5 things music artist managers look for when deciding to manage a recording artist or band

Learn what five key things most talent or artist managers consider when they're deciding whether to manage a music artist or band.

What are five key factors that most top quality music artist managers consider when deciding to manage a band or recording artist?

By Zach Scott Gainous, Esq.


September 2, 2020


If you're a music artist or band wanting to find an artist or personal manager to help you further your music career, you need to know what they look for when deciding whether to work with or take on a new client. There are 5 main things that most quality music managers will want to see and evaluate.


1. Are the artist's or band's songs and recordings good enough?


There are a ton of great songs and music out there and the competition for an audience and fans is tougher than it's ever been. Obviously, what's "great" music is subjective to each person depending on their tastes. However, a manager's job is to help you to reach your goals, and in order to do that your music must be competitive in your genre. That doesn't mean that you have to have the greatest songs and recordings before you can get a quality manager, but you need to be working toward and on your way to having songs and music that is as good or better than the top recording artists or bands in your genre. If you have music that is as good or better, or at least you're working to improve and are close to having music that's as good as the top songs and artists in your genre, a music manager will be much more likely to work with you.


How do you know if your music or songs are good enough? Get feedback, ideally from a professional. Your friends and family most likely will not be objective enough. Seek out opportunities to get feedback or learn from professionals either through entertainment attorneys, organizations like ASCAP or BMI, the Nashville Songwriters Association International, and TAXI, and others. Most importantly, keep working on your songs and music until it's undeniable that your music is as good or better than those at the top of your genre.


2. What are the band's or recording artist's sales figures and revenues?


Your sales figures and revenues may be the most important factor that a manager considers and wants to know about in order to consider working with you. That's because, like everyone else, managers need to be paid for their work and usually their client's sales figures and revenues impact how much or if the manager is even paid at all.


Most quality band or artist managers are paid on a commission, typically earning ten to twenty percent of what their clients earn from their music careers and activities, and usually before most of the client's career expenses are deducted. This includes money the artist earns from things like record or album sales, digital download sales, music streaming revenues, concert ticket sales or guarantees, movie or television appearances, and merchandise and apparel sales.


Obviously, depending on the genre and the success level of the artist or band, it can mean that the artist or music manager is paid a lot or even nothing at all. In addition, most artist managers are on call 24/7 in the event their clients need anything. Many personal managers also work for or run a management firm that takes a cut and also pays to employ staff and provides office space and resources to assist the manager with managing the career of their clients. As a result, what a music artist or band earns in revenues and sales is critically important to an artist manager.


3. Does the music artist treat their career like a business?


Another important consideration a quality artist manager will want to know is whether you're treating your music career like a business. After all, it's called the music business. If you don't treat your music career like a business, a quality manager will likely assume that you're not serious about reaching your goals and won't want to work with you.


There are numerous aspects of treating your music career like a business. For example, are you doing everything you can to protect your copyrights and trademarks, especially involving your songs and recorded music? Are you refusing to sign music contracts without first having your own entertainment attorney review and advise you on them? Are you collecting fans email addresses or cell phone numbers and not just relying on social media connections? Are you presenting yourself in the most professional way possible to industry contacts?


These are just a few of the things that show an artist manager that your serious about your music career Even if you aren't sure how or what you need to be doing to best treat your music career like a business, taking courses, attending seminars or panels, reading books about the industry, or getting advice from industry professionals or entertainment attorneys can help you and shows that you're serious. In doing so, this will a manager to decide whether they want to work with you.


4. What are the music act's fan and social media engagement numbers?


With social media becoming a primary way businesses and entertainers can reach their fans and customers, it's a common misconception that having a large number of followers on social media is all you need. However, it's simply not enough to have a large number of email subscribers or fans, followers or likes on social media.


Engagement is actually more important than number of likes, followers, or subscribers. Engagement from and with your fans shows that they're actually interested in you and your music or what you have to sell. As a result, most quality music managers would prefer to see a smaller number of subscribers or likes with more engagement than a bigger number of subscribers or likes with less engagement. For example, 3,000 followers with 200 of them interacting regularly is usually better or more impressive than 10,000 followers with only 150 of the followers interacting.


5. Will the music artist or band listen to and follow the manager's advice based on your shared vision and commitment to your career success?


The final key factor an artist manager considers when determining whether to take a recording artist or band on as a client, is whether the band or music artist actually listen to and more often than not follow the music manager's advice.


At the end of the day, the music or recording artist is the one ultimately in charge and is making the final decisions. It's the manager's job to help the music artist have the best chance of achieving their goals. Often that involves advising the artist or band on their options and which choice the manager believes is the best for the artist or band based.


That doesn't mean that there won't be disagreements, that the music artist manager will always be correct, or will have an answer or solution right away. However, a big benefit of having a quality artist manager is their knowledge and experience to help clients reach their goals, and their ability to find the answer, best option, or solution even if the manager initially isn't sure.


The likelihood of the music artist's or band's success in reaching their goals usually depends greatly on whether more often than not they follow the advice of a quality personal or talent manager. If the music manager is going to take the time to discuss and understand the client's goals and issues, and then share their knowledge and advice with the client, only for the client to ignore them more often than not, then what's the point of working with that client? The music artist client that is paying a manager but doesn't recognize or care about the benefit of having an objective and honest manager who is looking out for their best interests, isn't usually someone a true quality artist manager would want to work with.


If you want any additional information on artist or music management, what artist or band managers look for when choosing clients, or artist management deals or relationships, including if you need an artist manager or need legal advice or representation about a band or artist management agreement or contract, please call us at 615-671-4301 or contact us at The Fruitful Firm anytime.

Zach Scott Gainous is a entertainment lawyer and music artist manager in Nashville, and the managing attorney, principal talent manager, and founder of Nashville artist management firm and entertainment law firm The Fruitful Firm. Zach regularly provides legal expertise, advice, and representation and manages the careers of recording and music artists and bands in many genres.

Disclaimer: This article or post is not and should not be considered or used as a substitute for legal advice or the hiring of an attorney. You should always carefully seek out legal advice and representation from a qualified attorney to assist you with your legal matters and issues.

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