Does Your Band Need a Manager?
New bands looking to book gigs and establish contacts often start looking for a manager to handle the business aspects of their music. This is especially the case in cities with big music scenes, like New York, Los Angeles and Austin.
Before diving into such a relationship, however, musicians should consider the pros and cons. Bands may determine that they don't need a manager. On the other hand, few bands can exist without any management. Realistically, the choice often lies between hiring an outside manager and taking on certain important responsibilities yourself.
The main advantage of hiring a manager is that it allows musicians to focus on the creative aspects of the music, without being distracted or burdened by business details. Sometimes, when creative people take on business responsibilities, their outlook on the creative process may change as a result.
For example, if the guitar player takes on promotional responsibilities, he may start infusing his newfound marketing drive into the song-writing process, and try to manufacturer a "big hit" to win the favor of industry executives. Depending on the band's goals, this may or may not be a positive development.
The main disadvantage of hiring an outside manager is that it will cost money. Typically, manager will charge somewhere in the neighborhood of 15% of revenues. Musicians should make sure that a manager only charges fees on revenue he or she has personally generated. If musicians can handle most managerial aspects themselves - booking shows, keeping track of money, ordering merchandise - they may decide against hiring a manager.
Alternatively, you may choose to take on some of these responsibilities, while hiring a manager to handle other responsibilities. In this case, you may try to negotiate a lower management fee. Generally speaking, musicians should pay for a manager if they are "profiting" from the relationship.
Musicians who handle their own affairs get a great sense of satisfaction from booking their own gigs. In addition, it is important to gain a ground-level understanding of how the music industry works. In many cases, musicians handle their own affairs until they reach a certain level of success, and then look for a professional manager. However, in deciding whether or not to hire a manager, musicians should think realistically about how self-motivated and responsible they are.
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