Ever wonder what it's like to work with rock stars for a living? Booking gigs, touring for months at a time — whether you're a musician or a manager, it's a lot of work, and it's not always as glamorous as it may seem.
Band manager and author Jill Meniketti told Business News Daily what her job is really like and shared some of the challenges of being a woman in the music industry.
Business News Daily: What do you do?
Jill Meniketti: I manage a popular rock band that tours the world each year, and that's a more than full-time job. I'm also an author. My debut novel — a rock 'n' roll story that's been praised by real rock stars — "Welcome to Groove House" (Stanford Court Press, 2015) published [this year.] And in partnership with my rock star husband, we debuted our Meniketti Wine label in 2015. It's been a busy year!
BND: What made you want to pursue the industry you're in?
Meniketti: I've been around music most of my life, so working in the industry was a no-brainer. I grew up in a musical household with diverse tastes, and I'm so thankful for that, as I love a variety of music genres. My grandmother was a musician — she even recorded a 78 rpm record in the 1920s — as was my mother — not professionally, but she did teach me piano — and my brothers. I suppose it's in my blood, although, in my late teens, my father told me, "No daughter of mine is going to work in the music business." Oops. Much to my dad's dismay, I worked in the music business in the '80s, and it was during that time that I happened to meet my future husband — a touring musician.
BND: How did you get into your job?
Meniketti: I happened into it, really. Being married to a rock star, I learned a lot through osmosis, just by being around the business for decades. Rest assured, I was never the Spinal Tap girlfriend! I'm entrepreneurial-minded, so of course I observed, but I stayed completely out of the band business; that was his thing. In the late '90s, I had a short stint with my own band, where I ended up doing the booking, PR, etc., and I found that I really enjoyed the business side — dare I admit, more than performing?
When grunge came in and kicked hard-rock music to the curb in the '90s, my husband's band Y&T took a bit of hiatus. When they resumed business at the turn of the millennium, much had changed in those short few years off; the Internet was growing in usefulness and the music industry had been challenged with the advent of digital music. Y&T's longtime manager hadn't yet evolved into the digital age — he hadn't grasped the importance of the new music format or the exploding popularity of the Internet. I already had. The band didn't have a Web site and I noticed that nobody was doing their PR. Having done all that and more with my own band in the '90s — albeit on a much smaller scale — I took it upon myself to just jump in and get results. Recognizing my behind-the-scenes efforts, Y&T put me on the payroll in 2002. Two years later, the band could see that their longtime manager had one foot in retirement, which was good for him, but the guys wanted to play. By that point I'd already been handed more tasks, including the legwork for booking shows, since their manager had said he "didn't want to do anything that resembled work."
Backstage in Madrid, the band's original drummer, Leonard Haze, suggested they should fire current management and move me up the ranks. I felt honored to even be considered! My husband wasn't so sure, though; he knew I could do the job, but he had no interest in being "married to his manager" — yeah, he knows I'm a workaholic — but he agreed to a trial period of one year. During that year, I kicked their asses. Nowadays, under my management Y&T plays more shows than they played in the band's '80s heyday. Needless to say, my husband has never regretted putting his workaholic wife in charge. However, he does often lure me out of the office at the end of the day with a nice glass of wine.
BND: What do you like most about your job?
Meniketti: I really love the travelling — not the flying, as that's a struggle these days, but being in a different city each day with changing scenery and interesting people. It's grueling, don't get me wrong, and it's not glamorous, but we tend to just get in a groove when we're out there on tour and with an easily routed tour, we could keep going.
Call me crazy, but I enjoy the insanity of routing a tour. It's like a jigsaw puzzle, trying to create a logical routing based on so many factors, chiefly venue availability. Planning a tour presents plenty of hair-pulling moments, but when the stars finally align — with plenty of nudging on my part — and the tour routing on which I've worked so hard jells, it's quite satisfying when I can confirm an entire tour.
I also love watching the shows each night. These guys put on a different, high-energy show in every city, and I never tire of it. They're so grateful to still be performing 42 years running! Once I'm out there on every tour that I've planned, seeing the band doing what they love on stage every night, and seeing the happy fans at every show, it makes all the aforementioned stress worthwhile.
BND: What challenges do you face at your job?
Meniketti: In the entertainment industry, every day presents plenty of challenges, too numerous to list, but [there] are a few I face as a woman in a man's world. There's a lot of testosterone when you're the only woman on tour with a busload of men. Sometimes, being a woman can pose a challenge. People tend to not take women in the music business seriously. I'm often asked, "So, which one are you with?" and when I explain that I'm the band's manager, [people are] at first shocked, but ultimately think it's cool that a woman is managing all those men. I take my job seriously. First and foremost, I'm on the job as the band's manager; [my role as a] wife takes a backseat at work.
BND: What's something people don't know about your job?
Meniketti: Managing a band is a thankless job…everyone is so busy wanting things — information, more shows, another record, and so on — that they tend to forget there's a real person actually generating all of those things and more. Luckily, I'm so busy with my nose to the grindstone that I don't have the time to dwell on it, but every so often my husband — who is grateful for all that I do — brings it up.
BND: What's the most interesting thing you've ever done at your job?
Meniketti: Ooh, my entire job is interesting! I get to travel the world with rock stars. What more could a music lover want?
Being inspired to write a novel would be at the top. I was on a big arena rock tour when the idea struck me, and I spent many a tour after that jotting down ideas. All of my experiences managing a rock band make good fodder for my writing. Who knows which incident or personality might turn up in my next novel? Of course, with names changed. And hearing rock stars praise my debut novel has been great fun.
BND: Do you have any advice for others pursuing a similar career path?
Meniketti: Managing a band is not for the faint of heart. It's a ton of work. You need thick skin and a boatload of persistence. Not that you can control this, but your life will be much easier if your artists aren't prima donnas. I'm so fortunate that the guys I manage are total pros; there are no egos among them. I feel for other artist managers, as I've heard the horror stories. I count my blessings daily.