Not everybody needs a manager. Now, not everybody is the same, but the idea is that a manager comes in to manage an existing business or to manage something that needs managing. For the ones that do need a manager, maybe it’s too early. Are you sure there’s a business to manage? Are you sure you’ve done all you can possibly do yourself?
A lot of managers end up being people who are close to that artist. There are some huge companies that do great things, but, a lot of times, it ends up being the best friend of the artist or somebody’s Mom or Dad. It’s usually somebody who’s really close to that artist, that the artist trusts. That person might not know a whole lot about the industry at first, but they figure it out as they go.
If you are somebody looking for a manager, look at your close circle first. Is there somebody who believes in what you’re doing that is truly just a fan of what you do? They get what you do, they respect it? You trust them implicitly with your career and your life?
If you don’t have that situation, keep making great music, meeting people and making relationships, and it will come to you.
If they’re a real manager, they will have either other artists they are currently working with or they will have a previous roster list of people that worked with. You want to maybe consider who they work with. Can the artists they work with be a good fit for you to be cross-pollinating audiences or go on tour?
When somebody reaches out to an artist, what you’re really looking for is somebody who knows how to build a business in the music industry. You need to do your homework when those people reach out to you and really get to know them. When you are being courted by managers, absolutely, date them all. Take all the meetings. Get to know them and be in no hurry to sign anything with anybody. If you haven’t signed a deal with them, and things aren’t working out, tell them and be very straightforward with it.
In most management contracts, there will be some sort of sunset clause, which means you typically have the option to fire them within a 30 to 60 day period if you’re not happy. They have the right, usually, during that period to continue making a commission off of your career as the years go by. So, if you have a new manager during that time, you’ll be potentially splitting commissions between the manager you fired and your new manager and you’ll have to pay them both. That’s why I say, be very careful about signing a management deal. Make sure it’s the right person, and you’ve spent time with them and work with them long enough to where you trust them.
Edgel Groves began his career as a musician, playing with the band Sun Domingo in the 2000s and went on to form a booking agency and management company at the end of the decade. Groves is Director of A&R for SoundCloud.