While doing research for an unrelated piece, I noticed a rather astonishing difference between the Music Managers Forum web sites in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Perhaps that is a misstatement; I noticed several rather astonishing differences between the two.
Both serve the same function; to share their experiences, discuss and try to find solutions to relevant issues, and network with peers in their field, yet the MMFUK is so much more organised in their efforts.
A quick look around http://www.themmf.net/ (the MMFUK official site) and you instantly know, perhaps not the names of the managers themselves, but certainly the names of the artists they represent.
Beneath that is a brief statement from Chairman Brian Message and CEO Jon Webster explaining what their goals and objectives for the organisation are, as well as a link to join if you’re a UK-based manager.
The ‘Home’ page also includes the live Twitter feed (for which John Webster does the tweeting), a calendar of upcoming events, and any relevant, recent news.
Each of these elements of the web site stand apart from one another, with the artist’s names and the statement from Brian Message & Jon Webster standing out the most.
A glance at the MMFUS page, http://www.mmfus.com/, is quite a different scene.
It reads more like a LiveJournal page that a now-thirtysomething may have had while at university than an official website which is representative of an extremely important branch of the music industry.
While there is a message from President Barry Bergman, you have to scroll down the page to read the entry from 1 August 2011. It does not, in any way, stand out from any of the six (yes, only five other entries since 1 August 2011) messages.
Shouldn’t the message from your organisation’s President stand out in some way?
The message itself doesn’t have to be paragraphs long, but since he is the person representing you publicly and professionally, his words should be separated, in some small way, from the others.
On the side of the page is a news scroll with articles from Billboard, Rolling Stone, Variety Music & News, Pollstar, NARM, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Hypebot, Tech Crunch, NPR Music News, and at the very bottom there is an MMFUS poll which asks if members have used the new forum yet.
None of these articles are specific to the MMFUS, they merely show the most current articles from their respective web sites.
Another difference is the modules. MMFUK offers frequent mini-courses, which they call ‘modules’ at which a different topic or subject related to the music industry is discussed.
Different MMF members attend and speak of their experiences and offer advice, in addition to guest speakers who may be relevant to the particular topic.
The beauty of the modules is that, more often than not, they are available to the public.
There is typically a fee to attend (MMF members get a discount), but if you’re interested in the industry, you can listen to successful, relevant industry leaders give advice on a wide range of topics.
They cover all varieties of subject matter, with the one upcoming covering music publishing. There are four guest speakers coming to speak on different aspects of publishing audio-visual media.
The MMFUS has no modules or seminars or anything of the like mentioned on their site.
While I don’t doubt that they meet amongst themselves and other like-minded people, it would be wonderful if they would follow in the footsteps of MMFUK and allow the public to gain access to a bit of that brilliance and expertise from time to time.
If for no other reason, they could generate additional revenue with the fee for non-members paying to attend.
I realise that it probably seems as though I’m being overly critical to the MMFUS, and that honestly isn’t my intention.
Perhaps their website is reflective of the state of the US music industry and the MMFUK site is reflective of their industry.
The MMFUK, and their website, are very much about creating a sense of community within their profession. They have realised that far more will be accomplished if they pool their talents and resources and work collectively for the betterment of all of their artists, and the industry as a whole.
That same ethos does not seem to be present in the MMFUS, or the United States industry. That may be the greater issue.
While I have no doubt that, individually, the managers in the MMFUS work just as hard, sacrifice their personal lives, and spend countless hours establishing and maintaining their artist’s careers, the professional body that is the MMFUS is not reflective of that.
In fairness, I will say that I only viewed the parts of both web sites that are available to non-members.
Perhaps once logged in, MMFUS shows exemplary unification and organisation and MMFUK has nothing but blank pages with error codes.
Somehow, I doubt it.
Those familiar with me know that I follow the music industry closely. I can say in total honesty, I didn’t know until a few days ago that the MMFUS even existed.
That said, MMFUK is in the news constantly. Brian Message frequently writes public letters, on behalf of the organisation, making statements on crucial industry happenings.
Living in America, I would love nothing more than to get the thoughts of US managers on such issues, yet they remain relatively silent…certainly in any sort of unified way.
I typically follow managers more closely than I follow artists. I couldn’t name one manager whom I know for certain to be a member the MMFUS; there’s no mention of them. No mention of the artists they represent.
I can list several managers in the MMFUK. Not only can I name them, I communicate with many fairly regularly via Twitter. They’ve made it known who they are and which artists they represent. Additionally, they often mention the MMFUK or tweet and retweet information about MMFUK events or statements issued by Brian Message and Jon Webster.
Where is that support in the MMFUS? Perhaps if members outwardly, publicly stood together to attempt to get things accomplished, it would be a bit easier for the public to get on board with the issues plaguing the industry.
I’m not suggesting that your average citizen, in any country, is going to start making a habit of frequenting such industry specific web sites. That said, if it were to appear on the nightly news that 300 (I’m making up a number as I have no idea how many managers are in the MMFUS) high-profile music managers were meeting in an attempt to ‘insert issue here’, perhaps average citizen would think it an issue they should pay closer attention to; especially if the names of the artists those managers represented were mentioned.
There are so many challenging and exciting things happening in the music industry. The innovation and agony of technology is providing constant shifts; both good and bad, and now more than ever the business side of the industry needs to present a united front.
America is a big country, with a lot of managers. If all of those people presented themselves and their organisation as a cohesive, working body with active goals, perhaps we would begin to see a noticeable shift in the industry paradigm in the US.
Additional links for MMFUS-
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mmfus
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/mmfus
Additional links for MMFUK-
On Facebook: http://www.themmf.net/
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/MMFUK