Artist manager

Who is that person, and three questions to think about before hire

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I heard that many producers are hiring managers who can help them with promotion in different media. Where can I find this person and how the process of working with manager looks like? Thanks.

From the Alexander’s previous question

First things off, I want to clarify: despite a popular belief, artist manager is not a booking agent. Sometimes these two jobs are done by a single person, but basically, these roles are very distinctive. Also, artist manager is not a guy who post on Facebook instead of you, although, it can be part of his daily routine. If you just want to find someone who would post on social media on your behalf, you don’t need a manager.

Artist managers primary duty is to set the right strategy depends on the artist goals, whatever it’s increase music sales, or become a worldwide touring artist. They make decisions what is good for the artist and what is not. They curate and develop artist’s music and his public appearance, i.e. branding.

A good manager has a plan how to turn out your goals into reality. And to do so, he usually takes all communication and coordination on his shoulders: with labels, agents, press, and PR. Besides knowing how the music business works and having deep connections in the industry, a manager has to be music enthusiast. Furthermore, a manager needs to believe in the artist even when others don’t. This one is probably the essential.


A good manager keeps things under control

Alexander, I don’t know where to find a manager. But before you will start to looking for, I suggest to think and honestly answer yourself to the three following questions.

“Do you need a manager in the first place?”

It’s tempting to think that once you’ll hire a person, he will solve all your problems. Let’s go through the obvious thing: a manager is a person who managing tasks. Simply enough. But If you have no fanbase, no mailing list, no music sales, no gigs, basically there is nothing for a manager to deal with.

A manager can’t take anybody and suddenly turn him into somebody, it just doesn’t work this way. For that reason most likely that the manager will find you rather than you will find him. Keep in mind that even a good manager doesn’t guarantee your success.

“Can you afford a manager?”

Standard deal in the industry is an agreement for 1–3 years with a percentage-based commission from the artist gross revenue, roughly around 10–20%. So, let’s say if your current contracts are $300 worth, a manager’s fee out of this will be like...$30? I doubt that any professional will work for such money. 

Standard deal: 1–3 years contract with 10–20% commission from gross revenue

If your music doesn’t generate a solid income, you won’t be able to pay him, unless you have laid a long-term budget out of your pocket, or you have a sponsor. Simply like in any other business, same rules applies.

“Can you do it yourself?”

Let’s take a chef. I used to work as a cook, so this is a first-hand experience. A good chef not only able to cook everything that available in the menu and beyond, but also he has advanced knowledge about management, chemistry, negotiations, supply and delivery, professional equipment, communication, and presentations. He knows how restaurant business works. And he knows all of this because he passed through everything, from washing the dishes to where is he at the moment.

If you’ll find a manager too early, you’ll probably miss an opportunity to learn and experience all aspects of music business on your own skin. But once you did, you’ll either get a better understanding of what kind of person you should look for a manager position, either you’ll realize that you don’t need a manager at all because you can handle the stuff and do it yourself.

Keep calm and do it yourself

On cover image: a manager watch you takes off. Illustration © Zyablitsev

P.S. This post is a part of the weekly “Advice” series. I’m happy to advise on such topics as production, performance, management, marketing, and design in the music industry and beyond. Send me your questions, too.

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