Over the past several weeks I have had numerous musicians ask me if I could recommend a good manager. While I do know a bunch of qualified people who are currently managing bands, it is abundantly clear that there is a lack of skilled people to help artists out with day to day management. But, do you really need a manager and if you do, where are you going to find the right fit?
I don’t have a quick fix for this dilemma. You are struggling to do something for one of two reasons, A. you are a masochist or B. you love making music. Granted, most musicians are a combination of A and B, artists generally struggle so mightily for the love of their art. The struggle, if done in the right manner, can lead to marginal success. The problem, and thus the potential need for a manager (and the reason for the title of this post) is what to do when the artist fails or does not know how to capitalize on this success.
When an artist builds a buzz by herself and is able to get music produced and shows booked, the struggle takes on a whole new level. Artists who come into my office are usually at this point. They have been approached by a label or they have a potential license deal or maybe they are attempting to put together a summer tour. Their problems of creating music have now escalated into the need for management of a career. A good manager may be the answer.
Managers come in all shapes and sizes. There are huge management companies, see Crush Management, and their are the friend-turned-manager type. The danger for the artist is that the big management companies sometimes fail to pay attention to a band unless it has a top forty song while the former friend manager may not know what the hell he is doing. That is why finding a good manager that fits your needs is not often the easiest thing to do.
If you are at the point where you A. really need help with booking shows, organizing a tour, coming up with marketing, licensing and branding ideas for your band and B. can afford to pay someone around 20% of everything you make, you need to do a lot of due diligence before you hire your manager. If you aren’t at this point yet, you need to continue the independent struggle. If you are a band, divvy up the responsibilities. If you are a solo artist, ask your parents or siblings for help (or sleep even less). If you can answer yes to both A and B, then you should start interviewing managers.
There is nothing wrong with hiring a friend, if that friend has some business skills, is good with people, is tough enough not to back down from shady promoters, club owners and label execs. Talk to your friends who have already hired a manager; network to find the right fit for you. You need to vibe with the person and share a similar vision for where your music should be.
Finally, put your relationship with your manager down in writing. Even if you are friends, you want to be able to go back to a piece of paper to determine what is owed and what is not rather than try to remember what you agreed to after 11 PBRs. Contracts are important, especially in the early stages of relationships. Just ask Paul McCartney’s wife (that was a lame pre-nup joke, sorry).