When industry veteran Missy Worth finally agreed to a Q&A session with us, we knew we were in store for some great industry stories. Today she manages prolific punk rockers Rise Against along with indie stalwart Spill Canvas, but she has also guided the early development of artists such as Jeff Buckley, Alice In Chains and OneRepublic, among others. Her career spans a very colorful and exciting time in the business. A resume that includes running labels, concert promotion and artist management, while working with some of the industry’s most powerful and iconic figures —Irving Azoff, Michael Lippman, Donnie Ienner and Sandy Gallin to name a few. Pay close attention. She shares a lot of insight and perspective. You might learn a thing or two. We certainly did.
RM64: What was your first job in the music business?
MW: I worked at (entertainment law firm) Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, through a temp agency. I was 17.
RM64: Did you have aspirations to be in the music business at that time?
MW: I did. I was sitting in history class in Northridge and I was ‘what am I doing here?’ I only care about music and movies, anything to take me out of my life. I didn’t want to make movies because I couldn’t compete with my dad, he was just too good at it. I went home and said ‘I’m not going to school anymore.’ My parents said if I wasn’t going to go to school then I had to get a job. I called Apple Temp Agency on Sunset and they got me in as a temp in the file room at MS&K.
RM64: So what happened next?
MW: I meet attorneys Abe Summer, Milt Olin and Peter Lopez who were working in the music division. I suggested that they get a scout because they wanted new developing acts. Then I brought them The Motels and Milt became the band’s lawyer. Interestingly enough it also led to my next job. Michael Lippman wanted to manage The Motels because he had just left Arista Records and wanted a young rock band. So Milt introduced me to Michael and I left MS&K and went to work for Michael’s management company. I told him I was 18 and he didn’t get the band, but he did get me.
RM64: So you lied?
MW: Yes. (laughs) I was still 17.
RM64: What was your role with Michael?
MW: Well, first I was his receptionist. Then I became the production assistant for Ron Nevison and Harry Maslin helping with producer duties, like booking the studios , watching the budgets, getting food for them, very glamorous. I also worked with Eric Carmen and Melissa Manchester as kind of their day to day assistant. I worked for Michael for a long time, he taught me the business in a way I’m very lucky to have learned. He taught the big picture, record company, publishing, imaging and touring. If you knew that you could manage, if you didn’t, you had to learn it all. Nothing has been more valuable to me.
RM64: So you became a day-to-day manager?
MW: You didn’t call it that then. None of those fancy terms came about. You were paid no money. You didn’t get a TV. You got phones thrown at you and you helped throw their parties. There weren’t any ‘day-to-day’ managers or anything like that. You were their assistant. And you did whatever you were told to do. There was no entitlement, that started in the 90’s. And you were really happy to do it. I remember I got Eric Carmen the wrong blow dryer and it was a disaster. Literally, he kicked me out of the apartment. He was screaming ‘how am I going to do my hair now!’ I don’t know if you know anything about Eric, but his hair was perfect…
RM64: Quaffed hair?
MW: Yes, but it was perfect and it took him like an hour to do and I got him the wrong blow dryer. I almost got fired for that!
RM64: That’s funny. Back to management…
MW: Yes in today’s terms you would call it being a day-to-day manager. Back then you were just the assistant and you were really happy to be learning. But you could read all the contracts and deal memos that came in. And all the phones had mute buttons. It was awesome because you were on the phone taking notes for your boss, but you were really learning an immense amount. You were hearing how they manipulated the whole situation and how they negotiated and how it all worked by hearing both sides of it. Now I think people don’t even sit in the offices with their assistants. And they certainly aren’t allowed to make phone calls for you anymore or any of that stuff, but that’s how I learned everything. I sat on the couch across from Michael and I was on the phone all day.