Why Good Management Is The Key To Succeeding In The Malaysian Music Industry

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23 September 2021

By Petra Music

Elvis Presley. David Bowie. Britney Spears. NSYNC. Jessica and Ashlee Simpson.

What do all of these superstars have in common?

They’ve all been cheated/taken advantage of/ripped off by their managers at some point or another during their careers.

Despite the glitz and glamour, the music industry can be a shady business. All too often, we’ve read about how hard-working artists have been scammed out of their royalty payments.

Whether it’s misleading legal jargon or questionable contracts, unscrupulous music managers have been taking advantage of artists for years.

Heck, even Malaysian artists themselves have had their own fair share of problems with “missing” royalty payments.

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at a list of some of the absolutely worst music managers in history.

1. Elvis Presley - Colonel Tom Parker

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Tom Parker aka Andreas van Kuijk, Tom Parker served as Elvis’s manager for a total of 22 years. And during that time he organized concerts, negotiated record deals, and turned Elvis into the King of rock ‘n’ roll.

Sounds great right?

Well, on paper it sure does.

While many agree that Parker probably turned Elvis into the legend that he is, there is a dark side to all of this.

Whether it was encouraging Elvis to enlist in the U.S Army as a means of boosting his career to his marriage with Priscilla Beaulieu, you can bet that Colonel Tom Parker was behind it.

Besides that, Parker also helped himself to 50% of The King’s earnings and probably swindled untold millions from Elvis over the years.

Given that Elvis sold between 600 million to 1 billion records throughout his career, it is easy to see how Parker was able to become obscenely rich.

And here’s a fun fact for you: did you know that Elvis Presley never toured outside of the United States?

Well, it wasn’t because Elvis had a fear of flying.

It was actually because Parker was an immigrant who had entered the United States illegally. Because of that, Parker feared that his status would be found out if he tried to re-enter the United States.

Being the scumbag that he was, Parker feared that Elvis would take up with a new manager if given the chance. Hence this is why the rest of the world never got to enjoy watching the King perform live.

If all of that wasn’t bad enough, Parker retained control of Elvis’s estate after his death and sold off the music rights to RCA. Meaning that Elvis’s wife, Priscilla Presley and his daughter Lisa Marie Presley would not be entitled to any royalties.

2. Britney Spears - Jamie Spears

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Britney Spears’ story has always been rather tragic..

Having achieved success at a young age, Britney Spears found herself constantly in the limelight. Her personal life was plastered on the front pages of tabloid news and her romance with Justin Timberlake was in every gossip column.

All of this culminated in a widely-publicized 2007 meltdown that tragically turned her into something of a laughing stock.

Through it all, her manager and father Jamie Spears has earned millions from his daughter with a combination of manipulation and outright theft.

After Britney’s 2007 meltdown, Jamie Spears tightened his hold by obtaining conservatorship i.e. total control over his daughter’s life. This meant that Jamie Spears was now in control of nearly every part of Britney’s life including her finances and personal affairs (see the pattern here?).

Thankfully, this decision was reversed in 2021 and Jamie Spears no longer has conservatorship over Britney.

All of this just goes to show that it is extremely easy for an unscrupulous manager to gain control over an artist while displaying seemingly good intentions. Remember: there are plenty of wolves in sheep’s clothing, some of whom are people that you think you can trust.

And speaking of pop stars and control, let’s take a look at…

3. The Backstreet Boys and NSYNC - Lou Pearlman

Photo via

Anyone who’s ever grown up in the 90s and early 2000s would have probably heard of boy bands like The Backstreet Boys and NSYNC.

The Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were probably one of the most popular boy bands around.

Both groups had good-looking, clean-cut artists with decent dance moves who were marketed primarily towards the young teenage market.

However behind the wholesome image, was something a lot darker and in the middle of it all was a man named Lou Perlman.

Recognizing how profitable boy bands could be, Perlman started his own record company and formed boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC.

He then trained and groomed both groups to become multi-platinum artists with record sales in the millions.

So far so good right?

Not really.

That’s because, while the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were selling millions of records, the members of both groups lived on a $35 a day allowance (~RM 145) for years and would receive royalty cheques for… just $10,000 each (~RM 41,000).

All of that was the culmination of years of hard work touring and hours practicing.

How did Perlman get away with such blatant scumbaggery?

Well, he pulled it off by tricking the members of both groups into signing contracts that made him eligible for a portion of their earnings.

Sensing that something was amiss, members of NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys, and other boy bands managed by Perlman would go on to successfully sue him for damages.

