What is a Manager?
The manager is an extension of the artist’s brand, and the artist needs a reliable consultant to guide their career choices. “The manager works with the artist as well as the other members of the team to figure out the artist’s long-term and short-term goals and works towards implementing the plans to make those goals a reality,” says Mike Mowery in his e-book Music Management Primer: The Business of Being an Artist. With that being said, the role of the manager is one of the most influential professions on the artist’s team in career-shaping.
Our podcast guest Mike Mowery who has managed a variety of different artists over his career adds that an artist manager’s authority is ultimately based on consulting and advising the artist on making decisions and helping them figure out what their goals are. Because, after all, it’s the artist’s money and it’s their business. The manager is the one that ensures that every aspect of the business is accomplished and that all the working parties for the band (management team, record label, merchandise company, publishers, attorney, etc.) are on the same page. The manager puts all the pieces together so that everyone can work cohesively to get the goal they agreed upon.
When is the right time for an artist to have a manager?
According to Mike, the best artist/manager relationship exists when the artist is doing something on their own and has the need for someone else to come in and add value to that.
Skills Required to be a Music Manager
There are a variety of different types of managers, but to generalize, one has to be able to think on their feet and think fast to solve problems. Having an organizational skill set and being strategic are significant qualities for a manager and a manager has to be a self-starter just like an entrepreneur. Of course, there are exceptions to all these rules since there are a lot of good managers coming from different kinds of backgrounds and there are different fits for everybody. It is important for a manager, however, to set a trustful relationship with the artist they are working with since mutual trust is the core thing.
Responsibilities of a Music Manager
Management is a full-time job. The artist always works for their brand, and as an extension of the brand, the manager always works on their brand. They have to be there to fill in the gaps and help them with their reach. They have to take care of the business by making sure that bills are paid.
The manager’s days are mostly full of meetings, phone calls, and e-mails that are going back and forth either with the artist or the industry people. At nights, on the other hand, the manager occasionally goes to their artist’s shows to support the artist and shake hands with promoters and other industry people because facetime is important for the business. The manager’s dedication to networking is highly essential for future opportunities for the artist.
The Decision-Making Process
Most bands over time figure out who gravitates towards the business side of the band. It makes the manager’s life easier if they discuss everything with one or two main representatives from the band. This does not mean, of course, that they do not discuss things with other members. However, having to talk to one person and get their concerns and help make those decisions right speeds up the workflow and enables clearer decisions to be made.
Apart from that, understanding where the artist/band is coming from and empathizing with them essentially helps clear decision-making. It is important to ensure that the artist feels heard because, after all, it is their life and livelihood. The manager is there to help achieve what the artist envisions of their brand.
What are the Major Decisions?
The major decisions depend on where an artist is in their career. Primarily, building a team is what a manager does. Figuring out what is best for the artist and whom they should work with for their tours, merch, records, etc., is where the big decisions come into play. The manager presents the information related to those topics and shares their experience related to it and gives the artist the ability to ask questions and ultimately allows them to make the decisions.
Tips for a Music Manager
1. Managers are not able to make an artist bigger than the artist should be if there is not an underlying proficiency, competency, and commerciality to what the artist is doing. So, no one is going to be able to magically get them opportunities for an extended period of time.
2. Attention to detail is important.
3. Trust is the key.
4. Make your artist feel heard.
5. Balancing artistic integrity with the overall business needs of an artist is what leads to a successful relationship between artists and a manager. (Mowery, 5)
6. You have to make your decisions in representing artists based on what is best for the artist, first and foremost,and believe that in making good decisions for the artists, it will, in turn, benefit you. (Mowery, 8)
7. Be very tenacious, hungry, and be willing to sacrifice pretty much everything to get the opportunities that you need to get a job. (Mowery, 12)
Mowery, Mike. Music Management Primer: The Business of Being an Artist. Outerloop Coaching , 2016, https://outerloop.group/music-industry-career-coaching/#.