‘Marathon not a sprint’ is a cliche that can be applied to too many things for it to mean anything anymore, though if it’s over-used, it’s probably over-used for a reason. When you’re thinking about your music career it’s very easy to want it all now, ‘I have to have my album out by Monday, be famous by Tuesday and then be on the cover of Rolling Stone by Thursday’. It all takes time. There are lots of steps to take and, don’t forget, a crack team to assemble.
The manager is the silent member of the band. They should fill the role of friend, boss, employee and Mother, it’s a role that should be malleable to each situation. The three main attributes that you want to look for in a manager are proactivity, organisation and enthusiasm for you and your music. A creative sounding board of you need it, a shoulder to cry on, someone to deal with the ‘suits’ and book the flights.
An agent will oversee you as a live act. Once you have a manager you can take meetings with different live bookers (you can do this alone but you may want a manager to book the meetings and keep an eye on everything) and see who is right for you. You can discuss strategy, possible support tours that are available, and setting up a solo tour when you are ready. It’ll become apparent pretty soon who is the right fit for you.
If you are lucky enough to have an approach from a label, or maybe more than one label the various factors at play are: How big is the advance? How long / how many albums is the deal? What territory is it for? What is the marketing budget? Who gets to keep the masters? Different labels will offer different things. If you haven’t realised by now the most important thing is, that they are enthusiastic about you and you like them.
Your publicist will suggest you for features in newspapers and magazines, ask TV and radio shows for interviews. They will deal with your media presence, try to raise your profile and the profile of your music as much as they can in the lead up to your release.
Your relationship with your lawyer will be more active, personal and important than you would think. You lawyer will go through your contracts with every single one of these people, making sure all the correct money flows into all the correct areas and to make sure everyone is being fair to everyone else. Advising you on the splits with your manager, agent and label will be a crucial part of the role. There is a high level of trust here