We live in a time where most artists who blow up do so through SoundCloud, TuneCore, iTunes, Audiomack etc. This new era in music has basically rendered the need to sign to a record label almost obsolete. Yes, signing a recording deal does lessen your work load, but it’s still work that you can do yourself. There is also the dreaded “what percentage will they take” discussion that is usually skimmed over in the paper work prior to signing.
Managers, much like record labels, can be rendered obsolete in the initial stages of an artist’s career. Let’s build some context…
“The responsibility of the talent manager is to oversee the day-to-day business affairs of an artist; advise and counsel talent concerning professional matters, long-term plans and personal decisions which may affect their career.”
That’s one of many definitions of what a manager does. Artists can achieve this by themselves without taking too many risks and sacrificing large percentages of earnings. Going the independent route is obviously a lot harder, but it can be a whole lot more rewarding.
Advice is one of those things that everybody is happy giving. Look at me… I’m giving you advice right now. Ultimately you’re going to want to have the final say anyway so wouldn’t it make sense having a few trusted individuals that you consult with until your brand is so big that you aren’t able to make big decisions alone?
Recently, I’ve gone on many rants about relationships. If you have 1000 fans, why would you ask a manager to “manage” them? Why are you trying to manage them anyway? These are people that want to talk to YOU. They don’t want to be referred to some nameless person who is in close contact with you. I build relationships because I’m at the forefront of my social media pages. I give out MY cell phone number (personal choice) because I know people can’t call me every hour of the day. My brand is still small enough that if I place my cell phone number at the bottom of this post, I’ll get the occasional question, a few phone calls this week and a possible networking opportunity in the next month. To some that’s too much, but I just see them as more opportunities to build connections. Connections lead to fan and financial upside. Handle your business and find ways to manage your fear of being reachable. You aren’t famous yet so it shouldn’t matter. You can always get a new number when you blow up.
Talk to your colleagues. As a producer, I’m not really interested in talking to people’s managers. If I’m talking to a manager then it’s either to handle paperwork that the artist doesn’t know about or if that artist is really well known. Don’t refer people to your manager prematurely. You may think that you sound unattainable or more valuable, but you’re killing your chances especially as an up and comer. Be the one to set up studio sessions, get to know your engineers and any other creative person that you work with. The people I see doing well have good relationships with their colleagues.
This post shouldn’t put you off having a manager. I would say that you should just know when one is appropriate. If you started rapping this year and you still don’t have any fans, a manager should be an afterthought. Relationships in this industry are important and the best kinds are the kinds that you are invested in personally.
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