Artist Management Advice and Information

music directory

Ok, so your act is ready and you’ve gained enough experience on local circuits to move onto the next step.  Before you look for an Artist or Personal Manager we strongly advise you to become your own manager and gain experience of the tasks required before entrusting your business affairs to ANYONE, reputable or not it is essential that you ALWAYS check contracts thoroughly before signing, keep track of your own accounts and don’t be afraid to seek advice or get a second opinion, after all…’s YOUR career.

So what does a Manager do?  Managers are responsible for developing and advancing the artists career, liaising with record companies, agents, promoters, lawyers and accountants leaving the artist free to create, perform and record.  In theory, a good manager should organise the business aspects of your career and a good one will be part honest joe & part shark………(no offence intended!!).  The artist needs someone who will be efficient, trustworthy, honest and keep them totally informed, whilst at the same time cutting through the huge swathe of hopefuls to get you noticed and then negotiating the most favourable contracts!

Be Your Own Manager

Organising accompanists/musicians, arranging rehearsals, transport, accommodation, photo shoots, booking gigs, publicity/advertising, keeping accounts are all skills you can easily acquire and there are several places in every town where you can find good business advice free of charge. First stop is the local small Firms Services who are all UK based and give free advice, help with creating a business plan and provide short courses on book-keeping amongst a host of other things!  The USA equivalents are the SBA – The Small Business Administration and U.S. Business Advisor. Visit our Business & Finance Database for more useful companies.

Colleges offer various evening classes in manual and computerised book-keeping/accounts, even if your mathematics are somewhat lacking (as are mine!!!) it’s worth taking the plunge, I was pleasantly suprised to find it’s not that difficult and knowing the performers deductible expenses is a real bonus!! (There are Free and Reduced rate courses available for the low-waged, single parent, OAP’s and unemployed)

This is a really extensive subject but not as daunting as you may think!  The skills required are no more than you already possess to live, work and run a home on a daily basis.  There are several good books on self-management or how to become a music manager and once you have spent some time managing your own career and get to the stage where you need to concentrate purely on the creative and performance aspect, you will have a much better idea of what to look for in a potential Manager.

Remember that Artists do not work for Managers, instead, they retain a manager as a supplier of services under the terms of their agreement.

The Music Managers Forum, International Music Managers Forum, International Artist Managers Association provide information and courses in artist management and related subjects for new and established managers.

Carling Live
Their ‘Behind The Scenes’ section presents a series of interviews with people in the biz including: Do You Want to be a Promoter, Do You Want to Be a Live Sound Engineer, Do You Want to be a Band Manager, Do You Want to be the Head of Music at a Radio Station, Do You Want to become a Venue Manager and Do you want to be a booking agent?

Artist & Personal Managers

Good managers are a great advantage and a bad one could ruin your career so choosing the right person is a major step with many of the most successful artists working with their managers for many years.

Make their living solely from artist management and often have one or more clients already working professionally or signed to a major record company.  With widespread industry contacts, the ability to generate interest from A&R personnel and an excellent track record they are able to command respect from publishing and record companies.

Comprising groups of managers working together these are often retained by artists with the Personal Manager working with the artist on a day to day basis.  In this case the Manager is paid a share of the companies commission.  The advantages of being managed by a company with a roster of clients include the opportunity to work with other managed artists and the knowledge that they will have industry respect and bargaining power.  If approached by one of their staff make sure you negotiate an escape route from being managed by the company if your ‘key man’ decides to leave or is fired.

This could be an enthusiast whose ambition is to become a professional manager or a Mate who knows the band and wants to help out.  You have to be realistic when allowing an amateur to manage you, they are unlikely to have any contacts, lack an understanding of the music business or have as much time to devote to your needs as a professional manager, however, if they are willing and determined to learn then the partnership can be beneficial to both parties.

There are many types of people who profess to be managers, some who have formerly managed one or more successful artists but no longer have clients, or those who are on the periphary of the music business and think they are capable of managing an artist or band.  Deal with caution and ensure that you are being represented by someone who is realistic, credible and honest.

Gross & Nett

Managers earn their living by charging a percentage of the artist’s earnings, this is otherwise known as a ‘Commission’ rated between 10% and 20% (Never pay more than 25% Max).  It is worth understanding the difference between Gross and Net, NEVER sign a management contract that requires a percentage of your GROSS earnings on ‘Live Performance’ or you could end up owing money!!  For example:-

Gig Pays You=  = £100.00
Managers Commission=20% Gross = £20.00
Agents Commission=15% Gross = £15.00
Musicians/Other Expenses=  = £75.00
Profit or Loss=  = £10 LOSS
Gig Pays You=  = £100.00
Managers Commission=20% Nett = £2.00
Agents Commission=15% Gross = £15.00
Musicians/Other Expenses=  = £75.00
Profit or Loss=  = £8 PROFIT

Management Agreements

RULE 1 – Never sign an agreement of any kind with anyone without advice from a qualified music business solicitor

RULE 2 – Never use the same solicitor as your Manager.

