Finding a Manager – Part 1

The following article was originally posted on Music Consultant Rick Goetz’s website – MusicianCoaching.com.

“How do I find a music manager? How do I find a booking agent? I just need to find someone to get my music to the next level.” I’ve heard these questions and statements before, and fifteen or so years ago I sounded exactly like this. As it turns out, I wound up on the industry side of the fence and traded in the crowded, smelly van for a record company desk job – but I do have some answers for you.

Let’s start at the very beginning – do you have anything to manage?

I know – sounds like a stupid question, but is it? I’m not asking you if you have lots of work that you could use help with, nor am I making light of the pure volume of work involved in the creation of both recorded and live music. What I am asking is, “Do you have something ready to bring to market that needs managing or are you still building your product?”

There is no shame (I repeat) NO SHAME in being in the developmental phases of your career. We live in an instant gratification kind of world, which is why I know statistically that a majority of people won’t have made it this far into this article because they’re looking for a “get famous now” button. But my sincere advice is to take your time and develop your product – this will help you rise above the MILLIONS of people who went out to Guitar Center last week, purchased an instrument and recording gear, and had the first song they ever wrote up on MySpace the next day hoping for some kind of miracle that won’t ever come.

But back to management… let’s talk about what you should have together before even considering approaching someone to invest in your career. Notice I said “invest,” because whether or not they spend a dime on you, management is an enormous expenditure of someone’s time and efforts.

Before approaching anyone to manage you, have most of these together:
– No apology recordings of your music.
– Professional looking photos of you or your group.
– A basic, easily findable website (custom URL) you can update yourself.
– A mailing list and a place where people can sign up on said list.
– A social network presence (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube).
– Live performance footage (preferably in front of a crowd).
– A well-written bio highlighting your accomplishments.

These are the building blocks and marketing materials you will use over and over and over again. There are no words, no email sales pitch, and probably not even naked photos of a music executive in compromising positions that will get you taken more seriously than having the items above in place. Some of these items can get pricey, so do your homework and shop around if you feel that any of these items are best done by work for hire. Having these materials will get your more gigs, will get you taken more seriously by your peers and potential fans, and ultimately (if you have a product people want) will help you build a business in music.

“Okay – wait – isn’t this super basic? Does he think we are Idiots?”

No, absolutely not. But I can tell you that statistically aspiring musicians are looking at the wrong things to get ahead. Check out what people search for online for music related terms according to a Google AdWords query in June 2010:

Term: Global Monthly Searches:
“Get My Music Heard Online” < 10
“Get more people to my shows” < 10
“Make a Living In Music” 46
“Marketing My Music” 110
“Get a Music Manager” 590
“How to Get A Record Deal” 18,100


Draw your own conclusions but I think too many people are looking for a shortcut to fame that, barring an act of God or Justin Bieber, just doesn’t exist.

Ready for more? Continue to Part 2 now…

Rick Goetz is a music consultant and musician coach by way of a fifteen year career at major record labels and various online and television projects. For more articles like this you can visit his site, musiciancoaching.com.

44 thoughts on “Finding a Manager – Part 1

  1. Letter of recommendation

    Hi USA!
    I am Larry Oshbour musician,songwriter,vocalist,guitarist from Republic of Georgia.I have wish find manager for my music! Could you promote me?I have musical education.I graduated Musical College.I also attested as Songwriter, Vocalist,Guitarist in USA Boston Berklee College of music.I also become worldwide famous songwriter I received many Honorable Mention awards at the USA Nashville Songdoor Songwriting Contest please here 2013 Honorable Mentions My name and surname Larry Oshbour in Soft rock category songtitle “Wonder dream” “Time”.
    My address is:
    Larry Oshbour
    Agmashenebeli ave 22 flat 35
    Imereti region
    Kutaisi
    4600
    Republic of Georgia
    my telephone number is: +995 568 67 42 71
    Thank you!
    With regards
    Larry Oshbour

  2. hi my name is demel dukes i am 14 years old and ii can sing very well and i was hoping you guys will please get me a manager please contact me at 313 6873802 thanks,

  3. Never give anyone your money…If you have your s..t together and it sounds awesome great songs and meterial they will give the money to you!!!!!!!!!…Yes you should play for free in the begaining this keeps things real….No money….You have no idea where this will take you…You never know who is listening or watching….Be be very bizness like and very polite and always be profetional….Honest but smart shwuud and careful….Naa you keep the money for now we will just play and sing…..See what i mean!!!!….move on the the next GIG…..

