Where Do I Begin?
First of all you can expect to come across managers who are at different levels in the biz. Here’s some examples of what you might find in your search:
A friend of the band:
This is a person you probably know pretty well and he has a lot of passion and a real genuine interest in what you’re doing musically and believes enough in the potential you have to make it big that he is willing to devote his time to helping you make it happen for very little (if anything) in the beginning. If you choose this option make sure you have a lot of patience because just as it takes time for a band to build up a good reputation it’ll also take a newbie manager a lot of time to do the same. Just make sure they understand how much work is involved and they’re committed to it or you may wind up with someone who’s just helping you drink the free beer in the dressing room at gigs. :)
A veteran musician with a lot of experience in the music business:
This can be a great option because you can benefit from all the knowledge he’s gained from making mistakes throughout his career and wind up saving yourself a lot of time and headache. A person like this will understand you better too and will probably have some sympathy for your plight.
A person who works or interns for a reputable manager:
The advantage in this situation is that he’ll be right in the thick of things as he’s working in a professional office and will be very aware of the realities of the biz. He will also have access to the expertise and advice of his boss and will have countless other great connections available that would be much harder to acquire from the outside. This person will likely be very hungry for success as well.
A mid-level manager:
This is someone who’s been through it all and has achieved a certain degree of success, but is still waiting for the big breakthrough in the form of a gold or platinum record. There’s still a lot of hunger here and a wealth of experience and resources to boot. Not a bad choice at all!
A big-time manager:
The benefits here are obvious. This is a manager who’s at the top of the ladder with several gold and platinum records to his credit. Even with a manager of this magnitude there are no guarantees of mega success but your chances at having a serious shot at the big-time would be greatly increased.
Are You Ready?
So now that you’ve determined what your options are, here comes the BIG question: Are you ready for a manager?? Before you begin soliciting managers you need to look at the reality of your current situation and determine what the answer is to this question. Are you doing everything you can to further your career? Here’s a little check list to go through and please be brutally honest with yourself.
- Do you have a professional press kit?
- Do you have an EPK (Electronic Press Kit)?
- Have you put a lot of effort into creating an image and a solid live show?
- Do you have a professional recording of your songs?
- Do you have a professional website?
- Are you taking advantage of Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, Email, etc. to network and engage with your fans?
- Are you booking shows in your home town?
- Are you building a favourable reputation with club owners and booking agents?
- Are you getting press in print magazines and online?
- Do you have a street team?
- Do you have a promo video people can view online?
- Have you put together a tour to help expand your fan base and sell more CDs and merch?
- Have you and your band sat down together and come to a unanimous agreement regarding musical direction and career goals?
The last question is the most important one and should definitely be addressed first. You can’t bring a manager into the fold if your mission as a band is unclear. You’re manager is supposed to help you achieve your goals and dreams, so if you’re not clear on exactly what that is, you’re going to have some serious problems before you even begin. Do yourself a huge favour and sit down with your band mates and get this all worked out. It’s a much better alternative than wasting years of your precious time with someone who doesn’t share the same vision.
I’ve witnessed first-hand a very tragic ending to a great band that ignored this point. They wrote songs, recorded and played live for years and then finally they had a huge deal on the table with a major U.S. record company back in 2002. At the last minute the singer announced that going to university was more important than pursuing his music career with his band mates. Ouch! In a situation like that, you’re not just making a life decision for yourself, you’re making a life decision for the entire band, not to mention the time and money the label had invested into doing the deal up to that point.
We Are Ready!
Okay, so your whole band is on the same page and you’re doing absolutely everything you can at this point and you’ve determined that you do need a manager. You’ve searched high and low and you finally found the perfect manager for you band. Cool! Now you can relax and get back to just doing music, right? Wrong! Just because you have a manager doesn’t mean it’s going to be champagne and limo rides from now on. You’re going to have to do your part to keep things on track and unfortunately it won’t be all music related. This is also the reality even when you sign with a record label. With the extra resources and connections you’ll have with a manager on board, you’ll find there’s simply more work to do and it is absolutely in your best interest to be involved in that process. Please read the following sentence out loud: No one cares more about the success of my band than I do. Good, now repeat this to yourself everyday as a reminder.
Don’t forget, in many cases you’ll be one of several artists on your manager’s roster and if those other artists are generating more revenue from which he can pull a commission, then that’s where his efforts will be focused. Managers get a paid a percentage of your income, anywhere from 15%-30% or higher depending on many variables. Always remember that 15%-30% of nothing is nothing. I’m certainly not saying that you should do all the work and just cut your manager in for a piece of the pie because he’s a cool guy, but in order for everything to work in your favour you have to be pro-active and work as part of a team.
A manager can be a very valuable addition to a band that has all its ducks in a row. You have to take what you’re doing seriously and show that you really believe in it. How people on the outside treat your band will be a reflection of how YOU treat your band. Running a band is kind of like running a big company and the company will only be as good as the CEO that’s running it. You’re the CEO and it all starts at the top.