As a career starts to progress, there comes a time where the musician needs to consider bringing some people together to form a team. If we can think of the musician as the CEO of its own “company”, where there is a product or service to sell, then we also need to think about the members that will keep this company afloat. In the music industry, we are talking about the people that will further develop a musician’s career: Agents, Accountants, Lawyers, Publicists, Talent Managers, and many others. These are all important players for any musician out there but before getting a hold with the services of any of these, it is important to have an overview of what they really do, and what they at least should bring to the table.
A Manager should understand that the musician’s main focus should be its craft. Without the product or service that the musician is selling, there is no “company”, so a Manager will first try to get a hold of most of the duties (as he or she can) that will prevent the musician from creating that song, scoring that movie, performing that gig… This does not mean that a Manager will be able to completely replace an Attorney or Agent’s duties, but a Manager will do create an environment where the musician can rely on the Manager’s business knowledge to cover these aspects.
The first thing to do when thinking to work with a Manager is to sit down and consider if you are willing to let someone enter deep into your musical career. A Manager is not only someone that will answer emails and contact you around with producers and other musicians: he or she will be involved in many (if not all) of the future decisions to boost your musical career, and in the process is also going to take a commission from the earnings. Managers are heavy-working individuals that like the hustle and will need to be allowed to have a voice in business (and some musical) decisions, so truly consider if you are willing to share time, space, and money with someone else.
It is important to accept that managers see careers from a different perspective and this might sometimes be conflicting with the musician’s more artistic point of view, but it is crucial to trust and create a dialogue where ideas can be shared for the benefit of both parties involved.
At the same time as Managers expect enough space and trust to fully operate, musicians should also at least expect a high level of commitment from them in return. There are many things that a musician can do by itself, so if a Manager wants to work alongside, the value added should be clearly reflected through their work. First of all, a Manager should be extremely organized and understanding that the musician’s life does not follow the usual 9-5 schedules so they should be available to work 24/7: either at an early morning radio interview, or a late night studio session, he or she should be able to answer. It might seem like a crazy deal to work this way, but it should not be a curse to adapt work around the musician’s productive times.
Also, musicians should expect to work alongside a person that will work to connect them with the right people. A Manager should thrive to find the person that the musician needs at that moment in their career: it can either be from a producer, to a promoter, to a radio host, etc. In order to expand a career, new doors should be opened and the Manager should make the best out of this to get the musician’s career to the next level.
In the end, the most important added value that every musician should expect from a Manager is: advice. When someone is so deep embedded into you career, there is a lot of time spent together, a lot of decisions made, and the best way to carry all out is by having a person that is able to give advice and guidance. Trust should be king, so better make sure that everyone involved is understanding of such, and also make sure that the interests are aligned towards a main goal. The Manager-musician relationship should be a close and tight one for the convenience of both: in a business such as music, in order to progress they both need each other to subsist.
Having in mind these basic elements about Talent Managers is time to consider bringing a Manager aboard, or wait some more time to consolidate the career. Also, as an advice, it would be great to sign an agreement or a contract between both parties involved just in case any inconvenience shows up along the way.
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