Personal Managers – Part 1

What’s up Mic readers!

So, you’re a recording artist who is talented and knows they have what it takes to make it in the music business. Now it’s time to move to the next level right? Well, if that is the case, then you are probably ready to sign on with a personal manager. Some of you may ask, what is the function of a manager in the music industry anyway? We will answer that question; but before we do I want to make clear what a music business manager is not. A manager isnot a smooth talker who knows nothing about the industry but claims to have the “hook up” to make you an overnight star. A manager is not your buddy from the neighborhood who knows nothing about the music industry, but is the only person who can manage your career because you have been “tight” with them for years, and you went to kindergarten together.

A manager is the person who has the difficult job of providing the recording artist with the advice and the direction that is crucial to your development and success in the music industry. Because of this awesome responsibility, an artist’s selection of a personal manager should be done carefully and with a clear plan as to what will be in that artist’s best career interests. On the other hand, it is equally important for the manager to be involved with an artist that they can have a strong business relationship with. It is a good idea for both the manager and the artist to get a feel for their chemistry before a contract is signed. A good friend of mine in the industry put it best by saying that “ effective personal management in the music industry is like a good marriage; but you should date before you say I do”.       

So what does a music industry manager do anyway?  Here is a pretty decent list that I think covers most of the main duties:
-Selection of the artist’s attorney, business manager, accountant,
booking agents, etc.
-Assists in wardrobe selection and image development.
-Assists in song selection.
-Selection of record label and negotiation of recording agreements.
-Coordinating and arranging tours with promoters and other
personal appearances.
-Personal management- I mean personal, which can sometimes
mean artist “handholding”.

Okay, now that we know what a manager does, what are the most important things that must be hammered out before the management contract is signed? The following are what I consider the critical issues that surface in negotiating a management contract:

  1. What is the term of the agreement?
  2. What is the manager’s commission?
  3. What artist activities are not commissionable by the manager?
  4. What commission does the manager receive when the term is over?
  5. What is the extent of the manager’s power and rights under the agreement?

In the next article, we will discuss these major deal points and how they play out in music industry agreements. In the mean time, keep checkin’ the Mic!

* The information that you obtain form this article is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice concerning your own particular circumstance or situation.*  

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