If you're a musician, chances are you've considered getting management. After all, everyone knows the names of music managers who are just about as famous as the artists with whom they work, and it's definitely true that a band manager can help open some doors for you. But how high on your to-do list should "find a music manager" be?
First, you should know that there are definitely things a manager can bring to the table even very early on in your career. In the beginning stages of your music career, the biggest thing an artist manager can offer you is the chance to focus on your music. After all, they don't call it the music BUSINESS for nothing - there's a lot of hard work that goes into building a music career. For musicians, juggling all of the responsibilities of getting a career off the ground while trying to stay creative is a struggle. Often, musicians find themselves chasing down promoters or pitching to journalists all day long, at the expensive of practicing, writing new songs or recording. A manager can take all of that pressure off by handling the business side of things so that the musicians get to focus on being creative.
Of course, in addition to being someone who can take care of some of your business related responsibilities, a good manager is one who has some contacts that can help you in your music career - contacts at labels, with promoters and agents, with the press, and so on. This is where it gets tricky in weighing up how important a manager could be for you. Finding a manager who meets both of these criteria takes one thing that is often in short supply for up and coming musicians - money.
The bottom line is this: if you're just getting started in the music industry, and you're still at the stage where you're looking for a label, just starting to play shows and so on, you shouldn't divert money from doing things like recording or promoting your music to hire a big money manager. Your best options for management are these:
Working with a friend who is a fan of your music who is willing to help you manage some of the business side of your career. This kind of manager can be someone who wants to get a start in the music industry themselves, and you can grow your careers together. Your friend will be getting valuable experience and making good contacts so they can move on to other management work in the future, and you'll progress more quickly in your music career since they'll be shouldering some of the work for you.
Trying to find a more connected manager who is a big enough fan of your music to be willing to work for free at first, or for at least a very reduced rate. Scoring this kind of set up is rare, of course, but like lawyers, many people who are well placed in the music industry are willing to work pro bono if they really believe in you. If you do find a deal like this one, just be careful that you don't trade away your future to get the management in the short term. In other words, don't sign away huge percentages of your potential future earnings to convince someone to help you out now. If a manager walks away from you for this reason, relax - you've dodged a major bullet.
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