In one of my earlier posts, we looked at why one would hire an artist manager. Let’s say a band has decided to move forward with an artist manager. What are the next steps to discuss? We’ll want to examine perspectives from both the artist manager and the artist his or her self. In this blog post, we’re going to examine the following:

  1. What are the key deal points the artist and manager should make sure to include in this agreement? Do they differ?
  2. What steps should the manager take to protect a band’s name and music?
  3. Who should be the first member of the artist’s team the manager should look to hire, and why?

So, let’s get started…

From a manager standpoint, having a sunset clause is crucial. What if you put in all the work and for some reason are pushed out before realizing the fruits of your labor?

For both sides, the key person clause is good to have, because they both can choose to continue to work together if the manager moves on. Both should have a term for the agreement and it serves both to have a trial run period before committing to a longer term.

Commission whether it’s on gross or net and in what circumstances can make a big difference like when merchandise costs are high where neither party makes a whole lot afterwards or if artists rank up costs by getting luxurious accommodations or first class flights. It’s good to have some minimum and maximums set. Also, it’s good that each side has certain performance goals to hit, because both are dependent on each other for success and monies.

It should also be noted if the manager is a tie-breaker in cases where the band members may be at odds on a topic. Who in the band can oust the manager?

A basic outline of expectations like the band showing up on time for gigs or the responsibilities the manager will fulfill along with pay and term, make up the bare minimum in a contract.

The manager should make sure to hire a qualified team and hopefully has some solid connections already, but take the band’s input as well.

Bringing on specifically a music attorney to help with trademark and service mark registration as well as any legal matters that might come up is crucial. Also, filing for any copyrights and making sure not to give up publishing or master rights/ownership unless absolutely needed and worthwhile is also important. These rights can bring residual revenue for both parties involved. But it’s more than just money; it’s also not having too many people impact the band’s creative control and control over band decisions in general.

Because live performances tend to be the most viable revenue stream, a booking agent is pretty crucial. One might say until you make it to a certain point, the business manager and attorney can wait. I know a lot of bands where they manage themselves pretty well without a personal manager for some time. If they feel savvy enough, they might be able to hold off and get a business manager or attorney first. You definitely want to protect your name and rights, but you don’t necessarily have to have a dedicated attorney on staff to do that in the beginning if you don’t have the budget for it. It largely depends on your budget and stage of career, but all these roles are important. With streaming, even though it seems to pay out pennies, if more direct artist relationships, a band can earn quite a bit from that where it starts to become a viable revenue stream as well and less costly perhaps than live performances. In that case, a booking agent might be on part with some of the other roles.

To sum this all up, make sure you review contract terms carefully, cross your i’s, dot your t’s, and put a good deal of thought into the team you assemble — they have the power to make or break you.

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