There comes a point in a musician’s career where the proverbial brick wall jumps out and they hit it. Stopped in their tracks, the panic alarms sound and thoughts of “where do I go from here?” enter their mind as the harsh possibility of going back to the drawing board seems closer than ever before.
The most common problem is the inability to realise where they are at the moment, where they want to be and how to build the bridge that gets them from point A to point B.
Artist management is usually the missing piece of the puzzle.
Using sheer pride as their shield, artists end up going it alone and try taking on the world of music armed with their own raw talent. What artist management lack in raw talent, they make up for in experience of the music industry. Joining forces and employing an artist manager or management team will create a brand that has the raw talent as well as the experience of success in the music business: A perfect recipe.
The Job Role of Artist Management
The job of an artist manager can vary depending upon the contract agreed. There’s lots of variation involved as management these days tend to have a broader skill base to accompany digital marketing and online promotion as well as branding and traditional marketing etc. Artist management usually offer a full catalogue of services which are then packaged up to suit a certain artist or band’s needs.
Some artists might be efficient in certain areas so may decide that the management take care of only certain aspects. Other artists may need to employ them to do everything. The modern day artist will pay for a package of services that they require managing. The more services needed, the more expensive the package.
Upon employment, the artist management will make an assessment of the artist’s current situation. They will identify where the artist currently is within the industry; recognise areas of the brand that can be improved; determine leads and possibilities for growth; assess where the band/artist’s current path is heading, and direct them down an avenue that leads them to their preferred destination. They become part of the team and assist them along every step of the way.
These are just some of the services offered by artist management teams:
- Personal Branding
- Industry Partnerships
- Online Marketing
- Brand Awareness
Taking advantage of a management team not only relieves some of the pressures associated with pushing a brand forward but frees up time for the artists to concentrate on perfecting their craft. After all, practice means improvement in music and by allowing a management team to look after the back-end of the band or artist, they free up time to practice the front-end – the music end.
Decide What you Want from a Management Team
After deciding to hire management, you will need to approach some companies. Before going out there and contacting them however, be aware that they’ll bucket loads of questions to begin with as they try to make a realistic assessment of where you are within the industry, what your goals are, your current authority and make a judgement of your talent. You will need to make an initial personal evaluation yourself in order to better assist the potential management team and make it easier for them to offer up a package deal.
Try to ensure that you are in the strongest possible position before approaching a management company. Strengthen areas currently under your control and make inroads into showing that you have most bases covered and taken care of. This will minimise the cost of their services and will give you more control over your own image going forward.
You ideally want to be the major decision maker using the management team to offer suggestions and advice as well as letting them take care of the entire minor decision making process. You don’t want to end up feeling as though you are merely a puppet in the plans of the management team. This can lead to disagreements and arguments; things you could do without!
Where to Find the Right Team
As with the majority of investments, most decisions to purchase come from word-of-mouth recommendations. Recommendations from people you know and trust are more likely to peak your interest than salesman offering you the next ‘miracle cure’.
Listen to your industry influencers; ask them if they know of any companies that they would personally recommend. Read online reviews and write-ups about these companies. Do your research beforehand to avoid disappointment further down the line.
Most artist management companies are genuine and good at what they do, but some can exaggerate their credibility; listen to the people who have worked with them and take notice who is recommending / criticising their work.
For relatively new artists who lack contacts for credible recommendations, there are lots of directories that house these types of business. Our picks of the bunch are The Unsigned Guide and Free Index.
Free Index is a free service whereas The Unsigned Guide charges a monthly fee. For what it’s worth, we advise you sign up for The Unsigned Guide. For £4.99 a month, you get some of the best information in the industry.
As well as artist management listings with reviews for each listing and easily filterable preferences, you get access to some of the industry’s best kept secrets. For serious artists, The Unsigned Guide is gold dust.
Contacting a Manager
After having carefully read the reviews from others that have worked with the managers, be sure to read their terms and conditions first. A good company will have your own interests at heart and shouldn’t just be in it for a quick steal.
Your success is their success, it’s as simple as that. The better they do the job for you, the more popular you become and the more secure their job becomes within your team. They should be doing their best to improve their job security and by doing their best, your act will reap the benefits.
Bearing in mind that managers are usually a single person (although it’s not uncommon for teams of management), you need to find a manager who has a similar personality to you. They need to be able to fit into the team like they’ve been there a while. A good sense of humour and a down-to-earth attitude aren’t part of the job description but it will make the communication a whole lot easier – and fun.
Good management will fully explain what they aim to achieve for you and will agree on where your goals are and explain how to achieve them. Signs of bad management are those who try to get you to sign on the dotted line as soon as you enter the room. Good management should create excitement and give you renewed hope about taking your act forward. Good management will have you begging to sign on the dotted line rather than trying to enforce you to.
Upon meeting them, ask how many artists and managers they currently have contracted to their roster; too many artists and not enough managers could potentially limit the time they spend assisting your career. Check that some of the artists they currently employ produce a similar style of music to your own. If they’ve been successful with similar acts then you know that they have the experience of the genre.
The Contract Details
All manager contracts vary as mentioned earlier, so it would be impossible to go into all the details regarding contracts. But some base knowledge should help you acknowledge whether a contract suits you as well as the management team rather than just suiting the management team.
Ensure that once the contract is drawn up, it is checked thoroughly by a well-established and experienced music contract expert. Entertainment attorneys are often the most experienced at this type of thing. They will be able to quickly identify small print and hidden clauses in the contract that could potentially leave you liable to unexpected hardships in the future. Run it by them first before you sign.
The contract should have targets and realistic performance goals that the management will aim for. The contract should also include get-out clauses that permit you to end the deal at your discretion if the management aren’t performing as well as they’d promised. Whether these clauses are in the form of penalties, subsidies or a complete contract cancel, ensure that you have some sort of get-out clause; it’s your safety net.
Good management will happily include these get-out clauses in the contract because if they are who they claim to be then they’ll be confident of delivering what’s required of them.
So hopefully this will have made things clearer about steps you can take once you hit the proverbial brick wall in your career. There are always people and companies that have experience and expertise in areas to take you the extra mile when you’re at a cross-road.
Don’t be afraid to let someone else take the reins for a while; after all, if you do your research beforehand and choose the right management, then they will have as much drive to make your career a success as you do yourself.
Let us know in the comments if this post has been helpful and remember, there’s more than one way to reach the top!