The music industry can be cutthroat. It is not always easy to get ahead. Exceptional musicians can spend their entire career trying to make it, without ever achieving their dreams. Luckily, there is help available.
Having a music manager that can help with music promotion could be the ticket to take you from playing dive bars to playing a stadium. But, you need to be careful when hiring a manager. Before you sign a contract, there are a few things you should understand.
Find out what you should know before signing a contract with a music manager.
The Contract Should Benefit Both Parties
Any contract that you sign should be beneficial for everyone involved. Otherwise, what’s the point of hiring a manager?
A contract that only benefits the music manager will leave you without compensation for your hard work. A contract that only benefits the artist leaves little reason for the manager to do everything in their power to promote your music. Make sure that the contract is a win-win for both you and the manager.
Hire a Lawyer to Look Over the Music Contract
It may be a good idea to hire a lawyer to look over the music contract. You may get charged for an hour or two of the lawyer’s time, but this could save financial difficulties in the future and ensure you fully understand the contract.
The Contract Does Need to Be Overly Complicated
While it may be a good idea to have a lawyer look over the contract before signing, the contract should be straightforward. You should be able to read a contract without having a law degree. The contract should simply state the facts. It should cover the length of the contract, the division of income, and any other factors without being too complicated for the average joe to read.
Pay Attention to the Length of the Contract
One area that many musicians fail to pay attention to is the length of the contract. In fact, this should be one of your main concerns. Typically, the average contract is good for one year. The contract may include an option allowing you to extend the agreement at the end of one year.
Signing a one-year contract gives you enough time to work with your new band manager. You will be able to determine if they are a good fit, without binding yourself to the manager for the rest of your career.
Make Sure the Job Details Are Fully Outlined
You should have a clear indication as to the duties of your music manager. The manager is responsible for music promotion.
Early in your career, this may include booking gigs, contacting labels, and getting your music played on radio stations or television. If you have already achieved a certain level of success, then the manager role may be a little different. Instead of directly handling music promotion, they may work with a team of individuals.
In either situation, the contract should clearly define the responsibilities and job details of the manager. Everyone should understand what is expected of them before signing the contract.
Agree on a Reasonable Music Management Fee
Both parties should also agree to the music management fee. This is how much your manager will take out of your proceeds and earnings. The typical fee is between 15 and 20 percent of the profits. This cut will come out of any income you generate – including album sales, advances from record labels, promotional work, and various other sources of income.
While you should agree on a reasonable music management fee, you need to decide which sources they can take a cut from. For example, some managers do not earn a cut of the proceeds from merchandise, song royalties, or deals that they have not been directly involved in negotiating.
Figure Out How Expenses Will Be Covered
Along with taking a cut of your earnings, your manager should also be compensated for certain out of pocket expenses. You need to figure out how these expenses will be covered.
Some musicians require that expenses over a certain value need to be cleared before being paid out. You may also want to consider setting a limit for these expenses and require your music manager to provide receipts.
Final Thoughts on Signing a Contract with a Music Manager
In addition to the tips provided, you should be careful when signing a contract. You should never rush into an agreement. Never sign a contract that you do not fully understand. If there is any part of the contract that does not make sense to you, then consider hiring a lawyer to look over the contract.
Hopefully, you find the negotiation and the contract signing process to be completely painless. But, there are a lot of considerations that go into finding the right manager. For a complete breakdown of all the aspects of a music manager legal contract and what you should know, check out our book Music Management For The Indie Artist.