But I don’t wanna go corporate, man: How to find a band manager

February 22, 2019

There is a time in every semi-successful band’s career where they’re faced with an opportunity to really ‘make it’. That big break, so to speak. Whether it’s a killer live show, an amazing record, or just a chance encounter in the pub, it’s an event will cause any artist to start asking serious questions about their future in music. One of the key considerations you’ll have to make when you reach this stage is how to find a band manager.

A music manager is incredibly important when you’re hitting the big time, but it’s not always easy to choose one that suits the needs of your band. In this article, we’ll look into how to find a manager when you need one and what they can actually bring to benefit your band.

When do you need a manager?

At the start, you should be your own all-in-one publicist, booking agent, and marketing whizz. Don’t rush into meeting managers. You should push your band as far as possible on your own before you go looking for a manager.

Have a defined image

It’s a good idea to only begin your search once your band really knows who they are. That means a consistent look, sound, and audience are key. Having a corpsepaint-wearing vocalist alongside a guitarist that looks like they’ve stepped out of Mumford & Sons, a drummer from an 80s synth-pop band, and a bassist whose fashion sense is more at home in a Shoreditch gin bar than on stage doesn’t give the right impression. You don’t look like a cooperative group and your crowd looks like the leftovers from a lost-and-found sale. It’s confusing and confusing does not sell.

You need to showcase a product, and image is a very important part of that process. Yes, the sound is the main selling point as a musician, but you need to prove that you’re the whole package. Each member of the group needs to be working to the beat of the same 808 drum machine sound.

Have a following

Ultimately, you shouldn’t be looking at getting a band manager until people have already heard of you. Let’s look at your devoted following in a little more detail. Have you ever paid for a ticket to a show months in advance? Ever been first in line to pre-order a t-shirt? You’re probably a fan of whichever artist you’re currently thinking of. The goal is to have people feel that way about you and your band.

Engage with the fans and learn from the bands

You need to be proficient at expanding your appeal and advertising yourself to the greatest number of recipients as possible. Take a course in how to utilise social media and appeal to your future audience. Twitter, Instagram, Bandcamp, Spotify, YouTube, Facebook, and everything in between. Hell, even go old-school and get some flyers.

Perhaps your specific genre has a fan base that is prominently on one form of social media, if so, focus on that demographic. Engage in conversations online. Have consistent posting activity. Put in the time to reach out to music bloggers that have a following. Forge strong relationships with other bands in your genre at comparable career stages as you. Study the promotional packs made by other bands in similar situations to your group and examine what successful bands did with their media packages.

What can you change to make yourself seem more professional and stand-out from the crowd? Once you believe you have exhausted all of these avenues and have created friendships and momentum – particularly online – you will be far more appealing to potential managers who can take you to the next level.

The buzz your band generates single-handedly will no doubt reach the executives, so there’s no harm in waiting until the time is right before you start pursuing music managers. Having a tight sound, solid look, entrepreneurial flair, and committed following means you’ll be in a great place to start looking for that perfect manager.

What can they do for your band?

The all-important question: what’s in it for me? It’s only natural to question what benefits a band manager can provide whilst claiming their 20%. There’s a solid reason that successful artists have managers and that’s because they can provide access to a range of opportunities. Managers are able to book a greater range of venues, develop connections within the industry, arrange tours with bigger bands and artists, and help the general day-to-day business of your band go more smoothly. Yes, your band is a business now, not just a fun way to spend your evenings.

If you’re currently unsigned, a manager can become your mouthpiece and greatest ally. Whilst the artists are honing their craft, creating new music to wow and impress potential labels, they also need to be arranging advertising campaigns, improving press packs, arranging studio time, structuring a schedule to work to, organising tours, and even sending out demos to radio stations and labels. All of those tasks are time-consuming, but they are essential to get right and take away energy from the creative process.

Fear not! All of these tasks can be handled by a manager, usually to a greater degree than a band member trying their hand at planning the logistics of a South Coast tour. Managers provide a service that can be game-changing, and, as such, selecting the best manager for your band can be an event akin to being signed.

However, a word of warning is needed. It is imperative that the working relationship between artist and manager is agreed upon and set out from the get-go. Having an unclear relationship can lead to conflict and even legal problems further down the line. Whether you want a manager to solely work on providing advice on promotional opportunities and booking shows, or if you want someone to also check contracts, run errands when on tour, and have a far more intimate role in the band, it needs to be clear.

Top tips for finding a band manager

Finding a manager should be a bit like interviewing several candidates for a role. It can take time and it will be a process that involves effort, but ultimately the rewards will be plain to see. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when you begin the adventure of finding your managerial mastermind:

  1. The internet is king. No manager will take you seriously if you don’t have an online presence: that means well-curated social media, electronic press kits and lots of high-quality photos. This goes back to the notion of pushing your band as far as you can by yourself. Consider managers to be like investors in a new invention: they need to see a solid product before putting their weight behind a project. Provide them with a product and they will be far more likely to get on board.

  2. Have some great demos. Unfortunately, those crackly garage tapes just aren’t going to cut it if you want to score a great manager. Invest in some studio time and put together a few solid releases if you want to attract the best managers. You need to prove that you know what you’re doing, that you have sacrificed to chase this avenue, and that you have something spectacular. No one has ever excitedly crowded around a phone to listen to the tinny recording of a concert your friend made. You need to back up your claims of future stardom with quality produce.

  3. Be proactive. It’s easy to believe that managers will be flocking to work with you if you release a couple of decent projects, but that’s not the case. Whether through cold calling, referrals, or advertising, it’s important to seek out a manager yourself. You can’t get something for nothing, so you need to put in the effort to seek the finest talent for your band.

  4. Managers are also selling themselves. Look out for their adverts. Forums and music-related career pages are a great way to see who’s available. Some of the top places to explore include the aptly named Music Managers Forum (MMF). Even when you’re not speaking to a potential candidate, there is a wealth of knowledge on these sites that will help you keep the momentum going by yourself.

  5. Just take it slow. You wouldn’t rush into buying an ill-fitting pair of leather trousers for your glam-rock-revival look, so don’t rush into something as complex and important as finding a manager. The attitude of “something is better than nothing” doesn’t necessarily make a good mantra with these sorts of decisions.

  6. It could also be the case that you find a manager you want to work with, but they don’t want to work with you. This might be for a reason as inexplicable as it ‘didn’t feel right’ to them, but there may be a more tangible reason. If a manager has advice for you, it is highly advisable to listen to them. It might that they don’t believe you’re ready for a manager yet, maybe need to change your attitude to the business, or you’re asking far too much of them. This is a learning curve for everyone involved, so listen, pay attention, act accordingly, and look before you leap.

Progressing from an unmanaged act into a band or artist with a manager is pivotal to the long-term success of your music career, but it is something that needs to develop organically and in due time. Although there are several intricacies to working with managers that you should be aware of and you should be ready to shift into the world of business, the potential a manager can bring to the table can be priceless.

If you’re ready to make that crisp demo to entice a manager, pay a visit to Kore Studios. We offer a large live space and two control rooms, backed up by a mixture of high-end and vintage gear, brought together by experts in producing and mixing various different styles of music.

Get in touch to arrange your tailored studio session.