Your artist manager should be one of your first hires on your team as he or she will play a very crucial role in the following ways:

  1. Manage day-to-day operations
  2. Help artists achieve creative vision
  3. Manage the artist’s team

To illustrate the importance of the role, I took a fictional rock band called “The Trees” from Lawrence, Kansas who often get compared to The Black Keys. They’ve been together two years and have had decent success. Record labels are interested and the band sells out shows. The Trees think they may be able to handle everything without an artist manager.

So let’s get down to a brief summary of what an artist manager does and where he or she can be beneficial to you and/or your band.

Don’t Be A Jack of All Trades, Master of None.

You could probably carry on for some time managing your band and if you have good business sense, you might be able to do good for a bit like Dave Clark Five. However, remember, Dave Clark waited for right deal and held back making music available on commercial format only to lose out on lots of money in the meantime.

It can be hard to manage both business and artist sides of the equation, while doing them both justice. Why not both play to your strengths and maximize the results? Plus, you’re at a level now where your career could really pick up steam. It’s better to prep before it gets out of hand.

Additional Connections Open New Doors.

If you make sure you’re comfortable with your manager, he or she can open doors you might not be able to otherwise because he or she has connections you may not. Think of when Stephen Stills from Buffalo Springfield, Graham Nash from the Hollies, and David Crosby from the Byrds wanted to form a band together but were under different contracts forbidding.

David Geffen utilized his relationship with the president of Columbia, Clive Davis, and the co-founder of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun, to negotiate a way out of this. Columbia would release Graham Nash and David Crosby from their contracts.

Think about if you want to do collaborations or form another group with people who are under other contracts. Another example is when Geffen utilized his relationship with Tom Freston at MTV to get Guns N Roses’ song played which drove their career forward in a big way. It’s connections with label heads, media, and really anyone in the business that can make or break an artist.

Sometimes the Most Unlikely Choices Are the Best Choices.

I know you might be worried about shady or rookie managers. You may be thinking of Shep Gordon covering up drug dealing as his way into management. But look what he did for Anne Murray. Through other client relationships like the one he had with Alice Cooper and Hollywood Vampires, he was able to get a picture circulating and score her a spot on Midnight Special as he shaped perception of her image rather than asking her to change as an artist.

And seriously, look how far Justin Bieber has gone from YouTube videos with the help of Scooter Braun. Having a manager can be a huge advantage.

It’s a Mutually Beneficial Arrangement for Both Parties.

Managers are often paid on commission, so he or she can have requirements to meet to get paid and really only wins if your band wins.

You Have Resources For Determining a Good Fit.

Also, you can always get recommendations from artists you know and trust or have opened for, who are familiar with the manager, such as Danny’s introduction of James Taylor to Peter Asher or the relationship built between Fun’s Nate Ruess and Dalton Sim.

Extra Reinforcements Is Never a Bad Thing.

Remember the case of Jimmy Iovine being ready to just throw in the towel and Bruce Springsteen’s manager Jon Landau highlighting how the job wasn’t about making either of them happy but bringing Bruce’s vision and project to fruition? Having to convince people to work hard can be exhausting. Having someone to back you up in that way that believes in your music and you as an artist as much as you do can really help keep things going at critical times. Sometimes producers and artists don’t see eye to eye, but you don’t have to be deterred from making the deliverable you want when you have a “Jon Landau” in your corner.

Although in the indie space, it’s becoming more common for one to try to manage his or her own career, the question one should ask is if he or she really wants to take on all this work — or perhaps just focus on what they love doing most, making music. There’s not right answer, but you want to make sure you really think about the decision before moving forward.

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