Are you an artist seeking to break into the music industry on a professional level? Learn how to get a music manager to advance your career.
In the eyes of an artist, having a manager in your corner is the secret sauce for success, right? In an ideal scenario, that’s the dynamic.
An artist manager can open new dimensions of success a musician may not have thought possible. However, the bitter reality is it doesn’t matter how revolutionary your music is if you don’t have the proper exposure and backing behind it.
That’s where the value of a handler comes in. But a manager, like anything worthwhile, is an investment – and a hefty one. It’s essential to ensure there’s going to be a beneficial return on the hard-earned cash you’re funneling into the individual or company to represent you.
Finding the right manager at the proper phase in your career is more of a science than an art form. To help you, consider our advice on how to get a music manager.
How to Get a Music Manager That Will Guide Your Career?
There are simple methods of materializing a manger. But often you’ll have to get crafty.
There’s also no right way to land on a manager. But to find representation without waiting for it to fall in your lap, look to the drawing board.
Consider these five tips to find the perfect manager for your needs:
1. Network and Build Relationships
Simple enough, right? While more nebulous than dialing up a management firm, networking can be an effective route.
Put out organic feelers and ask fellow artists how they connected with their manager. This method can lead to viable contacts in the music business.
Also, research who manages your favorite acts or ask promoters and booking agents for suggestions. If you’re at the point where you need a manager, you’ll have connections with people who can offer this advice.
2. Research Music Management Companies
On the other end of the blueprint are music management companies. Getting in touch with an agency to do your bidding can seem impersonal or formulaic. However, it can mean you have an entire team of music industry professionals behind you.
While you’ll work with one manager, a full-service firm like Paradigm Talent Agency will have staffers who specialize in marketing, touring, promotion, social media, copyright laws, and other music business aspects.
3. Search LinkedIn and Social Media
When scoring a first-rate manager, the process can be like dating. Don’t be afraid to turn to the internet. LinkedIn is a great tool to glean insight into a candidate’s qualifications. You can scour their history and figure out if they’re qualified to take you on.
Connecting through social media can also be an informal segue to meeting your managerial match. Try to find some common ground. Are they tweeting about a new record you have an opinion on? Interact with them casually. Then send them a direct message to gauge their availability.
4. Play Live Shows
Playing live gigs is a highly specified form of networking. You’ll faithfully find management material where the music is playing.
Manager’s and talent buyers scout live shows for promising talent. So, if you play a stupendous live show, expect a call from someone looking to get on board.
Statista states gross tour revenue in the US came in at over $5.5 billion in 2019 alone. In other words, if you prove your propensity in the live arena, you’ll be poring over starry-eyed management suitors.
5. Enlist Your Friends
Hiring a friend, acquaintance, or an already-vetted reference means you’re less likely to deal with a leech.
Many managers in the music business are cold-blooded mercenaries: hired guns. They view artist management as a transactional relationship. And, to a certain extent, it’s true.
Money will always motivate your manager to find you a new opportunity! But it’s of the upmost your manager intrinsically believes in your art.
How to Get Noticed by a Music Manager?
Now you know where to find management. But stop to ask yourself: Are you management material? Make sure your career is worth managing.
There are essential affairs to consider before you go knocking down doors. Although, if you’re ready for a manager, they’ll come a-knockin’ first.
Meanwhile, consider these four means to make sure it happens.
1. Release Quality Music
This obvious career benchmark is worthy of inclusion in today’s age of digital facades, ghost producers, and online deception.
If you’re all clout and no craft, your manager will catch on eventually. Be honest with yourself and anyone you’re seeking to hire. Even if you’re happy with your music-making capacity, ensure your sound hits a level that warrants professional intervention.
2. Have a Developed Artist Brand
For an optimistic raconteur, branding comes naturally. It can also be loads of fun. For others, branding is the cringiest element of the music business.
