Managing your career can be a daunting task. That’s why the artist management profession exists! If you actually break down what a manager does, you start to see that he/she has to do a little bit of everything. For those of you who are unsigned or simply don’t plan on signing with a label, a manager then must do a lot of everything in order to compensate.If your band is just starting out, the following article may not apply to you yet; you should be playing out quite often and have a solid original repertoire to warrant the need for a manager. For the following 3 reasons (and many more), I strongly suggest hiring a fantastic manager that is a master of all trades to solidify and to further your career.
You cannot manage and pursue your career at the same time. Have you ever tried job hunting while working 12-14 hour days? I’ve done it, and it’s pretty much impossible! While this is a bit of an exaggeration, in many cases it applies to a musician’s career. If you’re playing a few shows here and there, a manager may not be all that necessary.
However, if you’re touring every few months, interviewing on TV and radio, plugging your songs into advertisements and video games, and visiting your grandmother every few weeks because she’s in love with your band, you’ll find a manager to be quite useful. Not only will the manager make life easier, but he/she will make sure you don’t lose out on any of these opportunities because you were too busy to call anyone back (including grandma). These opportunities could mean the difference between a stagnant career and a rising star.
Your focus should be on the music and on performing it well. A manager’s focus should be on your career and on guiding it well. The average human brain can only keep track of a limited number of things consistently. Reading advice on how to direct your career is certainly useful but you should never let it take away from what you got into this business to do: play music.
Instead, it’s the manager’s job to constantly seek advice on how to boost your career. For example, do you need more online exposure? If so, your manager may look into cheaply producing videos to release on Youtube. Do you lack a strong local following? In that case, your manager might try pulling some strings and getting you to open up for a popular band playing in your area. All you have to do is play.
You cannot rely on the remainder of your team to give you solid objective advice nor to set you up with the aforementioned opportunities. Agents, publicists, and lawyers are great at what they do (more about them in future articles) but only represent the parts of your career that fall into their respective fields. Furthermore, they may be more interested in earning commission and fees, rather than necessarily furthering your career; they may steer you towards decisions that ultimately will harm your career. In contrast, a manager has a fiduciary obligation to you; he or she has a legal duty to act in your best interest and help you further your goals.
Your primary goal should be getting your music heard, rather than simply making money. If you were thinking to yourself, “Record companies are very influential and powerful, so they can get me the exposure I need”, think again. These days, record labels are losing money out of every pore; with the recent layoffs and cutbacks, you should consider yourself lucky to even be signed, let alone be the source of any attention. Labels are also quite slow in catching up with technology and the trends of the online community, so they may not be the best source of advice, as advice will usually be offered 6 months after the fact. Your manager’s job is be up to date with new occurrences in the digital world, especially as it relates to technology, file-sharing, licensing, and media exposure, spotting and pursuing opportunities for you to shine. Thus, a manager ends up being your best route to gaining listeners and a bridge between you and your team, reducing the number of people you have to deal with while you made educated career decisions.
Hopefully that gave all you guitarists and musicians out there a perspective on why management is important as well as some insight into the music business. While you don’t necessarily need to know the ins and outs of the music business, it’s always nice to know what to look for in agents, managers, and lawyers. For those of you who are interested in the business, stay tuned for more articles to come!