  4. I have the next Lil Wayne (if not better) sitting here at home going nowhere because his once manager, who had promised him a very lucrative deal, did not deliver…….. there are many managers out there who just want to take advantage of you and take your money……..I gave him about $800 for posters and a consultant but it went nowhere……. what a scam!!!!! He kinda went away when I told him that he was not getting no more money out of us and that he would have to pay and get reimbursed later…… I guess he did not like that he would no longer be able to milk me for money. Managers need ti invest in their artist.

    So now he sits here at home doing what many other talented kids are doing……dreaming!!!!

  5. Air play is great if you can get it!!!….Maybe that will work for you????…All boils down to what???? HIT song and great material….Or just a great Voice and Guitar…With a that Great hit song……g

  6. I to have been in the music biz yrs ago with my record comany….Go out and play live with you HIT Material…..Ya gotta have Hit songs and mostly HIT material…The industry needs hit material and good songs…..There are billlons of singers and bands…on every street corner….BUT if you have great songs like the man said someone will find you or steal your songs….and thats a good thing…Let them steal your material then let them prove that it’s theres you will be able to strut right in to mr bigs office give him the scupe along with the rest of your great matreial… Or….. trug through the mud….and send 5 bars to somebody they will steal that as well….I know it happened to me!!!…g

  7. I ran across this the other day and thought I would share it with everyone. New website devoted to helping artists get their music played.

  8. the above message ..what may seem like a mistake to you…when you click the link i copied on facebook to take you to my artist page…somehow uplaya.com added there link to divert anyone who clik my link to their page…thats the kind of confusion i’m talking about

    heres the original link

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amani-AKA-SpecialisT/296212280525?ref=ts

    and this is the link where you get 3 new tracks weekly from Your Authentik Sufferahsmusic

  9. a music manager is someone who believes in the artist and is willing to go the extra mile so both the artist and the manager can be succesful on what they are both trying to achieve. The artist believing in the manager to get him or her success and the manager being succesful on getting the artists music to the highest level.

  10. Don’t hire any manager that is not in-tune, no pun intended, with Music World 2.0.

    Another reason to hire a manager is to allow artist/bands to spend more time creating music that connects with fans. Regardless of how good you are, you can always improve.

  11. starting at the bottom,going to the top,and back down again I can tell you a manager will find you.If you do what you love with all your heart they will come. In the 70’s and 80’s I strived to get representation and I got some, not the best ,then I just started playing for the love of music and I had managers and attorneys looking me up.Do what you love!

  12. I SO agree with you Dar. But it’s been that way for quite a long time; now, and it’s just a matter of degree. When I was a kid a long time ago they were playing some really vapid swill on top 40 AM radio; now, there’s a niche for any blather-spout with a computer and a DAW. One of the things which never ceases to amaze me are the people who actually believe they have the talent to create and market “music” . What it takes now is what it has always taken; talent, drive (passion), discipline, and somebody to help share the load. When a band is ready, an honest-to-God manager will magically appear to help guide the enterprise onward and upward. Rick is right; it does no good to quarrel with the truth, it’ll simply eat up your energy and make the chip on your shoulder a little bit bigger. But, alas, that’s how passion seems to work; after awhile, it can turn to bitterness.

  13. Some of the best music you will ever hear won’t be on the radio. People are seaching for real music and they’re not finding it on radio. Sometimes I sit and laugh at how the masses are being “dumbed down” with music. The industry should be ashamed and embarrassed at the stuff it puts out. I assure you that the world will get a taste of music that is inspired from above.

  14. First you must have talent which is not the ability to do something,it is the ability to make people want to SEE you do something.You have to really love it for the simple joy that it is to do it and hold that close to your heart because it is giong to be a long haul and a lot of work. You may play a club with five people that don’t know you from Tom Sawyer…are you now going to have five new fans or are they going to leave?The joys of it never seem to stop,You are booked into the wrong room, (a hard rock act doing a wedding-can you pull that one off?)You have been double booked,when you get to the club another band is setting up,Are you going to be run off,share the booking with the other group,run off the other group (who are playing for free) It is things like this that remove the “dabblers” from the scene “your uncle’s band for instance.”And as a “pro” you become galvanized,your following begins to arrive at the gig and the freebie band is sent packing.Do your homework as the man said,trust no one,call ahead to make sure the booking is secure,have a contract for the engagement.Again the bottom line is your talent and you have developed that talent to a honed skill.you fucking knock those five people out!They are singing along with you!You will be approached by management people.They are always looking for new talent yet it is up to you to establish yourself as a serious artist.And every artist does it their own way.What they did to make it does not apply to you.Yet your rep is that you are a professional,you show up early with your skills and equipment in good order and ready to go.And from note number one you have closed the sale!Yes your first set, your first number, has got to be kickass.The thing that comes to you over time is dynamics and the ability to pace a show.To perform at the correct volume for a room is major factor to keeping the gig and getting paid or being asked to leave.You never want to be asked to turn down,you want to be asked to turn it up.So many local venues no longer have live music because the bands blast out the customers,a double stack marshall amp to play a room that holds 40 people? And now even that double stack(which no doubt looks cool!) has a master volume control so you have all the sustain of being cranked at a good sound level.Want to know more? Visit my site!.

