How to Get a Music Manager & What a Manager Does
Do you want to find music managers looking for talent to take you to the next stage of your career? Perhaps you want to know how to get a music manager or are even wondering what music managers do.
In order to find the right music manager, you need to make sure you’re at the best point in your music career, with a dedicated growing following, a defined sound, distinct image and a blossoming source of income. Now you’re ready to figure out which one is best for you.
When you’re thinking about getting a manager, it’s important that you feel confident in understanding each stage of the process and know exactly what to look for.
Music managers looking for talent and artists
Music managers are looking for talented artists who are at the right stage of their career. They usually only make money if you make money through commission. Therefore, they need to be certain that this is possible before committing to any agreement.
If you have established yourself as an artist, have built a loyal fanbase and are getting to the point where it’s too much for you to handle, it may be time to start looking for a music manager to assist and guide you to the next level.
What is music management?
Music management is when a music manager or management company enter a professional agreement with an artist or singer. After they find and sign talent, they become responsible for making key decisions on behalf of the artist. They usually do this in exchange for a commission on earnings. Artists often require a manager to go to the next level. However, they first need to find a large audience to make them an attractive investment.
What does a music manager do?
#1 Allow you to focus on music
They can take over any administration tasks you have which allow you to focus on making music and developing your career. This is something to consider when looking for a music manager.
#2 Connect you with contacts and industry
A good artist manager will have knowledge and industry contacts that may be inaccessible to artists without management. A strong network takes years of work to build up. A good manager can save you this time by giving you access to the network that they’ve spent their whole careers cultivating.
#3 Look at the ‘bigger picture’
From the perspective of a musician or singer, it can sometimes be hard to know where to go next and which direction to take in your career. With the right guidance from an artist manager, musicians can focus on further developing themselves while their manager deals with the strategy.
#4 Communicate with record labels
Reputable music management companies only work with acts they believe in. This is a valuable vetting process for record labels. This helps record labels to minimise the risk of investing in the wrong acts and also be confident that the management company will take some of the burdens of continuing development of the artist.
#5 Make you appealing to a record label
Music managers know what record labels are looking for. They know how to package an artist in a way that looks profitable to the record label. Before approaching a record label, a good music manager will want to help further develop the artist to make sure they are ready.
#6 Negotiate contracts
Record labels often avoid working directly with the act because they want to do business with someone who understands the music industry and is able to make objective decisions. This knowledge of the music industry can help artists to negotiate a better deal.
#7 Speak publicly on behalf of the artist
It’s the music manager’s responsibility to run (and, literally, manage) the public image for the band, particularly important in the era of social media.
#8 Seek opportunities
The phrase “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” isn’t necessarily true, but it is true that even the smallest opportunities can be important.
The more exposure the artist gets, the better, so keeping an eye open for a chance to get that exposure is essential for an artist manager.
#9 Book studio time
The music manager will usually book studio time on behalf of the artist and hire a producer for recording sessions. This is important, as it will define the sound of the record.
Keep in mind that managers don’t usually fund studio time. Instead, this usually comes from the artist’s income.
#10 Send demos to record labels, radio stations, publications etc.
The music press, record labels, and radio stations are like middlemen between the producers and the consumers — a type of musical gatekeeper.
Having good, respectful working relationships with these people is essential for any artist looking to “make it” in the music industry.
An artist’s manager manages these relationships on their behalf.
#11 Promote the artist
Advertising is expensive so this may be challenging at first. But the manager will be responsible for eventually communicating with advertisers to boost the artist’s visibility.
#12 Organise music videos and photoshoots
More than ever before, people are consuming music through video platforms, and video is a great way to build and support an artist’s ‘image’.
A music manager will be in charge of seeking out and hiring a crew for music videos and photographers for photoshoots.
#13 Book and promote gigs
A good manager will not only be able to sell the artist to potential venues and event organisers but also understand what venues would best suit the artist.
It will be difficult to encourage the owner of a venue to book an artist if they are not guaranteed to sell tickets. A small venue may be more appropriate early in the artist’s career.
