In today’s climate, Music Managers are even more of an asset than ever before. No matter if they’re a mover and shaker or a local phenom in one’s own right. It pays dividends to be effective and execute on all levels. That is why it’s important for artists to know the ins-and-outs of music management. Primarily because these are the people who will be managing your career on a day-to-day and they will also be the main architects in building your future.
Most music managers aren’t well known because they’re mainly behind the scenes. Some of the most notable music managers include Scooter Braun, who manages Kanye West and Justin Bieber. Coach K of Quality Control, who manages Lil Yachty, The Migos and Lil Baby. As well as Oliver El-Khatib of OVO, who manages Drake and oversees the 6 God’s rapidly growing empire. For a full list of hip hop’s top managers, check out the article below.
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Aside from music managers, there are also music management agencies. There’s hundreds of situations that will be unique to you as an artist or music professional. So I thought it would be helpful to lay out some resources that speak to the need of different situations that may arise.
If you want to touch base, need any help or advice feel, free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s always more to learn.
Choosing a music manager that is the right fit for your situation is essential for a number of reasons. As an artist, you need to partner with a manager who will mesh well with your vision and be able to execute what you visualize. Also, effective music managers not only manage your music, they manage expectations. Setting an ideal course of action that will turn your dreams into reality.
No one single music manager will be alike, there will be people who specialize in certain areas. For me, I have a background in social media, writing and branding. Other music managers will have specialties in other areas, such as being a former booking agent or working with record labels in some capacity, etc. Whatever the case may be, as an artist or music professional, you want to be aware of all the strengths and weaknesses.
Generally, most music managers can fill out any holes they may have in their business acumen. Things such as networking and finances can be alleviated, given the opportunity by the right individual. When building out your supporting team it’s important to make the right partnerships that will take you further in your journey. It’s more so about being effective, as artists — local or national — you have to make the right judgement call.
Now lets deep dive into some questions and ‘What Every Artist Should Know About Music Managers’.
First, I want to address many of the questions that artists may have about music management. Such as:
Do artists “really” need a music manager?
Can I manage myself as an artist?/When should an artist consider getting a music manager?
At what point will I need a music manager?
Can I rely on a friend to learn the ins-and-outs of music management?
What is the difference between music managers and booking agents? Can someone do both?
What Are The Positives And The Negatives Of Self-Management Versus Partnering With A Music Manager?
There are a number of positives when it comes to artist and self-management. As you begin on your journey, you will have the opportunity to set everything up, establish your brand and cultivate your vision. It’s all a part of the process and Nipsey Hussle did a great job explaining the reasoning behind ‘learning all aspects of your business’ while in Guerrilla Mode. Check out the article below for a full deep dive on the benefits of self-management.
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As you continue to establish your brand, develop your identity and create value for yourself, you will have the opportunity to grow without any outside influence. As an artist, this is a great time for introspection because it’s ultimately up to you to develop your vision and map out where you want your music career to go.
It’s all about having a strong foundation and being established before you have someone come in to help you execute that vision. It’s comparable to any business that is expanding. It comes to a certain point where you have to reach out and develop certain partnerships to ensure the success of your organization.
Once you have developed a brand identity, it’s hard to have someone come in and try to influence your narrative. That’s the beauty of partnerships, it’s not a boss/employee relationship. It’s two teams coming together to accomplish a common goal.
With that being said, the negatives start to arise when your growth as an artist is too much for one person to handle (You). As more opportunities begin to present themselves, you will need a music manager to represent your brand to outside parties. This can include everything from booking shows, strategic partnerships and securing fees from live performances.
For example, you have a performance; who’s the person managing the event? Collecting fees and making sure that people are enjoying every aspect of their experience? Or establishing relationships, such as calling booking agents or talent buyers at music venues? Working with promoters in your city, region or other states.
Music managers present a “very real” value for the business activities that they execute. So — in this case — the negatives of self-management equates to more success and not failure. Keep in mind, as artist you have to be aware of when to ‘Take the shot & Make the move.’ Because with growth comes more need for production and execution. As an artist, that translates into increasing value by means of production. That is why you should take full advantage of your “Guerrilla Mode” phase because when it counts, you’ll know exactly what you want and how to do it.
At What Stage Should An Artist Seek A Music Manager?
- As an artist you will want to have everything set up, this includes establishing your brand and cultivating your vision. A music manager is a person who will come in and tweak what you have already established by making it more presentable. This means getting your brand ready for mainstream attention, establishing a following and creating more value through opportunities. These opportunities could be setting up shows, negotiating a number of deals or helping you amp up production for a mixtape run.
- When you have a core product that is ready to go. This could be a mixtape with a single already picked out or just an idea with a lot of content that’s ready to be distributed. Although, what’s more important than content? Having direction, knowing where you want to go and how far you want to take it. If you’re building a supporting team, a music manager may be your missing piece if you’re coming off of self-management. It’s important to have that solid foundation. With every release, you want to define, refine and adjust who you are as an artist. It’s important to know your vision, so that others can get behind that vision to sell it.
What’s Better A Music Manager Or Booking Agent?
These two music professionals are one and the same, depending on where you are currently in your music career. Although, a music manager often comes before a booking agent. For example, if you are self-managing and hire a booking agent they will solely be in charge of booking shows and nothing outside of that function. They will also get a 10% fee on top of your booking rate.
So as an artist, nothing will change outside of your regular self-management activities besides booking. On the other end, a music manager that has booking agent capabilities will be able to take on more duties and book shows. That is why it’s important to know the history, strengths and weaknesses of a situation before committing to a business arrangement.
For example, you could offer a music manager a piece of the pie at 20% and the value created is through networking, creating opportunities and booking shows. To add a layer to it, imagine if you have a song or mixtape that’s gaining traction. You’re already in position to succeed because you have the content and the audience.
Now all you have to do is properly ‘manage’ the situation. So, to reiterate — booking agents are for solely booking live performances and music managers are music professionals who can manage day-to-day operations. This includes production, content, advertising and negotiating deals.
So, where do booking agents make their money? Booking agents are in place for artists who have reached a certain level. To the point, where they need an individual or agency that can book shows, set up tours and festivals on a national/international level.
Depending on your vision as an artist, there will be a time where you need a music manager to handle day-to-day operations and a booking agent to execute on the strategic end. For artists who are just starting out, you can also book yourself. It’s important to get out there and network. Check out the article below as I discuss ‘Tech N9ne and his come up as an independent powerhouse’.
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As an artist, it never hurts to be a mover and shaker. This aspect will always aid you in finding the right people and making the right connections. It’s always about being effective and having the ability to execute. For artists looking to grow, it starts with your core product which is music. For music managers, its about managing expectations and having the ability to execute.
Character plays a major role as well — life, in general. You want to surround yourself with responsible individuals who are focused and not liabilities. This is your brand and you need people who can sell your brand to the World. This will hopefully — in return — create more opportunities for your music career.
No matter who you are in the music industry; artist, music manager or booking agent — you will always need knowledge, network and money.