You should start seeking a music manager when one of two situations occur:
1) The workload of managing yourself as an artist has become too much for you to handle and is taking time away from your music.
2) Your knowledge of the industry has carried you as far as you can, and you need to bring in someone with experience and expertise.
Hiring a music manager is the next logical step before getting signed to a major label, the manager can use their industry experience and contacts to help take your career to the next level. A good manager will be able to get you support slots with major artists who already have an established fan base, get your music played on radio and featured in major publications. For a small proportion of your royalties, the manager can significantly increase the income for an artist paying for themselves several times over.
How to find a music manager?
There many aspects to finding the right manager for you, and especially where to look. You need to make yourself an attractive proposition and make sure you’re in the best position you can possibly be before presenting yourself to potential managers. Here’s our best places for finding a manager.
Linkedin is the best place for connecting with industry professionals, it allows you to search and connect with various people from the industry depending on their job role and place of work. To connect with someone on Linkedin you need to have at least one shared connection, so in the beginning you may find yourself having to attempt to connect with a lot of people in order to start building your network and allow you to send connection requests to the people you are targeting.
With Linkedin sending random connection requests to people isn’t going to make you stand out from the competition. What you post on Linkedin is just as important, whether you’re writing your artist career diaries in the native blogging platform for Linkedin, or simply commenting and sharing content relevant to the industry, the more you get known in the industry the better managers you will attract.
Linkedin now has an ad platform which is incredibly powerful and underused in all industries. You can run ads on your latest music video to only people who have the job role “Music Manager” or “Artist Manager”, this will mean your music gets in front of the right people. You can then connect with everyone who liked your video and sending them a message thanking them for the support.
Instagram has become an incredibly social platform, what once was a social media just for photography, now it is a place where everyone in the industry can get a feel for each other and understand their value and what they offer to the music industry. You can search people and hashtags to be able to connect with influential industry members. If you can’t connect with someone on Linkedin, you can search their name on Instagram and then DM them making them aware of your music.
Instagram is a great way to find out what a person is really about, if they’re spending their time bragging about their lifestyle or posting stories which aren’t related to music then they probably aren’t the best fit for you. You need to look for someone who is going to be committed to you as an artist rather than constantly attempt to improve their image in the industry.
– Live shows
Live shows are where the true music lovers hang out. When a manager has a passion for emerging artists and taking them to the next level they are usually found at live gigs.
Many management companies go to showcases to view the latest local talent and approach those which they like with a business card and a short pitch asking if they’d like a meeting. So if you’re spending all of your time in the studio or in your bedroom making music, you should be out there performing and showing off your true skills, it will always help to prove you are the full package and have the potential to sell out venues in order to earn an income for both you and the manager.
– Management companies
Speaking of Management companies, these guys are a great place to start if you’re looking to get a more professional organisation on board for your career.
You can find music management companies by simply googling, or if you’d like to be more specific there are many industry directories which will list all of the management companies in your area. We recommend somewhere like The Unsigned Guide which is a full directory of all of the management companies, labels and music PR companies which will allow you to go through each one and send them an email with your music CV.
– Networking events
The music industry is renowned for having a strong network of events for other industry members to meet and greet each other. Music managers are constantly attending these events to meet both artists and grow their own contacts. We strongly recommend you attend as many events as possible to not only meeting music managers but grow your own network too. You can find the latest music industry events on places such as The Music Managers Forum and Meetup.com.
Our tip for networking events is to get to know everyone in the room, as soon as you walk in just start speaking with people, find out what they do and a little about them and if you keep the momentum up you will eventually have spoken with everyone in attendance.
If you are a little introverted and struggle to speak to new people, I always recommend to arrive 30mins early to the event and help them set up, maybe set up the chairs and tables and introduce yourself to the organiser, the organiser will know every single person worth knowing at the event and will introduce you.
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Do you need a music manager?
When you introduce a music manager to the equation, things can get complicated. You’re adding another opinion, another person to keep happy and someone else who is going to take a proportion of your royalties.
Usually artists decide to get a music manager too early in their career, they think that it is a missing piece in their puzzle of a successful music career. This is often caused by artists looking to major established artists for inspiration on how to be successful and see that they have a manager and a label so logically you should have this too. But the longer you hold out on getting a manager the further in your career you will be, which means you can attract better and more influential managers.
You should take on a manager when the workload gets too much, or you need more music industry experience and contacts to help you in your career.
A music manager can’t turn around your career single-handedly, you will need to continue to do things for yourself and ensure your music is as best it can be to allow your manager to do the things that they’ve been brought on to do. You won’t get the most out of your manager if you stop doing what you’ve been doing so far and hand it all over to your manager, this will not move you forward, your manager needs to enable something, whether it is free up time for you to focus on other things, or for the manager to introduce new aspects of your career which you couldn’t do yourself.
