Understand Your Role: Managing Artists’ Expectations
In the pursuit of becoming a band manager, one must understand what role he or she plays in relation to the artist. The question above in fact answers itself: a band manager handles the artist’s career, and more specifically, manages and understands the expectations of those artist’s. A competent music manager is one who is able to identify all areas that may relate to the artists career and administer them in such a way that directs their career into success – whatever the artist establishes success as. The goals are then unanimously identified in the artists career business plan. So, to help achieve the artist’s vision, it is the role of the manager to develop career strategies. Asking questions like “We are making this career decision to realize what goal?” is important to fully steer the artistic career into a believable, achievable end result. And to do that properly, one must be organized, meet deadlines, and, above all else, passionately dedicated to one’s work.
“So how do I learn to make meticulous management decisions in order to achieve a rational goal when supervising an artist’s career?” you might ask. Well here are some answers…
Whether you educate yourself through experience, through reading, researching, attending conferences, formal schooling, the following are areas of the business that you must, over time, be well acquainted with.
Over the last thirty or so years, countries like Canada and the US have seen tremendous growth in popularity of institutions that offer educational guidance for the untrained who wish to pursue management – be it to manage other people’s musical careers or their own. The best programs are those that comprehensively teach students about the entire music industry. With good academic standing, students will be in a favorable position to find an internship at a top artist management company with ease. Without an education or some previous music experience, it’s tougher to find a job placement. Often times artist management companies won’t publicly announce an internship opportunity, and instead send an inquiry into a nearby school or music institution.
- Tour Management
- Music Merchandising
- Contracts & Negotiations
- Music Publishing & Copyright
- Artist Bookings
- Venue Management
- Concert Promotions
- Music Marketing
- Digital Media Studies
- Music Distribution & Retail
- Music Supervision
- Radio & Video Promotions
- Business Accounting
And, especially now that we have entered a DIY era…
- Mastering Spreadsheets
- Video/Graphics Editing Software
- Print Production
- Web Development
Become a Student Manager
Not many colleges and institutions agree that the hands-on/do it yourself approach is the best way to learn how to manage an act, and thus offer specific courses that direct the student into finding a band to manage for the entirety of the school program. This can be a great way to start as a manager because if any mistakes are made, there is lesser backlash to the manager’s reputation since he or she is considered to be in training. And, as you will read below, the manager that has attained a positive reputation in the industry over time has much higher chances of working with talent he or she believes has potential.
Make College Friends
Schools and institutions have the potential to be efficient places to network. Even though it is important to have a confident awareness of the above facets of the industry, you may not have intentions of seeking these areas professionally. After all, part of the manager’s job is to locate these professionals and hire them as part of the overall team that develops the artist’s career. However, many of your fellow colleagues may be pursuing those avenues, and next thing you know your new best friend is now an up and coming publicist, a guy you did your final project with is the next top entertainment lawyer, and the girl you shared study notes with just got hired at the largest music supervision company in North America. Get my drift? A well-networked manager is a sought-after manager, and learning about the industry with friends whose relationships develop into professional contacts can very well be an adequate way to enter this business.
Join College Radio
While you’re in school, get involved with the college radio stations. This is another great way to get into the industry first-hand, by giving yourself a head start by forming relations with industry insiders, such as record company personnel, promoters, tour agents and the like.
Promote College Events
All schools and institutions host entertainment events of some sort, such as awards receptions, concerts, frosh week, fundraisers involving music, and many others. While you’re hammering out your diploma, use your spare time to volunteer on planning committees, work at a college venue, or start your own promotion gig.
Acquire Your Own Clients
Even though you can find schools and institutions that teach management, there a number of ways to teach yourself. In fact, a lot of managers’ careers started unintentionally, and not via a formal education. In fact, if you speak to some of the world’s top managers, you’ll find that a lot of them started by ‘accidentally’ acquiring clients.
Help A Friend
Provide simple favours for a friend or a family member like transporting band gear to shows, or helping out with booking gigs at a local pub. Often times this ends up being gratifying enough to incite them into overlooking stage specifications, then selling door tickets and band merchandise, and so on. Given enough interest in handling the business part of their friends’ art will naturally drive the manager to further learn about the industry, and eventually he or she will have developed knowledge on how contracts are put together and how music publishing works. Before they know it, they’re a band manager.
Start Your Own Company
By obtaining a comprehensive understanding of how the music industry works; the artist manager is now gaining reputation in the industry. Since a positive reputation earns someone credibility, the manager with a good reputation is also receiving positive attention and building greater respect. This will allow for better opportunities to work with bigger and more developed acts. Still, even for the young managers who are yet to establish a name in the field, starting their own company can be a perfectly adequate decision. Personally knowing an artist can stimulate young entrepreneurs to start a musical talent management company, and representing someone they already know is, in fact, very common – most artists feel comfortable having a trustworthy friend supervise their career. Before starting a music management company, defining how much time and money can be devoted to it is key, because, just like in any small business startup, initial capital is necessary and it may take several weeks for the company to start generating profit.
Hang Out at Bars
So, you’ve decided you want to acquire your own clients, you’ve started a company (or bought a domain name and posted on your LinkedIn account that you’re the president of “X Artist Management”), but you don’t know how to build your roster. You don’t know any musicians or have any family members who are musically inclined, and you sure as heck aren’t managing yourself. So, try hanging out at bars that play live music, or even attend a local music festival. You may end up liking what you’re hearing, and the artists that are performing may just be looking for someone to help them out.
Network! Be Connected and Informed
Making connections and taking advantage of the “six degrees of separation” principle to further increase one’s professional circle is standard practice for the manager who wants to have greater accessibility to industry tools in order to advance his or her artist’s career. The manager who knows the best publicity agent in the region, has worked with experienced event promoters, and has built relationships with radio directors and is friends with music supervisors is the manager who has access to the key people who can influence and progress the artist’s career. In fact, networking is such an integral part of being a manager that there are many networking events designed specifically for managers to connect with other music professionals, as well as artists and other managers.
Managing an artist or band is a responsibility that demands discipline, dynamism, and open-mindedness. Due to its competitive nature, while it requires patience and determination that is fuelled by a passion for the art, it can be a very rewarding profession.