Recently, we talked about how to know if it was the right time to find a manager. So often, finding a manager is seen as the most important thing for artists—after all, who wouldn’t love to have someone on their side who had all the right connections, knew all the best things to say, the right strategies, and who was willing to help you reach your goals? It’s pretty ideal, right?
That’s why this time, we wanted to focus on something that doesn’t often get talked about—and that is, how to find the right manager.
Because it isn’t enough for just anyone to want to work with you, hiring any person that expresses interest is akin to dating someone just because they complimented you. It’s not a good foundation for a long term relationship.
So, let’s say you’ve already reviewed what we talked about in that article, and you’ve determined that yes, it’s time for a manager. How do you find one that’s the right fit?
Do they work with bands at your stage of career?
If you’re just starting to get traction, the manager of your favorite label signed band is probably not going to be a good fit—yet. Likewise, if you’ve started to see real momentum in your career—playing festivals, selling out shows, engaged audience—then someone who is just beginning as a manager is probably not a fit.
It’s all about finding someone who is in the same stage of your career as you. If you’re just starting, find someone else who is just beginning and who you can teach and grow together. Whereas if you’re more established, finding a more seasoned manager will not only make more sense, but you’ll be more likely to land them,
Quick note: A little more or less experience than you is ok, especially if they’re hitting checkmarks everywhere else, but as a starting point, aim for someone who can get you where you want to be, but who you know that you can grow alongside. That last bit (growing together) is super important.
What do they think of your goals and vision for the future?
A manager is going to be a pretty central part of your every day and heavily involved in handling and shaping your future, so they must believe in your goals and your vision. That said, it’s also essential to have someone that will be candid with you. It’s not going to do either of you any good if your manager just tells you how great your ideas are and never challenges you or adds their input or suggestions.
Find someone who believes in you, who sees where you’re trying to go, but isn’t afraid to input their advice based on experience—and then remember to be open to that advice.
What’s their network and skill set like?
You might expect me to say that they should have a vast, high reaching network and skillset, but that’s not true. If you’re a new band just starting, who is still working towards certain milestones in their career, then it doesn’t matter if your manager knows someone at a big label or hangs out with the manager of another huge band. Because odds are, those connections won’t do you any good right now. Again, it goes back to being in the same stage of your career and growing together.
So, it’s ok if they don’t have a vast network—as long as they have some kind of network and it’s one that makes sense for you. <maybe includes bands and bookers in the cities you want to tour or in your local area. Perhaps it means someone in licensing if that’s an area you want to get into.
Don’t write off a manager who’s just starting out and still learning, especially if you’re doing the same.
What do they charge?
This is a pretty important one to take into consideration. Can you actually afford your manager? Like we talked about, if you’re not making any money, you probably aren’t ready for a manager. Or, you may want to hire someone who charges monthly (and then switches over to a percentage when you start making money). Either way, this is something you need to factor in. Don’t expect anyone to work for free.
Do you get along?
Perhaps the most important—do you actually like this person? You’re going to be spending a lot of time with them and entrusting them with your future, so you must get along and enjoy being around one another. There are plenty of managers out there, so if you’re finding one you don’t quite vibe with; it’s on to the next.
Your perfect manager fit is out there!
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more as well as the THRIVE mentorship community—an online community that provides indie artists with affordable year-round mentoring from music industry experts, and much more. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.