Finding A Manager

October 2006
© International Music Managers’ Forum Choosing a manager is probably the single most important decision an artist will have to make during his/her career as a professional musician. The right manager really can make a huge impact on your career. The purpose of this note is to offer some guidance to artists and assist them in hopefully selecting that person. A. WHEN SHOULD YOU APPOINT A MANAGER? Generally the sooner the better. A manager has a role to play right from the beginning of your career. On the business side they will liaise with professional advisers such as lawyers and accountants organise concerts and tours and talk to potential record and publishing companies and on the creative side they will assist you in deciding what songs to record and the selection of producers as well as helping create an image for you. Yes some artists are capable of managing themselves but very few. Even if they do have the capability to do so an artist should have somebody else representing their interests - somebody to be (at different times) a spokesperson a diplomat an authoritarian a headmaster an organiser a mediator tough charming compromising. Having said that if you do not find that right person then do not despair and do not feel you must take second best. You will be able to survive for a while without a manager and the management functions and responsibilities can be undertaken by a mixture of yourself your solicitor accountant tour manager and agent. Do not get impatient: at some point you will find the right person. Better to wait than to make the wrong choice which will cost you later on. B. APPROACHING POTENTIAL MANAGERS Do some research. Talk to your musician friends; read any relevant publications; speak to your solicitor accountant agent and if you know any people working in record companies and publishing companies; ask for recommendations. After you have done all this research draw up a list of names - whether it is a short list or a long list at this stage does not matter. Do not send out circular letters. Just like you do managers trash" most (if not all) circulars. Do not make any cold approaches. You will have a much greater chance of success if either you or somebody on your behalf makes a personal approach. A prospective manager should be sent the following: A) most importantly a CD of your BEST songs (even if they are just demos). Initially you should only include on the tape between two and five songs NO MORE. You have to make an impact. The manager will have neither the time nor the inclination to listen to any more at this stage; (B) one or two photographs (nothing too fancy but then again they must be quite flattering and again designed to make an impact); (C) a short biography (nothing too long or pretentious) with if you have them reviews of your gigs. You do not have to make up a package that would impress a Saatchi and Saatchi executive but it must be presentable to catch the eye. The package should be sent to the prospective manager either by you or the person making the introduction such as your solicitor accountant or agent. Do not be too pushy. Wait to hear back from them do not phone them just a few days after you have sent them the package. Wait at least a week or so ? they are busy people or at least should be if they are successful managers. Again any decent manager should have the courtesy to respond to your letter anyway in due course ? just give them time. At some point however it might be an idea either for you or the solicitor etc. to put in a phone call to prompt a response. Hopefully you will get their response and hopefully it will be a positive one. Now is the time to meet the prospective candidates. Before making a decision one way or the other you should meet them at least once ? hopefully more often. The first meeting should ideally be at their office (so that you can see them at work). After that you should go out for a drink or a meal and then perhaps invite them to a gig or a rehearsal. You might introduce them to your solicitor and/or accountant and/or record company personnel so that you can get an opinion from these people. If you are lucky you will have several managers showing interest in you. You should then draw up a list of each candidate's weaknesses and strengths and compare the candidates by reference to the various questions listed in Section C below. C. FACTORS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT When assessing a particular manager ask yourself the following questions: (a) How experienced a manager is he/she?
(b) Has he/she successfully managed other artists (not producers or songwriters)?
(c) What is his/her background? Has he/she worked for a long time in the music industry? If so for whom? How helpful will that experience be?
(d) Does he/she generally have a good reputation?
(e) Is he/she primarily a "business manager" or a "creative manager"?
(f) If he/she currently manages other artists how long have those other artists been represented by him/her? Do those relationships appear to be successful and happy ones?
(g) How affable is he/she? Will he/she be able to get on with for example the record company staff?
(h) Where is he/she based? In the same city? If outside that city will that become a problem to you?
(i) What other commitments and distractions does he/she have (both business and personal)?
(j) Is he/she ambitious and keen to succeed by seeing you enjoy commercial success?
(k) Does he/she use competent and well respected solicitors and accountants?
(l) Does he/she have good contacts with promoters agents merchandisers journalists publicists etc?
(m) Does he/she have working relationships with other managers in other countries?
(n) Do you like him/her as a person? Can you easily contemplate "going on the road" with him/her for many months?
(o) Do you respect his/her musical tastes and opinions?
(p) Is he/she capable of taking on responsibilities? Making tough decisions? Being a good negotiator?
(q) How organised does he/she appear? Does he/she have a proper office? Secretarial and administrative assistance? Does he/she appear to return phone calls deal with correspondence maintain proper financial records?
(r) Has he/she previously worked with your record company or music publisher (if you have one or if not the companies you would like to sign to)?
(s) How old is he/she?
(t) How committed to the music industry is he/she? Is he/she just dabbling for the fun of it or does he/she approach his/her job with real conviction?
(u) Does he/she actually like your music? Does he/she have his/her finger on the pulse of current musical tastes and developments? Does he/she know of the "in" producers for example?
(v) What are his/herArticles,Resources? If you go through lean times or have debts to pay off will he/she help you out by lending you money?
(w) What sort of management agreement does he/she contemplate? For how long? At what rate of commission? You should not expect any manager to fulfil all these criteria: you will be doing well if you feel positive about just half of these factors. Even after going through this exhaustive process there is no guarantee that you will have chosen the right manager. The artist/manager relationship is just like any other personal relationship - some relationships last forever some for just a short while. The purpose of this note is merely to give you some guidance in the decision making process. c/o "