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Speaking in tongues: Rick Wakeman gets to the bottom of 'Manager Speak'

An illustration of a manager with two faces

When it comes to complicated languages, Manager Speak is right up there. The more famous you get, the more confusing it becomes, so by the time you reach stadium level, you need more than a degree in linguistics to translate it.

To help you understand the intricacies of this unique lingo and how it’s used, we must look closely at the role of the manager and what he does. Or, as is often the case, what he should be doing but doesn’t. The manager is a catalyst; he or she acts as the person who receives the wishes of his or her artist and conveys them to the record company. The manager also receives the wishes of the record company and conveys those back to the artist. Unfortunately, these wishes seldom match and that is where Manager Speak comes into its own, as neatly illustrated by this hypothetical example.

The scene takes place in the office of record company boss, Simon Bowel. Tickle My Testicle’s manager Brian Street is there to discuss his band’s new album, Rectum Rock. Now, Tickle My Testicle have told Brian that they hate the label and think the boss is a total twat, so they want an advance that’s bigger than the £50,000 they got for their previous album, plus more tour support and a bigger budget for promotion. Brian is an excellent manager and has promised he will fight the ‘Testicle’s corner.

“Thanks, Brian!” chorus the band. “When can we start recording it?”

“Tickle My Testicle just aren’t cutting it,” says Simon Bowel, leaning back in his chair until he’s almost horizontal. “That last album of theirs, The Pubic Cube, sold less than 3,000 copies. The title limited our distribution outlets, not to mention the cover with that cube-shaped testicle on it…”

“An iconic Deano Roger cover… highly collectable…” counters Brian.

“That’s not the point,” pouts Simon Bowel. “That fact is, we’re dropping the advance to £20,000 and there will be no tour support money and no promotion.”

Brian nods. “So, you’re offering £20,000 advance with no promotion of any sort and no tour support? Have I got that right?”

“Spot on,” says Bowel, admiring his reflection in one of the many Platinum discs gracing his wall.

“Okay, I’ll run this past the band and get back to you as soon as.”

With that, Brian nips out to the pub on the corner, where Tickle My Testicle are eagerly awaiting the results of his meeting.

“Great news!” says Brian with a confident smile on his face. “Bowel loves you guys so much that he reckons you don’t need 50-grand to produce a masterpiece. Your genius means you only need 20-grand and as for promotion, he says you promote yourselves just by being yourselves. He’s very excited and reckons the new album will guarantee the punters flock in so you won’t need any tour support either. So all-in-all, it’s excellent news.”

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