Music Advice: 5 Tips to Score a Manager


By Sarah Cooper

As the Operations Manager here at Musicpage, I regularly speak with music professionals from all corners of the industry. These pros often drop little pearls of wisdom in our conversations and emails, so I decided to start passing them along to our users.

This month’s tips will be very useful for artists and bands that believe they are ready for management. 

5 Tips: What Managers Look For

1. Do you need a MANAGER?

Before you go out looking for a manager, ask yourself, are you or is your band ready for a manager? An experienced and hard-working manager can make a huge difference in your music career, however, they are going to expect you to be at a certain level of development to make it worth their time.  Usually, a successful band will find managers coming to them, not vise versa. Now, Musicpage can be an exception as we will have managers post on our Music Ops Board when they are taking applications.

2. Are you making MONEY?

Plain and simple. From the words of Marcus Grant, talent manager from The Collective Music Group, “If You’re Not Selling Tickets and T-Shirts, You Don’t Even Matter” (from Ari Herstand’s article on Digital Music News). With CD sales no longer increasing, you need to find a way to make money. Managers are looking for artists who consider themselves professional and music is close to, if not their full-time job. Managers are paid by a commission which is a percentage of money you generate from CD sales, merchandise, and any other sources of income. The percentage varies based on the manager, but you can expect to be paying them 10-20% of your total income. For example, lets say your band is making $200 a month, a manager is only getting $20 – 40. Ask yourself, is a manager you want to work with going to be willing to work for you for only $40 a month?

WARNING: There are some managers that are willing to work for a band for a flat fee each month. We have yet to hear from an artist that this is a good arrangement.  

3. Are you UNIQUE in your own sound?

“Originality and uniqueness are qualities that you see, hear and feel in the artists’ music,” according to Larry White, CEO of Larry White Management. “Throughout my career as a manager, tour manager and record executive, I’ve always sought to work with artists that present something new and different in their music, style, presentation and attitude.” The artists that Larry has worked for and with reads like a who’s who of rock and roll: Pearl Jam, Tom Petty, Elton John, Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Van Halen, Jane’s Addiction, R.E.M., Paul Westerberg, and more.

“For example, The Red Hot Chili Peppers started by being as outrageous as they could be and in the beginning their music was secondary to their image,” said Larry. “It took the Peppers ten years of constant touring and making new records before they were catapulted to the top of the charts with ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magic’ in 1991 and to this day remain one of the most exciting and popular live bands in the world.”

4. Are you DEDICATED?

Depending on whether you are a solo artist or a band, managers want to know that each member is a contributing team player. Billy Cohen, owner ofLabyrynth Management Company says “the management projects that we are involved with are labors of love. We look for artists that are very self-sufficient. We aren’t interested in babysitting or enabling. We are interested in creative partnering and collaboration.”

If you expect a manager to work full-time on your behalf, you (and your band mates) better be holding up your end of the bargain. If you are looking for someone to wave a wand and make you rich and famous, keep watching American Idol and The Voice.

5. Do you know your GOALS?

One of the best pieces of artist management advice was given to me by my boss,David Codr. He told me to sit down with the members of the band individually and ask each one what the bands’ goals are. “Normally, everyone in the band has a different goal; one person wants to get signed, one person wants to tour, one person wants to write and record albums, another member may just simply want to be a professional musician. There is nothing wrong with any of those answers, but your chances for success are going to be far greater if everyone shares the same goal” says David.

David went on to suggest that the band meets on a semi-regular basis (every two week or once a month) to discuss the bands’ short-term and long-term goals. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish. Sitting down with the members of your band on a regular basis is a great way to evaluate whether you are making process reaching your goals. Sometimes you have to step back and look at the big picture, and that is easiest done when everyone is stepping back at the same time.

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