A good manager will penetrate the froth and figure out if your story is profound and consistent. Maybe you’re an anonymous, masked crusader. Or, perhaps you’re an outlandish, long-haired fellow who stuffs faces with cake. It doesn’t matter. But you can’t be both.
What does matter, is having a strong brand. Developing a career in today’s music industry requires more than producing great music. You must also showcase your brand in this competitive industry in unique ways.
Branding can also play more of a role in an artists’ success than the music they create. Musicians are not merely selling their music; they’re selling an image, an experience, and a message that defines them.
3. Build a Fan Base and Have a Following
There are a lot of ways to foster a fan following. You don’t have to eclipse the Billboard charts to prove you have steam.
Building a loyal fan base is essential to be a successful artist. A potential manger will notice you if you’re generating buzz in the music community.
Consider these effective methods to boost your fan following:
- Build an artist brand. Define your brand and develop a strategy that boosts exposure and attracts fans.
- Get discovered on music discovery websites. Music fans and industry influencers alike search music discovery websites regularly.
- Get your music featured on Spotify playlists. Spotify is one of the biggest music streaming platforms. It’s an excellent place to grow your fan base.
- Get featured on music blogs. Securing a music feature or interview on a blog is an effective way to promote your music and reach new audiences.
- Have a social media presence. Social media is a valuable asset for musicians. A strong online presence is essential for promoting your music, engaging with fans, and expanding your fan base.
- Play live shows. Live performances are one of the best ways to reach new fans and connect with people.
4. Perform Live at Reputable Venues or Festivals
I cannot overstate how glowing your live act has to be to get noticed. Besides showing proof you can get gigs; the quality of those gigs also matters.
Managers who have a passion for emerging artists and taking them to the next level scout live shows.
One epic show, whether it’s a headline slot or opening up for a well-aligned genre stalwart, can level-up your career. Plus, performing live proves you’re a full package and not just a bedroom producer. Prove to potential managers you can turn-out crowds and generate buzz.
What Does a Music Manager Do?
A music manager handles the business affairs of a musician’s career. They also serve as a representative and advisor for a musician. Whether it’s on a personal or business level.
An effective manager will guide your music career, find opportunities, negotiate deals, build your brand, support artist development, and more.
However, their duties can range depending on where you’re at in your career. Every manager will carry a unique skill set. But there’s certain imperative know-how you want to make sure your prospective representative can bring to the table.
The broad responsibilities of a manager in today’s music industry include:
1. Find Gigs for Musicians
An artist manager helps find and book live shows or tours. They also work with record labels and booking agents to develop touring strategies.
By the time you bring on a manager, you should be already playing gigs. Do you want to graduate from regional club tours to larger venues across the country? Your manager should be someone ready to put in the legwork to make it happen.
Aside from landing gigs, your manager should also know the quality of the show. Make sure you’re playing the right gigs, at the right stage in your live performance game.
Also, if you’re further along in your music career, you may have a booking agent. But even then, the responsibility falls on your manager to hire the right one.
According to Business Insider, touring today can account for over 80% of yearly revenue for a musician. This is precisely why coronavirus has left many indie artists without a means to make rent.
2. Network and Build Relationships with Music Industry Contacts
The music business can be a cruel and unforgiving beast without the right allies. It can also take a lifetime to accrue such forces.
Good managers know how to work industry connections to benefit you, your brand, and your music. They work with record labels, music distributors, agents, promoters, publicists, music venues, and other industry contacts.
That’s why the right manager should have a Rolodex of industry contacts. However, it’s okay if your manager doesn’t know every editorial playlister at Spotify or blogger in your chosen niche. What matters most is they have a proven track record of fostering necessary relationships. They must also have the initiative to bridge gaps in their repertoire.
3. Find Record Label Deals, Publishing Deals, and Sync Placements
A major responsibility of a manager is finding opportunities to nurture artistic and professional growth.
A proficient manger will pursue record deals, publishing deals, and sync licensing. These opportunities boost exposure, grow your fan base, and advance your music career.
