Whether or not you need a music manager depends on where you are and where you want to go with your music career. Digital Music News says years ago managers were the liaisons between the artists and their record labels. But today a manager’s role 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 successful tackling these tasks on your own or you may want to consider bringing someone with more expertise so you can devote more time to making music.
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. Digital Music News says every manager should be able to give advice on all aspects of an artist’s career, be able to use industry connections and other relationships to generate new opportunities for clients and be able to negotiate those deals.
A good manager, according to The Guardian, is an organized, outgoing person, who understands the modern music industry world of songs, streams, synchs, social media and marketing. Depending on your needs, a manager’s tasks may include helping promote your music to labels and streaming services or landing you a great gig at a major festival. Most experts agree that anyone you are considering to be your manager should have three basic qualities:
Industry Knowledge: A manager must have is a good knowledge of the music industry, how it works and more importantly, how it can work for you. The Balances says a good manager gets the basics and knows how the various components of the industry operate including promoters, streamers, labels, marketers and trends. Artist PR says someone with an industry background can use their industry contacts to help you get where you want to go, whether you’re looking for better gigs, sharper marketing, more streams or a label contract.
Responsible: A good manager makes sure things get done, 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 other things.
Trustworthy: Many artists rely on a manager to handle the business side of their careers including income from live gigs and all other revenue sources. Artist PR says 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, says Artist PR, the manager works for you not the other way around.
Do they like you: Your manager has to believe in you and what you do. They don’t have to be your biggest fan, but they should be excited about helping promote your music and advance your career. 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 have concrete skills to bring to the table. Ask them what other artists they’ve worked with both past and present, advises Artist PR. After the meeting do some due-diligence and look up the artists and see how they are doing. Checking out 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 feedback, positive and negative.
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.
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We created this guide to answer a simple question: How do songwriters support themselves?
The answer is not as simple as we’d like, but our goal is to make it as clear, transparent and understandable as we possibly can.
Songtrust is more than just a rights management platform and publishing administrator - we’re a team of experts in the music community who strive to educate, support, and provide thought leadership to creators, representatives, and businesses across the music industry.
Our hope is that you’ll finish this guide with an better understanding of the business behind songwriting and have actionable resources to help you be successful. Included is an extensive glossary, too; if you see a term in bold in the text, you’ll find it in the glossary at the end.