How A Fake London Manager Destroyed A Real Band’s Career

Studio Time
– Studio Time
Only one of the many “services” promised by BMU

A company by the name of Band Management Universal (BMU) has disappeared off the face of the earth, after being exposed as an apparent scam by several artists.

A BBC investigation revealed, that BMU charged artists up to £4,000 ($5,600) for its services, which it failed to deliver in many cases.

But that is only half the story. Pollstar spoke to Roman Black-Briar, lead singer and guitarist of The Black Horses, a band that had a lot going for itself and had reached out to BMU in the hopes of taking its career to the next level.

According to Black-Briar, everything, from BMU’s website to the contracts seemed “beyond legit. It was such a thorough scam. I almost admire him for how well he did it. That’s how fucking good it was.”

By him, Black-Briar means Matthias Gairy, most likely a fake name, who was the founder and head of BMU. Black-Briar said he lost some £40,000 ($56,000) to Gairy  – some paid for the company’s “services”, some given as a loan to Gairy. Black-Briar believed in Gairy’s vision of building a proper management business, and thought he’d help out.

The evidence suggest that BMU did manage do get some things done – the occasional photo shoot or studio session – and even booked a gig every now and again. When checking out past tour dates by another band that had decided to work with BMU called Chasing Ghosts, it says “BMU presents…” Unfortunately, Chasing Ghosts wasn’t available for comment.

The comments on several UK review boards suggest that a few clients actually got what they paid for. 

“Matthias actually could do good work if he wanted to,” Black-Briar said. Which is why he had no reason to mistrust Gairy when he announced that The Black Horses would be going on an O2 Academy tour through the UK. “He had booked O2 Academy shows for Chasing Ghosts, so of course we believed him.”

The band had already started advertising the tour on its socials, when it found out that no gigs had actually been booked. “I know this sounds insane, but this was convincing,” said Black-Briar.

Black-Briar signed with BMU in November 2015. Over the course of one-and-a-half years, it became increasingly obvious that Gairy wasn’t legit. The crucial moment came a year ago: The Black Horses had just released their most popular track to date, “Dead Man Walking,” which caught the attention of a respected and successful Las Vegas entertainment agent (the name of the individual is being kept confidential as the person wasn’t available for comment at press time).

Unfortunately, this agent spoke to Gairy first, and, according to Black-Briar, worked out that this man was a scammer within minutes. “His exact words were: ‘That Matthias guy is a joke, and I can’t do business with that guy,’” Black-Briar remembers. His pleading to work with the band directly came too late; the agent’s trust had been broken. “This dude was going to have us open for Aerosmith. I thought we were genuinely going to make it.”

When Black-Briar started confronting Gairy, it became clear what kind of individual he was dealing with. “This guy was writing me death threats from the [anonymous] Tor network, and calling my late wife a prostitute. He’s a sociopathic, narcissistic scumbag,” Black-Briar said. 

Bands Management Universal
– Bands Management Universal
The company boasted a legit-looking website

He recorded these conversations and hired a private investigator to track Gairy down and build a case against him. They couldn’t find him. Black-Briar hired debt collectors too, but they didn’t succeed either. According to him, the BBC had been on the case for a year. 

“Everyone should just have kept completely silent and just let me get on with what I was doing. But they had to blow it up and let Matthias know we’re all looking for him, which is the dumbest thing they could have done.”

Black-Briar’s investigations led him to find out that Gairy was also the man behind a company called DN4 DJS, which had been exposed as a scam by Mixmag in 2012. DN4 DJS operated the same way as BMU: promising as much to as many as possible, cash in and get out.

Back then, Gairy referred to himself as Riki Matthews. Prior to that, he ran a scam model agency. 

“This guy has been opening and closing businesses for the past ten years. This is what he does. He’s probably already on to his next thing. He knows he’s not going to get caught. Matthias Gairy isn’t his real name, his dad’s not from Grenada. He’s a fucking scumbag piece of shit from London that got the better of me.”

BMU is lying dormant on the UK’s companies house registry, and the latest accounts are designated as “overdue.” BMU’s filing history since its incorporation in 2012 mainly consists of personnel and registered office address changes.

In Dec. 2016, the BMU received a notice for compulsory strike-off, which is usually sent to companies not carrying on business, giving them two months to respond. And BMU reacted in time for the striking-off action to be suspended. But the company’s website is down and, needless to say, there is no contact information to be found on a man that doesn’t exist.

The weirdest part of the story, according to Black-Briar, is the fact that Gairy had decided to build a viable business model on the back of those bands that had already reached a certain amount of success on their own. He says his own band, The Black Horses, as well as Chasing Ghosts, who won the Ubeat Rock Act of the Year award in 2016, were among them.

“He claimed that he was leaving BMU, which is obviously a lie, because he is BMU. He said he wanted to take The Black Horses and Chasing Ghosts and genuinely work with us. We had a viable product to sell, this dude could have made money off us. He started actually doing work on our behalf, never mind that he was doing it badly, but by that time we didn’t trust him anymore.

“I believe that if I hadn’t started world war ten with him, that he would have actually tried to dump the others and keep The Black Horses and Chasing Ghosts. That’s what he was maneuvering to do. I can’t prove it, of course.”

To get back on track financially, Black-Briar had to sell his Audi and take up a loan against one of his businesses.

 “My band was smashed to pieces because of this scumbag lying to us. As the band leader, a lot of mistrust was placed onto me, because I’m the one relaying all the information to the other guys.”

Black-Briar doesn’t dwell on the past. His intention is to get back on the road again with a band as soon as possible.

 “I mean, how many shit managers did Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith and all of these bands have, before they found the right one? Shit like this does not stop rock ‘n’ roll!”