At some point in your artist career, the question of “do I need a manager?” has probably crossed your mind. You might be in that position right now, you may already have a manager or you may not want a manager at all. Let’s explore this question further by looking into what an artist manager can do for you, the impact they can have on your career and when is the right time to hire a manager.
What does an artist manager do?
For an artist's day-to-day career an artist manager would be the main person involved. An artist manager’s role is to allow you to continue being creative and focused on your music, whilst they deal with the business side of your career. This can include opening new doors in your career as well as dealing with record labels, publishing companies, sync licensing agencies etc. when they come along.
"Brian Epstein en The Beatles" by Maarten Collen is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Nowadays, they may also help you to maintain your social media presence by scheduling regular content, communicating with your fan base and many more tasks to ensure that your career runs smoothly.
How do managers get paid?
Managers get paid through you, the artist. Usually, this is an agreed percentage between the artist and manager. A typical agreement would be 15-20% of the artist's total income.
Some managers may negotiate a higher percentage, which you will need to weigh up against what value they actually bring to your artist career. A music lawyer would be useful to contact during this time (you can find these via Musicians Union).
How do you find a manager?
I wish there was a simple answer for this. After being on countless Q&A sessions with various managers over the years, the most common response to "how do I find a manager?" has been, "they will find you". This can be disheartening to hear, but I understand why they say this now.
Your main priority should always be the music, not that you need a manager. When you start to develop and grow, creating an identity for yourself, this is when you start to stand out to managers. They see that this is someone that they can help take to the next level because they are already doing so well as an independent musician without a manager in place.
Before even looking for or considering a manager, it is incredibly valuable to have played that role in your own career – do the research into what a manager does so that you understand what your manager is going to do with you.
Also, when you feel you have taken your career as far as you can on your own and things start to get overwhelming you can start researching artist managers that are around, sending your stuff to them and generating a proposal for them to manage your career.
How do you find the right manager for you?
It’s important to have somebody representing you who is the correct fit. There are many key qualities to look out for when looking for a good manager. But where will you find one?
Networking events can be a good place to look as you get to meet like-minded people Identify first what you would actually need a manager for.
Gigs and events can be a great place for networking – after all, music managers are music fans first.
Maybe you have a strong sense of branding and know the direction you are going in with your music, but it’s just a case that you want to arrange your own headline tour around the UK. A booking agent or tour manager would be the best move rather than having an artist manager – they’ll be able to sort out all of the logistics of travelling around and booking venues for live shows in that area.
Making sure you find a manager relevant to your genre is very important. For example, if you are hoping to progress as a DJ in drum and bass, but you contact a manager who managed a successful rock band from the 70s, the likelihood is that they will still have valuable knowledge of the music industry, but their connections wouldn't be useful to your DJ career.
Having a manager is just like a relationship, communication is key and making sure that they know about everything that is going on in your career, so you can work transparently alongside each other.
So to answer the question of whether or not you need a manager, it’s completely up to the individual. If you feel that support would be beneficial and something you need at this point in your career, then it would most definitely be worth it. However, if you are happy dealing with the artist and business side and have a healthy balance, then it’s probably not essential to have a manager.
One person who knows all about the ups and down of making it in the music business is Skream. In his video course he takes you through all the lessons he's learned on his way to the top, including dealing with management, how to network and how to stay authentic to yourself.