Music Industry, the DIY Version: Part 5 — Management

Welcome to the final installment of Music Industry: the DIY Version. For the past month and a half we’ve been breaking down each of the music industry verticals as described by Pat Corcoran, but the end has come. You should always save the best for last, and we have.

Management is perhaps the most important of the five music industry verticals, because without it the other four are much harder to achieve. You can be your own manager and survive, but having a good manager can propel you into superstardom.

They don’t need to look like this guy:


But you should have someone you can trust.

What Does a Manager Do?

Short answer: everything.

Long answer: a manager does all of the stuff that you don’t want to, or otherwise can’t. A manager deals with the other people on your team, helps to schedule meetings and appointments, and generally has their hand in every facet of your career.

The simplest way to think of a manager is as an advisor. Your manager will help you guide you through the murky music industry, and make sure that you’re making decisions that are not only the best for your career, but for you as a person. A manager may also get involved in the creative process, helping you to find the best studios, best people to work with, and make sure you’re living up to your full potential.

A manager is also in charge of making you known to as many people as possible. It is their responsibility to advance your career, and a big part of that is making you sound like the superstar you have the potential to be. A manager shakes babies and kisses hands, helping to create relationships with other people in the industry. They may also be knocking on your labels door to get your budget increased, or doing the marketing themselves.

How Much Will a Manager Cost?

Managers typically take 15 to 20% of your gross earnings (note that this is not your profit). You should try to negotiate for 15% — if a manager is insistent on 20%, try to cut a deal that increases their percentage above a certain dollar amount. For example, they earn 15% on anything less than $2 million, and 20% of everything above that. You should also look to exclude anything the manager is not actively involved in, and any tours that lose money or other costs.

When Should I Get Someone Else to Manage Me?

If a manager is not the first member of your team, they should be the second. The only person you might add to your team first is your lawyer, who can help structure your deal with the manager. If you are not a business minded person, you’ll want a manager as soon as you begin to take the music industry seriously. If you are a business minded person, you can hold off until staying on top of your music starts to be detrimental to your success.

How Do I Get a Manager?

The yellow pages, and a lot of emails and calling. As with everything, you can get a manager through referrals. Ask who’s managing the artists you look up to and your peers, and if they’re looking to take on someone else. If they aren’t, ask if they know anyone who is. Managers may begin to reach out to you if you start to see some success or otherwise become known to them, but you should be picky with your manager.

What Does a Good Manager Look Like?

Experience and connection is great. An ideal manager is a person who is driven, and ready to hustle to get things done. Surviving in the music industry is not easy, and requires a lot of hard work. A good manager should be on the pulse of the music industry, especially in areas where you are active. If they don’t already know people, they should be willing to start meeting them.

It’s most important that you trust, and like, your manager. Managers can have many different methods, and many different personalities. If your personality clashes with theirs, that will be a bigger problem than if they are inexperienced. You will be handing over your livelihood to this person. If you don’t trust them with it, do not sign the deal. A manager with experience who seems shady is a bad manager. A manager who is passionate about your music and ready to jump in front of a bullet for you will do great things.

How Can I Be My Own Manager?

If you’re reading this, you already are. The only thing you need to be aware of is that the appearance of having a manger can be huge. Ask your brother to manage you. Get an email that’s more official than your personal one (preferably with your own domain — isn’t a great look). There’s not much more to do: just hustle your ass off.

If you have no one to fight for you, fight for yourself. Do everything in your power to succeed.

Thank you for reading!

I hope this has been in some way useful to you, and if it hasn’t I hope it was entertaining. Please comment and follow if you liked this and want to see more. Check out our website to see our work and if you want to have a chat, click here.