"I love hymns and gospel music, but the idea of turning your music into a tool for evangelism is missing the point. Music is the language of the spirit anyway."
What U2 Fans Should Know About Guy Oseary (From A Madonna Fan)
November 17, 2013
Many U2 fans heard the news of Guy Oseary becoming U2's manager and had to look the name up.
They learned that Oseary started his career with Madonna in the music industry at her former label, Maverick Records. He quickly worked his way up the ladder to chairman and helped develop a roster of artists that included The Prodigy, Alanis Morissette and Paul Oakenfold.
In 2001, Oseary and Madonna established Maverick Films. He has been executive producer of the Twilight movies. His TV credits include executive producing Last Call with Carson Daly and NBC's New Year's Eve. In 2005, he became Madonna's manager.
I didn't have to look up Oseary. As a Madonna fan, I had been aware of him for some time. I have had opportunities to meet him along the way. I have attended three of the last four Madonna tours, and I've been a member of the Madonna fan club off and on over the years. I've read about him on Madonna fan sites along the way, and interacted with him via Twitter.
Here's what I can tell you about Guy Oseary.
If a Madonna concert is a party, and Madonna herself is the entertainment, then Oseary can only be described as the host. Before shows and during breaks, Oseary is out on the floor of the concert meeting with fans. He likes to find out where fans are coming from, how many times they've seen the tour and how they became fans. He will often take photos of the fans that look like they are having a good time. He has posted some of the best of those shots on Instagram and Twitter.
The most recent Madonna tour featured a stage that was very similar to the one U2 used for the Elevation tour, right down to the pointed "heart" area in the center of the stage for fans. Unlike U2 shows, this was not first come, first served; instead, Oseary hosted a number of contests that allowed fans to try for entry. These contests included one for registered members of the fan club, where they would have to send in a photograph holding their tickets for the concert. Another contest involved fans with Madonna-related tattoos sending photos directly to Oseary. He also picked out fans that looked like they were having fun or were dressed for a "party" as he wound his way through the crowd prior to the show. Guy's Instagram account is filled with photos from past shows, and each and every night he was taking photos and posting them as the concert was going on. He always has a camera handy.
Oseary will also use social media to provide hints about upcoming Madonna projects and to announce things in conjunction with her website. He has been known to answer questions about projects and to tease hints of things to come.
When Oseary first joined Madonna as manager, he had already worked with her for years as a business partner in her own career, and on the label she founded. So it's difficult to point to changes after he became her manager in 2005. One change during that time was the transition of Madonna's fan club from a magazine called Icon to an internet-based fan club in December 2006. Much like the story of Propaganda, the time it took to put together a magazine and mail it around the world meant the news was often dated when it arrived. Longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that longtime subscribers of Icon were looked after as the transition was made, and still receive an annual digital gift, as well as early access to ticket sales. As for those ticket sales, they recently changed again, and we covered how those were done back in February 2012 after Madonna announced her tour the day after the Super Bowl.
Although I'm a Madonna fan, I haven't followed her around to multiple concerts in one tour, and haven't been as close to Madonna's career as some friends of mine. So I reached out and asked some of these fans that have had more exposure what Oseary is like. I was surprised at the overwhelming positive response to my queries. It seems everyone I spoke to has an Oseary story -- all of them positive. Stories included Oseary arranging for a lifelong fan to have his hand shaken by Madonna during a concert, to arranging for a fan recovering from cancer to see the concert from a much better location than his tickets would have allowed. (I once saw Oseary stop to ask a fan with some mobility issues if they were sure they wanted to be in the location they were, suggest a few better vantage points from which to see the concert and help them reach those locations.)
As to how Oseary will mesh with the U2 organization? Well, the last Madonna tour made use of the U2 tour team. Jake Berry was Production Director, Rocko Reedy was the Stage Manager, Scott Nichols the security director and Alison Larkin was the Tour Coordinator. They've held similar positions on past U2 tours. The Madonna tour made use of others from U2's tour staff through security, carpenters, and riggers. It would seem that many names that have surrounded U2 over the years, at least on the tour side, spent a considerable amount of time with Oseary last year. Between the stage looking very similar to that of the Elevation tour, and seeing a lot of familiar faces among the crew, I was definitely having a few flashbacks to U2 shows. (Even more when Oakenfold started spinning U2 remixes during the opening act.)
My own experience with Oseary? He seems plugged in and in all the right places. He seems to genuinely want to connect with the fans. And after the last show I saw, I felt the need to let him know how much I appreciated what he did for the fans that night, myself included. When I first heard the announcement that he'll be managing U2, I was actually quite excited by the news. I wish him luck as he joins the U2 team, and I hope the U2 fan community will have many positive experiences of their own with Oseary in coming years.
(Photo via @GuyOseary)
© @U2/Sams, 2013.