#188 – Are You Ready For A Manager?

The Business Side of Music Podcast

Are You Ready For A Manager?

You’ve spent time writing songs. You’ve gone into the studio to record some demos. Now it’s time to get out there and pitch your artistry to the masses. But how do you go about doing it? Do you need a manager to help you thru the gauntlet known as the music industry? Is your career at a point where you would be ready for a manager?

We talk with Chuck Thompson, who is a 40+ year veteran in the music industry, having worked in the Country music field as a manager for such acts as The Judds, Billy Dean, McBride, and The Ride, The Pirates of the Mississippi, Carl Perkins, Skip Ewing, Wynonna, Michell Wright, and others.

Chuck explains what you need to look for and what management will expect in return. He discusses how management is a specific need at a particular time for one particular function.

We also go into what the difference is between an artist manager and a business manager.

Do we connect on what does a prospective manager looks for when signing a new act? Is it based on their social media, their touring, or their record sales, if applicable?

Chuck Thompson began his 40 plus years in the entertainment industry while attending Nashville’s prestigious Belmont College. It was there that a posting for an internship in publicity caught his eye. That internship turned into his first job when he was hired during his final year of college to drive the media campaigns for David Allen Coe, Frizzell & West, Ricky Skaggs, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and George Strait. He cut his artist management teeth with acts Baillie and the Boys and comedy duo Pinkard and Bowden at the firm.

Transitioning to the management firm The Ken Stilts Company where he would rise to the position of Vice President, Thompson and his team guided the careers of The Judds, Billy Dean, McBride, and The Ride, The Pirates of the Mississippi, Carl Perkins, Skip Ewing, Wynonna, and others. He worked alongside company principles to build an integrated corporate sponsorship/artist booking agency within the corporate and country music communities. While serving as Vice President/Director Of Public Relations for Pro Tours, the company launched co-branded country music tours for corporate clients GMC Trucks, Liberty Optical, The Sara Lee Corporation, and Sun Country Wine Coolers.

In 1995, Thompson accepted the position of Director, Media Relations & Artist Development with the newly reorganized RCA Label Group Nashville. Working with the established RCA roster and with the BNA staff to launch the careers of recently signed artists Kenny Chesney, Lonestar, and Mindy McCready, he also created the label’s media and sales opportunities’ extensive catalog of masters. While leading the label’s NASCAR efforts, working with the Kranefuss-Haus Racing Team, he developed marketing events for RCA and BNA artists and the race team’s co-sponsors Little Caesar’s Pizza and Kmart at racing events around the country.

In October of 1996, Chuck left the RCA Label Group to return to the ranks of artist management as a co-manager of Decca recording artist Danni Leigh, opening the Thompson Entertainment Group’s offices under the banner “Where music still has A Heart and A Soul.” He explains that tagline by saying, “In a world of broadening entertainment options, music is the thread that runs through it all, impacting every part of our lives. The truth is a great song, and the heart of a great singer drives my passion, and my goal has always been to develop long-term brand strategies for each of our artists. In these unusual times, artists need new and innovative thinking from their management to adapt to the world we currently live in.”


Corporate brands are also searching for innovative thinkers who understand a brand’s needs and can create and execute unique, brand-driven partnerships. Harley Davidson, Coca-Cola, Panoptix, Conagra Foods, and others have turned to Chuck to help them develop and implement a brand strategy that will reach their customers through music-driven events.

In 2016, the Navigator Records imprint was added to the TEG umbrella. The latest evolution in the company’s growth allowed Thompson to utilize the many modern technologies and creative outlets now available to create a higher profile for the Thompson Entertainment Group family of artists. In the fall of 2018, Navigator Records released new studio recordings from Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame artist Michelle Wright, her first new music since the 2013 release of Strong. Other Navigator releases have included Wright’s recording of the Christmas classic “Silver Bells,” released to coincide with A Wright Christmas: 2019 tour across the Alberta and Ontario provinces of Canada.

2020 into 2021 has also given rise to a new breed of creators. Navigator Records has provided primary label services and distribution to those independent artists and labels. They want to maintain their creative vision without sacrificing ownership or control while assisting established and developing artists eager to build and sustain meaningful careers.



The Business Side of Music ™
Lotta Dogs Productions LLC
  • Co-Produced and Hosted (by the guy who has a face for podcasting):  Bob Bender
  • Co-Producer, Creator, and Technical Advisor (the man behind the curtain):  Tom Sabella
  • Director of Video and Continuity (the brains of the entire operation): Deborah Halle
  • Audio/Video Editor Mark Sabella Midnight Express Studio  Olian, NY
  • Marketing and Social Media: Kaitlin Fritts
  • Executive Assistant to Bob and Tom (the one who keeps us on track and our schedules straight) Tammy Kowalski
  • All Around Problem Solver: Connie Ribas
  • Recorded at: The Bunker in Franklin, TN (except during the Covid 19 pandemic, then it’s pretty much done VIA Skype or over the phone, with the exception for those fearless enough to come to Bob Bender’s living room… and there are a few).
  • Mixed and Mastered at Music Dog Studios in Nashville, TN
  • Production Sound Design: Keith Stark
  • Voice Over and Promo: Lisa Fuson
Special Thanks to Tom Sabella and Traci Snow for producing and hosting over 100 episodes of the original “Business Side of Music” podcast and trusting us to carry on their legacy.