25 Ways a Great Manager Can Help Your Music Career

Businessman on sofa is readingIn this day and age, bands and artists can do a lot on their own. They can book their own shows. They can send out their own press releases. They can run their own social media. What would an artist need a manager for? Why would they hire someone? In the early stages of a band or artist’s life, a manager could be the last thing on their checklist.

There are many reasons why an artist should hire a manager. There are also many reasons why hiring a bad manager is the biggest mistake a band or artist could make. I want to tell you right now, there is nothing worse than a relationship that is one-sided. If an artist is putting in 99% of the work, then the manager shouldn’t take any credit and should probably be fired. If a manager is putting in 99% of the work, then the manager should figure out real quick that leaving is his/her best option. Make sure to find the right person to guide your career and business. You’ll know when this happens as your intuition will kick in. Also, be open to giving people chances to work hard for you as an artist.

The reason a band or artist should hire a manager is for someone to lead the team to victory. Great championship teams have great coaches. There’s a method to the madness of the music industry, and great managers can create bigger and better opportunities for his or her artists. There are tons of people who should never manage a band in their life. There are only a few people who are capable of doing this. Great managers are hard to find.

The manager is the coach who’s going to be there for the team. To rally them to win, to make the tough decisions, and to give the artist a reason to keep going when time’s are tough. The manager is going to be the one to have sleepless nights with the artist. The manager will sacrifice just as much as the artist. The manager will be the one to lead you to the promised land. If you’re not being represented as of now, then take the time to find your great manager. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Below you will find twenty-five ways a great manager can help your music career.

