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What should a manager do?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Johnny BoomBoom, Nov 6, 2002.

  1. Here's a question for all of you people out there with a band manager! What do they do, and what do you think they should do?

    Reason I'm asking - we have a losse management deal, and a loose record deal. No contracts as such (I told you it was loose), it's more done on a basis of mutual understanding and benefit!

    Anyway, we (the band) don't feel he's been pulling his weight lately! The reason I'm asking for opinions is to see if maybe we're being to hard on him (then again, I might find we're being too soft!)

    And yeah, before you start - we do need a formalised contract. This is basically to suss out the types of things we could reasonably get written into one!

  2. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I have never had a band manager and from things that I have seen, they are usually no better equipped to manage than band members are. The only difference that I can see is that a good manager will have business savvy and connections up the wazoo, which band members can develop for themselves with a little extra legwork.

    And another thing with contracts - get a lawyer to look at it before you even think of signing. Many bands would have saved themselves much heartache (and walletache) had they done so.
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    You ever see the movie "Spinal Tap"? Everything Ian Fath didn't do a manager is supposed to do.

    Don't take on one of these people unless and until it becomes absolutely necessary, otherwise it's just 10-15% out of your pocket to support someone who should otherwise be homeless. Managers have absolutely no credentials to ensure their quality and don't do anything that you or another band member can't, i.e. booking shows, sending out and following up on demos, arranging meetings with labels, establishing and maintaining industry contacts, dealing with touring and merchandising logistics (if any), handling press and publicity and mediating band disputes.

    If you need to ask what a manager does, that's a sure sign you don't need one, yet. If and when things get to be too much for you or the band to handle, that's the time to look into hiring an outside party.
  4. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    This is the absolute key question.
  5. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Ed, could you possibly elaborate on this? Why would this be the case?
  6. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    [comic book guy voice on]
    Best Peter McFerrin sig. rip ever!
    [comic book guy voice off]
  7. Guys I left this one a while to see where it would go! Lot's of good points here - thanks a lot for all of the replies!

    Especially Ed - that was the kind of insight I was looking for, someone who has worked with a few management types and can talk about the badpoints the good points and all those in between!

    Once again thanks guys - it's been really helpful!:)
  8. Zellerscrossing


    Jun 25, 2006
    First of all, I think it depends what stage of your band you are in. If you are still in the garage, or have no recorded music, a band manager is going to waste your time, or you will be wasting theres.

    Think of what a manager does at any other place or business. What does say a store manager do....work out problems, solve legal issues or stand as a point of contact, a communication point to outside businesses or local interest. Provide customer service, sales, etc....while there are many differences, remember the key word "Manage"

    If you are to a level where you really need the extra help and your not sure how to move your band to the next step, you should look for someone that has knowlage and hookups in areas such as band equipment, performance and touring, copyright and song ownership, publishing music, trademarking of band names, the knowlage and wherabouts to find album artwork, recording and duplication of your recordings, selling those duplications, having record agreements and what they mean, the ability to start a band website or myspace page, tax information regarding any income you may be receiving, and any little areas in between. A good manager should also be prepared to come up with paper forms and legal agreements. A good manager will be there when you pratice and provide feedback for what will allow you to reach your goals.

    hope this helps.....
  9. FriscoBassAce


    Dec 29, 2004
    Frisco, Texas
    Independent Manufacturers Representative
    Wow this one got pulled out of the crypt! I thought I was reading a new thread until I got toward the bottom and realized the dates were back in 2002...

    So whatever happened BoomBoom?
  10. Zellerscrossing


    Jun 25, 2006
    Ha Ha.....I'm not sure, i actually found this thread on a google search, and didn't notice the dates until I already replied. oh well, maybe it will help someone else!
  11. Music Attorney

    Music Attorney

    Feb 22, 2004
    Well......since it's been resurrected.

    Although it might surprise some of you to see me say this, my years of experience suggest a written contract between an artist and a manager isn’t always necessary or desirable. In fact, our most successful artist does not have a written contract with his manager nor do several other artists we represent. It would take too long to explain all the reasons why I say this, but, in my opinion, the manager-artist relationship is the most important one the artist has and it’s either working or it’s not. If it is, no one is going to even look at the contract. If it’s not, then the parties should go their separate ways. Also, I’ve seen the negotiation process break up manager-artist relationships before they get started because if people are asking the right questions (i.e., all the stuff no one wants to talk about), it forces people to deal with issues that can cause anger, resentment, etc. when they are discussed.