What does an Artist Manager do?
There is no one specific framework for a music manager, managers can contribute to your career in many different ways, and that’s why it’s so important to find the right one for you, the manager should fill gaps in your skillset and knowledge in order to strengthen your progress as an artist.
-Invest money in to your music
Some artist managers, and especially management companies are willing to invest money in to your career, whether it’s hiring a music PR company, funding music videos or just generally helping you with your personal finances, if they company has the available funds and believes in your career they will invest.
However, don’t forget that if they do invest in you, they will expect their investment back once you get signed, and this can significantly hinder your chances to get signed if the management company demands their investment returned from your advance from a major label. For example if the management company has invested $40,000 in to your career, they may demand a major label pays this investment off before signing you which could lead to your deal falling through, so be careful how much investment you allow yourself to receive.
-Organisation and Mediation
Artists and musicians often need a lot of help in getting organised, with multiple members in the group who often have their own agenda and ideas the management can provide stability and planning to ensure everyone is on the same page. This becomes especially useful when you’re an artist on tour and require transport, logistics, financials and promotion.
An artist will often find themselves in a situation where they have a disagreement within their band, usually this is over a creative direction. The manager can act as a mediator for the discussion and help resolve differing opinions and ensure that everyone is happy with the direction or decisions being made for the artist. The same goes for third parties who may not be acting appropriately or in the interest of the artist, so the manager can deal with these situations and ensure everyone involved on the project is operating effective and efficiently.
-Makes introductions to influential people
Managers who have been in the music industry for a long time should have an extensive address book which will allow you to get your music in front of the right people.
Those who are influential in the music industry such as major label A&R’s, producers and other artists you can potentially collaborate with are incredibly difficult to get in contact with. They receive thousands of emails every week from artists looking for their attention, therefore it is only natural for them to trust people they already know to act as a filter of who to take seriously. A manager will help you get your foot in the door with these people.
What to look for in a manager?
Don’t be too hasty when hiring a manager, you need to make sure they’re the right fit and it’s going to help progress your career, hiring the wrong manager can have devasting effects on your career and has often ended artist’s careers early. The reason for this is that you can get stuck in a 2-3 year deal with an ineffective manager at the most vital point in your career and once all of the opportunities have passed you by they won’t return again.
Before signing the contract with your management, ensure that you have the same vision and timeline as your manager.
After you start to work with a manager you may realise that the vision and direction you had in mind for you as an artist may not be the same as your manager’s vision. Discuss timelines, goals, releases and the future of your music with your manager to ensure that you are both in agreement of how to move forward in your career.
It’s important your manager will find opportunities for you. A lot of managers end up incredibly excited by your project in the beginning, but as time passes by, they lose the passion and find another project. You need to find a manager that will see things through. Managers can often promise you the world before you start working with them but once you’ve signed the contract things slow down immediately. Make sure that your manager is constantly looking for opportunities for you, often managers can take it upon themselves to protect you from wasting your time and money, but if they are too aggressive with this they end up doing nothing and your career dies, but the manager prides themselves on having “saved you”.
-A track record
There are many managers out there who have had success with one or two artists and 10-20 years later are still living off that credibility. A lot has changed even in the past 5 years in the music industry, so find out what the manager has achieved recently with other artists. But don’t stop there, check their social media to see who they’ve tweeted about in the past 2 years because there is sure to be some artists that were previously on their roster but didn’t make it.
Reach out to previous and existing artists on their roster and ask their opinion of their manager, if they are a good manager, they won’t mind you doing this and the other artists on their roster will be more than happy to pass their opinion to you.
How much is a music manager paid?
A music manager usually takes 10% – 15% of your income as an artist. As mentioned earlier, this can be money well spent and with a good manager you won’t even notice it as your income has increased so much.
When you sign your contract, you should ensure that you have targets to hit before the manager receives a cut of your royalties. For instance, you could take your current level of income and add a clause in to the contract that the manager does not receive royalties until a certain level of income is met, or it come be a non-monetary target such as securing a support slot. This is to ensure that the manager does not end up doing nothing for the entire term of the contract and you can easily get out of the contract if nothing is happening.
If you’d like to see what a music management contract looks like, the Musicians Union have a template contract you can download and read through the clauses.
You should never pay upfront of monthly for a manager, these deals are usually offered by managers who know they aren’t able to get an artist to a significant level and therefore won’t earn any income, so they try to get money upfront.
Managers are incredibly useful in the industry, and every successful manager will need someone trustworthy to handle their day-to-day admin as an artist. But don’t jump in to an agreement too quickly and read these tips carefully as you may end up getting your fingers burnt when things go wrong.