We, as creative people in this world, should all be encouraged to understand our artistic endeavors as our “companies,” or “Start-ups.” Want it or not, where there is a product or service to sell, there is a business. And even though we can lead with energy and hard work, there comes a time when the “company” grows, and the only way to get to the next step is forming a team of committed individuals that will push you and your company even further. In the music, film, and entertainment industries, there is one crucial team member: the Manager.
When an artist finds itself in the task of looking for a Manager, the first thing to look for is a “believer.” The Manager is the most critical team member, so the person who is taking the spot needs to believe in the Artist’s potential and art to work in harmony and alignment of the goals.
The Manager’s primary focus is the Artist’s craft and how it relates to its industry. This team member is going to be around almost all business and creative decisions taken, and will also focus the energy in getting hold of all the administrative tasks that do not allow the Artist to create the product or deliver that service. It does not mean that a Manager will be able to replace other future team members like an Attorney, or an Agent. Still, it will try to create a suitable environment where the Artist can mostly focus on being the Artist. (There is a lot of teamwork and cross-collaboration in the early stages)
Now, the next thing to do as the Artist looking for a manager is to sit down and consider if you are willing to let someone deep into your artistic career. Like said before, the Manager is not only there to answer emails and contact you around with other creatives: he or she will be involved in almost all the company’s decisions to boost your career. Also, think that the average Manager’s commission goes anywhere from 10% to 20% of the gross income.
- Promote artist career and run business affairs
- Negotiate contracts and fees
- Booking events and venues (to a certain extent)
- Advising on career decisions
- Initial Publicity and Promotion
- Business Plans
- Media relations
Managers are hard-working individuals that enjoy the 24/7 hustle and also need to have a voice in your business decisions. So, when the time comes, consider if you are willing to share time, space, and earnings, to know if you need management services.
Be willing to accept that Managers see artistic careers from a different perspective and that there might be conflicting views along the way. However, if both the Manager and the artists are believers, the right trust and dialogue can solve all despair and continue.
Just as Managers expect trust and freedom to operate, the Artist should also expect a high level of commitment in return. Up to this moment, the Artist has already proved that he or she can do most of the duties alone, so the Manager’s added value should be easy to see. They have to be extraordinarily organized and understanding of the Artist’s creative schedules: either an early morning radio interview or a late-night studio session, the Manager should be able to answer any calls. Even though it might seem crazy to organize work this way, Managers should be willing to work around the Artist’s productive times.
Managers should be in the constant seek of other creative professionals and business opportunities for their Artist(s) through the different stages of the career.
In the end, the most important added value that every Artist needs from a Manager is trust. There is a lot of time and work spent together, and the best way to carry all out is by working with a person that will trust, believe, and be honest when advice and guidance are needed. Remember that this relationship is symbiotic and needs both parties aligned to subsist.
Again, take the time to consider your options and what you are willing to give in exchange for management services. And do not forget to sign a written agreement or contract to leave all parts of the oral agreement on record.
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