Wherever the artist performs, the audience must also be suitable — for example, attempting to book a soul singer to support a thrash metal band may not net the right crowd!
#14 Understand trends and industry changes
It’s important for the manager to understand where the artist fits.
This may include following the careers of similar artists and watching out for trends in sound, style and even upcoming online platforms.
How to know if you are ready for music management?
Some artists won’t need management until a few years into their career. It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment that you should start looking for a music manager — if you’re doing things right and you’ve built up your social media, gigs and fan base then management will find you.
Sometimes it’s better to wait until you are at a stage in your career when you can’t cope without help. All the time you don’t have management you have the control, you book gigs, arrange tours, radio plays, sort out merchandise, you can do everything yourself. The only person that truly cares about your image and your music is you.
As you become more successful it will become too much for one person and artists will need a team to support this workload. This would be the right time to be looking for a music manager.
Managers cost money. The vast majority of music artist management deals are based on commission. That means that your manager takes a percentage cut of income you generate, so you need to make sure management is the right choice for you before you commit to giving away some of your income.
Does an artist need a manager?
What a music manager will do is take the pressure off you so you can focus on the music. They will spend their days contacting promoters, working with labels, arrange your diary, speaking with the press, and handling the business side of things.
Are you at the stage in your singing career where you need that kind of support?
If you are, then you could be the ideal candidate for a music manager looking for talent to represent.
However, if you are still getting started as an artist and have only recently started playing out, it’s not a good idea to spend money on management quite yet.
Looking for a music manager
Another factor to consider is if you feel your financial stability through gigs is a form of income. Managers in the music industry earn their living through commission—an agreed percentage fee based on what your payment may be each time—so this is going to be a quality of the package you are offering that the music manager will consider.
A great way to see if you feel that you’re financially steady is to keep an income and expense sheet for every gig you perform. You can find awesome templates online from Smartsheet to help you get stuck in.
This way, you can review your financial progress through gigging, using a clear and easy format. It is also a helpful document show when talking to a potential music manager to demonstrate your financial viability.
Finally, knowing you’ve made it to the perfect place for music management will become clear if you’ve worked hard to develop your own defined music style and image.
This can be a super fun process, listening to your favourite artists and tailoring it to suit your preferred musical presence. Understanding if you are already there is a major arrow pointing towards your laptop, encouraging you to hop on and get those emails out to music management companies.
With many deadlines and campaigns to complete for you, whilst visioning an end goal, your music manager needs to trust in the artist they see before them. If you are super self-assured that your act and sound is defined and at it’s all-time best, they’ll feel the confident vibes radiate from you. And this could be a musical match.
How to get a music manager
In the early stages of your career, rather than looking for a music manager, concentrate on your music, your brand and career development — management will likely find you when you are ready. When you have perfected your sound, have a defined recognisable image and have built a following (outside of your social circle), you will find these opportunities will open up easily.
However, if you feel you are at the stage where a music manager could benefit you, then here are some short tips on how you can get one.
Finding music managers looking for artists and talent isn’t easy. In truth, there are some sharks out there, so you need to be very careful about how you try finding one.
Here are some of our tips on how to get a music manager, and whether you as an artist need a manager.
#1 Be honest with yourself
Firstly, ask yourself, does an artist need a manager at your stage in your career? For example, if you are earning under £1,000 a month, do you really need to hand over a percentage of that?
It might be that you handle your own career for the moment. Take advantage of the relationships you already have with other writers and contacts to help push your career to a higher level.
#2 Prepare a promotional portfolio
If you are at the stage where you think a music manager is right for you, make sure you have the promotional assets in place that will showcase your ability.
For example, do you have live gig footage, evidence of a social media following and fanbase, professional studio recordings, or even a record deal in the pipeline?
This will make you much more appealing to a music management company or individual manager.
#3 Employ someone you trust with the right skills
A music manager doesn’t actually have to be someone with industry experience, although it will help.
Some artists will employ a family member or friend to manage their affairs, as they trust them implicitly to do things in the right way.
