In the music industry, managers are also addressed as the “band manager”, “artist manager,” “music manager,” or, in a more generic way, the “entertainment manager” of musical talent. An artists’ manager can be the most important aspect to an artists career. The artist manager, in the most simplest terms, is the middle person between the artist and the rest of the world. The artist manager collaborates with the artist on everything. You help them build their team, and continue to manage that team into the future, while the artist drives the bus.
Artist managers wear many hats, whether they’re asked to or not. In this article we’re going to talk about a few key characteristics and skills that are found in a good manager. Being that there is A LOT to talk about, this article only skims the surface.
What is a band manager, and what does a band manager do?
Artist Business Development and Sales
In the entire entertainment industry, be it music, literature, sports, and even stand-up comedy, a manager is the one responsible for administering the business side in order to enable the talent to focus their energy on their creative productivity (the artistic side). A musician may be the most talented, most impressive creator of his or her art, but, without having someone with the know-how to sell their creation, they will remain in obscurity, never to obtain the real credit that they deserve. And selling can be very complex; especially if the artistic act in question is in its beginning stages of development.
Negotiation and Goal Setting
The best managers are those who have mastered the industry they work in. They are manipulators of market demand, creating momentum for the artist’s career, while being marketers who are able to put together the best marketing tools for the least amount of money. They excel at the art of negotiation in order to get the most out of binding contracts, which they have also studied extensively to the point that they can detect a foul deal from far away. They have mastered time management and know how to follow schedule – real strategists who can accomplish both short and long-term goals.
Analytical Decision Making
An artist manager must have the important feature of being able to assess where the act is in the stage of their career and, consequently, prioritize what needs further attention in order to develop recognition for the art in question. Managers should be evaluating the situation of various areas that are important to the musician, such as image, marketing, merch, interviews, partnerships with music publishing companies, and governmental loans/grants opportunities, among numerous other important factors, and take appropriate measures.
Foster Relationships with Key People
Artist managers should know the people with the keys to these areas and know the timing to address these people. This is why possibly the most important trait in a manager is his or her relationships. A valued manager is an absolutely exceptional resource for information and networks on behalf of the artist they are working with. Real opportunity comes when the art has a connection with strategic people in its industry; without a well-networked manager, the task of finding proficient booking agents, lawyers, accountants/bookkeepers, publicists, web designers, image stylists (the list goes on!) can be daunting. This is a headache that can certainly take the mind of a creator away from valuable creation.
Reputation Is Key
There are no set qualifications that make someone an official professional manager. It can simply be your business-minded friend who likes your music. But, as mentioned, it is in your best interest to hire someone who knows the industry well. Reputation is critical in the industry, and, after doing a quick research online in your area for artist management companies, it is wise to investigate the reputation of whom you find. In the past decade there have been a growth in music business schools that teach the ins and outs of the music industry (Harris Institute in Toronto is an example of a respectable school whose alumni are often approached by musicians for partnership propositions). Schools with good reputation are quickly becoming the most fitting way to become a professional musical talent manager.
Ultimately, it is the manager’s job to not only take care of everything that would take the artist’s mind off artistic creation, but to also create a comfortable environment for the artist to even better express this artistic vision. Most important to note is that the manager works for the artist. The path he or she decides to take for the artist’s career must match the talent’s artistic vision, and the thought process must harmonize accordingly. In short, managers need to be given a concept and they need to execute at a very high level.