Here at Spinnup we often make references to managers, kind of assuming that they’re an essential part of the music business. But are they really?
Well yes, yes they are. That doesn’t mean as an unsigned artist without a manager you should stop everything until you do, not at all, but you should absolutely have in your mind that one day you’ll be wanting and needing a manager to help your music career progress. Why? Well things like…
1. You can concentrate on being a musician
Becoming a successful musician is a vocation, a time consuming, all encompassing way of life. However actually being successful isn’t just about having amazing music, although that is generally a pre-requisite, but there’s all kinds of other stuff that has to be taken care of that really doesn’t have much to do with the actual business of writing, recording and performing music. And that’s where a manager comes in. You take care of the music, and they can take care of all the other stuff. You didn’t get into music because you love dealing with contracts and business negotiations and travel plans and all other kinds of admin did you? If you answered ‘yes’ to that maybe that’s because another good reason for having a manager is that…
2. A manager is your person for saying ‘No’
Let’s be honest, saying ‘Yes’ is usually pretty easy. Everyone loves to hear a ‘Yes’. It makes them feel valued and loved and generally good all round. ‘No’ however can be harsh. A cold and unforgiving word (although not one YOU should ever let stop you – these guys didn’t), but there are times that while as easy as it may be to say ‘Yes’ to something, the best answer for you is actually ‘No’. And if that’s not something you feel able to say, or you can’t trust yourself to say ‘No’ when under pressure, leave it to your manager. Knowing when and how to say ‘No’ properly is a critical part of their job.
3. Having a good manager shows that you’re serious and are taken seriously
Note ‘good’ here – having a terrible manager is much worse that none at all, but assuming you can get someone who knows what they’re doing (see here [https://spinnup.com/2013/10/5-things-to-ask-someone-who-wants-to-be-your-manager/] for our advice for going about that) a good manager will make a world of difference. It’s a clear sign that you are part of a professional set-up that expects to be and will be taken seriously. Because you’re serious about your music, and expect the same in return from your business and commercial partners. Not least so that…
4. You get paid properly
Being an artist is not like a full time job where you get a regular pay check every week or month. It’s more akin to being a freelancer or a consultant. You get paid by the job or according to certain goals or achievements. And as every freelancer or consultant can tell you, sometimes you have to chase people for the money you’re due. Not because they’re dishonest or not going to pay you, it’s just that some times you have to remind people that they owe you money. And that’s what a manager will do for you. Not only is it their job to do that, but they don’t get paid if you don’t.
5. A reputable label won’t want to deal with you unless you have a manager
And finally and perhaps most importantly, no label that knows what it’s doing will sign any artists who are not properly represented. They want to know that the person they’re signing a contract with is fully aware of what they’re agreeing to. That’s what a manager does. They help advise an artist on how to get the best in any deals on offer, and avoid terrible ones that aren’t in your best interest (see here for some examples of those.
For a complete overview of this see Artist Management – Decoded.