Dear Guy Hands: how to work with rock stars

Only months after Guy Hands’ private equity firm Terra Firma acquired music empire EMI, mega-egoes such as Robbie Williams and Radiohead are already wimpering about their treatment under their cruel new masters. Today EMI announced that some 2,000 jobs around the world will go as it aims to reduce costs by £200m a year.

Creative folk require sensitive handling. Many an entrepreneur in the creative industries has expressed exasperation about the management challenges they face.

A couple of years ago, we asked Phil Fraser, an advertising account director at The Brahm Agency, to give his tips to entrepreneurs on handling advertising and creative agencies. He quoted this hilarious, real brief as an example of how not to brief creative people:

“We already have a design, we’re not planning to consult professional designers, because we knew there wasn’t enough money. I can show you some roughs now of the design we’d like to work up. We can give you a pretty good idea of the spec after the weekend. We’ll have first draft of the copy soon. We want to do some digital photos for positional, but we’d need to spend money on film for the real shots. We need the Quark file for the letterhead, so we can take off the bits we need for the grid (what face is the ‘nm’ in?). I can do all the artwork on one of my father’s Macs, and produce some seps which we can get run off as film or bromide at a bureau in Cambridge, where it is bound to be cheaper than London (unless you have a contact who will do it for free) – likewise printing.

“The budget we will need will be for photographic film, bureau film or bromide x 48 (that’s four seps each for FC, IFC, eight pages, IBC, BC), paper, printing, folding, and binding. We will do the delivery and collection and all other work, plus free consultancy from my father and anyone else we need to drag in.”

To read a full version of Phil’s tips on "how not to work with rock stars – or their ilk", check out his original article.

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