Thoughts On Getting A Music Manager

Posted on December 10, 2010


Sometimes going the battle alone only gets you so far. Maybe you’ve considered getting a manager who can help carry the load of booking, organizing, media blasts, negotiating and all that jazz. Here are a few thoughts about the subject.

1. Don’t complicate the process any more than you have to.

Write down your goals, needs and the things you want to do but just can’t do in the time you have. Be direct about it too – no over the top talk about the big dreams down the long road. Just make it cut and dry. This will open the table for discussion on what the manager can offer you. Chances are, he’s got the goods, but maybe you’ll find you already have it all covered.

2. Make sure the relationship is a benefit to the both of you.

No one wants to work just for the sake of working, and you need to get something out of it. If the manager is doing it for just a buck, that’s good – it’s a job; but better is if he has a passion for it. Does he enjoy the ins and outs of the management process and find a reward internally for it, or is it just a job he really wants to do to make a fast buck? You need to know that the both of you are getting something from the working relationship.

3. Be sure it’s signed with ease, not strife.

If you find you’re looking for the hidden agenda in the contract, chances are you aren’t all that comfortable in the whole negotiation to begin with. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t sign just for the sake of signing. Be sure you’ve discussed all the benefits of the relationship and that it’s right for you. Don’t go on a wing and a prayer.

4. Have you discussed the term of the agreement?

Lets say that 4 months of working together has gone by and you’ve got nothing to show for it? How long are you in a contract with this person? Does the contract stipulate that he only gets paid when you do? If that’s the case, let him have you in his Rolodex forever! If it’s a case of paying every time you book, regardless of his inclusion – well, chances are you fucked up when you signed the contract, but never-the-less, be sure you have stated a time limit for him to prove his worth.

5. Set reasonable job expectations.

Your manager is going to make some of his living by promoting you and you are going to do the same off his sweat and effort. Be sure you know what your role in all of this is. It’s not a give and take, where he gives and you take. You both have to work, and you need to know what part you have to work on, so state those parts clearly before entering into an agreement.

6. The fees.

It’s average for the manager to get twenty percent of what he gets you booked into. Don’t twitch and fuss when you see he gets $400 of the $2000 you get paid for the show. It’s normal. If he booked it, be happy for the 80 percent you got on a show you wouldn’t otherwise have been booked into. It’s only money. If he books a lot of shows, it won’t seem like a thing at all.

7. Expenses.

Know this up front; the manager should not be out of pocket for your expenses. If he needs funding to promote you on the radio, the legwork is his expense, the finances are the bands. You’re going to have to foot the bill on printing, recording, travel stays, etc. it comes out of your pocket, or if his, then it has to be reimbursed first to the manager. If you don’t understand that, you shouldn’t be in this game.

There are no hard and fast rules of engagement for this type of working relationship. Everyone has their own way of working, but keep in mind some of the key details above. It has to be mutually beneficial to both parties for a contract to be negotiated. Having a manager for your minor details as well as the big ones is without a doubt going to be a benefit. Start with the list of what you need and see if getting one is the right choice for your band or music career.

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