If you’re looking to evolve your musical career without a team — which is possible at the early stages of your career — you will likely still need the support of at least one person: an artist manager. An artist without a manager is like MacGyver without a Swiss Army knife…one usually doesn’t go without the other. In this article, we explain what artist management is all about: what a manager is for, how to find a music manager, and when you need one.
1. Why do you need a music manager?
Historically, to be successful as an artist, it is necessary to have a strong team for your artist development. However, usually due to monetary constraints, it can be difficult to find one, especially early on in one’s music career. Being a musician involves wearing many hats, and artists often find themselves doing a lot on their own. The music business contains so many different areas: from touring to publishing, songwriting to music marketing, to publicity and more. Many aspiring artists must learn to work as their own music label.
So how do you navigate this complex music ecosystem? How do you learn the ins and outs of…
- how to distribute your music on streaming services
- how to get a contract with a label (a major-label, like Warner Music, Sony Music or Universal Music Group, or an independent record label)
- how to promote your new record and expand your fan-base
- how to figure out licensing costs
- how to find a booking-agent and get gigs at venues, tour, and make money on the road
It all starts with meeting artist managers in the music business.
2. How to get a music manager as an independent artist
At the beginning of your career, these music professionals may not know you. It will be your responsibility as an artist to get out there and meet people. For independent artists, your objective is to ensure that professionals in the music business can discover your music easily. Music management professionals are often looking for new talents! It’s important to make these contacts early on in your music career so that you can develop the best entourage to promote your music.
Let’s put an end to a preconceived idea right away: to find a manager, it is unfortunately not enough to post an ad and conduct a series of interviews. In fact, most often, it is the manager who finds the artist. Since managers get paid a percentage of artists’ incomes, there must be significant interest from both sides to work together.
Thus, it’s best not to view getting a manager as an “interview process”. This is not a simple “employer-employee” relationship. Instead, it is a partnership you create by working together to build your music career.
You will have to search for a manager who believes you have what it takes to make it in the music entertainment business. In essence, they should be willing to fight for your success. Still, it’s important to never forget: they are a partner, not an employee.
3. How to find a music manager: building a network
It may seem daunting to start all on your own, especially for new artists, or it may feel exciting. No matter what stage you’re at in your project, you’ll still need to involve others involved in your musical journey. As an artist, you need to be comfortable soliciting help, getting feedback, and incorporating others’ opinions. All of these skills will help you succeed and help you to solidify your vision and who you are as an artist. Knowing what you’re an expert in—and where you could benefit from someone else’s help—is as instrumental in music as it is in many other aspects of life.
For this reason, it’s important to build a network of contacts as quickly as you can. By creating a network, you increase your chances of connecting with someone who is good at negotiating to get a record label to sign you, to distribute your tracks on Spotify, to fine-tune your aesthetic and branding, and more.
By expanding your network, not only can you find a manager, but you also increase the number of people who can provide you with useful guidance. The more you get your foot in the door, the more contacts you’ll have. And the more contacts you have, the more proof you have to convince others that you’re worth investing in. Creating a network of professionals can be done on platforms like Groover, or they can be found at professional events such as festivals (e.g. MaMA).
Finding music managers through social networks can be a great place to start your research. Start by looking for artists that are similar to you on Instagram: either in genre, location, or where they are at in their career. Are there programs or springboards in your area that support emerging artists? Check out what artists are participating. Figure out what music industry professionals these artists are working with. Do they have record deal, a promoter or publicist, or a band manager? Is the manager working for an independent record label or major label? Or are they a freelance manager with their own music management company? Some artists get music managers first and then the manager finds them a label. Other artists may be scouted by a label and then the label assigns them a manager. There are so many different ways to advance in one’s music career!
5. How to contact music managers: the pitch
Once you’ve drafted an initial list of potential music managers, it’s time to get in touch with them. The best approach is to do your research for each one and create a personalized pitch. Start by researching the manager’s background, accomplishments, and current projects. Then craft a personalized pitch that demonstrates your value and how you can help the manager further their goals. Include any relevant information about yourself, such as your background, experience, and music releases. Make sure to explain why you think the two of you would be a good fit. Don’t be afraid to mention artists they are working with and how you could be a great addition to their repertoire.
Apart from introducing yourself and your music, it’s important to be direct in what you are looking for. A lot of indie artists send their music out to labels, managers, or publishers, and forget to ask anything concrete. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, ask for an initial phone call or to meet up for a coffee in person. Having a meeting face to face is the best way to get a music manager and discuss further. If you know that you want to work with them, be clear about this in your initial message. Provide a clear action plan or timeline of your current goals or music releases. Finally, include contact information and a way for the manager to follow up with you. A well-crafted pitch can be the difference between a successful connection and a missed opportunity.
6. Important tips to follow when contacting prospective managers
- Be smart in your communication to demonstrate your talent and show that you have promise. Even without a budget, you can do great things.
When contacting managers, it’s recommended that you…
🔸 Have an EP/album out, or ready, to show to prospective managers
🔸 Be able to demonstrate through audio/textual/visual formats that your artistic project already has interesting roots that can grow into something truly special
- Reach out directly on social networks or on Groover. For better or for worse, being an artist means that your public presence matters. In particular, many artists, producers, artist managers, tour managers, management companies, etc. are Twitter users. This means that they’re accessible directly through Twitter, if you reach out with a specific request. We suggest sending your best EPKs (electronic press kits) to select people who appreciate your musical style, who you think you’d work well with, and who share similar goals. We also recommend using Groover to get your music heard by professionals like artist managers without having to go through the more tedious process of sending unanswered DMs.
