Band managers an important part of overall performance

What it takes:

Job adds professional quality to a band’s image

Editor’s note: For the remainder of the semester, the features staff will take you behind the scenes of student jobs and activities. This is the first part of the series.

Sara Petersen

Daily Kent Stater

Ryan Oleksiak, a senior applied communications major, started working for his friends he met in high school when he became the manager for the band Burning Down Broadway in 2006.

“About two years ago I just started helping them going to shows and the lead singer just goes, ‘Hey do you want to take care of money today?’” Oleksiak said. “I said, ‘Yeah, sure. Why not?’ I took care of it one day and after that I just became the official manager.”

Burning Down Broadway formed in 2002 and started to think about traveling to out-of- state shows when Oleksiak was brought on board. Now, the band can book a show anywhere in the Northeast Ohio area except for the House of Blues and the Quicken Loans Arena, Oleksiak said.

Some of Oleksiak’s duties as the manager are to help sell merchandise, promote and book shows and handle the finances.

“I basically try and make sure that we get what we deserve,” he said.

Oleksiak puts in an average of 15 to 20 hours a week working for the band, but he works more during the summer and less in the fall. He also attends band practices, which are held every other week, where he gives his input on the band’s music and works.

“I go over merchandise. I’ll be on my phone or on my laptop trying to look for shows,” Oleksiak said. “Just something to do to make sure that people still know about us.”

The professionalism of the band is higher with a manager, Oleksiak said, because having a manager to contact sounds better than, “Here’s my brother’s number.”

“Having a manager definitely allows for more credibility,” said Kevin McManus, bassist and vocalist for Burning Down Broadway. “People take us more seriously.”

A typical show-weekend for Oleksiak starts three hours before the band takes the stage. He goes to the practice spot with the band where they go over the set list while he makes sure everything is in place financially. They then load up the equipment truck and make their way to the venue. When they arrive, Oleksiak talks to the person in charge of the show to see what time they play and then they begin setting up.

“I basically just try to get ready and know where they are so when we have to go on we can do that,” he said.

McManus said having Oleksiak take the business side away from the musicians has made it a lot less stressful for the band.

“We’re not worried about getting paid,” McManus said. “We can focus on putting a good show on.”

While Burning Down Broadway is on stage, Oleksiak staysclose to fix anything that might go wrong, such as a broken microphone or string. After the band plays, he sells merchandise, sees audience reactions and goes through ticket sales.

“If we’re opening then I’ll basically go talk to who put on the show and try to feel them out to make sure we’re not getting gyped out on money, because some people try to do that to you,” he said.

Burning Down Broadway is currently working on recording two songs, so Oleksiak has to set aside money for that, as well as money for merchandise, gas and equipment.

“We have all the money set aside. I don’t get paid separately from the band,” he said. “Right now it’s just a local band starting out. You want to try to just do everything for the band.”

Contact features correspondent Sara Petersen at [email protected].