Sunday, October 3, 2010

Management - Finding it & Making it Work for You

inding the Right Manager

The roles of the manager are varied. The manager needs to be a cheerleader, a liaison, and a bank. Often, managers also take on the role of creative consultant, accountant, babysitter, driver, and on and on. Clearly, it is a good thing to have someone like this on your team. While you may have people approaching you and offering their services, of course, you may also need to do some legwork of your own in order to find a manager. Again, do all of the things you would do to find a compatible record label. Identify who is managing artists that you admire creatively and whose careers are going in a direction you would like yours to go in. Solicit opinions from others in your community. For instance, ask the person who books the club you play at which managers they would recommend you speak to. People who book clubs, as well as journalists, DJs, and others in the industry typically have extensive contact with managers, and may have a very pragmatic opinion on their on their efficacy.

Labels and Artist Managers

Simply put, an artist who has strong management is often going to be signed before an artist who doesn't, all other things being equal. Labels rely on managers to help them create and execute marketing strategy. Additionally, labels often need a buffer between themselves and the artist. The manager plays this role. Of course, there are many artists who prefer to deal directly with the label, whether they have management or not. In most cases, though, the manager allows the artist to focus on being creative, while the manager works out the more nuts-and-bolts aspects of releasing records with the label. This is not to say that the manager should not be keeping the artist informed of all that is going on. They should. But the label relies on the manager to communicate details to the artist in the right manner, and at the right time.

Getting Good Management Before the Deal

Labels also prefer artists with good management because they know that once the artist is signed to the label, unless the artist decides to part ways with the manager, they're stuck with the manager for the duration. It is illegal for a record company to meddle with artist/manager relations. Doing so would fall loosely under the term "tortious interference" --a fancy lawyer-boy term for, "Keep your stinking nose out of my business, you jackass." So, if you come to a label with a manager who is a bozo, the label is going to know that they are going to have to work with said bozo until he either gets his act together or the artist wakes up and fires him. Artists are usually reluctant to take this step, out of loyalty, and so, yes, the label gets stuck with the bozo. Of course, the label doesn't have to choose this option. It can just not sign the band. This happens more than you might think. One of the first questions record execs ask when presented with a possible signing, is, "Who is the manager?" If it's a manager who has a bad reputation or is inordinately difficult to work with, or just plan ineffective, the label will frequently pass on the artist.


In my opinion, it is better to have a manager who is passionate -- and not a bozo -- then one who is connected or financed but lacks passion, vision, or understanding of what your goals are as an artist. You will be working very closely with this person, and you need to be able to communicate easily and effectively together. Additionally, you need to trust that they will represent your artistic vision in a way that you are comfortable with. They will be your mouthpiece in many situations. Lastly, you need to really understand what your objectives are and choose a manager who will help you get there, and then set new objectives with you and help you achieve those. Good managers aren't easy to find, so you must look long and hard and carefully. In many ways, the manager becomes another member of the band.

Excerpt from The Self-Promoting Musician Strategies for Independent Music Success 
©2000 Berklee Press Used by Permission


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