What does a manager do?
A manager, not to be confused with an agent, is someone who deals with the day to day organisation of your career. A manager provides you with a clear direction for your career in the music industry and overall artist branding. An agent books your gigs.
In a time where artists remaining independent is becoming more and more popular, you would be right in thinking “do I need a manager?” And “what can a manager bring to the table that I can’t?”
The short answer is simply time. A manager can help build a team of experienced professionals around you, offer general advice and help you make important decisions. Giving you more time to focus on making music and performing. Allowing your mind to focus on the creativity that is so often pushed aside due to the endless list of administrative jobs required to be an independent artist.
Although it can be valuable to network yourself, you simply can’t be in multiple places at once. So, having a manager on the ground meeting people is a huge benefit. They will maintain relationships and be their first point of contact. Further freeing up your time!
When are you ready for a manager?
It is important to know when a manager would be interested in working with you. Contacting managers too early can be harmful to your career, just like submitting your music too early. If your music isn’t release ready and you only have a small following, managers will remember you this way. As a result, they will be less likely to work with you in the future. Even if your career has seriously progressed and your music is much better. Below are a few things to consider when deciding if you are ready for a manager:
- You need to prove that you have already done a lot of hard work to get where you are. This may include: gigging regularly and building a strong live fanbase, testimonials from reputable press, already released music that has achieved high engagement, a professional EPK, a good idea of how your sound and image tie in with each other, you know how you stand out, you have natural talent and create standout music.
- If managers are already getting in touch with you and showing interest in your music, that’s a good indication that you’re ready.
- Are the administration jobs taking so much of your time that you can no longer focus on the music? If so, then it is worth looking for help. If you’re not meeting the other criteria – don’t worry. Perhaps, you could ask a friend who is passionate about your music to help you out. They’re likely to enjoy being a part of your career and contributing towards your success.
- Is your online following big enough? When deciding what a “big enough” following is, look at the other artist(s) that the manager is working with or has previously worked with. If your following is close, then you’re good to go.
- You’re confident in your knowledge of the different roles within the music industry. The best thing you can do for your own security is to educate yourself on the industry as much as possible. Research seminars, webinars, conferences etc. and do your best to attend. Ask all of your burning questions and make sure you fully understanding as many sectors as possible. By doing this you will be far more confident negotiating future management, recording and publishing deals. Instead of avoiding these conversations through the fear of being ripped off.
- As a general point, ask yourself “have I taken my career as far as I can without assistance?” If the answer is “yes”, you are most likely ready to get the help of an experienced professional to take your career up another notch.
How do you know that a manager is right for you?
The ideal situation is to have multiple offers from different managers. Meet them informally and chat about what they can offer you, how they can project your career to the next level and how they will go about achieving this. They should have experience and a plan of action. Plus, a clear vision of where you will be in a certain time frame. A good manager should have varied experience within the industry. With a wealth of good contacts and relationships including labels, publishers, venues and agents to name a few.
You should be able to tell if they have a genuine passion for your music. Consider asking what they like about your music and what their favourite song is, they should be able to answer straight away. Ask your contacts if they’ve heard of the manager and what they think of them.
Big question: how do they expect to get paid? Managers use different formats of payment, some work on a cut of your gross earnings, some on a monthly fee for example. Can you afford this and sustain it? They should work with you for at least 3 months without a contract to see how things go.
Introducing a manager to your team can bring many benefits, but it is worth taking your time when approaching this decision and asking yourself if you are ready to take this next step. If so, consider your options carefully and choose someone who fits in with your ethos and has a genuine passion for your future.