    That said, I certainly understand why managers and artists want to sign an agreement and there are certainly good reasons for doing so. In the event you choose to enter into an agreement, you may want to consider the following:

    1. SERVICES – Typically, a manager wants to be exclusive for all areas of your entertainment career. The problem is that the expertise needed in the music world can be very different than that needed in Film/TV, for example. The goal is to have someone with experience in the music industry who will rip the doors off of hinges to get you in those doors. Well connected people might not have to use brute force, but you want someone who will push to make stuff happen. For the reason above, you would like them to be your exclusive personal manager solely with respect to the recorded music industry (i.e., recording, songwriting, producing, touring, etc.) unless they have the experience in other areas. However, this is often very hard to get because the manager will argue you got the film/tv role because you are a famous musician and since they believe they are the ones who made you a famous then they should commission/control that part of your career, as well.
    Is the manager going to travel with you if you go on the road? Management agreements typically don’t place a lot of contractual obligations on managers and tend to use language like “manager will advise and counsel” which doesn’t amount to much in terms of what the manager has to do to fulfill their obligation. You may not get managers to agree contractually to specific services, but at least be as clear as you can verbally with what services they intend to provide and then hope for the best.

    2. TERM – the term of a management agreement is usually based on a fixed number of years or tour cycles. Both ways have their advantages and disadvantages, but, to me, the key with regard to the term is to have the length of the agreement be based on specific criteria. For example, the mgr might have an initial period of 6-12 months to achieve a specific goal (e.g., some level of income, a record deal, etc.) and if they are successful, then the contract gives them an automatic extension of the term for an additional number of agreed-upon years. Same thing holds for any option periods (i.e., manager gets to exercise an option only if X, Y, and/or Z happen). It needs to be clear what your expectations are (e.g., signing a certain type of deal, money, whatever) and how long you are willing to give the manager to make it happen. Obviously, a manager can’t necessarily guarantee something will happen, but that’s just too bad. There has to be some mutually agreeable timetable for some mutually agreeable thing or things to happen. If I get more time, I’ll try and explain this further.

    3. COMMISSIONS – Typically, managers get between 15-20%, but the more important question is: 15-20% of what? This is a complicated area but most management agreements start out with the manager commissioning just about everything that looks, smells, or feels like money. The goal should be to have the agreement drafted in such a way so that the mgr’s percentage is really more on the “net” than on the gross. For example, you don’t want the manager commissioning recording funds paid by the record company which are being used to record the album. Conversely, artists (and their lawyers) have gotten very clever at trying to have the artist receive something of value that is more difficult for the manager to commission. For example, maybe the artist is doing an endorsement for Rolex. And instead of being paid $200,000 in cash (which the manager will commission in full), the artist says “give me that $150,000 jewel encrusted Rolex watch to keep plus $50,000 in cash” which the artist then tells the manager that the artist is only receiving $50,000 in cash and that’s what the manager’s commission is based on. Unless you can get them to agree otherwise, the mgr will likely commission all of your services in the entertainment industry. Another critical point with commissions is the idea that there needs to be a “sunset” clause that says the manager’s commission will, at some point, come to and end. For example, the otherwise applicable commission is reduced to 10% for the first year after agreement ends and then 5% for the second year after the agreement ends and so on until the percentage is 0%. Remember, if the artist terminates the relationship and hires a new manager, the artist doesn’t want to be paying double commissions. Conversely, no manager with any sense is going to agree to discontinue their commissions immediately after the agreement ends. The goal is to figure a sliding scale that works.

    4. EXPENSES - discuss what, if anything, the mgr anticipates spending. Mgt agreements typically allow for managers to be reimbursed for “expenses.” I would suggest all expenses (i.e., not just travel expenses) require artist approval if they exceed [insert amount you are comfortable with] in any particular instance and if they exceed [insert amount you are comfortable with] as an aggregate in any one month. You do not want to find out a manager has spent a bunch of money on your behalf and now wants to be paid back.

