Part 3 of 3
At least once every few months, I come across someone that asks me to manage them, and I always tell them the same thing, “I don’t even want to manage myself. Besides, I am the last person you want to be managing you.”
They always retort, “Why not?”
“I’m an artist. What’s worse is that I’m an artist who runs my own career. I would never give you a fair shake. Let’s say an opportunity to play with The Roots came across my table, do you think that I would offer it to you over me? Your manager should represent your best interests at all times, no matter what. Besides, what constitutes you having a manager right now anyway?”
“I need somebody who could help me get my foot through the door, and represent my interests.”
“You have albums out?”
“No. That’s why I need a manager.”
No matter the person, the conversation’s the same. More and more artists have latched on to this idea that they have to have a manager in order to get ahead. So oftentimes they sign with the first or second cat that approaches them with a resume or a mouth piece without really knowing anything about managers and what they should be doing. Also, they sign these contracts full of legal jargon and one sided clauses that, in the end, enslave them to the people who should be working for them.
Taking this into account, the first thing an artist should do before signing any contract, especially a management (publishing or label deal also) one, is go see a lawyer that is completely independent of the person whom you are making the agreement with. In other words, don’t let the lawyer of the person that you are doing the deal with explain the contract to you. You’re not their client. Most lawyers I know want a $1500 retainer before reviewing the contract and negotiating terms with the opposite party. Pay it, it’s worth it.
The average manager compensation is 10-20% of the artist’s gross income. The spectrum is usually based on the work the manager believes they have to do. Newer artists are typically on the high end, more established ones are on the low end. Also, most managers want to be reimbursed for their expenses. For instance, if your manager pays for your studio time, at some point, they would like to recoup that cost without it being apart of their fee earned. Regardless of the agreement, every penny that is to be paid should be 100% explained in detailed in the written agreement, and all reimbursements to your manager should be done only at your approval and with a receipt that proves the expenditure.
Choosing a manager is about more than the numbers though. It’s about trust. It’s about knowing that what that person brings to the table benefits you. It’s about having an active hand in your success.
My disclaimer: What I am about to say is in no way a judgment on the profession of entertainment management. Also, the opinions of Quanstar do not represent the opinions of First Team Music (well, yes they do) or WordPress.
Before I go on, let me say that I’ve never had a manager and have never come close to hiring one; however, the reasons for me not having one are based solely on not being able to find the right person for the job. So, Evaready and I created First Team Music to take ownership of our own careers.
That doesn’t mean we haven’t stopped looking for a qualified individual. As a matter of fact, over the years I have and will continue to meet with dozens of them, hoping to find someone who could ease our load and handle the job of representing artists who already have a plan in place. Of course we haven’t found one, and I have promised myself that I won’t settle for someone who can’t do a better job of building the Quanstar and First Team Music Brand than I can.
Before seeking or signing with a manager, I recommend everyone read and own This Business of Artist Management by X.M. Frascogna and H. Lee Hetherington and All You Need To Know About The Music Businessby Donald S. Passman. These two books, along with Kashif’sEverything You’d Better Know About The Record Industry (even though some of it is fairly outdated) will allow you the opportunity to make an educated choice on representation. They have proved irreplaceable for me.
Also, as to not leave you hanging, here’s some practical advice from Mr. Blue Collar (me) himself. Before signing you should:
Quanstar is an American underground hip hop artist, indie filmmaker, comic creator, and self published author from Atlanta.