Any band or solo artist who has ever tried to get representation knows that it’s tough to find a manager. The competition is fierce and managers want to represent only those artists they feel will be able to book gigs and sell their music.
The whole process can feel like a minefield, and having some key information can help you navigate it. With that in mind, here are five things you need to know to get a music manager.
#1: Know Who You Are, Musically Speaking
If you’re like most musicians, you probably like a lot of different genres. You might listen to classic R & B one day and ska the next. Some musicians pride themselves on being able to play in different styles, and they like to take musical chances.
That’s all well and good, but it also may hurt you when it comes time to find a band manager. Why? Because managers are most likely to sign musicians who have a clear brand – a style and a genre that is easy to define (and not coincidentally, easy to market.)
It will be easier for you to find a music manager if you clearly define who you are and stick to your core brand as much as possible.
#2: Play Constantly
The next thing you need to know about how to get a music manager is that you have to play – a lot. Not just in your garage or rehearsal space, but in front of a live audience.
Why? Because most bands make most of their money from touring. Record companies take a big cut of what you make for recording and selling your music. That’s why you see bands touring 40 weeks a year – that’s how they earn a living.
Any manager worth their salt is going to want to know that you play regular gigs. It will help reassure them that you’re used to playing for an audience and that you know how to entertain and engage with fans.
#3: Build Your Fan Base
It used to be that record companies took chances on unknown bands. If they heard a band with a great sound, the band didn’t need to have a big following to get started.
That’s not the case any longer. In fact, the idea of having an established fan base has taken over the world of music – as well as other creative endeavors such as publishing. The only way to attract a manager and get a recording contract is to prove that there are already people who’ll want to buy your music.
The good news is that there are lots of ways to accomplish this goal. For example, you can run a Facebook ad with a clip from one of your shows and use that to target fans of your genre. You can also do as many gigs as possible and build an email list to help demonstrate your reach.
#4: Have a Long-Term Plan for Your Career
The right band manager can help you jump-start your career, but they can’t do it alone. No manager wants to work with a musician who’s just drifting from one gig to the next without a clear plan for the future.
If you really want to know how to find a music manager, start by looking ahead. Map out what you want to do. Where do you see yourself down the line? What are your goals, and what do you need to do to reach them?
It’s a good idea to set a combination of short-term and long-term goals. For example, you might dedicate yourself to increasing your mailing list to 10,000 subscribers or playing a big venue in your home city in the next six months. Long-term goals might include getting a recording contract or doing a nationwide tour.
#5: Manage Yourself
It might surprise you to know that one of the best ways to get signed with a band manager is to prove that you don’t need one. A good manager will work hard for you, but that doesn’t mean that they want to sign a musician who doesn’t understand and appreciate what goes into being an effective manager.
When you approach a manager, you’ll impress them if you are doing things like booking your own gigs, handling an email list, recording, writing songs, and sticking to a rehearsal schedule. Those things let managers know that you’re serious about your career and that you’re willing to work hard to achieve your goals.
In other words, music managers help musicians who help themselves. Can you blame them?
If You Want to Get a Manager…
Act like a professional. Treat music as if it were a serious career. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make time to jam with your buddies or crank out some new songs, but you need to take the business part of your career seriously, too.