    5. MANAGER’S AUTHORITY – there is usually language in a management agreement giving the manager some form of a power of attorney. Avoid this language at all costs. I would strongly recommend that an artist not allow any manager to sign checks, collect and deposit any monies, etc. on their behalf. They should not be able to sign agreements on your behalf except live performance agreements of limited duration (e.g., one or two nights) and based on terms previously agreed to by the band/artist for live performances.

    6. KEYMAN CLAUSE – Often times the signatory to the agreement is the manager’s company and not the manager himself/herself. If it’s a company, it needs to be very clear that the manager is responsible for the day-to-day management of the artist’s career and any change in the company structure/function (e.g., the company is sold) that prevents that from happening will terminate the agreement automatically. Again, in my opinion, this is the most important relationship the artist is going to have and you need to know specifically who it is that is responsible for your career and who it is specifically that you can rely on 24/7. Your relationship is with the manager, not some company.

    7. CONTROLLING LAW – what law governs the agreement can be CRUCIAL. For example, California has law that is very favorable to artists. I’ve seen managers who live and work in California sign an artist who lives in California, but change the law of the contract to New York, for example.

    Anyone still awake? Naturally, the above list is nowhere near exhaustive, but I assume I’ve exceeded the pain threshold of most of you.

  12. Zellerscrossing


    Jun 25, 2006

    Wow! you rock man, I read it all and yes...i'm still awake, actually I had to go to work, and come back and read the 2nd half. So, i'm hungry for more information myself. I'm still trying to find my "start" with music management. i've read several books about the subject (especially "Nolo's Legal guide to managing your band") I gave up the being in a band thing myself a long time ago, but I really want to stay involved in the scene, especially at the level of being a manager.

    So my first question (if you don't mind questions!) is, are you currently a band manager, a music attorney or.....both?

    What's the best way to start with a band? should I just get in touch with a beginning band and work pro-bono for a while?

    Obviously a buisiness like this is all about having contacts. What is the best way to devolop contacts?

    Well, thats all I got for now, but I appreciate the advice! Thanks

  13. Music Attorney

    Music Attorney

    Feb 22, 2004
  14. Zellerscrossing


    Jun 25, 2006
    Why not? I'm not doubting you, I'm just wondering, is band management have some horrible clause to it?

    And, i have another question for you....Say I was able to coach and manage a band, all the way to a record label (a major one that is) and they get signed. Do I still remain there manager, or does the record label take ownership at that time?

    Also, have you ever seen those books like "the Indie Bible" or "Musician Phone book"? Yah, they have a lot of phone numbers and addresses in them, but are they any good? (i'm sure the numbers lead to people, but can you just call them and.....well get anything out of it whatsoever?)

    Well, thanks again for your expertise..
  15. mohamby

    mohamby TONE,TIME & FEEL

    Sep 15, 2005
    Nashville, Tn
    th role of a manager is to leach.
  16. Music Attorney

    Music Attorney

    Feb 22, 2004
    I wouldn’t want to manage a band for many reasons. First, I really like being a lawyer.

    Second, many of the clients we have are A-list clientele that expect and demand a LOT of attention and service from their managers which is understandable given the large sums of money they are paying their managers. However, I simply am not wired to deal with all the hand holding, babysitting, “my tire has a flat what should I do” type of phone calls that inevitably come at all hours of the day. When I leave the office, I have other priorities and interests. All of these concerns are multiplied if the client is a band as opposed to a solo artist. I don’t like the 24/7 nature of managing.

    Third, Mangers often times travel a great deal and I have no interest in the type of travel most of them do in connection with managing.

    Fourth, other managers are always trying to poach your client if they are successful. While this happens just as much to us attorneys, we have a much broader client base so the loss of a marquee client isn’t that big a deal whereas it can be life-altering/career-altering for a manager.

    I could go on and on, but the above reasons immediately spring to mind.

    As for your second question, it’s not uncommon for a record label to say “we think so and so would be a much better manager for you”. The band usually wants to please the label so the label will sign them and are, in my experience, very often ready to jettison their current manager in favor of the one being recommended by the label. I’ve heard more than one artist/band pledge allegiance to some manager/lawyer only to develop amnesia once someone is signing a check with lots of zeros in it. I realize there are examples of long-term, successful, positive manager/artist relationships, but in my experience they are the overwhelming exception and not the rule.

