Do I need a manager?
By far the most common question that we receive at our member clinic, workshops and through email is ‘how do I get a manager?’. We get it, between writing, rehearsing, booking gigs, playing those gigs, recording, applying for grants & festivals so you can pay for those recordings, keeping track of your books, and managing your social media/website/mailing list/any sense of a work-life balance it’s A LOT.
A manager can seem like a magic bullet, someone who can come in and take care of all the businessy stuff so that you can focus on the things you actually enjoy doing - making & playing music. However, this isn’t exactly the case. The job of a manager is to grow and amplify your business (as an artist) through their grit, determination, acumen and networks. If you don’t have the makings of a solid business, they can’t conjure one for you. In order words - for them to be able to grow your career, there needs to be a career for them to grow.
This means that most (though not all of the time) ‘how do I get a manager?’ comes too early. Before you start looking for a manager for yourself or your band, you need to ask yourself ‘Do I need a manager? Really?’
The answer in 95% of the cases we see is no, or, more accurately, not yet.
First, have a close look at everything you’re currently doing, the results you’ve been having and be brutally honest with yourself. Are you really doing everything you can? Are you investing the time needed into learning the business side of the music industry? Are you taking advantage of the resources and supports available in the community through organizations like OMIC (member clinic! IMB! From Emerging to Export!) to build your own professional networks and develop new or existing skills? Really? Truly?
There’s no way around it. If you want music to be your full-time career, you need to dedicate full-time hours (and sometimes more at the early stages). If you’re not taking yourself seriously and carrying yourself professionally, you can’t expect anyone else in the industry - whether that’s a venue booker, promoter, granting body or producer - to take you seriously.
If you’re honestly putting in the work, there’s still another step - do you have enough work for a manager to manage? The clue’s whether you’ve got so much work coming in as a result of this effort you can no longer keep up. Things like :
You’re getting so many bookings, you’re trying your best but getting sloppy and found yourself triple-booked one weekend.
You’ve received offers from three different reputable publishers, but you haven’t had time to follow up.
You’re scoring little recording grants left, right and centre, but don’t have time to put together a larger development grant despite a granting officer saying you should.
If these sorts of things sound familiar, congratulations you really do need a manager. Keep an eye out for our follow up piece on what managers are looking for in artists.
If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself that seems so far away : (1) be patient and do the work; and (2) don’t be discouraged. While yes, you might not be ready for a manager quite yet, the plus side is that it’s because you are far more capable of driving your own career than you probably think you are! You have so much potential and power!
Things in the industry have really changed over the last 5 - 10 years and technology has greatly increased the power artists have to control their careers. Most artists manage themselves longer than they would have in past and many artists, including some household names, are actively choosing to manage themselves throughout their career. There’s a lot you can do without having a manager, and the more you do, the better position you’ll be in to work effectively with a manager should you get to that stage.