If you need a professional music manager, trust is something that you will build over time, so it’s best to try to get recommendations from other artists.
If you do end up getting a music manager, do your research on them online to make sure they have a good reputation and the skills to represent you properly.
#4 Get in touch with the right candidates
If you don’t have any industry connections, you are going to have to make some cold calls or contacts online.
Research for music managers in your local area or particular music niche, then start making phone calls and sending emails.
Be honest with them when you contact them, explaining you are looking for representation without over-exaggerating what stage in your career you are at.
Music manager salary – how much should a music manager get paid?
This is important to get correct. It affects you and them. According to The Musicians Union, a commission rate of 20% is the usual fee.
Some music managers get paid a wage. However, in the majority of cases, a management deal will be struck whereby the manager gets paid on a commission basis.
In other words, the more successful you are, the more the music manager gets paid. That gives him the incentive to work on your behalf and take your singing career to the next level.
An industry standard can be around 15%. It can be more though, but not usually more than 20% of the artist’s earnings. This is quite commonplace where a new artist hasn’t reached the heights of success yet, and there’s going to be a lot of management work involved before the money starts rolling in.
This will often be paid as a percentage of the artist’s gross income. That’s a better deal for the music manager, as even if you lose money on a deal, it still means they get paid their money.
It’s not always that way though. Some music managers get paid as a percentage of your net income. In this example, even if you end up losing money after a gig, the manager won’t get paid.
There are many ways in which a music manager will get paid, including gross and net income percentages of the artist earnings. As an artist, you negotiate the best deal for you, which could mean tiered commission levels depending on earnings.
Music manager contacts – what can they do for you?
First things first, how do music managers help the business side of being an artist? From tour budgets, contract negotiation and financial administration, to negotiating with venue owners, labels and industry figures; the music manager you choose will handle this all.
Focusing on these tasks that a music manager will take responsibility for, one of the most important parts is the discussions between yourself as an artist and those gloriously ideal label signings. Most labels will outright refuse to discuss any music business with the artist themselves. This is where the magic of the music manager shines.
For an in-depth guide on what to expect from your music manager, read this article.
Admin can be a tedious challenge for all unsigned artists, can’t it? After an afternoon of intense band practice, you’re then faced with a pile of applications and invoices to fill out. Before you know it, it’s past midnight. With the right music manager, they’ll take this heavy but incredibly important burden and carry it for you.
As shared by Sonicbids Blog, a good music manager will help manage your schedule which is essentially the framework to your progress and development as an artist.
They’ll ensure your invoices are filled out and paid correctly, along with other crucial aspects such as renewing your public liability insurance or running a fine-tooth comb through a music contract. All these tasks require precision and focus by an industry figure who knows what they are doing.
Music management companies
You wouldn’t arrive at a gig without your musical instrument, equipment, lyrics, water or repertoire fully prepared. Without these, the show wouldn’t go on. You must be ready for a gig, you have to be ready to show to a music manager what you want from the guidance and time they’re going to give you.
Firstly, you may want to consider where you’d like to see yourself in a year, two years or three years time. Consider where you’d like your musical tone and style to have progressed to, whether you’d like to have released an EP or album by then or even created a new genre. These are the aspects, moving forward, that a music manager will have wanted you to have thought about and that your music manager will be striving to achieve for you.
Within your plan prepping, you might want to consider how the strategy will help you grow what you already have. Will you want to suggest you’d like a bigger following on Instagram, Spotify, Twitter or Facebook? Or maybe all platforms.
Music managers looking for artists: it’s a business!
In short, management is a two-way process. You may want to work with them but they might not necessarily want to work with you. You both have to be at the right stage of your career. A manager needs to see income streams already coming in or a strong indication that they are likely to.
It’s vital to have a strong, loyal fan base already built. Otherwise, managers have to consider not only whether to take you on as an artist, but also the task of building a fan base from scratch, which in the vast majority of cases they won’t be interested in.
