Wednesday, July 28, 2010
What Do Music Managers Do?
Category: Jobs, Work, Careers
Read this interview with Nick Krautter: * SF Weekly interview
What are the benefits to hiring a band manager or management company?
When you decide that you want to be a professional musician, having a
manager is essential. Each manager has their own style, personally I
like to work with my groups on every level, from the music to marketing
to image to meeting with industry people. A good manager should
understand every aspect of the music biz, it's very complex and the
competition is fierce - think of a manager as the person who will help
you build and navigate your career, while keeping the sharks at bay. The
manager will be able to look for opportunities that might not be on a
band's radar. A manager is also there to be objective - it's hard when
you are personally connected to the music to be objective about what is
good and what isn't. One of the major benefits I feel I bring to the
table is knowing the timing of the industry - for example, a major
magazine isn't going to review your music unless it's in national
distribution - major labels need to hear more than good music, they get
100's of CD's each week of good music, it's having a story [huge fan
base, record sales, etc] that separates your band from every other
What does a manager actually do for me?
At the beginning a manager does basically everything. Every musician has
a goal - a manager helps you define your goal, map out the steps to
take, and bring in the other people [publicists, labels, publishers,
agents] necessary to help you get to your goal. Specifically, your
manager is the person who will be creating the business of your band,
taking care of contracts, coordinating with everyone in the team to make
sure everything is on schedule. As a band gets bigger the role changes -
I've been with many of my bands from the very beginning when I was
recording their demos and writing their press kits, now I'm finding
studios for them, talking with major labels and distributors, reading
over licensing contracts, and coordinating with publicists. My
background in marketing has been a huge help - that's why my groups have
street teams, downloadable flyers, and make great efforts to get their
stuff on college radio and to the local media.
Why not just have a friend (roommate/brother/girlfriend) manage the band?
I would never recommend working with anyone you are intimately involved
with, that ensures that your work stress is your home stress, and you
don't want to break up with your lover and find yourself out of a
manager at the same time. It would also be bad for your home life if
your band started getting really successful and you had to get a real
manager because your current 'manager' didn't have the skills and
knowledge to grow with you. If your friend is educated regarding the
music industry and is very dedicated to helping you out then that might
work - just make sure you deal with business as business and pay your
friend as you would any other manager. The money is never a problem when
everyone is broke - it's when the money starts rolling in that things
get complicated between friends, so keep that part of your relationship
strictly business. Hopefully you'll have the same relationship with your
manager as I have with my bands - I only work with people who are
incredibly dedicated and talented and my bands have become my friends,
as I have become their's - don't forget, we're all in this together.
Does it cost a lot?
No, the greatest expense and asset in life is time - A good manager will
help you save time both in the long and short term. Rates are negotiable
- managers typically make 15% - 25% of gross income and reasonable
expenses. If you only need a few questions answered and are involved in
the business there are Management consultants who charge an hourly rate
or work on retainer for a block of time each month. The most important
thing is that the manager you hire really knows what they're doing. I
might consider consulting part time because my band roster is full right
now, I couldn't take on anymore full time bands, I'm already working 15
hours a day 7 days a week.
When I decide to hire someone to manage my band what qualities should I
look for in that person/company?
There is a trade off between working with an individual manager and a
company - The company will have more contacts and collective experience
but will be less personally involved with your career. An individual on
the other hand might have fewer contacts and experience but will work
tirelessly to make you more successful, and you know that they'll be
there to work with you on what YOU want out of your career. In either
case you want to work with someone who understands the business of
music. They should also be excited about you and your music - if they're
not they won't be very convincing when they're pitching your band to
labels and agents - and they won't be as dedicated to you either. You
should also look for someone who likes working with people, doesn't mind
traveling, and is very self motivated.
Should I sign a contract?
Contracts are good in that they help clarify who does what and how much they're paid. When
the time comes to sign a contract make sure you take it to a lawyer to
explain the clauses to you and help negotiate the fairest agreement.
There are many successful band/manager relationships that exist without
contracts, but I would recommend a contract because it helps to protect
the band as well as the manager. [End interview] --------------------
another note: A manager must be responsible. Managers oversee not only
everything you are doing, but also everything that your support team
(lawyer, publicist, booking agent, etc) does so it important that they
are responsible. They also act and speak up for you in your dealings
with record labels so this characteristic is much needed in a manager.
Your potential manager should also be a multi-tasker. It to some degree
is a managers job purely to keep you happy and ease up life and career
stress off of you so you can do what you do best. This results in many
tasks that this person will have to juggle at once. It is not an easy
thing to do so you make sure that this person can do this by checking
for references if possible or a trial run. A manager must be a leader.
Even though technically they are your employee a manager must be a
leader in a sense even over you. If your manager is a weak leader your
career is going to be headed for disaster. Managers are deal makers and
need this quality to do well in negotiations. And again, managers
usually oversee your support team.
If you need band management, consultations or services, please contact
us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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7355 Bennett Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15208