Building a successful career in the music business is a huge undertaking. You’ll need help. Your manager can help set you on a course to your target. You’ll need someone to manage the business. Oversees the Marketing and Promotion of Your Career. Oversees and Manages Your Professional Team and Partners. Helps Develop A Touring Business. Provides Honest Feedback. Need manager to deliver bad news. Sometimes you just need a shoulder to cry on.
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- Okay, let's talk about why you need a Manager in the first place. The first reason is simple. Building a successful career in the music business is a huge undertaking and you're going to need some help. The job is bigger than one person's time or talent. The job of building a successful career requires getting both the music and the business right. Both are full time gigs. Success only happens when you can make a whole shopping list of key items come together.
It's not just about making the music or the marketing, or getting on the radio, or making sure your records are on iTunes or booking a successful tour. It's about getting all of these pieces to come together. The music and the business. To be successful, artists need to focus on the music. Somebody needs to focus on the business and that's the Manager. A Manager can help set you on a course to your target. Think of your music career as an attempt to scale Mount Everest.
When you start on your music career it's all uncharted territory. Having a guide who has traveled that trail before can make the difference between success and failure. Somebody who's been there before, who knows what it takes to get there. Knows where the bodies of those that did not get there are buried. And has a plan to make sure you get to the top and back alive. Lots of folks are dreaming of scaling Mount Everest, but few actually get there. Everybody who did, had a guide to help them.
Think of that Manager as your guide. You'll need someone to manage your business. We talked about approaching your career as a business back in Lesson x. And we talked about the elements of a successful business. You need great product, you need distribution to get it out there, marketing and promotion to bring attention to it, a management team to make it all happen, and money to finance everything. Your Manager will help you make the best music, whether it's booking studios, finding a producer or an engineer, finding musicians or finding the money to pay for it.
A great Manager can also offer input on how your music will fit in the marketplace. That Manager will make sure that your music is heard and available to buy in as many places as possible. That Manager knows that standing out from the crowd is what makes a career, so they'll have ideas about how to market and promote your music. They'll work with the record label to build a marketing plan to get your music on the radio, on TV, on the web, and in the media.
Marketing and promotion requires money and expertise. So that Manager will look to bring in a record label who can fill that role and get you the best possible deal. The Manager will help put together a team of people who can help in all the key areas, whether it's a lawyer, a business manager, an agent, a publicist, producer or web designer. And they'll need to manage that team, making sure that each person understands their role in the process and how they'll be accountable. And that process is never-ending.
There are always relationships to be built and relationships to be maintained. You'll need to own the music, the Manager needs to own the business. You'll need a great Manager to provide honest feedback to you. There are all kind of judgement calls that happen in the music business. On the music, on videos, on photos, on people, and on relations with band members. And when you make that decision, you might not know if it's going to be right in the short term. You'll get some right, and you'll miss some too.
But sometimes, you'll know you've made a bad call but you're getting away with it because nobody will call you out on it. You'll talk to your band members, your friends, your family, looking for advice and validation, but sometimes those folks might not be totally honest because they don't want to disagree or upset you. An honest voice in these key moments can make a huge difference. If you think back to our lesson on the best ideas, your idea, you'll recall the situation in the studio where the songwriter hears the song in his head one way, and another band member wants to play it another way.
Imagine that the songwriter tried to bully that musician into submission, and the other band members just let it happen because they wanted to avoid a confrontation. You might've solved the short term problem but created a worse problem in the end. An honest voice at that moment would've pointed out that there was a better way with a better result and made you think about it. And so you took the time to do it right. Having a trusted second opinion is important. Getting the unvarnished truth might hurt in the short term, but lead to better results in the end.
You'll need a Manager to deliver bad news. Nobody wants to hear bad news, and no Manager wants to deliver it either. Delivering bad news can make your artist believe that it's because of you. If they had a better Manager, maybe they'd be getting better news. But bad news does not go away because you ignore it. The first step to fixing the problem is identifying it and it starts with being honest about where you're at. You'll need a Manager as a buffer for all the folks that you meet in the business.
You'll need to use your Manager as a shield to politely escape all those friends that have an idea of how they'd like to help you when what they meant to say is they want you to help them. Better that your Manager argues with the folks at the label to get the things you need. Much better that your Manager ask for the money rather than you. When there's bad news to deliver, it's much better that your Manager does the deed than the artist. Being in a band, or working it with other musicians is very personal.
Keeping a good vibe is crucial. Sometimes a Manager can say things to your musical partners that you might be uncomfortable saying on your own and sometimes, you just need a shoulder to cry on. The weight of succeeding in the music business can drive you crazy. The ups and downs can be difficult to deal with. It's easy to question, why am I doing this? Or think that it'll never work out. Sometimes, you just need someone to listen, somebody who's been there. Someone who knows what you're going through and who's there to work through it with you.
This installment of Steve Rennie's series, An Insider's Guide to Today's Music Biz, talks about the artist-manager relationship and how to get the most out of it, whether you are an artist or other music professional. Learn how to get the attention of managers, the right questions to ask when you meet with a manager, and the important things to think about when you hire your manager.