Artist Management – Decoded
As an emerging musician with ambition you will have researched, read and asked around about how it happened for other people. This means you will be familiar with the need of artists to have managers. This bond can take many different shapes, almost essentially so. Just as every marriage and friendship is different, so is the artist-manager bond as well. But how does somebody become your manager? You just ask the local bar owner, he gets you to sign a napkin and now he owns your caravan? No.
Make sure that when you are on the look out for a manager you actually need one. Looking for one too early could be vanity or procrastination or just not knowing, but get on with the first part of your career yourself and don’t rush anything. At the very beginning what is there that a manager can really do? You can manage writing your songs and posting on Facebook by yourself.
When you have written a bunch of good songs that you’re happy with and you are out gigging regularly it might be time that you became open to the idea of signing with management. A manager is crucially the person who ties all the elements together, they will have to have the charm, patience and organistation to deal with the record company, the publisher, live agents and more as well as having to make sure you are ok.
When you are taking meetings with various people and discussing what you want and what you see the future being, it might be a good idea to simplify the process by writing a short document that goes over money, division of labour, and the length of the agreement. Have it written down, in plain English, or Swedish or any real language as you will run into legal difficulty with made up languages. This should help prevent any arguments in the future. Also your manager should think similarly to you about the way you would like to go about music, your strategy and generally the route you’ll take. Although don’t be put off by some disagreements, it would be boring to hire a yes man.
Most management contracts are one year with an option at the end of that year to renew. This gives both parties a chance to find out if the working relationship is good for them. A manager should not be able to renew after a year without your consent. Be careful you do not get caught like this or you might be stuck with that awful person.
You can expect the average manager to take 15 – 20% of your earnings. This includes money from label advances, album sales and in some cases merchandise and songwriting royalties as well. Make sure you are informed and happy with your contract before you sign it – seek advice from a lawyer, as you cannot be too careful before signing any contract. Keep in mind a manager is not the same as a lawyer or an accountant as some people have confused in the past. You will want to keep all these people’s responsibilities very separate so as to avoid any potential trouble and conflicts of interest.
Lots of people see their manager as a member of the band. The artist-manager relationship will be one of the closest you have, so choose wisely. Ask around and most importantly trust your instinct. It’s cleverer than you think.
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