There is no direct path that will lead you to becoming an artist manager. However, with a little insight into other people’s experiences, it may help give you a better idea of how you could potentially become a manager.
First, we have a video of 10 current ways to discover artists to manage. Then, below this video, there is a full article with 12 real-life examples of ways to sign artists to management. In this article I have summarized how a selection of artist managers became managers, and how they began managing their first and second clients and so-on. All of the artist managers mentioned below have been featured on this site before in case study interviews.
1. Owned a recording studio
Larry Wanagas (Bumstead Productions) landed his first clients because of the fact that he owned a recording studio in Edmonton, called Homestead Recorders (which, as of this writing, is still there under a different owner). Because of this he worked with a lot of local bands. His met his first management client, and then his second and more notable client, Grammy Award Winning k.d. Lang, at the recording studio. After the success of an artist like Lang, Wanagas’ doors opened for artists like Colin James and several years later, The Trews.
2. Watched breakfast television
One morning in the early 2000’s, Wanagas was watching the local breakfast television news station, and saw The Trews performing. He contacted them, went to see them perform live that evening, and approached them about management. To this day he is still managing them.
3. Friends with artists
Joel Carriere (Bedlam Music Management/Dine Alone Records) landed his first client because he was friends with him. Joel was already working in the music industry in different capacities; show promotion, at a label, at a record store, and was a DJ, which allowed him to meet and befriend a lot of artists. During this time Joel met and became friends with artist Dallas Green. They worked at the same mall and had the same passion for music, which led to Joel managing a band Dallas was in called Alexisonfire, and then Dallas’s solo career, City and Colour.
4. Related to a band member
Rob Lanni (Coalition Music) became a manager when his brothers band asked him to take on the role. Eric Lawrence (co-founder of Coalition Music) and Rob were friends at the time, and Eric became the bands tour manager, which later resulted in Eric becoming an artist manager.
5. Suggestion from another artist you’re already managing
Joel began managing Monster Truck after Jordan from Alexisonfire and another associate manager brought them to his attention. As mentioned above Joel was already managing Alexisonfire.
6. Introduction from an industry friend
Joel began managing The Sheepdogs after a close industry friend secretly arranged for Joel and the band to meet.
7. Suggestion from a booking agent
Ron Kitchener (RGK Entertainment/Open Road Recordings) began managing artist Doc Walker after Rob Zifarelli (booking agent) told him about him. Ron went to go see Doc live and eventually signed him.
8. Sometimes it’s a fate thing
After having experience managing for a couple of years behind their belt, Rob Lanni and Eric Lawrence began working with Our Lady Peace, because Rob’s cousin met Raine Maida (lead singer) on a ski trip.
9. Worked at a concert promotion company
Joel Carriere met and began managing Attach In Black, Arkells, and Bedouin Soundclash while he was working as a show promoter.
10. Owned a concert promotion company
Before signing artists like Doc Walker and Dean Brody, Ron Kitchener landed his first clients because he owned a concert promotion and event marketing company. Ron purchased a banner from a sign shop to promote a band he was booking, and the shop attendant told him about Jason McCoy.
11. Prior experience working with/for artist managers
I became an artist manager after working for the Music Managers Forum, a background which helped me land my first client. And because of that experience, I was then asked to co-manage 3 acts with a colleague, for his artist management company.
12. Attended music conferences and festivals
I found my first client because I went to a festival showcase. I also found my most recent client because I went to a festival showcase.
As you can see, in most cases, they had no prior artist management-related experience at the time of landing their first client but had music industry experience in other areas of the business. In one case, they didn’t have any prior music industry experience. I am the only person on this list that had prior artist management-related experience.