Groover allows you to contact the best media and music industry professionals with a guaranteed response in less than 7 days.
- Don’t overlook your “first fans” (that is to say… your loved ones). If the most important quality to succeed as a manager is to be 100% involved in the project, it may be interesting to think about who around you might fit the bill of being your manager. If you were asked to name your biggest supporters right now, it’s doubtful you’d mention anyone you hadn’t met. So it’s important to consider those close to you. Is there someone who supports you 100% and who might be willing to help you in your journey? They may not have experience managing artists, so this kind of person is likely to learn on the go as you evolve.
However, there are also downsides to working with those you already know. The first is that they may not have the required expertise—or their expertise may be similar to yours in the same areas. It’s also possible that they’re too nervous about jeopardizing the relationship to help you branch out and try new things. Because a manager is a partner, you both have to be comfortable with disagreements from time to time. You must be willing to work together to figure out what’s best for you. If you are nervous that your personal relationship will suffer, make sure to really talk it through or choose not to pursue the partnership. Only you can say whether mixing personal and professional relationships is likely to work out or not.
Are you looking for a music manager? ⬇️
7. How to find a music manager that is right for you?
Before looking at the different possibilities available to you, remember the essential criteria for finding the right one: a manager must believe in you 1000%. The personal investment that the job requires is so intense that they must have absolute faith in your success. They have to “sell” your musical project to a lot of different people and therefore, must know it inside and out.
Do you feel like you’re at a turning point in your music career, and that it’s time to get help? There are several types of music managers who can help you. We explained at the beginning of this article that you need to develop very eclectic skills to be a good manager. First, you’re going to have to take a moment to understand your own strengths and weaknesses. By assessing where you most need help, you can find someone who complements your skillset (and vice versa). We recommend trying out the roles and responsibilities an artist manager takes on to understand the skills you need in your future manager.
Another essential factor to take into account is the size of the manager’s network. One of the missions you will entrust to them will be to develop your professional network. If they already have a solid one, it will save time. Do some research on their social networks to see how far their professional network expands. If they are already an active manager, it’s a good sign. Explore their current roster of artists and try to understand how they support them. What opportunities have they gotten for their artists? Having “done your research” on future managers won’t just help you pick the best manager; it’ll also help you win them over if you’re clearly familiar and excited by their past work.
8. What does a music manager do for an artist?
As a kid, did you ever dream of performing in sold out stadiums? In your head, being a musician meant creating music and playing concerts, not sitting around coldcalling others. Of course, this is what many still think being a musician is—all the sheen of a “cool” profession with none of the legwork of what actually being an artist entails. In reality, being a musician is a lot about entrepreneurship.
The reality is less romantic than it seems: royalties, negotiation, legal paperwork, distribution, digital communication, band management, concert booking… help! It’s very time-consuming to be an artist! You need to have knowledge in very diverse fields and have a good understanding of many different professions. On top of that, you have to create a solid network of people in the field. This takes considerable time and effort.
A manager will help you manage these various obstacles. Ideally, they will take care of as much as possible so that you can concentrate on your art. You should view your manager as your number one partner. The ideal sidekick, the one who helps set up the strategy for your career. They are the ones who will be instrumental in developing your professional network. When they don’t have a required skill, they’re the one who will find the right person to handle it. They can navigate music promotion, negotiate with potential labels or booking agents, and understand how to utilize streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud to get your music to the right ears.
9. When should you integrate a music manager into your artistic project?
There’s really no exact answer. We’d like to say the earlier the better. The sooner you have someone to help you with management, the sooner you can concentrate on making music.
In practice, it’s worthwhile to do a bit of work on all these tasks yourself. It will allow you to better understand the skills required for the job, and therefore help you to identify the best possible manager for you and your music.
We haven’t discussed the monetary aspect yet, but this is of course an important part of hiring an artist manager/future team. Since a music manager takes a percentage of your income (usually 10-15%), things can become complicated if you’re not generating any or very little revenues. For this reason, look to personal relationships for a potential first manager — at least in the short-term — if you’re not able to offer a significant financial incentive upfront.
When you hire a manager will depend on who you ultimately hire. A successful music manager should be efficient in overseeing all the various aspects of your music career. Ideally, they should have entrepreneurial qualities and be knowledgable about recording contracts, coordinating with label execs, talent agents, publishers, or anyone else that could be involved in your project. We recommend working with someone who shows promise, professionalism, and most of all, who believes in you and your music!
10. Conclusion: how to get a music manager and advance in your career
In conclusion, to get a music manager and advance in your career, it takes focus, dedication, and hard work. You must network and build relationships in the industry to find a manager who is passionate about your work. It is important to maintain a professional attitude, stay organized, and have a good understanding of the industry. With time and effort, you can get a music manager and take your career to the next level.
Sure, some independent artists advance in their career without a music manager. However, these artists are usually super organized or already have professional connections or significant monetary resources. Not having a manager is not impossible, but you will be wasting time on a lot of burdensome concerns. Don’t forget that asking for help is not a bad thing! Nobody succeeds alone. The business of music can be overwhelming, and emerging artists can really benefit from the support of having a good manager. Lots of emerging artists remain just that: emerging. By working with the right music manager, you can get out of this cycle and really advance in your career. Be smart in your research, confident in your pitch, and the rest will follow!
> Manager, booker, publisher, label? Who do you need to develop your musical project?
> How to sign with a label when you are an independent artist?
> Where to find a booker?