Charlotte Goltermann: “Without music there would be no tears in the cinema!”
It is said that Picasso once proclaimed, “For an artist to be successful, he needs three things: talent, charisma and a good manager”. Whether he really said that is unknown, but the words still ring true today. It is underestimated how important a good manager is and unfortunately there are very few of them.
Maybe it’s because it’s all about enthusiasm, idealism, and perseverance, because it takes time for a band or a musician to earn enough money to pay a manager appropriately. The contradiction is that with the help of such a reference person, this length of time can be significantly reduced. It’s just better when you don’t have to advertise yourself. Many musicians today are their own managers, bookers, PR agencies, graphic designers and sometimes even labels. To manage all of this, one thing is needed above all: time. The actual product: the music, usually suffers as a result. In the months after the pandemic, there’s also the problem of smaller audiences and hesitant promoters. Hopefully there are friends and acquaintances that help as best they can, one drives the bus, another organizes the T-shirts and others the events where you can perform. Unfortunately, it often doesn’t go any further because in the tough music industry, unfortunately, you need much more than talent, charisma, and friends. However, diamonds can also emerge from such friendships.
Back to Picasso: a good manager means having someone very special at your side who combines the following qualities: vision, goal orientation, relationships with publishers, bookers, lawyers, and festivals, good at recognizing connections, successfully bringing disparate personalities together diplomatically, a sense and understanding of finance, a love of music, belief and loyalty in the artist, and a never-ending fountain of enthusiasm, energy, and ideas.
A musician, on the other hand, needs a completely different set of tools, sometimes even the exact opposite. Together these two personalities are unbeatable, and it can be said with certainty that every really successful musician has a good manager.
One of the best in Germany is Charlotte Goltermann. She is the music manager of Element of Crime, Florian Horwath and Maike Rosa Vogel and can look back on many years of experience not only as a music manager, but also as a label founder and film producer. I was able to observe and experience her organizing a large event at the Brandenburg Gate in March 2023 and was very impressed by her calm, friendly approach amid a whirlwind of countless excited musicians, assistants, crews, and securities. Anyone who has ever organized an event knows what kind of energies one must deal with and managing it so calmly is a feat.
I am extremely pleased that Charlotte was able to take the time to briefly respond to a few questions here. I think we can learn a lot from her. Hopefully a few more managers will be born as a result.
Danielle de Picciotto: Dear Charlotte, you work as a film producer, music manager, were former A&R manager for L’Age D’Or, Motor Music and Mute sound carriers and are the founder of the electronic label Ladomat. How did it all start? Did you study management?
Charlotte Goltermann: I studied photography and art in Munich and London.
When I came back from London, I met Upstart / Peter Wacha (Sub Up) in Munich and worked for and with him and Dorothea Zenker / Dorle. We then started with Disco B and soon discovered an empty, former hospital in Munich Bogenhausen, occupied it and organized the ultrasound parties there. Dorle and I put up posters at night, and then everything took its course.
My first “awakening experience” was punk rock, then techno and German-language music, I must mention Kolossale Jugends “Schmück die Party” and Einstürzende Neubauten “Halber Mensch”.
There are very different types of managers. What is the most important thing for you in this job? In your opinion, what is the best way for a man/woman to support musicians?
When I met Daniel Miller (MUTE) he questioned me about whether I was suitable for the job as A&R and MUTE in general. When I said: “We don’t sign musicians because we think they’re bad and want to improve them, but because we think they’re good,” I got the job.
I think that’s the most important attitude in management: you love those you work for and make the best of everything.
How do you see the music landscape today compared to 20 years ago? Has it become more difficult or easier because of the online portals? What advice can you give to young musicians who want to become professional musicians? How has the industry changed, especially since AI? Will robots be able to replace living musicians?
Today compared to 20 years ago:
I think the bottom line is that there was a lot more money in circulation back then. On the side of the indies and the musicians. You could just make a living from it. Maybe you weren’t rich, but you were free and could do whatever you wanted.
Today, as a musician, you can hardly earn anything from record sales or your copyrights, which makes it more difficult for newcomers.
Online portals: it’s great that theoretically everything is available.
AI, human / machine: no idea. I don’t believe they can replace humans. But I’m happy if the AI does the registrations, product passes and my taxes, then I’ll have more time for something else. She should also call Universal’s lawyers, please!
You also work a lot in film & music. What kind of music do you find particularly interesting for films, or can’t you say that in general? Is the movie business tougher than the music business?
There is more money on the move in the film business, which sometimes makes it less relaxing. But mostly the directors themselves and producers book me, for whom music is extremely important because I’m a perfectionist and expensive – that makes it very easy for me. In principle, I can use any music, even German-language ones, even if people sometimes doubt it at first. It’s all about impact and music definitely makes the picture bigger and more beautiful, sadder, scarier etc. Without music there would be no tears in the cinema!
Is it easier to be a businesswoman now than it used to be or is there still inequality and discrimination? As a producer and manager, do you have to be particularly tough and prove yourself twice as much as men?
What would you advise young managers to do? What is particularly important in management today?
I wouldn’t specifically advise women differently than men. Either you want to do it, or you don’t – there is discrimination everywhere, even in jobs as postal clerks or traffic wardens.
You should take a good look at who you are working with and, if necessary, draw consequences. I’ve only ever worked for lovely people except in the 90’s, but the 90’s back then were probably the most educational.
I don’t think toughness helps in the end. It is a combination of personality, knowledge, patience, and relentlessness. And you must burn for what you do.
What are you currently working on and what are your plans for the future?
I’m producing a film about Element of Crime this year and I’ve booked Charly Hübner as a director and the Austrian Superfilm as a producer. It’s going to be great fun and very exciting, because it will be watching the band for five concert days in Berlin, which I’ve been preparing for years. This is where my knowledge in music AND film business comes in handy;)
I’m currently releasing the new records by Element of Crime and the Crucchi Gang and I’m building a women’s network together with other great women from art and business (The Simones). I am the book agent of e.g. Michael Ostrowski and Andreas Dorau – there is always something to do… and I do a lot of volunteer work for climate protection. Also working on the film adaptation of Thees Uhlmann’s novel “Sophia, der Tod und ich”, for which Steiner&Madlaina have composed a great, partly German-language, score, which we are all happy and proud of!