So you love music, it’s your passion, you are consumed by it and it consumes you. You have a special way of relating to musicians and you might even be a musician yourself. You are considering managing your best friend’s band or maybe even making a career as an artist manager. But how do you begin? What will your responsibilities be? And how will you get paid?
You may think that driving the bands gear and setting up their amps on stage is being their manager… WRONG!! That is being their roadie! Instead, make up a mailing list (and have people sign it at EVERY gig) and befriend their fans old and new (this is a good way of growing and keeping track of their fan base). Remember you are going to need these guys, as they will be your bread and butter, so always be polite and cheery towards these folks.
Help the band negotiate with merchandise manufacturers. Expand and build their social media presence, book appearances and gigs for your band (where this is legal –some US jurisdictions forbid this unless manager hold a booking agent license), set up and work the merch booth and don’t forget to keep expanding that mailing list.
Radio and moving on to nearby cities and towns:
Contact local and regional radio stations and do your best to get them airplay. Get them added to Spotify, iTunes, Last.fm, Reverb Nation etc. Book them out of town and get to know all the venues and promoters in nearby cities and towns.
Once you have accomplished all of this and the band is starting to get noticed, hire a publicist and get them media attention. Then, hopefully, a label and/or a producer will become interested.
Hire a good Lawyer to review and advice you on the incoming deals and, with any luck, you will have hit the big time!!. This is when all the hard work (and at times thankless hard work -but you don’t care because you love music and your artist with an undying passion!) starts paying off.
As you can see, your responsibilities as a manager are innumerable and you need to be flexible and have the patience of a saint.
How do you get paid and make money as a manager?
Managers get paid a commission on gross revenue (net revenue for live and merchandise income) and the industry standard is 10-20%. It is common to have 20% in the beginning and slide down to the 10% minimum as the artist’s success increases.
The rationale for this is that you won’t be making as much money in the beginning so you deserve a higher percentage for your hard work building up things. For example, if you generated a £1,000 from a deal during the early days your share would be £200 provided that you are working on a Gross basis. Down the road when you become a Super Star Manager and you regularly accrue deals of £100,000 a 10% of that is a very nice income.
So you will be earning on a number of deals you secure for your band including distribution, publishing, synchronisation, merchandise, live and even book publishing and acting (depending on the scope of your appointment in the management contract you have with your band).
What your responsibilities are:
Anything from babysitting the bassist at 3:00am whilst he/she is drunk and crying over their ex from two years ago to hiring a road crew, booking shows (either on your own or with the help of a booking agent), securing and negotiating publishing and recording deals, hiring publicists, keeping track of receipts and outgoings, arranging merchandise deals and coordinating recordings, marketing and publicity with record label, hiring and consulting with music industry lawyers, being both play pal and nanny and the list goes on and on.
Essentially you are the buffer between the band and the world as well as being the business affairs representative for your artist or band as the case may be.
What your requirements are:
1) An undying passion for music;
2) A well rounded knowledge of the music business;
3) Some knowledge of business and contracts;
4) To be extremely driven and motivated;
5) Excellent people skills (this is a relationships business and you would be surprised how the old adage “it’s not what you know but who you know and how much they like you” applies in this industry)
6) A good manager always has a good management agreement in place and their bands have a good band agreement. You can find some great management contracts and band agreement templates with explanatory breakdowns and after-purchase support here: www.musiclawcontracts.com
Image source: Mike Licht