  15. music is NOT A PRODUCT.

    music is magic, you are not a manager of workers & products, you are a manager of magicians, gods & exotic erotic poets that rule the world with three chords & special words.

    may the spirits of jim morrison & jimi hendrix smite the stupid out of your mind.

  16. I agree with you Rick; I think that people in bands underestimate what it takes to be successful in the music business. I am part of a band in the developmental phase that has been going on 2 years (much longer it you take account of longer-term member collaborations). You need to look part, sound the part, and market yourself in a way the does your hard work justice. It took a long time to get the guys in the band to re-invest in the project financially from the gig money & merch money to cover production costs for albums & other merch. With all that said you still have to have music that is marketable. My understanding is that back in the “hay day” of the music industry it was more common for people to get “discovered” and backing from a record company to take their act on the road or the “next-level” or whatever. These days with everybody and their brother and their babysitters uncle having a band you need to really develop your act and get people excited about it which takes a lot of hard work plain & simple.

  17. I just want to get someone famous to record my music. To wit, I’ve written a unique song to welcome home our troops from Iraq & Afghanistan. Where/how do I begin??

  18. @Renegade – I am going to chalk this up to something we can’t agree on… It would be great if more music managers would invest in raw talent but there are financial implications and reality constraints to doing so. I’m not saying one can’t find a great manager to invest in an untested product but I think it’s a long shot and it’s a poor choice of a business model to wait for that to happen.

  19. Let me add that I am NOT saying a manager SHOULD do it ALL for a band … A band needs to help themselves along this road.

    @Rick — a far as Pizza goes … Yeah … I make great homemade pizza … and I have the equipment to do it with …. Now I need someone to help with the ‘managing’ of the pizza parlor so I can focus on what I do best, which is making the pizza.

  20. @Rick – (and everyone else) I fully agree that Talent and Drive are needed within the band itself for a manager to be able to mold them into a sellable product. And they must have Discipline . It takes alot of work to become successful in any field, even more so in music.

    It is a good outline of things that bands can do themselves while shopping for a manager. BUT to say only until a band has gained a level of success on their own is a criteria before they can get a manager to look at them is in my opinion, puts music managers in a bad light.

    Yes, managers, PR, reviewers, etc are going to look for some basis of professionalism. So the ” Hey! YO! Listen to my S#*T !” is going to be thrown by the wayside. But the true test of a good manager is one who takes the raw talent, that shows they are serious by exhibiting a business-like approach and forming them in to a shining diamond.

  21. Thanks I love the simplicity of ‘the package” If we are DIY’S we we definitely need stuff like this. Because until we know what to do next we do nothing, or more of the wrong things.

  22. Great article!!
    It speaks volumes about marketing. A manager is not an assistant… they manage the package, the business, the product and the actions that are being taken to move it to the next level.

  23. Rick you are stating the truth if you ask me.
    Being in a band myself and having spent many years working on getting all the things you listed as (need to have assets) before even approaching a manager, I find that building all those things on our own not only gives me a better understanding of what a manager has to go through but it helps everybody involved in the project if you have some experience with the business end of things. Might prevent the artist in question from being a winy, hard to deal with douche bag. Which I’m sure is much appreciated most of the time.
    There are many ways to learn how to do everything from write up your bio to getting pro photos and building websites. If I were in charge of a major label and looked at a band without the things above I’m pretty sure I would pass when there are so many bands that do have those things now a days. Its a tough business to break into unless you are independently wealthy or a drug dealer. All these things cost money and most of all the experience for that bio seems to cost money in this industry. If you want to tour your region playing music, most likely its gonna cost you money when you start out because you don’t have enough fans in every city to cover your costs of traveling to each city. There is no easy answer but I will attest to the fact that you gotta have your ducks in row before anybody is gonna feel like you have something to offer worth putting their time behind.
    Anybody can record a decent song with todays technology and if you can pay an engineer,…. well they will hook it up for ya so it sounds real nice. Then what are you gonna do with it?

