I have been a bit lax on writing lately and won’t bore you with the excuses. I Do have a huge stack of topics coming out soon, and this one should have gone yesterday, but I logged on in the morning and the first thing I saw was that Jon Ostrow of Mic Control had beaten me to the punch with a great post from LiveUnsigned! His summation was in perfect agreement with mine, and today, I will look at it from another angle.
Do You Need A Manager?
The answer is pretty simple, if you are advanced to the point of making recordings and playing some local gigs – and you want to move beyond that - you need a manager. Like it or not, you already have one. Your manager is probably yourself, and I would wager that if you are booking gigs, and going through all it takes to pull them off and promote your art, you have begun to wonder where all your practice time went. We can all use someone to help with the business end of things.
Think of tossing a stone into a pond and notice the ever-widening ripples. That is your music career. Just as a child notices that a larger stone makes a larger ripple, the better your management team, the larger your success. But, you won’t ever make a wave hit the opposite shore, if you don’t toss the first stone into the water. Now, let’s find you the right stone.
Uh, What’s a Manager?
A talent, or artist manager is the person who does all the mucky business stuff you do now which isn’t practicing, recording, or performing your music. Mangers wear many hats, and as your business grows, you will need to split management into several micro categories.
Your manager will be responsible for: booking, contracts, publicity, scheduling, securing publishing, arranging recording sessions, promotion, dealing with producers, P.R.O.’s, record labels (maybe building yours), organizing events, making sure you get paid, making sure you pay your taxes and everyone else you are supposed to. That’s the short generic list, anyway.
How to Choose
Your new manager may be your parent, a sibling, your cousin’s girlfriend who knows every club owner in town. I would avoid the girlfriends or boyfriends of any band members, surely you won’t ask why… This should be someone who is willing to work for next to nothing for a while if you are just getting started, but you should pay them something. 15% – 30% of gross is pretty standard. As your act grows in name, so should your manager’s name and influence. It may be that you get a friend or family member to help you and they also “go big time”. You may need to work with several different managers as you make larger steps in your career.
Don’t rush, all good things take time. If you are trying to step into a larger circle, your team must be able to make that step, too! There is going to be more paperwork, and more effort in every area! Research! I can’t advise strongly enough how important it is to do your research! Before you make any agreements in writing, be sure you understand exactly what you are getting into. Here is a perfect list of questions from the Liveunsigned article posted on Mic Control yesterday:
- How much commission will they take? Does this amount change for any reason?
- How many other acts are they managing? Are you a priority?
- Does the management want to be involved in the creative part of the process?
- Whats the long term plan for your career?
- What new acts have they broken recently? The music industry has changed a lot in the last few years and they need to be up with current trends.
- Whats the plan for playing live, is it small tours, supports or even house concerts?
- Will you build a following through DIY methods or look for an old style recording/publishing deal?
- Whats their social media strategy?
- How long is the contract for? What happens if things don’t work out?
- How much will they put into the band in cash/time terms?
- Who exactly do they know? Can they prove it? Have they a proven track record?
- Do they understand your genre and have contacts that are relevant?
Remember,no matter who is on your team, you are ultimately responsible for your success. The response to your music and act will be equal to the response you give to your fans. You must interact with them in social media, talk to them at shows, and in general make them know how much you appreciate them. The right manager will make sure you have time to be personal.
Take a Load Off
Finding the right team will ease your mind, and your time. You should find yourself – after a few months of insane photo shoots and recording work, etc – with more time for music. Music is the reason you do this, right? If your music is good and backed by the right team, you will begin to see results! So, get some help booking the local scene, hanging flyers, developing merch and all the other tedious work, and start making some ripples and waves!
Here are some informative links to help you along your way:
Let us know your thoughts, that’s what this site is all about, musicians helping musicians!