Think you want to be a band manager? The very first thing you need to do is find the right artist to launch your band management stable. Their music is important, of course, but you can't just agree to manage every band that makes a song you like. There are many other factors to consider before entering into an artist management agreement with a band. If you're thinking of taking on an act, here's what to look for in a musician to manage before you end up with a hard case on your hands.
Notice this doesn't say, "do you LIKE the music?". It's good to be a fan of the artists you manage - not everyone subscribes to the notion that you have to like the music you're working as long as you think it will sell, but I'm of the believe that you work harder for the music that moves you. In any case, however, you shouldn't just LIKE an artist's music when you agree to manage them, but you should KNOW it. Do you know that genre's world? Do you know it's radio stations, publications, fans, labels and so on? You won't be effective working an artist's music if you're not really sure exactly where to take it, so stick to artists who make music you understand not just how to enjoy but also how to share.
Sometimes, musicians have all the good intentions in the world, but they just can't seem to follow through on the work part of being an artist. Sure, their music is great, but they generally get distracted by the "fun" part of music, at the expense of making real progress in their careers. From a manager's perspective, this kind of work ethic can be incredibly frustrating. Part of your job as manager is to take the business burdens off the musicians so they can focus on the creative stuff, but to get your job done, you're still going to need the musicians you represent to understand that music is a job. They need to turn up to meetings on time, they need to put in the practice time, they need to be motivated enough to record and perform regularly - and if they can't do these things, you won't be able to do anything to help them. Additionally, their lack of commitment will begin to reflect on you as manager, if they show up late for gigs, miss interviews and so on. Save yourself the frustration and the potential professional upheaval - there are plenty of fantastic musicians who are also committed to making their music careers work.
Band relationships can be very tricky, and sometimes, you'll encounter a band that makes incredible music on stage and can't seem to get it together off stage. You know the implosion is coming - everyone knows the implosion is coming - and it's just a matter of time. As a manager, this set of circumstances can be extremely tricky. If we're talking about a case where the entire band wants to oust one easily replaceable member for bad behavior, that's one thing. If we're talking about a feud between this band's Mick and Keith equivalent, that is another thing entirely. If the end game is going to involve the departure of someone whose contribution to the sound is absolutely critical, and whose departure is going to irreparably alter the band, then proceed with caution. Your management tenure could be a very short and stressful one.
Almost every band has at least one person around them who is at least casually helping them with their music ventures. If you're thinking of entering a formal management agreement with an artist, then you need to know who these people are and who extensive the relationship between them is. After all, you're going to need the artist to trust you and your business decisions and to treat the business you're doing with them confidentially. If there is someone they *really* trust and plan to run everything by before they let you do YOUR job, then things could get contentious pretty fast.
Additionally, you need to know if the artist has obligated themselves financially to anyone in any way. These obligations will come out of the money you and the artist make together, so you don't to get them a massive record deal, only to find that they've promised 60% of it to someone else.
5. Do You Like Them?
As a band manager, you should be the proverbial fifth Beatle. You are the person in the band who plays the business, if you catch my drift. There should be absolutely trust and faith between you and the band members. You should share a common vision of their career, and you should all be 100% committed to making those dreams a reality.
And guess what - for all of those things to work, you really simply have to like the people in the band. I know, this is business, and business isn't personal - but you'd be surprised how personal business gets when you're working blood, sweat and tears against huge obstacles with a band. You've got to be in constant contact. You've got to ride around in vans together. You've got to go to show after show together. You've got to have no-holds-barred conversations. Band management is a much more personal commitment than, say, restaurant management. You won't do a good job for any band made of people you can't stand - and they won't do a good job for you if they don't like you either. Make sure you're a personality match as well as music match for the best chance at artist management success.