The roles of artists and managers are very different. Artists are motivated by creativity and fueled by a love for the craft. Managers are business-driven, goal-oriented and networking masters, committed to finding the best opportunities for their artists and handling all the business aspects that come with it.
Without the right balance, there can be a disconnect between intention and execution for managers and artists. Artists want to stay true to their creative and artistic ideals, and managers try to influence them to do what’s going to help them reach their goals in the long run. (Well, that’s what they SHOULD do anyway…) In this post, we’ll discuss what a manager should be doing so you know what to expect from your own. Additionally, we’ll offer some tips for working synergistically to ensure the relationship is working for you, not the other way around.
What Should Your Manager be Doing for You?
Like many jobs in the industry, the work of an artist manager can be extremely competitive and exceptionally stressful. Great managers do everything they can to secure the best opportunities for their artists, and sometimes this requires playing many different roles.
Your manager should:
- be a liaison between you and the rest of your team
- develop itineraries and manage calendars
- give you advice on whatever you may need, personal and professional
- understand artist rights and how royalties work
- negotiate contracts and fees
- guide you through the ins and outs of the industry
- analyze data, set goals, and track and measure results
Depending on a manager’s skill set, they might even help with production or assist with creative direction. It’s a manager’s responsibility to utilize every tool and skill at hand, so if your manager has a background in production or design – utilize it! All of these things should be factored into the decision-making process when choosing a manager.
Remember – A manager should be your most loyal fan, your voice of reason, and your biggest advocate. If they aren’t, they may not be the manager for you.
Guidance For Managers
The key to successful communication with your artist(s) lies within being able to understand and acknowledge their wants/needs/priorities while still respectfully explaining your own point of view. Artists are passionate about their craft. So, if whatever you’re offering doesn’t align with their vision, it will be hard to convince them otherwise without an established trust in the relationship and a feeling of mutual respect.
The Music Managers Forum offers a network through which managers can share experiences, opportunities and information. On their site, they provide guidelines that all managers should abide by. These are good rules of thumb to consider, so we recommend checking them out.
The guidelines include:
- Protect and promote the interest of their clients to the highest possible standard.
- Devote sufficient time so as to properly fulfill the requirements of good management in the interest of their clients.
- Conduct all of their affairs with their clients in a transparent manner.
- Ensure that no conflict of interest shall interfere with the discharge of their duties towards their clients… etc.
Some helpful tips:
- Be patient.
- Know when to stop pushing. If the artist doesn’t want to do what you’re offering, adapt. Find another opportunity better suited for them.
- Listen to and acknowledge their concerns before explaining your side.
- If an artist doesn’t agree or understand something, don’t raise your voice or get frustrated — Be empathetic and learn to compromise.
Guidance for Artists
Remind yourself why you do what you do and why you got a manager in the first place. I know it seems unnatural to make decisions based on anything other than a love for the craft and a gut feeling and compromising can feel like selling out. However, I assure you everything your manager offers you is to help you become the best you can be.
Their ultimate goal is to provide you with opportunities that will help your career and make it possible for you to do bigger and better things. To make sure your efforts and intentions are aligned, honest communication is key.
The perfect artist/manager relationship can be a tricky balance to find. Don’t let a simple miscommunication be detrimental to an otherwise perfect relationship. Remember, you’re in this together. Support each other through the ups and the downs and give each other space and trust to do what’s right for your overall success.
Win or lose, it’s a team effort. By uniting your creativity as an artist and the business know-how of a great manager, you’ll reach new heights through your partnership together than either of you would have alone.