New musicians tend to take one of two views on artist management as they are launching their careers: either "I must get a manager now, or no one will take me seriously," or "I've heard so many horror stories about band managers that I will never, ever get one and will only manage myself."
Now, the first approach is a little off base. If you're trying to get a major label deal, yes, a manager (or at least an attorney) will be an important part of the process, but you won't attract a manager before you have some work under your belt - unless it's a "manager" - you know, someone who likes hanging around the scene with a self-imposed job title and little understanding of the actual work involved.
However, the second approach doesn't quite click, either. You can certainly launch your own career and get the ball rolling with some shows and maybe even a release, but if things are going well, the workload is going to become distracting to your number one task - making new music. The fact that days are limited to 24 hours and you must sleep sometime means that eventually you're going to require an extra set of hands on deck to keep the momentum building. In other words, you're going to need a manager.
For most musicians, this tricky question about artist representation rears its head at a time when A-list music management types aren't exactly blowing up their phone, which creates a quandary - should you wait it out for a big name manager to come your way, should you devote more of your music making time to finding such a person, or should you give your wildly enthusiastic and overwhelmingly inexperienced friend the keys to the empire?
There's no doubt about it - experience counts in the music industry, and music management is no exception. It's not so much the actual experience in terms of familiarity with the "done things," - "done things" rules were made to be broken - but it is the list of contacts that comes with experience that really makes an established manager handy.
However, believe it or not, an inexperienced manager may be able to bring even more to the table for you. Why? Well, they may not have the contacts in place, but they have one thing you're unlikely to find in the big dogs - boundless enthusiasm for your music and the time to work it like you are their only client (because, well, you are). Never underestimate the ability of someone combining enthusiasm and hard work to break down perceived music industry barriers. In other words, a very motivated wannabe manager willing to learn the ropes while working your project is going to get those contacts the bigger dogs have - and they're going to be promoting your music all along the way.
The bottom line is that experience is not the end all, be all when it comes to choosing the right band manager. Judge potential partners on a case by case basis. If you can see that someone is crazy about your music and appears to have the work ethic to match, this situation could be your ideal one. Tackling the industry together might just end up giving you more control over your career, as you make up the artist-management playbook that fits you instead of being worked into a pre-existing framework already crowded with other clients.
Looking for a little more bang for your buck with your management experience? Visit How To Work With Your Music Manager.