What Does an Artist Manager do?

One of your most important choices as a musical artist will be selecting your professional manager. This individual will represent you to other people, provide music business counseling and guide your career. He or she probably will be your closest friend in the music business, your most trusted professional partner. Therefore, it is critical that you consider your choice of manager very carefully. The manager’s exact duties usually will depend on the artist’s level of success. I will focus below on the things a manager would do for a developing artist, like you.

Artist management is the business of enhancing or furthering an artist's career. Your manager will provide many important services for you. First, he or she will create opportunities for you to get new experiences that you otherwise would get only through frustrating years of trial and error. This will be especially important early in your career. In addition, your manager will devise and carry out a plan to promote you to the public. And after your career has advanced to a certain point, he or she will work with your label, booking agent, publicist, etc. This will leave you free to write, perform, and generally do what you do best: be an artist.

 Right from the start, you will benefit from your manager’s knowledge of the best ways to promote and develop you in the immediate community—whether through clubs, college or public radio stations, record stores, print media, or most likely, a combination thereof. Your manager probably will have spent years building knowledge, resources and relationships. You will get the benefit of those experiences without having to go through them yourself. In this way, a manager can help to speed up your development and allow you to focus on constructive, creative things like improving your musical and performance skills, and writing better songs.  

No, the manager is not there to put up flyers advertising your show while you sleep off a hangover. Until you can afford to hire a work force, you are the work force. However, depending on your relationship, your manager might design your flyer, take it to get printed and help you place it on windshields of cars at clubs around town.

Your manager knows you eventually will need a strong promotional package to send out to independent labels. He or she will help you to create a package that represents your artistic talents most effectively. The manager also knows that labels are looking for artists with (1) good songs, (2) an ability to record and (3) a solid live performance. Your short-term goal is to meet these three criteria. Your manager will help you create and implement a plan to develop your talents so you can accomplish this goal.

Your manager also will handle a lot of administrative things that generally can make you crazy. For example, he or she will (1) arrange for you to go into the recording studio as often as possible; (2) encourage you to practice and give you feedback to improve your live performance; (3) book your shows, or hire a booking agent to find you gigs to help you improve your performance and build a fan base; (4) arrange to have your photographs made for publicity and promotions; and (5) encourage the media to review your performances and/or recordings (these reviews will be included in your promotional package).

It is important to mention that California and New York have specific restrictions regarding a manager obtaining employment for an artist (i.e., booking shows), unless the manager also has a talent agent’s license. I recommend that you research this issue in your state as well, to determine the limits, if any, on your manager’s ability to act as your booking agent. And obviously, you will want to consult with an entertainment attorney before signing a management contract.

This blog entry is an excerpt from the book titled Music Business Made Simple:  Becoming A Recording Artist that can be purchased at this link: Guide To Becoming A Recording Artist.

MusicContracts.com provides all the necessary contracts for an artist manager at this link: Artist Management Contracts.