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Role of the Artist Manager
Artist managers for musicians and songwriters play varied but very specific roles in the careers of the artists they work with. Though the exact responsibilities will vary from artist to artist and manager to manager, the key role all artist managers play is to manage the business affairs for the artist they represent.
Being a professional musician, be it a performer, session musician, songwriter or any other of the numerous positions in the industry, requires a balance between the creative work that brings an artist his or her career and the financial side that allows the artist to make a living on that creativity. While there are musicians that are very business savvy, there will come a time in every artists’ career when an outside source is necessary to take care of all the day-to-day business aspects of that career.
Business managers, whether it be a person or a company, fill this role in a number of ways, and depending on the artist represented, can act as a publicist, booking agent, tour manager and the handler of finances, among many other positions. Filling these roles is extremely important for artists both large and small, as they can focus more on the creative side of their career while a capable person or company with the artists best interest at hand can guide the financial side of the career.
A Musician’s Need for a Manager
As mentioned previously, even the most business savvy artists who played a major part in publicizing themselves will at one point or another need outside help steering their career on to bigger and better things. In today’s music industry climate, it is much easier for artists—through use of the internet—to get their name out not just throughout their region but around the world, and the DIY method has become a popular way for artists to become known. But there’s only so far an artist can go on their own before the music begins to suffer from all the time spent on promotion and publicity, and it takes a manager with a keen sense for working on the business side of a career to take the buzz an artist has already created and transfer that to bigger stages and larger amounts of money.
How Artist Managers Get Paid
In the second paragraph, it is mentioned that the manager should have the artists’ best interest in mind at all times. While this may sound like a loaded statement (and, granted, there will probably always be bad examples of managers), the way managers are paid inherently provide at least some incentive for the manager to act in the best interest of their client.
Managers are paid on commission, so naturally if the band doesn’t get paid, neither does the manager—a bold incentive for the manager to do everything he or she can to help the band. Percentage rates vary, and often change depending on the success the artist enjoys—but for most new artists, the commission rates typically starts around 15 percent.
Obtaining a Manager
Artist managers typically come to represent an artist in one of two ways: by an artist that seeks out a manager to take their career to the next level, or a manager who discovers a promising band they feel they can not only help promote but make money for themselves in the process. For a band looking for a manager, the best way to go about it is similar to most anything else in the music business: get your name out there to the right people.
A good manager that sees a hardworking band that already has somewhat of a fan base is much more likely to spend his time helping that band than a group or artist just looking for someone to do all the dirty work. And since the manager only makes money when the artist makes money, the best managers are going to work with artists they feel have the music and the drive to take their career to the next level.
When you’ve done all the self-promotion you can and feel like its time for an artist manager, look for individuals and companies that work with artists similar to you and contact their offices with your interest. Do you homework about these companies and present a professional and business attitude. Be polite but persistent when need be, and you’ll come away with someone who respects your work and your professional attitude that can help take you somewhere you may not be able to reach on your own.