As a manager in the Music Industry, I get asked a lot of questions. I wanted to share a few of those questions with you today. First, we should probably find out what it is that a manager does.
I do what most people do; go to Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, a talent manager (also known as an artist manager, band manager, or music manager) is an individual or company that guides the professional career of artists in the entertainment industry. I've been blessed to have been in the entertainment industry now for coming up on 30 years, was the former manager of superstar Taylor Swift, and have managed other clients. I've gotten them Publishing deals, Independent and Major Label record deals, and was blessed to have worked with American Idol.
If you look at all the successful artists right now, I guarantee they have a manager or at least someone who is calling the shots, someone who is helping them lay out the big picture, someone who is helping them strategize.
Think of the “Artist Manager” as the General Manager of a Business. Specifically the GM of your business. They don’t own the business but are making the majority of the decisions based on what has been agreed upon by the GM and the business owner.
Now to the questions on Artist Management.
QUESTION #1 – What should I look for in a Manager?
The first thing I would look for is someone you trust. I will take trust over experience any day. You can gain experience, it takes longer to gain trust. When I was first asked to manage Taylor, my initial response was “No” because I felt I wasn’t qualified. Her dad Scott, said first and foremost, she trusts you and we trust you. You can learn the rest.
Someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to get you the answers you need. Remember I had zero exp[eriance when I managed Taylor, but I wasn’t afraid to learn and more importantly I wasn’t afraid to ask for help.
A music manager is a big-picture person. Does the artist currently have the skill set in order to move to the next level? If they do, then they move them to that next level. If they don't, they get the necessary resources to prepare the artist to move to that next level.
They're the person that's going to make sure that all the dots connect in order to get to where it is that you ultimately want to go.
Look for someone who will “Hustle.”
QUESTION #2 – When do I need a Manager?
When you decide that you want to be in the Music BUSINESS. When you decide that you want to start putting music out into the world. When you realize that you have talent, hunger, and passion, and want to get your music heard by as many people as possible.
That's when you should start looking for a music manager, someone who can help guide your career and help you reach the goal you want to achieve.
Too often people wonder when they should approach a music management company. Today, the management companies, are not necessarily waiting to be approached. If you are doing the right things, creating a buzz, have music in the marketplace and people are starting to talk about you, a good management company is going to find you.
I always tell people that YOU are your first record company, publishing company, booking agent, and manager. As the business starts to get bigger and you want to move it to the next level, that’s when you need to start adding people to your team. A manager is usually that next person, but you want to make sure that you have something to offer.
You want to let them know that you're already making money and that you are a good investment. With traditional management companies, the managers don't get paid until the artist starts generating revenue. What we're finding out today is that it takes some time for revenue to start coming in where someone is able to be paid. So they're going to probably leave you on your own for a little bit.
The good news is, the tools and resources are out there for you to do a lot of this stuff on your own to make yourself attractive to a management company.
QUESTION #3 – What should I expect from a Manager?
Professionalism. They work for and represent you. Honesty. There are times when the manager is going to have to have uncomfortable conversations with the artist. You want a solutions-oriented person not just someone who kisses your butt.
Someone who is going to get the best out of you even when you are trying to resist. They're going to get you out of your comfort zone. They're going to help you devise a plan to get to that next level and make sure you have all the tools and resources you need to do it.
They're also the person that's going to have tough conversations with you. When you need representation, when you need someone to fight for you, when you need someone to defend you, that's what you expect from your manager.
QUESTION #4 – How do you pay a Manager/How does a Manager get paid?
Traditionally, the manager makes a percentage of whatever it is that you're making. That fee is between 15-20% of the “Gross Income.” That means off the top. For example… If you make a $1.00 your manager will make $0.15 – $0.20…
Now, you might be asking yourself, what if I'm not making anything right now? Can I still have a manager? The answer is “Yes.” You will just have to get creative. The top management companies will sometimes be ok with not making an income in the beginning as they are making revenue from their bigger clients. But, if you are not in a position to get the attention of a top management company, then you're probably going to have to pay for your manager yourself.
Remember, the manager is an employee and you are the business owner. If you want to have employees work for you, those people need to get paid. You should NEVER expect someone to work for free.
There's a lot of different structures that can be put into place. The key is to make sure everyone feels like they are not being taken advantage of.
QUESTION #5 – Am I even ready for a Manager?
Everyone's situation is different. No two artists' career paths have ever been the same. So to help you, I created the “Are You Ready For A Manager Assessment” where you will answer some easy, very simple questions. Now. In order for this to work properly, you must be honest with yourself!
The assessment will score you based on your answers. You will be identified as one of the following. Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced. You will then be invited to a Free Training.
I walk you through the things we just talked about in more detail, including examples of what I've been able to do for artists in different situations based on what they needed for their careers.
In life, you can usually track failure. What went wrong, what happened, why didn’t something work? What is hard to track sometimes is Success. Everyone's path to success is different. But the one thing that all these successful people have in common is a person that's helping them figure this thing out. Someone to hold them accountable, help get them to the next level. All successful people, all successful businesses, all successful teams have someone who's helping call the shots, and that person is usually…the manager.
And who knows, maybe I am the right person to manage your career:-)