RULE 3 – ALWAYS ensure that any contract you sign contains clauses allowing you to walk away from the deal if everything is not to your satisfaction.

RULE 4 – Agree a Contract Term of no longer than 3 Years with provisions for termination after 12 months if the management have failed to secure bookings/publishing/record deal or interest in that time.

RULE 5 – Control the finances yourself, if a Manager wishes to open and control a bank account in your name DON’T DO IT!!!  A reputable manager will be happy to bill you for their commission and expenses or deduct part or all of their fee from any bookings/deals they secure on your behalf.

RULE 6 – If you must sign a contract for commission earned on ‘Gross Income’ ensure that ALL live work is made an exception, touring invariably runs at a loss due to the high costs involved!

RULE 7 – Managers expect the artist to pay for any expenses outside the office, therefore you can expect to be charged for flights/travel etc on top of the commission fee.  If using a manager who has multiple clients ensure any expenses incurred are solely on your behalf or agree to pay an equal percentage with the other clients.

RULE 8 – Commissionable Income will include income from live gigs, publishing and record advances, royalty and PRS payments, personal/radio and TV appearances, sponsorship, merchandising etc., and a Manager will expect to earn commission on some of these for a period after they no longer manage you.

RULE 9 – Never give anyone Power Of Attorney, read and sign every contract and agreement yourself, keep copies, ask questions and get a second opinion or legal advice if necessary.  Allowing someone the Power of Attorney gives them the authority to legally bind you to do (or not to do) something you may or may not wish to do, i.e., signing agreements on your behalf without your knowledge.

Also ensure that you have an independant accountant to check all financial transactions and records on a regular basis.

The manager should agree to use reasonable endeavours to advance the act/bands career with specific objectives included i.e. getting gigs/publishing/record deal.  The artist should agree to attend meetings, appearances, recording sessions and confirm that they are not contracted to any other management.  There are loads of things you can include in an agreement including restricting the manager to a ‘sole management’ deal whereby they only manage you.  There are few managers likely to desire this as it will limit their potential earnings, however, if you become a major artist then you will require a committed manager who has the time to concentrate on your affairs.  There should also be provisos dealing with what would happen if either party breached the contract.

Be careful NOT to agree a Verbal Contract with anyone, including enthusiastic mates as it could cause problems later on.  If someone is helping you out and you don’t want them to be your manager tell them and put it in writing. Click Here to view a sample management agreement.

Further information on self-management and becoming a music manager is available in our Marketing Articles and from various publications listed in the Management Books section.

Taxi Has some great informative articles including Managers and their role, How Long is Too Long? Personal Management Q&A and Developing Skills As a Manager.

Management Deals An introduction including example clauses provided by Independent Music Law Advisor Elliot Chalmers.

The Unsigned Guide contains resources for unsigned artists including Managers looking for artists/bands.

Musical Manager 4.0
Manufacture a band and guide them to success in this music simulation game. You choose the members of the bands, the style of the band, their clothing and their practising schedule, as well as organising gigs and marketing. You compete against other bands and solo artists who are all trying to become successful. You must improve the band’s reputation while making sure you keep up their morale and don’t waste all their money as you try to become a successful musical manager. Click Here to download 756K. Windows (all) Freeware or visit the authors site Mullesoft

Tour Managers

Tour Managers are hired by the artist or personal manager to deal with the day to day management functions when on the road.  This may include getting the band from gig to gig, collecting fees, booking hotels/flights etc., Unlike a personal manager they are usually paid a straight fee or retainer.  Many have often become full-time managers after developing a strong bond with the artists whilst touring.
Tour Management Software and online management solutions.
Tour Managers
Advice and interviews with tour managers at BBC Radio 1 OneMusic site.

Find a Manager

Many artists are approached by managers who have seen them perform at a recognised venue or by word of mouth.  It is up to the artist to bring themselves to the attention of a manager, preferably one who has a good track record in your particular field of music.

The best advice and contacts for finding good managers are musician friends or other singers and bands who may provide you with information and recommendations.

Other routes to finding a manager include contacting them direct to establish the areas of music and type of artists they are interested in managing and sending out press or publicity packs to those expressing an interest in further information.

Tips For Bands And Artists Seeking Management article by Jeremy Rwakaara.

Music Managers Forum (MMF) site contains information on masterclasses, workshops and training for managers, membership details and recommended reading. Contact for a list of registered members.

Indie Managers Association aims to promote and educate independent music managers and self-managed artists and connect managers with artists seeking representation.

International Artist Managers’ Association (classical artist management only). Site contains free job search section for management/promotion and administrative positions and a cv board, also free Tax Guides produced by Baker Tilly for a variety of countries available to IAMA members.

Booking/Agency/Managers/Tour Management Software and online management solutions.