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Do You Need A Music Manager?

Picture of Frances Katz
3 minute read

Whether or not you need a music manager depends on where you are and want to go with your music career. According to Digital Music News, managers were once the main liaison between artists and their record labels. But a manager’s role today focuses on a variety of different things, from touring, social media, and financial management to developing other revenue streams including music licensing, branding, and merchandising. 

You may be fine tackling these tasks on your own, or you may want to consider bringing someone with more expertise on board so you can devote more time to making music. Whatever you choose to do, here are some things to keep in mind.

What Makes A Good Manager

The main reason an artist brings a manager on board is to help advance their career in a way they believe they can’t on their own. According to The Guardian, a good manager is an organized, outgoing person who understands the modern music industry’s complex world of songs, streams, synchs, social media, and marketing. 

Depending on your needs, a manager’s tasks may include promoting your music to labels and streaming services or landing a great festival gig. Most experts agree that anyone you are considering as your manager should have three basic qualities:

  1. A manager must have a thorough grasp of how the music industry works, and more importantly, how it can work for you via promoters, streaming platforms, record labels, and marketing campaigns. Artist PR says someone with an industry background can use their network to help you get where you want to go, whether you’re looking for better gigs, sharper marketing, more streams, or a record deal.

  2. A good manager is responsible, makes sure things get done, and keeps you organized and on time. Whether it’s loading up your gear and getting to the venue, handling your finances, or making sure everyone is where they need to be for sound checks, recording sessions, or interviews, the manager is the point person that keeps everything running smoothly so you can focus on more important matters.

  3. Many artists rely on a trustworthy manager to handle the business side of their careers, including such revenue sources as live gigs and sync licenses. According to Artist PR, being financially responsible is one of the most important things to look for in a good manager. It’s vital to work with someone with a proven record of sound money management and honesty.

What Should You Ask a Potential Manager?

If you decide a manager could help you move your career where you want it to go, you should approach hiring a manager the same way businesses hire top-level executives. Remember, the manager works for you, not the other way around. Be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Do they like you? Your manager has to believe in what you do. They don’t have to be your biggest fan, but they should be excited about promoting your music and advancing your career. Or as DIY Musician says, if it seems like the manager is only interested in making money, just say ‘no thanks.’

  • Are they experienced? It’s great for your manager to love your music, but that alone isn’t enough. They also need to bring concrete skills to the table. Ask them what other artists they’ve worked with, both past and present, advises Artist PR. After the meeting, look up the artists and see how they are doing. Examining their social media and touring schedules should give you some idea of whether the manager was working hard on behalf of these clients. If you can, get in touch with these other artists and ask for honest feedback. 

  • How much will they cost? If you think you’ve found a candidate who gets you and has the skills you want and need in a manager, it’s time to talk about money. Artists PR advises artists to have a frank discussion about what percentage a manager expects to be paid and if they also want a base salary on top of that percentage. This will help you understand what revenue streams they hope to be part of. If the candidate’s answer differs from your expectations, it’s probably not a good fit. DIY Musician stresses that no matter what type of role your manager will play, a signed contract is the best way to be sure there are no conflicts of interest, bad feelings, or legal problems in the future.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to set yourself up for success. Take the time to do your research, interview lots of candidates, and find the person you’ll vibe with. And don’t forget, to get control of your publishing and make sure you’re not leaving any money on the table; register with Songtrust today!


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