It’s not always easy to make it in the music business. For every musician that shines, there’s surely a couple that ends up fading away. In order to become one of the ones that shine, some musicians assume they need a music manager as soon as possible.
You don’t necessarily need a manager to become a professional musician. With that being said, there are definitely some advantages to having an experienced music manager.
Whether you are fielding calls from potential managers or preparing yourself to find the right manager, hold off for a minute. Take a moment to look over the following pros and cons. You’ll see that hiring a manager may not be the answer that you need.
Pro – They Should Have Contacts
When you work with a music manager, they should come with a long list of contacts. While you should already have a good relationship with local venues, a manager should be able to help you branch out and reach a larger audience.
They will also know people in the music business and will understand how things work. Though, it should be noted that you should also have a good understanding of the music industry. As mentioned repeatedly on this site, you’re not going to get quality artist management until you’ve taken steps to establish yourself.
Still, the contacts and connections that a well-seasoned manager will possess can be a huge help to your career. They may know the right people and be able to open doors that you couldn’t get through on your own.
Con – Managers Cost Money
Before hiring a music manager, realize that they will need a portion of your profits. A standard music contract will call for the manager to receive 10% of your earnings.
You may also need to reimburse your manager for certain expenses related to promoting your band. For example, if they travel to talk to a record executive to potentially help you get a deal, you’d likely have to pay their travel expenses.
Pro – They Can Give You Honest Feedback
The manager that you work with doesn’t necessarily need to like your music, but they should fully understand your direction, style, and sound. This is essential so that they can provide you with honest feedback. They will let you know what’s working and what isn’t.
You should listen to what your manager has to say, but you don’t always have to follow their suggestions. They offer wisdom, advice, and feedback. However, they are not your boss.
Con – You May Not Need a Music Manager
Having a music manager is not always necessary. In fact, until you have built a name for yourself, you don’t need a manager. Managers that approach you before you can be considered a sound investment may not be looking out for your interests. They’re just trying to get a few bucks off a struggling artist.
A decent manager is looking for acts that are already generating income. If you don’t bring in several thousand, it may not be worth a professional manager’s time to manage your career.
Pro – A Manager Can Hype Your Music
A manager is typically more effective at hyping an artist’s music than the artists themselves. The reason for this is that people are always skeptical of hype when it comes directly from the source.
Why should anyone believe that you’re a great act? Even though your manager is working for you, people are more likely to listen to your manager than you or your band. So, another advantage of hiring a manager is that they will generally do a better job of talking you up.
Con – You May Not Always Agree
You and your manager may not always see eye to eye. It’s hard to find someone that fully understands your vision. This is why you should be careful when hiring a manager. The person that you work with needs to have a good sense of where you want to go with your career. If you’re constantly disagreeing, then it will be hard to get ahead.
Pro – They Can Help Settle Disputes
One of the most stereotypical roles of a music manager is playing referee for a band. They may need to settle disputes or help everyone get on the same page. As a manager, they want to keep things running smoothly. This applies whether you are in the studio or on the road.
Do You Need Artist Management?
So, how do you know if you need artist management? First, consider the pros and cons listed above. If you don’t think you are in the position to benefit from a music manager, then hold off for now. You can always focus on your own career for another year or two and see if you can start building your fan base.
For a different look at the pros and cons of hiring a music manager, watch this short video:
Typically, when you reach the point where you’re earning regular income each month, building a large fan base, playing live regularly, and making a name for yourself, you should start gaining recognition. Managers are always looking to discover new talent. They don’t want you to come to them. They’ll come to you.
Keep these pros and cons in mind whenever you start questioning if it’s time to get a manager. For even more advice, check out our guide to music management for indie artists.