What would I be looking for if I were to manage an artist today? What are the things that would attract me? What advice would I give an artist, or their family, on the things they should be doing right now if they want to attract a manager?
As we discussed in the last post, a music manager only gets paid if you’re getting paid. So trying to seek out and get an experienced person in the beginning, when you’re not generating an income, is going to be very hard. It’s not impossible. Nothing is impossible, but it is very hard. So you want to make yourself as attractive to this person as you possibly can. I would be looking for an artist who has a great work ethic. They just don’t talk about what they are going to do. They are actually doing it. I could look into social media and see that they are engaged with their fan base, I can see that they are touring, that they are performing, that they are getting better. Remember, I don’t care about how pretty you are, how great you sound. There are thousands and thousands of people just like that all over the place. I am looking for that rare person who understands and treats it like a business. I want to make sure that somebody is working every day, I want to make sure that I find someone who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Someone that is not looking for someone else to do all the work.
I like to it call it date for a little while. I want to see how that artist handles the bad times. Not just the good times. The thing that sucks the most from a music manager’s perspective is that when everything is going great the artist or the label gets all credit, but when it’s going bad it always falls back on the music manager. And that’s just wrong but hey, that’s part of the business. And that’s one of the things you need to expect if you plan on choosing this career path. But I want to see how this artist handles adversity. I want to see how this artist handles instruction. I want to see how this artist reacts when things don’t go right at a gig. I want to see how this artist reacts when they read some negative press. Before, I would find myself falling in love with the music first and then working my tail off on behalf on this artist. This time around I want to see the true colors of the artist. And a lot of times you don’t get to see that for a while.
Also, I think that for young artist and parents, there’s no need to jump into a contract very quickly. Let the person prove themself to you because it’s a relationship. You are dating. So that’s why I like the process, or the thought, of possibly dating first. Keep in mind that if anything comes from the date (they generate for you income-wise), that person is entitled to whatever percentage that you guys agree upon. I just don’t want anyone getting locked in to a long-term engagement. Once the dating is over, I would also get all of the artists that I decide to take on long term under contract. I’ve done the handshake deal before and that has come back to bite me in the back. Everyone has great intentions, but whenever there’s money involved you should always have a contract. If they don’t want to sign a contract with you, they are probably not the right artist that you want to be involved with anyway. Also too, if you are an artist signing the contract, make sure that the sunset clause is realistic. You know, if somebody is with you for three months and their contract states that they have a 5-year sunset on you, that’s bull.
So really make sure that the things are really proportionate there. When looking for an artist right now, make sure that this artist understands time management. A lot of times they tend to get overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s one of the things that we are really trying to focus on here inside the Music Industry Blueprint. I’m preparing this artist for their time management. Let me watch them get overwhelmed right now and try to help them out. I mean, it’s part of life. But it also shows me when they pick up the phone and they call and say, “Look, it’s not going well right now. What do I do?” That’s the type of artist I want to work with. I want to work with someone who can be honest. I want someone to be able to show me their faults because we can help them when they show their faults. Too often artists try to show only the good side. Parents are the worst example of this. They only want to focus on how great their kid is. Advice to parents (and actually, I’m going to make a video for you, just the parents): Stop telling us how great your kids are. We’ll determine that for ourselves. Remember that if your child is a minor, the labels also signing you, so if you’re a pain in the ass, then your kid probably won’t get signed because the labels won’t want to deal with you. But that’s a whole different video.
So to wrap this up, if you are an artist, show me that you are a hard worker, show me that you’re consistently doing the things that you need to do to move your career forward. Show me that you put in the initiative, show me that you are out there busting your hump every day to move your career forward. And if you are a manager looking for artists pay attention to work ethic, honesty and integrity. That’s just my little bit of advice to you.
Next time, I’m going to talk specifically to parents and the kids, I’m going to show how to increase your odds of getting someone to take you on as a client, and the things parents can be doing to prepare yourselves where you currently live. You don’t have to pack up and head to LA and Chicago and Nashville and New York. We’ll be just fine without you right now, but here are some things that you could do where you are to better your odds and better your chances before you make that move.