Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What Does A Manager Do?

This is an excellent question, and one that many managers even have a hard time answering. The reason its so hard to qualify what a good artist manager does is that its a complex, encompassing job with no definite boundaries of scope and scale. It also varies by artist, as some need more help in certain aspects of their career than others. A simple way of looking at it is that the musicians write and/or make the music, the manager does (or coordinates) everything else. This can include explaining business developments to the artist, putting together the rest of the business team (the attorney, booking agent, etc.), designing and executing a marketing plan, assisting in the record production process, dealing with record labels and getting the band signed to one, liaising between radio stations and press outlets, handling PR issues, dealing with the bands legal and financial matters (with the help of appropriate experts like music attorneys), dealing with the-day-to-day administrative tasks and troubleshooting, and so on ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

A good manager should also provide objectivity and guidance, putting things in perspective and thereby helping to shape your entire project. Often managers get involved with the development of your look and image, your live show, song selection, and recordings.

A manager needs to able to approach record and publishing companies. It is best they have some experience of dealing with record companies, and an understanding of record deals. Record labels are uncomfortable dealing directly with the artist, though it does happen, particularly with the smaller independent labels. However, on the whole they prefer dealing with a manager, so they can talk through the cold business details without embarrassing or offending the artist.

Commissionable Income will include income from live gigs, publishing and record advances, royalty and PRS payments, personal/radio and TV appearances, sponsorship, merchandising etc., and a Manager will expect to earn commission on some of these for a period after they no longer manage you.

Obviously a manager should like your music and be interested in your creative development. It is not always the case that managers help to shape your musical sound. There are artists who have clear ideas about how they want their music to sound, who they want to work with, what studios they want to use and so on. However, a good manager will have contacts with producers or other writers who can help you shape your demos and songwriting before you approach record and publishing companies, and will offer advice if you need it.

Your manager should have good personal skills. Diplomacy, patience, ability to think strategically, endless energy and the fine art of salesmanship are all essential in a manager's kitbag.

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