry only job postings, and there was a job listing for a rock specialist publicist at an independent PR company. I thought I might as well try.

So I applied for this job and the email came from my Atlantic Records email address, which I think is the big reason why I even got an interview. They must have thought I was already an Atlantic Records publicist, not just an intern! I got asked to an interview, and although I didn’t know too much about publicity, I did know a lot about rock and metal.

My love for rock and metal definitely showed through in the interview and I got the job. My first day on the job was like ‘right okay, here’s your computer, here’s your client list, go.’ They assumed that I knew what I was doing so I went along with it. When my boss had gone out for lunch I asked the other guy in the office ‘what am I supposed to be doing?’ and his reply was one which I could really relate to; he said ‘you’ve been in a band right? And you had a publicist who got you press by calling journalists. You’ve done journalism right? You’ve received calls from PRs… so, just flip it!’. So I did just that. I started calling journalists and figuring out the rest as I went along, basing my replies from the responses I was getting and learning what to say and what not to say.

How did you go from managing one band to being where you are today?

I worked with Architects up to ‘Hollow Crown’ in 2009 and was a part of all the touring and everything else that went along with that. Hollow Crown was really big for both Architects and myself, as that’s the moment I suddenly started getting contacted by all these other bands as well asking me to work with them. Before I even knew it really I’d taken on ‘Your Demise’ and ‘Lower Than Atlantis’ so I had this crazy little roster and it was great.

Architects and I ended up parting ways in late 2009. We’d been approached by an established management company, who at that time were better positioned to plug them in to an international network than I was. It was a big learning moment for me. Yes, at the time it felt like a kick in the mouth, that this band I’d worked with for years were opting to move on without me, but it didn’t take long for me to understand the decision from the band’s point of view. Ultimately, we helped to establish each other’s careers, and we remain good friends to this day. I’m a huge supporter of their band and what they’ve gone on to become.

Now I decided to focus on Lower Than Atlantis and do what I’d done for Architects for them. I oversaw them from their second EP through to the radio-friendly band that they developed into. I felt that I was almost working within an A&R capacity in terms of giving them feedback and helping them to develop.

I was working in an A&R environment with one band and then touring with another. That to me is what being a manager is about - Being able to cater to the needs of all your bands.

Then the same thing that happened with Architects happened again with Lower Than Atlantis and at that point I had a bit of a crisis. I was thinking ‘am I really meant to be doing this job? Is this really for me?’ I spoke with Your Demise who were really gracious about it and wanted me to stick at it, so because of them I carried on.

"being a manager is about being able to cater to the needs of all your bands."

What’s something you’ve found important in this industry?

It’s very important to be flexible and reactive to the industry, to the changing environment but also to the changing needs of your clients. During my years with Neck Deep we moved through three different management agencies because the band’s rapid growth often required more hands on deck than certain companies were able to provide. As a manager you must always be ready to cater to your band’s needs, and ensure you have the resources to do just that.

What’s been one thing you’ve enjoyed the most? What’s a personal career highlight for you?

That’s tough! I remain really proud of Architects; I’ve stayed really close with that camp through everything. They’re still really good friends of mine and I remain a huge supporter and fan of what they do, even though I haven’t worked with them now for almost 11 years and I was only with them for about 4 and a half in the first place. Those years were so fundamental for us both, we’re sort of entwined now. I still get this sense of pride when they get any big achievements.

Of course, Neck Deep is a big one for me too. What we managed to achieve together is so impressive. Being with them from the beginning, I got to help build and establish what remains a truly brilliant global team of agents, publicists, promoters and roadcrew. We all worked together to steer them through everything they’ve achieved to date, and we weathered some pretty tough moments along the way too. It was truly challenging at times, but also very rewarding. Working with such a global band who resonate with fans all over the world was a pretty incredible journey.

The industry can be so fast paced that it can be hard to appreciate things as they happen, and it’s often only at the end of a two-year album cycle that you get a moment to realise some of the highs. Earlier this year the band and core team members (past and present) received silver plaques for the ‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’ album, and that was one of those moments when you really take stock – it felt like a “real job” moment!

What does the future look like for you?

That’s the question on everyone’s lips right now. There is endless speculation for when we might return to some sense of normality but everything is in this weird paradoxical state of flux. This business is so hugely dependent on people being able to get together, whether for a band rehearsal or a 90k capacity festival.

There are some really interesting theories for how this might all look on the other side, but I’m not qualified to make any massive industry predictions – just gotta be reactive to how things shake out and stay ready to mould into new shapes.

Personally, I am diversifying from pure artist management, and taking a step more into A+R, alongside some consultancy and mentoring work. I’ve been doing nothing but managing bands for 13 years now and I feel the time has come for me to apply my skillsets in other areas of the industry. I’m confident in my ears and my ability to pick the wheat from chaff. I’d love to work with record labels to sign and develop artists and roll out innovative album campaigns.

What advice would you give to someone trying to get into Artist Management?

Just do it! You can read all the books, which is useful, but nothing compares to having that hands-on experience. The best way was to try working with artists and see how it goes. It probably won’t work out the first time but if that’s what you want to do you have to stick at it.

It’s very important to have a thick skin. You have to be ready for rejection, for things not to work out and for things not to go your way. Getting up from that and moving on, and making sure that your ego doesn’t prevent that, is what’s important.

You must work with artists that you believe in and music that you believe in. Don’t focus on what you think might be a commercial success, you have to believe in the music and be able to back it.

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