The topic of management comes with a lot of implications and considerations, and there are different circumstances that dictate whether or not your band is ready for management yet. There are some key questions on this topic that I will respond to below so that bands can have a better insight as to whether or not they’re in a position to benefit from having management, and also which type of manager suits what you are trying to achieve long term. It’s important to maintain an objective stance on this topic as some bands can easily become disillusioned or disheartened with their expectations. As much as having management can be glorified and assist with your band’s profile and credibility, it’s important to consider the reality of what stage in your career you are at, and what a manager brings to the table.
The role of a band manager has evolved a lot in recent years. Managers today have a much broader spectrum of responsibility than they once did, and it is a constant hustle to get artists heard in such an oversaturated industry where there is a lot of competition. Your manager must have relevant connections, experience and knowledge of how the music business operates to put you in a better position for success. Ostensibly, it is a manager’s job to oversee the careers of their artists, to proactively search for opportunities, and to maximise all revenue streams.
Managers are normally inclined to build a team for a band, so may seek out recording or publishing deals for you, hook you up with a booking agent, a publicist or find you relevant endorsements. Once the team is formed, the manager may delegate tasks, oversee the team and manage the overall project, as well as developing the artist. This ensures that when a band has a release, it is pushed from all angles and has maximum reach.
Managers also oversee day to day logistical tasks such as the organisation of photo and video shoots, merchandise production, branding and image consultancy, social media promotion, marketing and more. Sometimes, when bands are particularly high profile, they may have a main manager and a day to day manager so that the tasks can be split and carried out thoroughly. However, most managers who work with bands take on an all-encompassing role, which means that their job doesn’t fit a precise description, and they end up just doing whatever needs to be done. You may already know this having self-managed your band.
With the age of the internet and social media, the definition of what ‘stage’ a band is at in their career can vary. Some bands have huge online success, others translate better in live situations. Others have never played a live show before. It all depends on the artist, the demographic of your audience and also the style of music you play.
Some managers are attracted to high social media engagement and the amount of Spotify monthly listeners you have, others are more concerned with how many live tickets and how much merchandise you sell, but normally, it’s a mix of the aforementioned factors combined. If a band is particularly promising live and connects with an audience, the online statistics can always be developed if a manager wishes to invest time and marketing efforts to bring everything up to their expectations. Live is a huge part of an artist’s income and typically, managers, labels, PR folk would want to see strength in this area, particularly if you operate in the rock spectrum. Try to get feedback as well so you have an indication of the quality of your live performance. Bands typically use their online presence to effectively promote tours and encourage ticket sales and grow their live income.
However, If you’ve never played a show and if you have no active engagement on social media, then chances are, you probably don’t need a manager.
Some managers (and agents) are open to development deals but they may request a payment model that isn’t reliant upon commission. I will talk about the different types of management deals in my next blog.
Once a band starts picking up momentum and you make the decision that you are no longer capable or willing to self-manage or seek out appropriate opportunities to take you to the next level, then is the time to look to bring someone on to the team. I speak about how to effectively self-manage your band in my first blog ‘Top Tips on how to self-manage your band’. Bands both proactively seek managers and also there can be instances whereby a manager will approach the band.
To summarise, there’s no right or wrong time but there are some components that increase your chances of attracting management and future deals.
If a band lacks skills, connections and time to manage themselves, then looking to hire a manager may be a consideration. However, if a band has not been very proactive and doesn’t have the financial stability to support future activities, then the likelihood of attracting a manager is not likely.
A band may need a manager if they have managed to grow a successful online following, are selling out venues locally and nationally, and have done everything they can to get to a certain level. Some bands may be great at juggling all of the various tasks involved but do not feel they can negotiate the best record/publishing/licensing deal for them and may need some assistance here if they know that the labels are interested. Some labels prefer working with bands who have managers before they sign them, others just want to know they are dealing with someone capable, professional and efficient.
Bands can prematurely feel the want to bring a manager on board, but they also need to take into consideration the financial implications here and if they have enough revenue to compensate a manager for their efforts. Hence why I mention financial stability above - where a lot of the time cash flow comes from day jobs that initially support the band’s activities until they are self-sufficient and monetising.
Back in the day, managers were compensated upfront for their efforts by way of huge advances from recording and publishing deals, deposits from show fees and more. Nowadays the models are very different and managers will be mindful of existing and potential revenue streams that they can help maximise.
Look good, sound good, be professional. How are you perceived by potential managers?
There are many things a band may do to attract the attention of management, and that can include making a buzz online, performing at showcase festivals, having impressive sales and streaming statistics and attracting a live audience. Again, most of these things are mentioned above but I want to emphasise the importance of all of these contributing factors.
Having a unique look, personality and message in conjunction with having high-quality music is a great package for any manager. If you have spent a couple of years developing yourselves and have a good CV to bring to the table complete with media coverage, Spotify playlists, notable support slots, festivals and any other achievements, then put this all in an EPK (Electronic Press Kit). Make managers aware of what you’re doing. Stay in touch with them and provide updates on your progress. A manager may express initial interest, but feel more needs to be done before they commit to a long term working relationship with you. Keep this in mind and just maintain communication with potential managers so that they can keep track of how you are developing as an artist.
Do your research, don’t send blanket BCC emails and be realistic. I regularly receive submissions from bands out of my genre remit, proving they have not done their research. Ultimately, they’re just wasting their own time and energy by firing emails in all different directions without any specific vision of what they need.
Personalise your emails, show you have a knowledge and interest of what this manager has achieved for their artists and acknowledge that you feel they could bring to the table what you’re looking for. There is nothing worse than when a band sends a blanket copy and paste email with no information, a few links and just a line saying they’re looking for management. Emails like that will go in the trash.
Try to be formal with your correspondence when initially approaching managers, this is a business after all. Reaching out and pretending they’re your best friend before you’ve built a rapport isn’t going to bode well for a professional relationship.
I’ll be expanding on the different types of management deals in a future blog so stay tuned. But for now, good luck in your search for a manager and I hope some of the considerations above may allow you to think about why you may have not been successful yet in your search.