How to Negotiate a Contract with a Music Manager
Finding a music manager that truly gets excited about your music is a great thing. But, the most important step in advancing your career happens before you begin working with your new manager. What is this step? Negotiating your contract.
The contract that you sign will have implications that impact your entire career moving forward. For this reason, you should learn how to properly negotiate a contract with a music manager.
Understand the Basics of Music Management Contract
Before going into the details of the contract, there are a few basics that you need to understand. Contracts don’t have to be complicated and they should be mutually beneficial.
What this means is that the contract does not have to have complicated legal jargon. In fact, it should be straightforward and easy to understand. Also, both parties should benefit from the contract. Even if the manager has a lot of experience, you should not have to agree to a large commission.
Along with these two basic points, there are certain conditions that should be fully outlined in the contract. These are among the most important details of the contract. Make sure that you and your band manager understand and agree to the following:
- The length of the contract
- The expected job duties of your manager
- Manager expenses and reimbursement
- The music management fee
The Length of the Contract
The first place to start with the actual contract is the length of the contract. The contract term refers to the duration of the agreement. The standard artist management contract is good for one year. After this period, you can renegotiate terms.
Choosing a one-year contract is mutually beneficial. After a one-year period, you and your manager will both know if it is a good idea to continue your relationship.
You should also include a contract cancellation policy. If either party chooses to get out of the contract, there will be a penalty.
The Expected Job Duties of Your Manager
This section of the contract can be difficult to nail down. Outlining the job duties of your music manager is not always easy. Many of their tasks will extend beyond what is detailed in the contract.
Though, you should still try to be as clear as possible when listing their responsibilities. The main goal of this section is to ensure that you and your manager agree on the details of your relationship.
Some of the duties that you may wish to list in the contract include booking shows, promoting your music through radio stations, and helping with merchandising.
Manager Expenses and Reimbursement
You and your manager do not operate out of pocket. Expenses should be reimbursed. You will need to outline what types of expenses are reimbursable. This will commonly include travel expenses. You may need to pay for airline tickets or travel arrangements if your manager has to travel to negotiate a deal or spend time with a label representative.
Generally, you will set a period for reimbursing expenses. For example, you could reimburse your music manager for their expenses at the same time every month. They will have to provide you with the receipts and records for any expenses that they claim.
Indie artists often overlook a significant detail in this section of the contract. You should place a limit on these expenses. Beyond a certain amount, your music manager must get your approval before receiving reimbursement for large expenses.
The Music Management Fee
One of the most important details is the management fee. This is the percentage that your music manager will take from your earnings. The average fee is between 10 and 20 percent. You should not agree to fees any higher than this.
Your music manager will receive a portion of all proceeds from any deals that they have helped negotiate. This could include any earnings from a record label for album sales or even your label advance. It could also include earnings from performances and appearances.
Also, make sure that you do not give your manager any money upfront. There is no reason for them to take any of your money. Any expenses that need to be paid will be taken out of your earnings – not your pocket.
For some more details about what you can expect from a standard music management agreement, check out the following YouTube clip. Listen to an expert explain what you should look for in a mutually beneficial contract:
Finding the Right Music Manager
If you feel that you are ready for negotiations – slow down. You should not be in a hurry to find a music manager. Up until this point, you have been doing fine promoting and managing your own career. Before you hire a music manager, you should take a look at our detailed guide on artist management.