I just watched 10 minutes of an 18 minute video blog from an artist who is seeking a personal (music) manager. He says he hasn’t gotten ahead like he should since he has not had a manager- and this future manager needs to make him a priority client, yet he doesn’t say anything about his own success or what he is doing that needs management. I turned it off. I had heard it all before.On a weekly basis I get up to 20 myspace friend add-requests from artists who say “I need a manager. Listen to my music.” I hit “deny” almost every time. I meet artists all the time who want a manager because they want the manager to “take us to the next level” or “hook me up with labels” or “get me shows.”Enough is enough. They all are singing the same tune. Artists- if you seek a manager and don’t fully understand artist management, not sure what your needs are and don’t know how to go about properly introducing yourself to a prospective manager, this article is for you. So that artist managers like me won’t turn off your video blogs, deny you on myspace, and duck out of sight in a networking situation.UNDERSTANDING ARTIST MANAGEMENTIncredibly, so many artists who seek management actually have no idea what it is. They just know that the manager is their ticket to greater success. Managers help guild the artist’s career towards the accomplishment of established goals. Managers are an integral part in finding new ways for an artist to effectively compete in the marketplace. The artist manager is involved in establishing, promoting and sustaining the artist’s career in conjunction with the efforts of the artist. But managers do a varying degree of this as their is no industry standard.QUALIFYING The first step is qualifying yourself (the artist). Qualifying yourself means sizing your (music artist) self up. What are your accomplishments? Have you finished a demo, including mixing and mastering and manufacturing it or are you in the initial stages of recording? Have you been performing live? Have you sold songs on iTunes or had radio play? Do you have a buzz with press? What is noteworthy about you? Do not start bragging you are the hottest, best so&so to hit the streets, because to us managers that means nothing if you have nothing concrete to back it up with. You need real, measurable progress that we can back-check. There should be some momentum to your career before you seek management; that is, something to manage. This doesn’t mean you have to be wildly successful yet, but you should be able to articulate clearly and directly what you have achieved in your career so far and also be able to articulate what goals you have for your career growth and development. After you qualify yourself, you also need to qualify the manager you seek. Just getting “a manager” should not be the goal. Managers tend to be connected better in certain regions, and also many focus their work within a particular genre. Time to find out who fellow artists are represented by. Do research on these managers. Do they have good reputations? If so, ask for a meeting with them explaining your success and why you seek representation from this particular manager. There are many good managers out there, but there are just as many unqualified, unprofessional managers too. I realize so many acts write me because they see “manager,” but know nothing else about me- including the genres I work with or the state I work in. Knowing who you are pursuing is a critical first step.NEEDSWhen you did your self-analyzation, you should have identified your strengths and your weaknesses. It will be imperative for you to be able to articulate what needs you have beyond the broken record of the your desire to get to “the next level.” Managers have different strengths (some have great experience developing an act, some have industry ears and can help you pick a song, and some have strengths in touring, ie) and so by you identifying what you need, you can get closer to finding a manager who is the right fit.Many hungry artists think their success rests in some manager’s rolodex and they seek this person out for one reason only- to get access to the manager’s connections in the business. A good manager will, in fact, have a large contact list of qualified professionals. But as managers, we guard these contacts like precious gems. The manager must have a strong belief in the artist’s future success before he/she would be willing to set up meetings and engage their colleagues about you.A better focus for you to have is to start with self-management or have a friend assist you in the business parts of your career. Work on your artistry and your popularity (fans online and offline). Seasoned managers keep their eyes and ears open to who’s next and if you are creating a lot of buzz (selling out shows, selling CDs independently, thousands of hits on YouTube, etc.), that manager will find you. Another option is to seek a management consultation which will allow you to tip-toe into a working relationship with the manager. Sometimes managers will be willing to consult you on a project-by-project basis and that way you have some business support why you audition for the manager and they audition for you to see if it’s a right fit.RECIPROCALThe best management relationship is built on trust and respect. If the manager truly believes in the artist’s talent and the artist completely trusts the guidance of the manager, it can be a very rewarding relationship. Both parties should work equally hard. Remember, managers are paid a commission of the artist’s income. So, if you have no income coming in yet, make an offer to pay for the managers time in a different way (like hourly or by project), until some income is generated. Make that be the first benchmark, for you both to achieve together, finding income streams for the artist and their music.So to recap:
Identify your strengths & weaknesses and qualify yourself.
Be able to clearly articulate who you are and what success you have had.
Learn what artist managers do.
Consider self-management while you build your fan base.
Have something to manage before approaching a manager! Identify what your needs are.
Research managers to approach that work in your genre of music and have good reputations.
Build trust and respect with the manager before demanding they open their rolodex, and come up with a fair way to pay the manager for their services.
These few things will set you apart from the zillion other artists out there aimlessly reaching out to “a manager” in cyberspace. And hopefully help you start a mutually rewarding relationship to further your career.