When your music and artist branding is ready, a manager should send out fine-tuned demos and actively sell your talents. A savvy manager will know how to pitch your sound and skills to make you look like an attractive investment.
4. Negotiate Contracts on Behalf of an Artist
After nabbing your dream performance at the Hollywood Palladium or a record deal with Warner (God willing), a manager’s job is not yet done.
A manager also champions record label contracts, publishing contracts, licensing contracts, and other legal agreements.
Music industry contracts are tricky and complicated. A skilled manager will understand the legal complexities and advise you on business decisions. They will then negotiate the sweetest deal on your behalf.
For example, they’ll work to secure payment advances, royalty percentages, distribution, sync placement, and other industry aspects you may not be well-versed in. They also ensure the artist they represent doesn’t get screwed by hidden details.
5. Oversee Music Promotion and Marketing Strategies
Getting your music heard on a global scale no longer involves a write-up in Rolling Stone, a killer show, and airtime on the hottest radio stations.
It means relentlessly fostering a productive social media presence, visibility on major platforms, trend forecasting, maintaining a consistent message across promotional channels, and more.
In this competitive industry, you must be the arbiter of your artistic narrative. But your artist management should package and expedite that narrative.
A skilled manager will develop marketing, promotional, and branding strategies. An artist’s success depends on these critical tactics. For example, they boost exposure, attract new fans, increase music sales, and more.
6. Assist with Extensive Artist Development
Music managers also help nurture an artist’s creative vision. They have industry contacts who can collaborate with their clients and help them grow as artists. For example, they may have a working relationship with music producers, sound engineers, vocal coaches, and other artists.
7. Manage Business Aspects While You Focus on Creating Music
Above all, having someone manage your business affairs should give you peace of mind to focus on numero uno: the music.
You can’t write your magnum opus if you’re busy researching copyright law or balancing your checkbook. An airtight manager will ease the logistical burden of being an independent musician. They’ll also be your expert strategizer. Your army general. Someone with a long-term vision for a successful music career.
When Is the Right Time to Get a Music Manager?
Reel the demo back in for one minute. Before you shoot your best songs into the stratosphere, consider the gravity of signing a music management contract.
On the low end, you’ll owe this Kemosabe 10-15% of everything you make. On the high end, 25-30%! The Musician’s Union reckons the average fee is around 20%. That’s a high price to pay for someone who’s beginning to find their financial footing in the music world.
Is the heat of navigating your affairs so sweltering you can’t stomach it any longer? No? Then keep on keepin’ on. It’s better to go it alone until you simply can’t.
If you’re questioning whether or not the manager route is worth it, you probably aren’t ready. Here’s an easy way to wrap your mind around it:
Calculate if 80% of your revenue will cover rent, living expenses, and current project expenses. For example, content creation, touring, studio time, promotional efforts, etc.
Also, don’t mistakenly factor in “future income” a manager could make you from non-stop gigs and record deals. That could take years for an independent artist. Can you afford it now?
The bright side of being your own manager is you control the narrative. You’re in charge of your affairs – which is great in the more nascent stages.
Plus, you could be an afterthought to a manager juggling a handful of other artists. Especially if you’re not bringing much to the table. When operating solo, you don’t have to wonder if your demo got out in time or if a promoter hit you back.
If or when you need a higher power to put motion to your music career, it’s crucial to be realistic. No one goes from seedy club gigs to arena tours overnight.
While a music manager should be business-oriented to the bone, they should also be someone you can confide in. Is this person someone you trust with your most valuable assets? Will you mind fielding constructive criticism from them regularly? Can they wear the hats of an accountant, impromptu lawyer, negotiator, mouthpiece, publicist, and biggest fan? And most importantly, will this person genuinely care about your music and message?
You must also be in a place both financially and creatively before giving up significant control. The right manager can get you where you want to go. The artist-manager relationship can also be a great symbiotic relationship. Even the stuff of legends when handled with care.