  24. @Da-oo,

    I am here to tell you that if people weren’t buying it or requesting it on radio it wouldn’t be on radio for long. No matter how well connected or how well promoted an artist is if the product isn’t something people want (regardless of yours or my opinion of it) it wouldn’t fly. I dislike a great deal of the top 200 on any given week. There are always politics to getting an artist exposed but there are only so many favors any management company can pull- if there are not performance indicators that show up after exposure (radio, tv, press etc).

    Management, labels and / or other champions of an artist can only do so much. It’s not like everyone hates a song one day and then on the 100th spin they change their mind… It just doesn’t seem to work that way. I was privy to radio and sales charts for a decade while at major labels… Yes there are politics but you can’t make people buy into an artist – it just doesn’t work.

  25. I agree with you Rick, in this economy and day and age, artist have to be proactive in this market! I know because I was an artist, manager and promoter! Also you need to have something to fall back on also like an education! What ever happened to the love of music huh?

    Where we disagree Rick is, some great managers can make artist, for example “Soulja Boy”! It’s a lot of garbage on the radio being played because of politics Rick and not talent!

  26. @anonymous – as the business (artist / band) expands so does the workload. Besides if you don’t know how to manage yourself on a local level you won’t be qualified to hire the right person for the job. Even if you are not good at managing your own act your experiences (both bad and good) doing so will make you better able to hire the right manager.

  27. Sooooo……what exactly is it the manager does then? I do all the artwork, and all the business work and……they tell me to do more? Or I’m just paying them for their connects?

  28. Having been a music manager and always being asked “well you manage us” the answer 99% of the time is (NO).
    Never ask anyone to do something for you -that you can do better yourself. If a manger is the real deal you’ll know it, but remember TRUST must be earned not giving and if you get burned it’s your own damn fault . (do your homework!) You must have something to offer (i.e:Great songs,great production,great CD/ART,great live shows,look the part,always working to be a better song writer and have very thick skin. Bottom line is you/band must be a product and be able to market the product to sell……..if not? Manage yourself! Your band sells 5000 CD’s in the regional area and they’ll come to you! The music biz is a cruel and wicked world so (DO YOUR HOMEWORK). Great songs can go a long way. #1 Rule =TRUST NO ONE #2 =PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS MORE F**KED UP THAN YOU THINK.

    1. Worry about getting a person to run your sound and not a manager. Having your own sound-guy or girl should be the first person you get that’s outside the band. A house sound-guy can destroy your gig no matter how good you play. think about it.

  29. @renegade

    Show me the best manager in the world and I will tell you he or she wouldn’t be able to break a band without talent and a product that people care about. The point in this series of articles is that many people are waiting to be discovered and they shouldn’t be waiting – they should be building. I have known far too many very talented artists who just can’t get out of their way to even get regular gigs in their home town. I don’t think artists can sit back and wait for industry in this day and age. Why would you they pay out the money at this point? In my experience people should pay out the money to invest in their own promotion because 99 times out of a 100 no one else will.

    It’s a business – you have to be wiling to invest in your business. Apply your logic to any other business – I make really great home pizza but I’m going to wait for my neighbors to donate ovens and retail space in exchange for the franchise rights?

    DIY is absolutely a condition of last resort – I’m not suggesting anyone deliberately be DIY – I am suggesting that the best way to attract qualified help is to prove your concept and the best way to do that is to demonstrate that you have a viable product that people care about.

  30. Good points, but many I feel are off base.

    Yes, it takes time, effort, determination and dedication for an artist or band to get their business end in order.
    And sure it is easier to find a manager to take on one that has a website, promo shots, press kit, paying gigs and recordings already to distribute and a soild web presence. Who wouldn’t want a total package dropped at their feet to manage? Outside of the fact that the band is weary of being totally DIY, one would have to wonder why would they pay out the money at this point.

    You state in this series, a good band makes a manager – Personally I feel it Takes a good manager to make a Great band out of a group of guys (and gals) that have talent but lack the business savvy.
    And if you can find a good band that has a good manager – you got a winning team.

    Regards,
    Renagade
    http://renagadesmusic.blogspot.com/2010/03/you-started-band-should-you-get-manager.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *