In this edition of my blog series feature Behind the Art, meet Angela Gossow. In an interesting twist, she switched from rock star to manager of the very band she fronted. Angela found that she prefers life behind-the-scenes to life onstage. I must admit, after my short stint onstage in the ’90s, I can relate! Bravo to Angela for following her heart.
Behind the Art: Angela Gossow
Artist Management. Follow Angela online.
You stepped down as lead singer of Arch Enemy to become the band’s business manager. What prompted you to transition to the business side of music?
I’ve actually been Arch Enemy’s business manager since 2008 already. I kept that profession, I just decided to get out of the spotlight in 2012. I didn’t enjoy this lifestyle anymore, got tired of touring.
Arch Enemy is quite a busy band. How did you handle managing them and being the lead singer in the same band? That must have been exhausting.
It was tough doing double duty, especially when you have to be forceful as management but you are the artist at the same time. I didn’t take any time off at all.
What all does your management work entail?
Budgets, finances, schedules, show booking, merchandise design and portfolio, spearheading album recordings, stage production, travel arrangements. I am the one connecting the dots and overseeing the big picture.
As you so intimately know the performer side of the business, how has that knowledge impacted your work as a manager? What positive features has that “musician insight” brought to your job? Have you found any downside to having that knowledge?
It’s an advantage to know about the toll touring and traveling puts on the body. I will never burn out my artists by booking too many shows and pushing them to record and release albums on a too-rigid schedule. Artistic creations need time and space. People need recovery periods. I make sure my bands get that and still make the budget work.
Did you previously manage any other acts? If so, who’s the first artist that got you started? What’s the story behind that?
I took over artist management for Arch Enemy in 2008. I, too, suffered from bad management as an artist until then. I know how it feels not to get paid and get burned out on tours.
So you started managing out of necessity. Then Arch Enemy was the first band you managed?
Correct. It was either sorting the mess out or the band dying an untimely death due to poverty and frustration.
Who all is currently on your roster?
Arch Enemy, Spiritual Beggars, and Alissa.
As a woman in a male-dominant business, what gender-based obstacles have you encountered and how did you overcome them?
I’ve never adopted the rude tone some men do have in this business. People sometimes get fooled into believing I am naive or too kind. I am not, when it comes down to crushing numbers.
Was there a particular moment when you felt you’d “made it” as a music industry professional?
I know I am “made” by being a vital part in Arch Enemy’s constant growth and rise.
Do you miss performing, or are you perfectly content working behind the scenes to keep business rolling for your artist?
I don’t miss performing at all. I am actually not a showbiz person. I prefer to act behind the scenes.
Managing a world-touring band is a more-than full-time job, but some managers have their hands in other endeavors, as well. Are you involved in any other business ventures, and if so, what?
No, I am not. That would distract my attention from Arch Enemy and ultimately lead to making mistakes or missing out on important tasks. A lot of people fail at their job by doing too many other things “on the side.”
Whether for business or just for pleasure, what makes you want to research an artist who’s unfamiliar to you?
I am curious.
Where do you live and why?
I live in Cologne, Germany; that’s where family is.
What is your morning routine?
Get up, shower, answer my first bout of emails, make some phone calls, have a coffee and a green smoothie.
What constitutes a productive day at work for you?
Dealing with all day-to-day issues and work ahead of future tasks 😉
Is there anything unusual about your workspace? What do you keep on your desk? What’s the view from there?
I look out into my front garden, which is full of flowers designed to attract bees and butterflies. There are many of them living in that little green space. Makes me happy. On my desktop, there’s just my laptop and paperwork I have to deal with. It’s very neat. I cannot work in chaos.
Do you have a peculiar habit?
I sleep too little and work too much. Haha.
Ha! Me too!
How long have you been following a vegan diet?
For many years. . . . I am not strictly vegan though, sometimes I have a piece of goat cheese. Oh no! 😉
Traveling isn’t very conducive to healthy eating. How do you make a vegan diet work when on tour with your artist?
You get the right foods into catering. It’s actually very easy: swap the pizza with greens, soy, and tofu. 🙂
Please recommend three songs (any genre, any artist) and tell us why you like them.
Fight Fire with Fire—Metallica
Chapel of Ghouls—Morbid Angel
At Dawn They Come—Slayer
All pure fucking metal.
As I’m also an author, I’d love for you to recommend three books and tell us why you like them.
I haven’t read a book in a long time, I must admit.
Do you have an industry friend who helps and inspires you?
I have a good relationship with our crew, the label people, the booking agents and some promoters and the band members. We all learn from each other.
We know that you sing, but do you play a musical instrument? If so, which one(s), and for how long have you played?
Do you have any superstitions?
What phrase do you over-use?
I am not a repetitive talker; I hate phrases.
In your management capacity, do you have a funny story related to your job, whether it be planning a tour, or on tour, or at a meet-and-greet with one of your artists?
I have funny stories, but they are also personal and such are kept in the vault.
What is something about yourself that is essentially unknown and maybe even surprising?
I am very pragmatic, grounded, quiet, and thorough.
What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?
Do not trust your manager. Trust nobody; read the paperwork, the account statements, the royalty statements, publishing.
What advice would you give to someone interested in getting into the business side of music?
Be CAREFUL and don’t spend money that doesn’t belong to you without asking the owner.
Be honest and true to yourself.
Special thanks to Mike Weisbecker for suggesting Angela for my Behind the Art feature.
Alissa, Arch Enemy, Asmodina, Metallica, Morbid Angel, Slayer, Spiritual Beggars