Do You Need a Manager?
Music Industry Monday
One of the biggest questions that I get asked by artists is, “How do I get a manager?” It seems like a fairly simple response. But when you dig into the topic you realize that it is a lot more complicated than it might seem at face value. Before you can even consider HOW to obtain a manager, you should determine if having a manager is the best path for your career. This week we will be discussing whether or not you need a manager.
Pros & Cons
Keep in mind, having a manager is never all that it’s cracked up to be on television. There are, of course, plenty of pros to having one. But there are equally as many cons in the process. Let’s start with the pros:
- You can focus on your music
- Someone to communicate for you & settle disputes
- They’ll give you honest feedback
- Show booking & tour routing
- They have contacts/network
There are absolutely some great reasons to have a manager on your side. But before you make that decision, let’s look at some of the cons:
- They cost money (up to 20% of your net revenue)
- You may disagree on major career decisions
- They could hurt your chances of signing a deal
- Your independence may be limited
- Some can talk the talk, but they can’t always walk the walk
- You may simply not need a manager right now
After looking at both lists, it’s clear to see that each side has its things to think about. Let’s break down a couple of these to make a little bit more sense.
Communication & Dispute Settling
As an independent artist, you typically would have to do all of your communication. What does that mean? Reaching out to other artists for collaboration, sending your tracks to labels, doing all of your distribution, and the list goes on. If you ever have a problem to dispute, you also have to add that to your growing list of communications. It ends up becoming extremely time consuming and can take a lot away from your craft.
A manager can help take that immense load off of your back. It gives you more time to be creative and work on your music. The manager also likely has more experience with the political side of communication and can better word things in certain scenarios. At the end of the day, a manager is your best friend when it comes to talking to other people.
Contacts & Network
Another great thing that managers provide is their networks. If they are well-established in the industry, these guys know A LOT of important people. Having this network brings huge leverage to you as an artist and can be very beneficial.
The flip-side is that if the manager is not established, they’ll be in the same position as you. So make sure that your potential manager has a solid network to lean on.
Managers Cost Money
It’s no secret that music managers require money. Sometimes they take a flat rate to work with you. MOST times they will take a commission off of you and your work. In many cases, artist managers take between 15-20%. If an artist is not as established, the manager will likely take closer to 20% to hedge their bets.
Think about that though, 20% is almost a QUARTER of your earnings. So if you make $100, your manager takes $20 and you are left with $80. In small numbers, that doesn’t seem like a lot. But as you begin to grow as an artist you begin losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to a manager.
The point being, make sure that your manager is working for that 20%.
If you sign with a manager you have to understand that your ability to be as creative will likely be hindered. Your manager will have an ultimate stake in you and therefore will try to inject their opinions and strategies into your career. This will leave you with less independence as an artist.
For some people, this is perfectly okay. They need that extra help. But for many creative minds, less independence means less creativity. Some of your ideas will be shot down and you will never be able to achieve some of your goals. Of course, this depends on your manager and their ability to stay with your vision.
So, do you need a manager?
The answer may be yes, or it might be no. It is all discretionary. I am not the person to tell an artist what they can and can’t do with their careers. My only advice is to think long and hard about a major career decision like bringing on a manager.
Also, remember this:
If you are not being approached by managers, you probably don’t need one.
This should go without saying. You have to be at a very specific point in your career to be able to have someone to manage all of the small intricacies that come with being an artist. If you’re not working from the moment you wake up to the moment your head hits the pillow, you probably don’t need a manager yet.
But don’t fret! You will get there as long as you persevere.
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