Courtesy of Chris Bianchi
Chris Bianchi, a locally based artist manager and indie label owner who grew up in Streetsboro and now lives in Kent, might be in his thirties, but he’s had years of experience in the music industry. His former heavy metal band, Forever in Terror, signed a record deal when he was still in high school.
“Legally, the parents had to sign our contract,” he says one day over lunch. Bianchi, who runs CB Entertainment
, has just published The Music Agenda: Best Practices For Your Music Career
, an e-book designed to help bands understand how they can make money from their music, and he’s partnered with INgrooves/Universal Music to host his own record label, Legend Recordings. “That was pretty exciting and what got me started in the business. I learned hands-on. It fell into my lap to follow up on our shows and collect our money every night and follow up on the business side of things.”
At age 3, Bianchi had a mini drum kit, and as he got older, he gravitated to the hard rock that was popular in the '80s.
“I liked bands like Kiss, Poison, Motley Crue,” he says. “As I got into high school, my parents were supportive when I wanted to start a band. They helped us sell tickets when we played at the old Peabody’s and would drive us up in the mini-van with our classmates to the shows.”
Forever in Terror performed for a couple of years before inking its deal with Metal Blade. The band regularly played throughout Northeast Ohio and even toured Canada.
“It was a learning experience,” says Bianchi. “The label was supportive and gave us opportunity when other people wouldn’t. I’m forever thankful for that. If I knew now what I knew then, it would be different. There was nobody to teach us. They just sent us out on tour, and nobody explained the business side of things to us. That was one of the things that led to our failure. We just didn’t understand business.”
While on tour with Forever in Terror, Bianchi discovered other up-and-coming bands and began to think of ways he could help up-and-coming acts. So when Forever in Terror disbanded, he turned to management and artist development.
“I would give other bands guidance and took bands on tour,” he says.
Around 2011, he and a friend started booking shows at the Outpost Concert Club. They booked then-unknown acts such as Machine Gun Kelly and Twenty One Pilots. CB Entertainment formed at that point.
“The first time, there were like three people there to see Twenty One Pilots,” says Bianchi. “They were opening for one of our bands. They were just a local act out of Columbus. We paid them $20 or something, and they put on an incredible show. About six months later, they came back through on another tour package, and there were 50 or 60 people.”
Bianchi says that given the way consumers get their music today, bands don’t necessarily need a record label.
“I have a formula in place depending on the artist and what they want to accomplish,” he says. “I build assets with them and teach them the business. It’s almost like a college class even though I’m no professor. I show [bands] how to create LLCs and how to establish credit and get on the road. That’s been the bread and butter. I do some management as well. I try to help artists go from local to national.”
Currently, Bianchi has an artist and consulting roster of about 12 bands.
Six months ago, he was speaking at a music conference in Pittsburgh and befriended William Metzger, a lawyer who had similar interests. They talked about the things they had in common and agreed to collaborate on a book together.
“We worked on it back and forth for about six months and then sent to an editor who tightened it up and made it look more professional,” says Bianchi. “We've gotten great response from musicians and industry people as well. Other artist managers have bought the book and told me they were inspired by it. That’s been a twist to it. We didn’t imagine that. We just thought musicians would be the main audience.”
They’ve built a playlist on Spotify, so that any band that buys the book goes on a custom playlist associated with the book. There will also be a physical copy of the book, and an audiobook is in the works as well.
“I think it’ll stand the test of time for a good three to five years if not longer,” says Bianchi. “We’ve been talking to some schools about using the book and creating curriculum around it. That would be my goal — I want to get more into speaking engagements and spreading awareness.”
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