Your Manager?

One thing that amazes me in the culture of local artistry is how much I hear “talk to my manager.” I get it, writing “for booking info contact ______________” does make one look about their business but, if you’re at this particular level as an artist, I have to ask:

Why do you really have a manager?

Now this is in NO way a shot or me trying to disrespect any local artist with a manager; some, surprisingly, actually need one. If you’re selling out shows, buzzing in the area, and have a relatively busy schedule, I completely understand I understand hiring a manager. However, if you're still the opening act at the small venue around the way, it puzzles me.

You don't have much business to manage, yet. Wouldn't it be easier, if not just as difficult, to have all your business inquires go directly through you?

I’ve heard, from far too many local artists, tales of with toxic managerial relationships. Oftentimes, these "managers" are people who know as much about the business side of things as the artist. From stealing ownership of musical content, stealing money, or not really doing much of anything to benefit the artist’s long-term growth, I've heard it all.

The sad part? A lot of times there is no legal documentation between management and the artist; just their "boy" managing the merchandise, etc... I’d ask artist why they never considered being there own manager. To which they all respond, “I know very little about the business side.” Well, the fact is: most managers didn’t know much either.

If you're starting off as an artist, you may want to handle your business ventures personally. You may know little about the business but you WILL learn from your mistakes. One artist told me he does everything himself because it is invaluable experience. He explained to me how intimately he has come to understand his brand. 

When he does have to get a manager, as an artist, he will have some basic knowledge of what’s going on because he's seen and done these things before on a smaller scale.

This is not to sway you from having a manager. As an upstart, you can have a contact you go to for inquiries. I'm merely suggesting the potential benefits of handling as much as you can yourself. This way, ideas or content are not lost in translation.

If you're lucky to have someone you trust or can't fade the cost, I pray everything goes well for you. Starting out, I understand how 5-6 people coming up to you at a show trying to link or spread ideas can be a lot, especially if you're working everyday all week. 

Granted venues and colleagues may also take you more seriously if you have managerial representation. That's understandable. But the new wave is independent management. Being your own boss. Think, "what would Damon Dash do?"

Isn't a strong brand worth more than the cool points you get for saying “talk to my manager.”