What Should You Know Before Signing a Music Manager Contract?

Working with a music manager can open doors that you wouldn’t be able to open on your own. They can help you land more gigs, better gigs, and even help you get a recording deal. But, they also take a portion of your proceeds. It’s in the contract.

Before signing a contract with a music manager there are a few things that you should know. Take a moment to learn more about music manager contracts and what you should watch out for.

The Basics of a Music Manager Contract

Let’s start with the basics. Keep this information in mind as you read through the contract. It will help you avoid a negative situation. There are many examples of musicians that have signed contracts without looking them over. The result is that they are stuck in a bad contract. You can avoid this by remembering the following:

  • A contract shouldn’t be complicated
  • The contract should benefit both parties
  • There shouldn’t be any loopholes

A basic music manager contract should not be too complicated. You should be able to understand all the basics. This includes the length of the contract and job expectations. If there is a lot of legal jargon, then you could take the contract a lawyer. But, this is also a sign that the manager is only looking out for his or her best interests – which brings us to the next point.

The contract should benefit both parties. It should be agreeable to both you and the manager. A contract that only benefits one side is not a suitable contract. It should also not contain any loopholes.

Key Areas of the Music Manager Contract

In addition to the basics, there are a few key areas to pay attention to. These sections should be included in any contract that you sign. So, take a moment to review the following:

  • The length of the contract
  • The job expectations of your manager
  • The manager’s fee
  • The manager’s expenses

Length of the Contract

The first area to examine is the length of the contract. Generally, the contract should be for a one-year period. This gives you and the manager time to work with each other and decide whether you should continue working together. It’s also short enough that you won’t ruin your career if things don’t work out. You are not signing your life away.

Along with the length of the contract, you should look for the cancellation policy. Most contracts will have a period for cancellation. This may be 30 days or several months. Basically, the cancellation policy allows either side to back out of the contract without any repercussions.

One thing that you should look for is an option to extend the contract. An unscrupulous manager may try to sneak this into the contract. Basically, this option would allow the manager to automatically extend the length of the contract when the initial period expires, even if you decide that you want out of the contract.

Job Expectations

Next, you need to look at the job expectations. This is very important. This details the role of the manager. If you’ve read any of the articles on this site, then you should already know that a music manager can take on many roles. Clearly defining these roles is essential.

When you’re a new band or music act, your manager will likely be responsible for promoting your music. They will promote you to music promoters so that you can land gigs. They will also promote you to record labels in hopes of landing a recording contract. Basically, they’re trying to help expand your career.

Though, if you already have success, then the role of the music manager may vary. They may act more as an intermediary between you and others in the music industry, including a booking agent or the record label.

Make sure that these roles are clearly defined and that both sides agree to the responsibilities of the music manager. After all, this is the section that outlines their job description.

Manager’s Fee

Of course, you also need to consider the manager’s fee. Generally, you can expect to pay about 15 to 20% of your earnings. They will receive a portion of album sales, label advances, and any deals that they helped negotiate. Now, a music manager is technically not the one to negotiate contracts, but they do receive a portion from negotiations that they arranged.

You should also agree on earnings from other areas. This includes merchandise sales and songwriting royalties. These are not usually included.

Manager’s Expenses

The next area is manager’s expenses. You will need to cover expenses related to promoting your band. For example, if your manager needs to travel to another state to meet with a music promoter in person so that you can book a gig, then you’ll have to cover the costs of that trip.

You will need to examine the details of the expenses. This includes a set time for paying the expenses and requiring approval if the expenses exceed a specified amount.

That covers the basics of a music manager contract. You need to consider the length of the contract, job responsibilities, fees, and expenses. If you want more information about manager contracts, then watch this short video. Entertainment lawyer Elliot Cahn breaks down some important points about signing contracts in the entertainment and music industry:

Final Thoughts on the Music Manager Contract

If you are worried about signing a contract with a music manager, then you may not be quite ready to work with a manager. Instead, you can take care of the tasks that a manager would handle. This includes booking gigs and promoting your music. For additional details, check out Music Management for Indie Artists. You’ll find a wealth of knowledge about managing your own career, which will help prepare you for working with a manager.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out our other articles. We try to cover as much about the music industry as possible. Good luck out there!

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