So the next time a dodgy car salesman-type tells you that he’s going to make you rich, maybe take it with a pinch of salt.

These 3 instances are just some of the many ways in which artists have fallen prey to predatory managers.

The K-Pop scene with it’s so-called wholesome image and squeaky clean stars is no stranger to such controversy. From sex scandals to outright assault, it seems that dodgy music managers always have some part to play.

Heck, even the Malaysian music scene has had it’s fair share of problems with the industry. For Malaysian artists though, the problem may actually lie with a lack of managers.

Given the stress, long hours, and lack of recognition, can you actually blame Malaysians for not wanting to be music managers?

But the fact is a good music manager can make all the difference in the world.

For every Jamie Spears and Lou Perlman, you’ve got a thousand other hardworking and dedicated individuals who are giving it their all.

And this is why we’re going to show you…

Why you need a good music manager

1. Help you choose the right label

Given how sleazy some record labels can be, it’s important that you have someone who’s got your best interests at heart. And this is where a good music manager comes into his/her own.

A professional manager needs to understand how the music industry works and be at least familiar with all types of legal jargon.

This ensures that you at least have some idea of what your contract entails. Remember: contracts are legally binding i.e. enforceable in the court of law. So, the last thing you want to do is to sign a contract that only benefits your record label.

Get your manager to take you through the contract and everything that it entails. With their experience in the music industry, they will be able to give you some much-needed advice.

And if things get too complicated, consider consulting a lawyer for advice.

2. A good manager is invaluable for marketing

As an artist, it is understandable that you prefer to solely focus on creating great music. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, never forget that good marketing can make all the difference in the world.

And this is why many artists enlist the help of a manager in such situations. With his/her many contacts in the industry, a professional manager will be invaluable especially if you’re looking to get your name out there.

Take music industry legend, Che Mokh for example.

While he may have started out as an English teacher, Che Mokh is responsible for revitalizing the career of legendary Malaysian rock bands like Exists and Spider.


That’s because he understood the importance of marketing and stage presence. He taught the artists under his management to engage with their audience and showed them why confidence is key.

These are traits that you should look for when you’re searching for a good manager. Look for someone with an eye for marketing who will be able to promote you and your music.

3. Keeping you on track

Keep in mind that the road to success is a long and winding one. Along the way, it’s easy to get distracted or even derailed as a result of setbacks and failures.

And during such times, it’s important that you have someone who will be able to keep you on track. Someone who’s as passionate as you are about music and at the same time, wants to see you make it big.

A music manager will be able to help you stay on track through the tough times. From being a good listener to pushing you to break new ground, never underestimate how important a manager can be.

4. Guide you on your career

While we’ve seen our fair share of deadbeat and scumbag managers, you also have absolute legends like Mark Gillespie and Scooter Braun for example.

Besides managing the careers of Calvin Harris and Will Smith, Mark Gillespie is also renowned for having guided hip-hop maestro Frank Ocean to success.

Let’s also not forget how music managers like Scooter Braun have used their talents to lead artists to superstardom.

Whether it was booking gigs or landing special appearances on TV, Carter’s steady hand and eye for talent has given us artists like Eve, Lady Gaga, and John Legend.

Contrary to what many may think, there is a great degree of strategizing involved when it comes to show business. And as an artist, it can be difficult to see that – which is why you’ll need a manager.

A solid music manager will be able to advise you on how to best position yourself in the industry and help you develop your own personal brand. This includes planning out your appearances, booking gigs, and networking with movers and shakers in the record industry.

5. Helping build up enthusiasm

Never forget the fact that your fans are your biggest stakeholders and you should always do your best to engage with them.

Besides keeping them happy, an artist who regularly engages with his/her fans will find their popularity skyrocketing in no time.

But sometimes, you’ll need a little more help when it comes to self-promotion – and this is where a manager comes into play.

Managers have an important role to play when it comes to building up hype for their artists. Having a manager promote you at an event is usually a lot more effective than you doing it yourself.


Well, would you believe it if a total stranger came up to you and started talking about how great they were? As the saying goes, “self praise is no praise”.

Chances are you’d probably be annoyed and even offended at such arrogance. And this is why you’ll need your manager to step in for you during such events.

As can be seen, managers are an important part of your development as an artist. But it is also equally important that you enlist the services of a reliable and trustworthy manager. Ideally, someone who will always have your best interests at heart.

At Petra Music we believe that artists should have the freedom to practice their craft without fear of getting cheated or manipulated.

With our robust support system and connections within the music industry, we are uniquely positioned to provide artists with the best possible management and support available.

So if you’re an up-and-coming musician or artist, we’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

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