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What You Should Know About… Artist Management

By Rachel Bolin

The music industry can be an overwhelming and confusing place, especially if you are just starting out. Things can often seem simpler than they really are. The reason for this series is to help you understand different aspects of the industry.
This exists so that you can become more educated about the career path you are choosing to walk down.

In this article, there will be different types of Artist Management broken down and explained. While some of it may not be important to where you currently are in your career, it may be helpful when you reach another level and do need to know what each type of Manager does.

What is Artist Management?

In the good old day of the Music Industry, what a Manager typically did was find talent, and help them get a record deal. They would later on act as a middleman between the Record Label and the Artist or Band. These days, the game has changed. Since there are many different types of Managers now, Artist Management has been broken down into different types. There still are Managers that act as a middleman, but what they are required to do is so much more than all those decades ago.

What types of Management are there?

There are six main types of Managers: Music, Business, Road, Tour, Production and Technical. Each one has a designated role within the Artist’s sphere to help them pull off not only getting work and deals, but securing recording, albums, tours and helping the shows on the tour go off without a hitch.

What does each type of Manager do?

Music Manager: This is typically the first manager an artist will deal with. They have many other names they go by Band Manager, Personal Manager, Artist Manager, or Talent Manager. In the old days they were the ones who would find the bands and help them develop their talents. They would also help them find record deals, and deal with the Record Labels on behalf of the artist.

These days, they are much more hands on in regard to the Artist’s career. They often help them run their “Brand” as many musicians are so much more than just musicians. With many artists now tapping deals for merchandise and endorsements (think Britney Spears and Pepsi back in the day), the role of this type of Manager has grown to be much larger and much more vital to an artist. They help the artist manage their online presence, connecting with fans, and setting up different profiles and sites for them. They often help them with their merchandise, publishing, recording, and any performance/touring options. They help the artists with their long term goals, helping to ensure that the artist can have some longevity with their career.

Business Manager: These guys are typically accountants by trade. They help manage the income of the artist, and ensure that the expenses and paychecks are covered for everyone employed by the artist and their team. They can assist the artist with any potential needs for savings, investments, taxes, and help them to cover their assets.

These guys are important because they are very well versed in the intricacies of tax codes. With so many artists focusing on the music aspect of their career, they aren’t often good with the financial aspect of their career. These guys are important to have on a team so that they can help with the little bits of financial stuff, so the artists doesn’t have to bother with it. They help pay the taxes on the income the artist may receive from tours, merchandise, royalties, and any endorsements the artist may have.

Road Manager: They help handle the details for tours. Making sure that dates for shows are confirmed, contracts are send out and all money is paid out. They make sure all of the contracts are honored, and that the artists demands in their rider (list of things they want in the dressing room) come to fruition. They handle the financial ends of the tour. Making sure that per diems (the amount of money an artists gets per day, usually for food) accommodations, transportation, deposits/advances, rentals and commissions are all handled. Basically they make sure that the tour goes off without any hiccups.

Tour Manager: On smaller tour, with more “indie” bands the Road and Tour Manager are usually the same person. On larger tours they are two separate jobs. They are essentially in charge of the entirety of the details required to pull of tours. They handle the communications with venues, booking agents, merchandise, hospitality, and transportation. They usually follow up with what the Road Manager has set up, and they ensure that the artists make their shows, and are on time to interviews.

Both the Road and Tour Manager handle the details so that the artist can worry about performing and interacting with fans.

Production Manager: They usually work on larger tours. They work with the Tour Manager to help ensure that the settings for the stage, (lighting, sound, any extra video) they ensure that those are all working properly and have no problems during the performance. They will be in charge of locating and renting or buying any equipment they need for these aspects of the tour.

They often handle the publicity for the show, and will work closely with the Roadies and the Technical Crews to make sure that everything is set up according to plans.

Technical Manager: They work closely with the Production Manager to make sure that the stage is set up according to the plans they drew up prior to the tour commencing. They design and work out the details with any video and lighting arrangements. They can sometimes work with the artist to help bring their vision of the tour to fruition.

Why do you need them?

More often than not, different types of Managers are hired to help in their area of expertise. The artist or band, depending on the size of their fan base and the size of the venues they are playing, cannot handle all the different aspects of their career. To do the taxes, book shows, set up their equipment, publicize the shows, and ensure that all the tiny details are set in stone, and then to have to worry about performing and their fans, it’s too much for them to worry about.

That’s why manager are hired. To help the artist’s career grow and flourish.

How do they get paid?

Managers will typically receive a commission cut from the artist’s generated income. A Music Manager will typically receive 15 to 20 percent of the income generated. This is the industry standard. Different types of Managers will receive different payments or commissions from different areas of income.

When do you need a Manager?

This is something that doesn’t really have a definitive answer. There is no perfect time to hire a manager. Typically they are hired once an artist has a good stable fan base and a decent level of income being generated by their music. Managers of different levels will work according to how they are paid. Since a lot of indie artists take a long time to generate any solid revenue, they might not have hired a tradition Music Manager. Sometimes they go with small management companies who work with independent artists; sometimes they hire friends to do it.

Because this is a huge part of your career, you need to be sure you have hired someone who is not only dependable and responsible, but someone who has your best interests at heart and is willing to work hard on your behalf. There are managers who don’t necessarily fit this mold, and because of that, it is best to do you research and listen to reputations. What people say in this industry carries a lot of weight. Be sure to be smart about who you hire, it could be a good step, or a mis-step. In this line of work, it’s always best to educate yourself on your options and truly be invested enough to make the right choice for YOU. Don’t always go with what is popular. Go with what works for you, and where you want to go.

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