When Does An Artist or Band Need a Manager?


WHEN DOES AN ARTIST OR BAND NEED A MANAGER?

So often bands or musicians seek out management thinking that they need management from the start or just too early in their careers.  With all that needs to be done for an artist’s career, it can seem very daunting and overwhelming.  Artists are often so confused by the amount of information available — and most of it not very good — that they are often more paralyzed due to the staggering amount of info and no clear direction.

The role of a good manager takes on so many forms: often a business consultant, negotiator, accountant, image consultant, promoter, etc.  They require pay for their services and most bands can’t afford their own bills, let alone that of a manager. While a manager is often needed to achieve almost any measure of success in the music business, most bands and artists know that a manager can’t do it all and that success or failure is solely the responsibility of the artist or band.  The artist or band have the final say and have to provide the show and content that makes them marketable. If they aren’t able to provide that or aren’t committed to their own success, then rarely is it the fault of a manager when goals aren’t achieved. The band and artist are the “Founder” of the company and the manager is the “CEO.”  This is called the “music business” for a reason.  Artists and bands have a ton of responsibility to achieve the success they are seeking.  If the band or artist isn’t willing to work as hard as the manager, then it is very difficult to achieve anything and the manager is wasting his time at this point.  A commitment on both parties is essential to make it work and the band or artist needs to trust the manager’s advice and handle their responsibilities whether the band or artist agree or not.

So that begs the question, when does an artist or band need a manager?  The answer is simple.  Not until there is something to manage.  Most artists and bands don’t perform enough or have enough to work with for a manager to do anything with and be effective.  The artist or band should be playing 80+ paying shows a year and have a very solid press kit before seeking out management.  There should be a solid fan base at least regionally if not nationally.  In the beginning stages of a band or artist’s career, it is wise to seek out a good manager who offers hourly consultation to be able to help set the artist or band in the right direction. The manager can then follow up at regular intervals if the goals are being met, before signing the band or artist full-time, when they are ready.

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21 responses to “When Does An Artist or Band Need a Manager?

  • Laura J

    That is great information. Thanks so much. Please Advise of what a strong press kit would be as well.

  • Sharon Bautista

    Not nearly ready for management but this is a great, informative read. Thank you!
    ~ Sharon

  • Debra Russell

    When I get this question from clients, or on my Ask Coach Debra calls, my answer is this:

    “Can you make a living from 15% of what you’re earning?” If the answer to that is no, you’re not ready for a manager. Because any manager worth his/her salt is going to be asking exactly that question.

    So it behooves musicians to learn how to run their own business like a pro. And this experience will really serve you well when you are ready for a manager – because while your Manager is managing your business – you have to be managing your Manager. I’ve worked with so many clients who’ve lost all they earned to an unscrupulous manager.

    That can only happen if you abdicate your business to your Manager. If you delegate your business with sufficient oversight, it’s much harder to be taken for a ride. So, the more you know about how to manage your business the better you will be able to supervise your manager – helping him/her serve you better.

    • Doc Smith

      Debra, so well put!! Now that advice you can take to the bank, along with the other great professionals here trying to help young artist.
      David, keep up the great work my friend!
      Doc

  • Debi Knowles

    This is great info Thank you:) one of our longterm goals is a Jr artist program in combination to our existing Ranch programs Encoraging our youth in following their dreams. As we tap into who they are individually we have found hidden gifts and unreconized talent useful in developing positive self esteem. Guiding them in making right choices and setting Goals requires us to research and learn from incredible people like you!:) Good stuff!

  • Debi Knowles

    This is great info Thank you:) one of our longterm goals is a Jr artist program in combination to our existing Ranch programs Encouraging our youth in following their dreams. As we tap into who they are individually we have found hidden gifts and unreconized talent useful in developing positive self esteem. Guiding them in making right choices and setting Goals requires us to research and learn from incredible people like you!:) Good stuff!

  • Debi Knowles

    This is great info Thank you:) one of our longterm goals is a Jr artist program in combination to our existing Ranch programs Encouraging our youth in following their dreams.As we tap into who they are individually we have found hidden gifts and unreconized talent useful in developing positive self esteem. Guiding them in making right choices and setting Goals requires us to research and learn from incredible people like you!:) Good stuff!

  • Sam Schneider

    we are ready for management but have had 3 bad managers.
    how would you suggest we find ones who dont suck. and do you help with booking agents

  • Edrie

    We set a goal that when we started averaging $700 a show and 100 shows a year we’d seek management. Because we’d then be able to afford to pay a manager the correct % and continue to grow – we hit our goal last October and contiune to grow, just started sending out feelers to agencies to pretty good response!

  • Ian

    Does anybody know what a national/international PR campaign (one that would actually make an indie band in Arizona get radio play, print and viral media, etc) cost??? 20k, 100k, millions??

  • Manisha Shahane

    Before a manager steps in, one step towards getting organized as an artist is to understand fully the tasks involved on a day-to-day basis and at the big picture level. Then the artist can gradually find ways to delegate some responsibilities. Working with interns is a great way to hone your management skills as an artist and it also provides would-be managers or those interested in the music biz with hands-on experience.

  • T2E

    I somewhat disagree. I would have never gotten to playing the amount of shows I’m playing now had it not been for my manager, his work ethic, negotiations, and even connections. Sure, I was getting shows on my own but when I started working with my manager the number of shows I was doing quadrupled. My manager is the reason I’m where I am now. Maybe I’m an exception & not a rule, I’m not sure.

    • David Lowry

      Thank you for reading the blog! There are always exceptions but you have to also understand most of the time the Manager has to have something to work with and the client has to be in the position for the manager to make a living as well. I am glad it worked out so well for you!

    • Manisha Shahane

      @T2E, Sounds to me like you already had your act together so that gave the manager something to build on.

      And, along those lines, once an artist does have his/her act together, having a team seems essential to taking things to the next level. Some fledgling artists may have a friend or family member act as an agent or manager, and there can be some value in that. Often they are together learning the ropes, but sometimes it is nice to have someone to talk with and share in the journey and decision-making. If there is a good and healthy team dynamic in place, there is no doubt that it helps to have someone assist. This is the same reason that many people form/seek partnerships when leading an entrepreneurial venture and the career of an artist bears many similarities, I think, to entrepreneurial growth and the issues inherent therein. Each person brings something to the table and each person believes in the other. So the venture benefits.

  • Brian Basher

    Excellent post and you’re absolutely right…everything that I have to do on a daily basis to get to where I want to go does seem overwhelming

    • David Lowry

      Thank you for reading my blog Brain. Anytime someone wants to launch into a business of any kind it can be completely overwhelming and with out a plan and developing systems to make sure it gets done in a manageable time frame, it can hold the best of us back.

  • Recording Artists Guild

    […] David Lowery, https://lowryagency.wordpress.com/ […]

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