A couple weeks ago we had George Martynuk of George M. Martynuk Management talk with Mark Stoddard about his agency and how he runs things. Now we’d like to share with you some of the content not included in the podcast! Here are a few more words of advice from Martynuk:
Mark Stoddard: How did you get into the management or agency business?
George Martynuk: Well it’s a very strange story. I was a public relations manager for City Bank and other companies. The last job that I had in the “real world” was for the renovation of the Statue of Liberty. When that project was over I arrived home around 6:30 PM, took my suit off, threw it on the floor, walked over to the phone, and I cold dialed the owner of a very small agency, Herbert H. Breslin, who managed Luciano Pavarotti. I said, “I’m one of the top public relations executives in the city and I’d like to have an interview.” Mr. Breslin’s response was unbelievably rude! I thought, “No one talks to me like that!” I got back into my suit, ran downstairs, got into a taxi, zipped over to West 57th Street and walked into his office. I said, “You must be the infamous Mr. Breslin.”
He said, “You know what? You’re a real smart a**…Sit down.” I was in! He then said, “I can’t pay you these corporate fees you’ve been payed.”
I said, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll work for free.” And that’s how I started! I didn’t work free very long either!
Mark Stoddard: Most of our subscribers to CS Music and Classical Singer magazine are either voice teachers or university students — young emerging professionals — and we’re here to help them emerge. How do they catch your attention or any agent’s attention?
George Martynuk: Self-promotion and the ability to think of oneself as being important IS very important. If you don’t think of yourself as marketable or talented, then you will never convince anyone that you are.
You’ve got to do your homework…. You must really be interested in the recording industry. Coming out of college I knew every tenor that had ever lived! I knew it because it was a hobby. I loved it! Then eventually I started a career in this. You have to know these things, and singers have to have some level of responsibility.
Mark Stoddard: So, the first lesson is you’ve got to know your industry. You’ve got to know the history of the business; you’ve got to become proficient in speaking and walking the talk so when you’re talking to people like yourself they know you have the depths of the industry is that fair?
George Martynuk: Yes, very fair.
Mark Stoddard: Malcolm Gladwell has been famous for saying that it takes 10,000 hours of practice, or performance, or whatever else you’re doing, before you master a skill. Would you say that singing at a party, or at a home concert is one of those 10,000 hours?
George Martynuk: Yes! As long as you’re in public (I’m ruling out showers and the bathroom), as long as there are people looking at you, you have to behave in a different way. That’s part of developing your singing style. Do you talk to people or do you not talk to people? Do they think you’re friendly because you have a wonderful smile or are you scowling at them? Are you showing them great courage and a love for the art and you’re singing because you love to do it or are you there just to get a couple a hundred bucks?
Mark Stoddard: I’d like to ask a series of one-minute questions. What singing jobs should a singer avoid?
George Martynuk: Do not avoid any singing jobs.
Mark Stoddard: Where should the singer live?
George Martynuk: If you’re a young singer you better live in New York City.
Mark Stoddard: How old or how much experience, realistically, must a singer have before they’re ready to be managed?
George Martynuk: I think that that matters entirely on the level of talent, the personality, and the ambition of the singer. If you have the kind of ambition that it really takes to have a career and if you have the talent, it doesn’t take that long because it will be evident immediately when you stand up and open your mouth.
Mark Stoddard: Now, crossover or musical theatre. Do you recommend it?
George Martynuk: I was very fortunate to work with the two top crossover singers of probably of all time, Jerry Hadley and Thomas Hampson. They made all these Broadway recordings that were wonderful. They expanded their audience and repertoire. Musical theatre is a wonderful device, and the music, especially the traditional musical theatre is just wonderful music, IF you can sing it without sounding like you’re singing opera. That’s what you have to be careful of, you have to sing it as though it’s musical theatre.
My message to singers out there is go for it and if you want advice, give me a call.