“I need a manager”. It’s the statement I hear most from new and developing artists which, perhaps, is not surprising. What does surprise me as an Artist Manager are their answers when I ask why they feel they need one. Inevitably these are usually along the lines of ‘I have too much work on’, ‘I don’t have time for the ‘business’ bits’, ‘I only want to concentrate on the music’…
This may be true but it’s not why a manager should take you on – a manager is not a personal assistant.
So when do you need a manager, and how do you get one?
First let’s talk about what a manager is and does. Simply put, a manager will aim to strategise and, ultimately, monetise your career. They will guide you in your development, they will be your sounding board and support, they will open up contact networks and opportunities you could not, for sure. But ultimately they want to create a viable living for both you AND themselves. That’s the big picture.
Day to day, you need a manager to be the hub of all the activities you may undertake as an artist – everything you do (from music making to marketing) goes both in to and out of your manager. As do all communications with every member of your extended team (once you have them), and all the third parties you (hopefully) have deals with. If you’re not feeling exhausted just reading this, let me not understate – management is a time consuming and complex role.
Yet, if a manager takes on a brand new artist (during the early initial development stage), it can be years (that’s right, years) before they start to see a return on investment of their time and energies.
This means they want to make sure it’s worth it. This, and the current music industry landscape, mean that the stage at which a manager would consider taking an artist on is getting later and later into their journey.
There are certain things they (and the music industry at large) want to see from you, the artist, first to reduce their risky investment. Talent alone is not enough.
What is a manager looking for, and when do you need one?
1. A (potentially) great product – the music.
This may just be your talent or skill as a musician or performer, but it is more likely to include an actual product i.e. written and recorded material which you have already prepared, that shows a clear style and direction. They want your musical identity to be as fully formed as it possibly can be for the stage you are at.
2. A strong brand.
Your brand is your identity as an Artist, and how you communicate that identity to the (gig-going, music-streaming) world. Is this something you have in place? Do you have artwork, a logo, press shots, stage wear, and an online presence that all reflect who you are as an artist, what you are offering, and which style of artist you are? Is it very clear what type of artist you are? Have you taken care to brand and uniform all of your official social media networks?
Brand is everything, and it must be clear and succinct. Usually when artists don’t connect well with the industry and audiences it’s because their brand is too vague, or feels inauthentic, or is trying to be everything to everyone. Know what your artist brand is, and keep that focused and consistent.
3. An audience
I know that artists hate to hear about the industry looking at numbers of followers and likes, but in the current music industry landscape they still matter. And since the purpose of my content is to help you develop your career within the music industry as it is today, this needs to be mentioned. Have you created interest and a following around what you do as an Artist ? Have you found a way of providing value/interesting content? Can you demonstrate this in online follower numbers and a high percentage of engagement?
An audience shows ‘proof of concept’ that your product and brand have an audience. The manager then knows they have something to work with, that they should be able to transform into an even bigger audience.
It also shows a willingness from you to engage with audiences, knowing how to do this, and a certain work ethic and commitment from you.
4. A vision (of what you want to achieve long term in your music career)
…a manager can then use this to inform their strategy to help you achieve your objectives and fulfill your potential as an artist.
Finally, I should mention that there also certain traits – such as an entrepreneurial mind, strong work ethic, ambition, keen to learn various aspects of the music industry – which I also believe artists should develop and that I look for in all artists I am considering working with.
Because before investing in you, managers want to see that you’ve invested in yourself first. Essentially – you need a manager at the point where have taken yourself as far as possible, alone.
It’s important to say that whether you want to secure a manager at some point in your career, or you are just wishing to develop and manage your own career in the most effective way possible, the formula is the same.
Having all of the above in place, and consistently taking action to develop your career by continuing to refine your brand, and further building your audience, should attract the attention of managers, and the music industry at large.
The challenge you have is to get yourself from where you are now, to putting all of the above in place, but you need to know how.
This is why I have created the ‘Self-Manage Your Music Career’ online course.
The course has 5 sections, one each dedicated to:
- Setting goals/getting clear on your vision as an Artist
- Creating your brand
- Building an audience
- Implementing a strategy
- Monetising your music
Learning the fundamentals in each of these areas will allow you to begin building a career for yourself as a music artist, or indeed if you have an existing artist brand and career, will help you to refine and further develop in any of these areas.
The course officially launches in July, however the pre-order for this is open now with an immense earlybird discount of 50% off until the 21st of June. What this means that you purchase the course now, and then it is automatically delivered to you on the day it goes live. Just like when you pre-order albums.