How To Work With Your Manager
By Heather McDonald, About.com Guide
A good artist manager can help you a lot with your music career – but many a good manager has failed to help an artist simply because the working relationship never quite got on the right track. Hiring a manager isn’t a magic bullet, just like hiring PR, signing a record deal or bringing any other person on board isn’t a surefire bet for achieving your music career goals. As a musician, the success of your working relationship with your team depends a lot on your approach. Help your manager help you with these few simple tips.
- Run It By Them
As you move up the music career ladder, people will become more aware of the fact that if they want to do business with you, they should start with your manager. When you’re in that in-between stage, where you have a manager but people aren’t sure if you do or not, you will get approached directly with business propositions. Before you act, get your manager in the loop. That doesn’t mean that your manager gets to tell you what to do, but part of the reason you have a manager is to have someone tell you the good opportunities from the rip-offs and to help you get all you’re worth. Let them do their job.
- Keep Them Informed
Here is a fun and familiar experience for managers who work with up and coming artists – you find out about something new your artist is involved in when someone else tells you about it. They’ve got a new song, a label called, they’ve been asked to play a festival – and you’re hearing it first from someone else. So not cool. If your manager is going to represent you effectively, they need to know what you’re working on and what plans you have percolating in your mind. In fact, they can help you make all that happen. Give them the tools they need to be a good manager for you.
- Have Frequent Meetings
Whether you meet face to face or schedule a phone call, set-up formal times to go over things with your manager. Yes, even if you already talk 30 times a day, have a set meeting scheduled to run through the status on ongoing projects and evaluate next steps. You’d be surprised how many details can get lost in the shuffle day to day, so formal sit-downs to run through the progress will make sure everyone is up to date, working towards the same goals and understands their role. As a musician, it is vital to make these meetings a priority and come prepared to discuss your concerns and ideas.
- Be Realistic
Even the world’s most lauded managers face deals falling through, shows falling apart and other common music biz bumps in the road. No manager can guarantee you that anything will happen – and if a manager approaches you and says they can, you you should run. Sure, sometimes managers drop the ball, but also understand that many times, it just doesn’t work out. If, say, a label appears interested and then it all falls apart, it doesn’t necessarily mean your manager blew it. Your manager makes money when you do, so you’re on the same side. They should work hard for you, but they can’t work miracles.
- Communicate (!!)
The bottom line in working with an artist manager is that communication is key. Keep them informed about opportunities that come your way and what you’d like to accomplish. They can’t help you effectively if they are out there talking to people on your behalf without all of the facts. Your managers owes you the same courtesy of keeping you informed about things on their end, but resist the urge to go around your manager and get involved in deal making and such on your own. At worst, you may end up in a bad deal. At best, you’ll confuse the process. It’s more efficient to let everyone play their role.
- Find the Right Manager
Your ability to work your music manager depends on finding the right manager for you – someone who gets your music, gets what you want to accomplish and has the knowledge of the genre and the industry to help you make it happen. You will work with your manager more closely than just about anyone else in your music career, so your manager should also be someone you’re comfortable talking to, someone you trust – yes, someone you like.
- What Happens Between an Artist and Manager Stays Between an Artist and Manager
If you think your manager is failing to deliver, the person to talk to is your manager. Keep the lines of communication open and discuss your concerns with your manager as they come up. You may find that you didn’t have a good understanding of what went down in situation you’re upset about. You may also find that your manager is indeed dropping the ball. Either way, the professional thing is to address this internally. Even if you are right to feel wronged, it is good practice in the music biz to deal with the source instead of gossiping.
- Take The Long View
It is worth repeating – a manager isn’t a winning lottery ticket. A manager is a member of your team who will work hard to make your music career a success. You’re building something together, and it may not happen overnight. You can and should expect dedication and hard work from your manager. You can’t expect more than that.