A Manager can really bring benefit to a band looking to grow their career. The role of a Business Manager is to grow your business, align your assets, and cover your bases as a small business. The role of a Personal Manager, to put it simply, is to handle whatever needs to be handled so the artist can focus on three things: write, record, and perform. It is a bit of a seal of approval to other industry professionals to have representation – a means of saying “this band is worth my time and, therefore, yours as well” – and they can often hold the key to sway gatekeepers across booking agents, publishing companies, record labels, and show promoters.
However, it is vital to understand whether or not your band is ready for a Manager before leaping into an extensive, invasive, and binding contract.
Below are some questions to ask yourself before approaching a Management Firm for consideration:
- Is anyone in your band able to handle the administrative work or has it become too much?
New bands often handle their own administrative work. Now, this can be risky on the long term and having an outsider holds its benefits, but it can be costly and invasive to have someone jump in to handle your business from the get-go. Should your band be able to handle your administrative tasks, it may be best to do so for a while. Besides, it will shed some insight on what role the Manager fills, once you find one.
But, if you are finding yourself completely bogged down by the administrative work – you can’t fulfill your merchandise orders, your marketing is lacking, your bookkeeping is behind, your professional outreach is null – then, approaching a Manager may be something to consider.
- Are you ready to have someone new in the business?
Ultimately, your Manager will want full control and ability to dig deeply into your business. They will want to be involved in every aspect and you will be contractually obligated to disclose all decisions and business moves to them prior to taking any action. And, pending how the contract is worded, they may hold the final word in any decision, which means you should truly be ready to give up control of your budding business.
Also, not only will they want total interest in your business, they will want your Power of Attorney and full financial control, as well. They will need access to the band bank account and be able to sign checks and contracts on your behalf. If this is something that makes you uncomfortable, you may want to consider other options on representation.
- Are you ready to have someone digging into your finances?
It is important for a Manager to financially understand where your business has been, where it is going, and where it plans to be. If you aren’t comfortable with a new set of eyes on your business finances, you will want to avoid bringing in a Manager. Though, I do urge for you to consider the benefit of being on top of your finances as a business, bringing in a new set of eyes for bookkeeping (such as a manager), and the huge value of having a CPA handle your taxes as a means of checks-and-balances.
- Can your band part with a percentage of their earnings?
A Manager will want to earn a percentage of your Gross Income (meaning the income before your expenses). Often, new bands have a Net Profit of zero – that is, after gas, food, trailer rental, etc., they wind up in the red from a gig. Management contracts often require retainers and an earning of 10-20% of your Gross Income. Consider what that amount would be and how that may affect your overall business.
- Is your earning potential worth the Manager’s time?
What are your overall earnings for the month, and would a Manager be able to justify the amount of work placed into your business for that pay amount? If they are making 15% of your Gross income for the month – which is about $500 – that would mean the Manager is earning about $75 per month. That is not enough to justify the contract and the use of their time, unless they really see potential in your music and your band.
On the low end, I spend about 8 hours per week on a stagnant client. That would mean I would be making about $2.34 per hour of work. As a disclaimer: the money comes with contracts and properly shopping out a client. The percentage earned on major deals is what maintains the livelihood of a Manager, but this is a consideration in whether or not I can manage a band while looking at my own financial well-being. Besides, rent is due, and I like to buy groceries, just like everyone else.
- Do we have assets available to present the Manager?
Please don’t try to set a meeting with the phrase “we are really good.” Get a simple EPK put together. Have some videos and links ready. Draft a formal email with everything accessible and, for the love of god, check in with their policy on submissions – do they like them in .pdf or links or Dropbox or do they not accept unsolicited materials (as is the case with many industry professionals)? Do your research and homework. Have your best recorded music ready. Get your numbers in line, such as album sales, ticket sales, merch sales, and streaming history. Be prepared for business-related questions. They will want to know these things before hoping on board.
- Is your band ready to commit to the obligations in which the manager lines up?
Simply: can you guys drop everything and go on tour tomorrow?
Should you find an effective Manager, they will line you up with work. And, they will be vouching for you to their contacts. If your band cannot fulfill those obligations, then you will be placed on the backburner and, ultimately, causing detriment to your business, as well as that of the Manager. You will need to be able to commit to your career in the music industry.
These are just a few questions to ask yourself in regards to whether or not you are ready for a Manager. Though there are many more that can be asked, these seem to be the ones I notice bands have not considered most when approaching me for assistance.
The next step would be to consider what Manager is right for your business – expect a blog article on this topic shortly.