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Sep012011 Answers "Do I Really Need a Manager?"


Recently- over the weekend I was in a studio session with a new good friend of mine out in Los Angeles. Amongst the creative energy and good vibes circling the room we began to talk about the arms and legs of the music industry, the business side but more specifically- Personal Management. She expressed her feelings on certain details that are currently happening in her career with those who are interested (Managers, Publishers ) while the “pros” were great they did not seem to out-weigh the “cons”. While advising her (like I do all my clients) that the most important relationship to establish first as a young artist, songwriter or producer should not be in a Manager, but in an Entertainment Lawyer. For what specific reason? They should be obvious, no? The contracts! Entertainment lawyers are essentially what I like to call “Deal Makers”. You heard of the saying “right place, right time”, think of it in those terms, a good attorney will aid in the process of securing you any / every deal under the sun that you are pursuing (if your music holds weight). After a solid discussion regarding the intentions of the interested “managers” not only could you see a sense of relief as her initial gut feeling was confirmed, but a sense of self confidence that possibly these potential managers weren’t exactly for her. 

As I made my way back from Los Angeles, I started to think: How many talented young artists out there have made the wrong decision when it came to their personal manager? How many of them had an attorney present when signing their management deals? How many of them involved a sunset clause? How did the contract say the manager was paid? Gross revenue stream or would the manager be dipping into “restricted areas”?

Okay- so now you’re ruffling through your desk trying to find that contract you once signed. Here is something else to consider that could surely be jaw dropping. Let’s review what the required schooling and licenses needed to become a personal manager are? - Sorry folks, there are none. Notice “Eric” from HBO series Entourage, he was twirling pizzas before he became Vincent Chase’s “Manager”- despite the fact that he played a big role in Vince’s success, the point here is that he was twirling pizza before, follow me?

So, you’re probably asking yourself “Alright, How do I choose a manager?”- First my question to you is, where are you in your career? and second what do you mean “manager”, they’re a number of managers for every field. Booking manager? tour manager? business manager? personal manager?. I’ll briefly lay out the first one for you, There are 5 stages where you could need a manager of a different caliber. 

Stage 1 involves the beginning stage, when your career is starting to develop, 
Stage 2 in the marketing stage, you may be the opening act for an established artist. 
Stage 3 your career has arrived and you are establishing yourself as a brand. 
Stage 4 you’re finally the star, living the dream. 
Stage 5 your career is in a sense over but your legacy lives through your copyrights, albums. 

Think about it. Each stage requires different roles to be played by the manager. Now, before you consider any of those steps my friend – you must understand what a manager is. Managers are the primary contact person of all your business affairs, and should be able to act in your place and on your behalf with the best intentions of you as an artist to ensure that maximum success is obtained. Now, how do you choose a manager? Slowly - and - carefully. You need to ask yourself what areas of services are needed from a manager, what are your short term and long term goals in the music industry.

Here are a couple things to consider when choosing your manager:

Does your manager have other clients? And if so, how many and in what genre?

• Why is this important? If your manager has more than one artist in their roster, then time - availability may become an issue. While on the up-side, managers with multiple clients usually tend to deal with more industry players, meaning they have a broader network which could help you, it also means you could not be a priority. Also, knowing what genre of music your managers’ clients are involved in. Why? If you’re a Hip Hop artist and so are all your managers clients, conflict of interest may occur, don’t you think? — interesting yes?

Is the potential manager related in any way to your publishing or recording company?

• If so, you may have a huge issue. You should be very careful to delineate the responsibilities of your manager, your record company and music publisher so that each separate entity can work on its own. Independent of anyone else’s interest except your own. Think about it people, as an artist you are already the last person to “eat” why would you want to share your scraps? You don’t want your manager co-writting & co-publishing a share of your material.

Does your manager understand your short & long term goals?

• This is the most important quality of a manager. Understanding you as a client, your manager must bring something to the tablet help you achieve your goals as an artist in the music business. Be it experience, creativity, money or being hungry enough to get things done for you. Must be a combination of the above.

What kind of reputation does the potential manager have?

• If the reputation is anything else but dedicated, loyal, brutally honest then he / or she may not be for you. (No Yes-Men)

Hopefully this gives you a brief insight of what to look for when considering a manager, understanding what they must be willing to do, what kind of qualifications they must have. You must also know the terms of the contract and how to terminate the contract if the relationship turns sour.

Remember that the music business is 50% game, 30% business and 20% talent!, for a full understanding of the music business do not hesitate on scheduling your consultation with today!

References (1)

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Reader Comments (9)

Probably the most informative article I've read on managers. Thanks for the post!

September 1 | Unregistered CommenterALP

I'm going in the route of artist management and development. This has been such an informative article. Thank you!


September 1 | Unregistered CommenterLUCAS CASH

Respectfully disagree with this one: "If you’re a Hip Hop artist and so are all your managers clients, conflict of interest may occur, don’t you think? — interesting yes?"

If all your manager's clients are Hip Hop, and so are you, it's likely that he/she sincerely loves the music, is dedicated to the genre and understands where you fit in it, and the manager is likely very well connected to the exact people that you need to reach.

September 2 | Unregistered Commentertippysdemise

These must have been the most interesting and very informative post that i read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Andrew. I would love to read more of your very interesting post soon...I'm gonna bookmark it.

September 2 | Unregistered CommenterMusicians

Agree with tippysdemise on this one. Some additional benefits of having a manager who works with other artists in your genre is that he/she may be able to directly link you guys together, whether it's putting you on the same bill, doing collaborations in the studio, etc. Also, saying you are managed by 50 Cent's manager wouldn't turn as many heads in the rock world (if you're a rock band) as it would if you said the same thing and you were also a hip hop artist.

September 3 | Unregistered Commenterjet

I to must agree with tippys demise, but the author still makes a valid point.

September 4 | Unregistered CommenterAvatar Murphy

Just like the music industry. They're are no clear cut rules and ways to do anything, merely guidelines. I appreciate that responses! Thanks guys!

September 7 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Lewis

Managers in Michigan if they use this title are required to have a license. If you go to court & are not licensed you will not be paid. Google this one a famous rappers manager from another state did not get paid I repeat DID NOT GET PAID! Check your local Laws! Cool @ElizaNealsRocks

October 1 | Unregistered CommenterEliza Neals

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