    Not really sure what you’re asking in your last paragraph.

  17. Zellerscrossing


    Jun 25, 2006
    At least you have your reasons!! thanks for that though. I've managed retail stores before and unfortunently, thats just how it is too. It's like people automatically give up there ability to figure out anything on there own once they have a manager.

    Thanks for the answer to my second questions. The third, if you've never heard of the books, I wouldn't expect you to know how to answer that of course. The books contain some 2500 contacts for the music industry. i was just wondering if you had any experience with them at all. Well, thanks for the help, I may have more questions in the future.
  18. Zellerscrossing


    Jun 25, 2006
    I have a hypothetical questions, and anyone that can answer it is more than welcome too.

    Lets say I wanted to attempt to book a local band as openers for a bigger band coming to town. Who do I talk to about this? The booking agent for the venue, or someone with the band? (tour manager, general manager, etc...) Or maybe an unknown 3rd option...

    Also, there are several venues in my town of all different calibers. There are ones where basically you just walk in and sign up and you have a slot where you can play. Other venues require several well known local bands with a decent following, but the request is still made available to the public or people such as myself. How about the clubs that are , not sure how to describe them, but lets just say that if a big name was to come, this is where they would go. Is there a specific, professional manner of contacting them, cause I don't want to look like a fool just asking them myself what it would take! (although I will do what it takes)

    And...since I already have your attention.....if a band was signing a record deal with one of the major labels, one that would require an attorney, does the band have to support the cost of the attorney immediately, or is there some way to have the label pay for it, and then reimburse with sales (I've read they will do this with other areas.)

    Finally.....I read a quote in a book saying something along the lines of "The only state where you can operate as a manager without a licence is California" Now I don't live in California, nor is this question about California. However, Do I need some type of business license to practice band management? Can I get one even if not necessary, just to help my credibility? I'm already studying in college for my Masters in Business, but I would love to be able to say I have a "licence" just to help. If not a licence, is there any thing else I should look at obtaining to a similar effect?

    Thanks to anyone in advance who is able to answer these....oh...and I found this great link within this site for anyone interested in this topic like myself: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=73200

  19. paula62


    Aug 24, 2007
    I'm an attorney, too, and also manage two acts.

    In a nutshell, what a manager should do for an act is move it forward. And the manager generally will be heavily involved in helping the band decide what goals it wants to move forward towards.

    The specifics of what that involves will vary depending on the type of band, point in their career, etc.

    It helps for a manager to have contacts, but those can be developed simultaneously with working with the band. In fact, lots of times the goals identified will require the manager to look into something where there are no contacts. In that case, the manager will either begin to development contacts into the network where she wants to be, or just simply pick up the phone and start talking to people. As a business person, if the manager is bringing a viable business proposal to the table (i.e., you - the company/label/etc need X thing and we can provide it), then someone will take the time to look at it.

    Contacts in an industry make it easier to get meetings at higher levels, but they do not by any means guarantee a deal. Just because Polly Promoter knows Joe Schmoe does NOT mean that Joe Schmoe will do whatever Polly wants. There still needs to be a good proposal.

    So the manager helps develop goals along with the artist, then the manger goes away and develops the strategy to get to those goals and begins to implement the steps necessary to follow that strategy.

    Plenty of artists can make good money without going anywhere near a major record deal. Management, therefore, is about waaaaay more than pursuit of that Holy Grail.

    I look for sponsorship money for touring and other life stuff (if an artist gets some clothes for lending their name to a clothing line, well that's a form of income that helps out on the bottom line), song placement, session work, new partnerships and markets (what if your cd of love songs were bought by a bridal goods showcase for handout in the goodie bag?), and promotion partnerships (got a song that mentions a place and might work as part of their own advertising), to name a few things.

    Business is very different than making music. While some musicians are in fact good at booking and band promotion, far fewer are good at general business stuff of the kind I mentioned.

    Managers should not be leaches. If they are, get a new one.
  20. tulsa


    Jul 6, 2009

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