  1. To oversee all business functions – A great manager will know each part of the music industry. From booking to publicity, from radio to merchandising, from licensing to VIP ticketing; a great manager will be able to make sure all business functions are running smoothly and on time. A great manager could work as a publicist, booking agent, tour manager, radio promoter, online content manager, or concert promoter; but he or she doesn’t because being a great manager is what he or she does best.
  2. To hold you accountable – A great manager will always let you know when you’ve done great and will let you know when you need to improve. The artist should always to want to work with the manager to create systems in which the music can reach new people. This may be daily habits, weekly habits, or whenever there is time habits. To have someone who will make sure you’re doing right by your own standards is priceless.
  3. To give you a realistic point of view – Sometimes an artist will underrate their music or their live show. Sometimes an artist will inflate their victories. A great manager will always give you a lay of the land which is true to reality. There is no other way. A great manager will not tell the artist what he or she wants to hear. A great manager will not tell the artist one thing and say another to someone else. A great manager will let the artist know all that is right in the world while giving some perspective to things that need to be worked on.
  4. To create a fine-tuned plan to release a record and continue momentum – A great manager will be able to work with an artist to form a strategy in which the artist will release new music and continue to build upon the artist’s fan base. The manager shouldn’t dictate what to do or when to do it, but will instead find out where the artist wants to go with this record. The manager will find out where the artist wants to be when the record cycle is complete. The manager will help facilitate any great thing or idea the artist needs done. The manager should be one of the most creative people on the team and know how to get things done in all aspects of the music industry.
  5. To help you build a team – A great manager will help the artist assemble a great team to make the most of the artist’s music and catalog of songs. The manager will also oversee what each piece of the puzzle is up to and conference with them and the artist to plan and attack. A great manager will help find the best people to work with the artist such as a booking agent, record label, publicist, tour manager, and more. You will never find a successful artist without a great team behind them.
  6. To make sure you’re doing the best you can – A great manager will hold the artist to a certain standard. If an artist asks a manager for advice or feedback, the manager must be able to communicate with the artist his/her point of view according to standards that are set by the manager and artist together. Sometimes, the manager will want to have his or her own standards due to the fact that a manager is only as good as his or her artist(s). There is greatness to be achieved. Do the best you can, and make sure you’re continually getting better. Put in the hours!
  7. To bring live opportunities – A great manager will also know other artists and managers which his or her artist can hit the road with. A manager certainly is not a booking agent, but there are some cases where he or she will act as one as long as it is legal in his or her state. California law says a manager may not book for an artist. Find out what works best for your situation. A great manager will make sure the artist is consistently playing with other great acts.
  8. To help create an online strategy – A great manager will help the artist come up with a strategy for social media as well as help make sure the official website looks great and is fully functional for fans. The manager and artist will work together to figure out what media should be created and how it should be rolled out to help maximize exposure for the artist.
  9. To make sure there are sales being made – Sometimes an artist won’t focus as much on sales/revenue steams as he or she should. Never hire someone as your manager if he or she doesn’t focus on growth of revenue and sales numbers. A great manager will help make sure there are consistently sales coming in. Yes, there may be times where the artist is on the front lines and the manager is not out actually physically selling records. It is not a manager’s job to physically sell items, but it is a manager’s job to create sales opportunities as well as other money making ventures in merchandising, live performances, licensing, and other areas.
  10. To have an outside opinion – A great manager will be a phenomenal leader as well as a mediator. When a band needs an outsider, their manager will be the one with a clear head to look at things constructively. Sometimes there will be internal arguments where a manager needs to step in and let the artist know his or her two cents. An artist may be too close to something or too distant. A great manager will be able to be honest and helpful with his or her opinions and suggestions.
  11. To help maintain a positive atmosphere – Yes, there will be hard times. It’s the music industry. 99% are hard times. It’s that 1% of the time every artist is looking for. Those great moments when all the hard work was worth it. A great manager will be there to keep the peace and to make sure there is a positive work environment. A great manager should be able to stay calm in times of chaos as well as make fantastic decisions on the fly. Calculated and cool, a great manager will help an artist achieve more.
  12. To make sure everyone’s voice is heard – A great manager will be able to work every angle. If you’re a solo artist, perhaps the only angle is yours. If you’re a member of a band or group, then there’s going to be many different opinions. A great manager will be able to help get valuable feedback from every member of the group as well as help champion the best ideas. A great manager will always give credit to the artist while a great artist will always champion their manager. Everyone in the band should have their say, and a great manager will be able to make sure that happens.
  13. To use reputation as leverage – A great manager will have a reputation as hardworking and easy to get along with. A great manager will have a pristine reputation and will always put his or her artists first. A great manager will use favors to help their artists get new opportunities. The artist must make sure to find someone who’s known for execution. Talk is cheap.
  14. To help negotiate the best deal – A great manager will be able to create the best case scenario in a realistic world. Sometimes that best case scenario isn’t a huge guarantee, a gigantic advance, or a world tour. Sometimes that best case scenario is making sure there’s a money being made every night, making sure the artist is happy and healthy, and making sure the artist is able to make strides towards the next big step in the right direction. There will be deals to be made, and a great manager will be dominant in negotiations.
  15. To be quality control – A great manager will be able to tell an artist “No!” A great manager will also be able to tell an artist “Hell yes!” There won’t be any filler on a record. There won’t be a merch design that looks poor. There won’t be a show or tour flyer that’s not eye-catching. There won’t be an instance where the artist is portrayed in an unfavorable light. Nothing but greatness will be released, produced, or recorded. A great manager has an eye for these things!
  16. To keep track of stats and help the artist grow in numbers – A great manager will be able to keep tabs on all vital stats for an artist. How many T-shirt sales will the artist do on their upcoming tour? How many monthly listeners does the artist have on Spotify? How many YouTube views has the last few music videos collected? How many tickets is an artist worth on any given night in any given city? A great manager will know these numbers and live by them. A great manager will make sure there’s a plan in place to keep the numbers growing.
  17. To help find the right producer – A great manager will be able to find out who an artist wants to work with when recording new music and help make those connetions. A great manager will know who’s worked on what records and will be able to give the artist a variety of people who are industry professionals. An artist will always have the final say in this department, but a great manager will be able to make sure there are many options to choose from in recording, co-writing, and overall production of the next song or album.
  18. To help keep the artist up to date with the latest news and trends – A great manager will know what’s going on in the music industry. Do you read Billboard? HITS Daily Double? Lefsetz Letter? Do you have the time to keep up with all the latest tech trends? Do you keep up with the latest music applications? Do you keep up with the latest music blogs? A great manager will be able to share stories with his or her artist about what’s going on in the industry and make it relevant to what their project is up to. A great manager stays up to date and in the know!
  19. To keep a schedule – A great manager will always keep the calendar full for his or her artist. An artist may not be able to stay on track at all times, but a great manager will be able to make sure an artist is staying productive and busy. Not with busy work, but with upcoming opportunities. A great manager will be punctual with deadlines and be able to deal with a variety of things at once.
  20. To divide the work load – A great manager will be able to help the artist figure out who’s doing what. Many times, in a band, a member may hide behind the work (or lack of work) of another in the project. A great manager will be able to know who’s suited for what and be able to work with people one-on-one to make sure goals are being met. A great manager will have the instinct to know who can get it done the right way the first time. Internally or externally, a great manager will know someone suited for a specific part of the project.
  21. To be a gatekeeper – A great manager will protect his or her artist. The manager will be able to field questions and know instinctively who needs to speak with his or her artist. A great manager will also be able to effectively communicate his or her artist’s goals without always having to refer back to the artist. A great manager always make sure to present all opportunities to the artist but will also be a filter for the junk mail that may come in.
  22. To create a trusting relationship – A great manager will have the trust of his or her artist. This trust will never be broken. This relationship should be thought of as a lifelong bond to achieve greatness. A great manager will always hold his or her artist in a high regard. Trust is something that should be the bedrock of what’s to come. Word is bond. Actions are better.
  23. To know when someone else is best – A great manager will know when to refer to someone else for a specific aspect of a project or release. If a manager needs help, the great ones will ask. Crucial moments are fleeting, and once you make a mistake; it could be very hard to correct it in the short term. A great manager will be able to have the resources (publicist, business manager, entertainment lawyer, label A&R, booking agent, etc.) to be able to hire out and/or refer to in times of need and experience. A great manager is always learning and always trying to expand his or her network of professionals.
  24. To think long term – Day to day operations can be handled by your manager, but when it comes to long term goals; a great manager will know systems are better. Everyone has goals: sign to a record label, tour the world, make tons of money… How will we achieve these things? Systems! A great manager will have a long term strategy to help maintain growth and success. Long term plans can be reverse engineered. This is helpful for execution in the short term. A great manager will also be able to change the course of the ship at any moment and still stay on track. The overall goal is to be profitable and create a living for the artist and team.
  25. To make sure the artist is always winning – If you are looking to have a career as an artist in the music industry, then you’re going to have to persevere. There will be many obstacles, but you will be able to make your way. A great manager is always giving ideas to his or her artist in order to make sure there are more fans coming in. Not only will a great manager be able to think of ideas, a great manager will be able to execute! A great manager will also be able to show the artist and others why the brand is growing and becoming a larger entity every year. Each year should be better than the last. Find out how you define success, start from there, and begin to execute.

The greatest managers will be able to help their artists create a lasting career through community. There are many, many things a manager does for an artist. The best ones will make it so the artist couldn’t live without them. The greatest artists are the ones who have a team of people working hard to promote their records. The greatest artist will also have a head of operations known as the artist manager. No other relationship will trump what an artist and a manager have. The music industry is tough. Find a manager who will help you become a champion.

This article was originally published for ENDER, written by Jan Powers.