You, on the other hand, need to see what doors and opportunities music artist management can really get you. The ‘looking for a music manager timing’ is probably right when you need the following:
A time may come when management is needed to figure out the next step for your career. The main reason for management to be a part of your career guidance is because they can probably see the ‘bigger picture’ that you may fail to notice.
Have you got to a stage where you’re struggling to cope with all the work you’ve got to do? Are you putting your practice on the back burner to do other tasks that aren’t as practical?
This is the time to be looking for a music manager; although depending on the tasks you could just employ someone rather than commit to management. However, if you’ve got this much to do, at the expense of your act, then you need support and management may be the next step to take.
Making the right choice with management should allow these tasks to be done by them rather than you. This allows you to focus on making music and developing your career.
Are you ready for a music manager?
To show your readiness to participate in the planning process your future manager will want to create, it would be a productive step to download the social media dashboard, Hootsuite. Or another similar.
Hootsuite has the tools to provide you daily, weekly or monthly reports on how your following is sitting on your social media accounts, from where your followers are from to what their age range is. This is a simple process and if you get stuck, there is a tutorial on the website.
Remember, the manager is looking at you as an artist as much as you are evaluating them as a manager. With your informative hat on, social media stats at the ready, this may just be one of many winning attributes to your package as an artist.
Once you’ve agreed to work with a music manager, they can continue the social media handling. This means that you can sit back and rehearse your new original material.
There are two major factors to think hard about that will really shape your future plans, and that’s understanding your target audience and what labels you’d prefer to reach out to.
Independent Music Managers – knowing your audience and preferred label
Finding a music manager will help you discover more about your audience and who you’d like to target. Not only this, but you’ll also be discussing with your manager about the labels that need to be approached. To show a potential music manager you are fully clued up, it’s a savvy move to make a list of desirable labels and your aspired-for audience.
A music manager works on your behalf in every way. How you are growing and relating with your audience, through crucial avenues such as publicity and promotion, will definitely be on their to-do list. Create a mind-map of all the ways you’d like to reach out to your audience, and what type of listener you’d love for your awesome tracks to reach out to. You can slip this into a folder with all your other documents. Slowly but surely, you’d have built a sparkling portfolio to reveal to potential music management. You’ll be one prepared future superstar.
Labels are so important. You could draft up a list of all the potential labels you’d love to impress. Make sure that when you are exploring all your options, to keep a watchful eye for key label elements that make it a brilliant one.
According to Attack Magazine, these will be qualities such as; the label nurtures your public image, they listen to your audience’s needs and are responsive.
If you’d like to find out more guidance on knowing what label is the right fit for you, check out our article:
What qualifies a manager in the music industry?
It’s good to know what qualifies a music manager to take care of all your musical endeavours. Music management has an entire educational path to itself. It is a Bachelor Degree, it can also be a diploma.
Those who have become music managers have dedicated a long time to learning and developing within the industry. They may have even unpaid internships or work experience with major music management companies.
Warning signs for a manager that isn’t for you
It’s a safe move to have a brief understanding of the signs of a music manager that isn’t for you.
As Artist PR explains, alarm bells you should be wary of is if you struggle to contact the manager to meet, there is an extortionate management fee to pay or they outline they will take no financial responsibility. If your music manager candidate is glowing and isn’t showing any signs of the sort, you are good to go.
You’re looking to contact record labels
Many record labels will refuse to give an artist the time of day if they don’t have music artist management. A reputable management company should already have a working relationship with record labels or they should know of each other.
This is important to consider when looking for a music manager. This, of course, should make it easier to get your music heard.
Famous music managers
Some music managers have ended up being as famous as the artists they represent. Here are some of the famous music managers who have made a name for themselves over the last 50 years.
- Brian Epstein – The Beatles
- Colonel Tom Parker – Elvis
- Sharon Osbourne – Ozzy Osbourne, The Smashing Pumpkins, Lita Ford
- Simon Fuller – Victoria Beckham, Annie Lennox, The Spice Girls
- Nigel Martin-Smith – Take That
- Malcolm McLaren – The Sex Pistols
- Pete Waterman – Various