Why Have A Manager For The Band?

Posted on November 20, 2010

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Oh God, what does this mean … another mouth to feed with the little money we make as a band now? What is this guy going to do that we can’t do by ourselves? Isn’t this another person trying to take what we earn and line his pockets? Oh, I’ve heard them all – believe me. Why on earth would a working band on the rise consider having a manager when the ultimate goal is getting a label to do all that work for us? Here are a few decent reasons why.

First off, when someone comes to you with a legitimate concept of taking care of the band, you should be flattered. Reason one might be that this person is a legitimate music and business minded person who sees the potential of the band. Another reason might be that you have moved this person enough to make them want to dedicate their time to moving you forward, and of course, the right thing for you to do is compensate that time with a portion of the funds earned through their work. A manager is truly the “Fifth Beatle”.

Lets start with the hoorays a manager offers you. Sure, you’ve got a street team and a bunch of nearly nineteen-year-old girls cheering you praises at the junior college campus, but what kind of a Cheerleader is working the business veldt? If there is someone that isn’t considered a “fan” alerting the business side of the industry to your music and performances, chances are they’ll take more notice of you. In my years, I honestly got more from hearing a manager talk about a local band than I did from a random 22 year old stoner telling me, “Yeah man, they rock!”  the professional enthusiasm a manger distributes foes far in the eyes of the suits, the booking agents, the media and the retailers.

How about an outside view of the landscape? Getting a little guidance in the career direction doesn’t hurt, especially when it’s from someone who isn’t looking at the world from the stage. What I mean here is, the guy who navigates the retail and booking landscape of the industry is going to be very helpful in helping you avoid potholes that you don’t see coming. Chances are, a good manager already saw others fail in the places you want to go, so he or she would have a much better idea than you do on how to climb the ladder to success.

Thee is also the honorable mention of having a manager. It’s a little prestigious to be so well practiced that you attracted a manager. There’s a bunch of others playing the scene who haven’t got one, but YOU do. A label is going to respect that. Truth be told, very few labels will deal with a band directly. Too much machismo. If you’ve got a manager to handle that for you, it’s going to help you get a foot further in the door than slugging at the wind yourself.

This also leads to the buffer zone a manager can provide the band. There are a lot of skeezy people out there looking to make a buck off your back sweat. A manager is going to help clear out some of the deadwood that gathers at the band’s door and attract more legitimate media and booking resources. Few things will scare off someone who is trying to scam you as when you hand them a business card and say “Please talk to our manager.”

How about managing the time you have to practice and write new material? If you’ve got to be out there dealing with two-o-clock meetings with booking agents, how much time can you dedicate to that new riff you’re kicking around in your head? A trusted manager is going to sift through contract negotiations so you don’t have to. When he says sign here, you know it’s for the best and bam – you spend 10 seconds signing instead of 10 hours negotiating. That’s beautiful!

Ever consider the muscle of having a manager? The club didn’t honor the rider and the band didn’t get a sound check, the meal promised or the pre-show storage space to hold the equipment. As a result, they were late setting up and the club manager doesn’t want to pay them now. Instead of the drummer putting a boot in the belly of the stagehand who just stood there while he moved the stage monitor around, let the manager do the dirty work. A couple minutes with a manager and a lawyers phone number and most situations like that somehow magically straighten themselves out. It’s also easier to get rid of the crappy bassist who gets drunk before the show and won’t leave. Have the manager, an outside of the group member, tell him his time has come and he’s out. A good manager, while I know I’ll regret saying this, is a key element to sweeping out the trash.

Now, the number one reason to have a manager who grows close to the band! You need someone who isn’t behind an instrument to be able to tell you, for the better of the overall performance and recording – what you just did sucks and you should change it. You will always need to have a trusted person who sees the overall project from the outside that you can bounce your ideas and concepts off of. It is absolutely necessary to have someone trusted who can do that. You know that the manager, who gets his piece from your best efforts, is going to help steer you in the right direction. It’s worth the 20 percent you’re going to pay him to have him answering every phone call you make. A good manager is going to triple your efforts … and so, you’re income potential.

In the old days it was easier to record the three-song demo and shop for label attention, but the reality of today’s emerging music markets tells the world that a manager is simply going to benefit the situation. Make a list of your goals and the things you need to do to make them become a reality and find where having a manager is going to be a plus. Look at those closest to the band and consider someone who is there already. That person is most likely already singing your praises and would do more with a piece of the action.  This could be the step in the right direction you’ve been looking for.

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