Lessons Learned: Steve Martin

Here’s three quick lessons.

First, know who’s in the room when you’re shooting your mouth off.

I was at a Beacon Theatre show about a dozen years ago. I was talking to the promoter in the dressing room and said, "You know, you’re one lucky guy to get this Beacon show. Another promoter developed the act in a club. Lucky for you, the artist and his girlfriend really screwed that guy over."

At that point, the woman sitting next to the promoter stood up.

"Oh, hi," she said. "I’m the artist’s girlfriend. Nice to meet you."

It took me 20 minutes to get my foot out of my mouth.

Lesson two: Know what the "Reply All" button does. Several years ago, Neil Warnock and I were negotiating to acquire a company in L.A. I got an e-mail that I thought came from Neil that included what the company desired for a purchase price.

"That guy is clearly on drugs," I wrote. "He can’t be serious."

Ten minutes later, I see Nick Caris walking down the hall. He had this look on his face and I immediately knew something was wrong. Just then an e-mail popped up from the boss of the company we were talking with, who was a friend of Nick’s, saying he really resented the allegation and he had never taken a drug in his life.

His original letter was sent to both Neil and me, and I thought I was only replying to Neil.

I called Neil and said, "You really didn’t want that company anyway, did you?"

Finally, as the old saying goes, the toes you step on while on your way up is the ass you kiss on the way down. I tell the younger agents it’s important to develop relationships with tour managers, road crews, tour accountants – all those folks need to be treated with respect. First of all, it’s just the right thing to do. But, second, the tour manager of today is the artist manager of tomorrow.