Part 2: The Artist & Manager Relationship – A Look At Recording Industry Management Agreements

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by Justin M. Jacobson, Esq. Justin is an entertainment and media attorney for The Jacobson Firm, P.C. in New York City. He also runs Label 55 and teaches music business at the Institute of Audio Research. Read the Part One of this two-part installment here.]

 

We will continue from our prior installment on “The Artist & Manager Relationship.” We will now explore some additional contract clauses included in most management agreements as well as a few negotiation tactics for these clauses.

Another essential matter that needs to be ironed out is the “term” that the artist is signed to the manager. Typical language outlining the term and options is below:

Term – The term of this agreement will be for an initial period of one (1) year commencing on the date hereof (the “First Contract Period”) plus the additional “Contract Periods” if any, which Term may be extended by Manager’s exercise of one or more of the options granted to Manager below.

Options – Artist hereby irrevocably grants to Manager three (3) separate consecutive options to extend the Term for a “Second”, “Third”, and “Fourth” Contract Period. Each such option consist of one (1) year each and will be exercised automatically by Manager at the end of the then current Term unless Manager gives Artist written notice to the contrary no later than thirty (30) days prior to the date that the then current Contract Period would otherwise expire.

A typical management agreement term can last for as little as 1 or 2 years. But, it can be for as long as 5 or 6 years, or even more. The terms of an agreement are traditionally structured with a minimum of one year followed by several options for additional years. Sometimes, the “term” is based on “album cycles” rather than specified calendar years. In this situation, the “term” starts with the commencement of recording the album and lasts until the end of the tour or associated promotional activities for that album. This time period could end up lasting longer than one calendar year. Similar to the language above, usually the options are automatically exercised by the manager. This provides the manager with the right to choose to terminate the agreement by providing notice to the artist.

If they do nothing, than the option is exercised and the agreement continues. Ultimately, this is a point that should be negotiated between the parties as the agreement could require mutual approval to exercise an option or it could include a set milestone that must be reached for an option to be exercised (i.e. artist must earn $10,000 during the one year term for the option to be exercised or obtain a recording/distribution agreement).

Other possible limitations on the term of the agreement could be that if the artist doesn’t earn a specified amount in a given time frame, then the artist is free to terminate the agreement. If this option is selected, a manager should ensure that any offers that the artist turns down as well as those that are accepted are included in this total amount. This protects the manager as an artist cannot simply turn down valid offers to reduce the income earned in order to get out of the contract. Conversely, an artist should insist that for an offer to count toward this minimum, it must be similar to those the artist had previously accepted. This prevents a manager from simply providing nominal or unsatisfactory offers in an attempt to continue extending the management arrangement.

Since a manager is entitled to receive compensation for any agreement entered into or substantially negotiated during the term of the agreement, a “sunset” clause can be included to reduce the amount that a manager is entitled to after the expiration of the term of the agreement.

Typical language for a “sunset” clause is as follows:

Following the expiration or termination of the Term hereof, Artist agrees to pay Manager for a period of three (3) years a commission of fifteen percent (15%) from any contracts entered into during the Term and all renewals, extensions, additions, modifications, amendments, substitutions or supplements of all contracts, engagements and commitments entered into or substantially negotiated for during the Term hereof. Subsequent to the termination of this first three (3) year period, there shall be modifications downward of Manager’s commission percentage in the following manner: (i) a reduction to twelve (12%) percent for the second three (3) year period subsequent to termination, (ii) a reduction to ten (10%) percent for the third three (3) year period following termination, and (iii) Subsequent to the end of the third three (3) year period the Manager shall no longer be entitled to receive commission.

A “sunset” clause is used to reduce a manager’s commission in the years following expiration of the term of the management agreement. This clause reduces the percentage the artist owes to the manager over time and eventually extinguishes this obligation entirely. This is important for an artist who is leaving one manager and signing with another, as the new manager would typically want their standard commission rate (15-20%) and your prior manager would still be entitled to their percentage under the “sunset” clause (15-20%). This situation severely limits the amount an artist earns; and, therefore, it is prudent to ensure that the prior manager’s percentage reduces and eventually ends at a specified time.

Another method an artist can utilize to potentially terminate a management agreement early is the inclusion of a “Key Man” clause. This clause protects a musician’s relationship with a particular individual by stipulating that the personal manager (the “key man”) must represent the musician or else the musician may terminate the contract.

This applies if the “key man” is deceased, terminated or otherwise is no longer affiliated with the management company that the artist is currently signed to. The particular individual needs to be listed by name in the agreement for this clause to be operative. However, the inclusion of this type of language does not obligate the artist to leave the management company; it just provides the artist with the opportunity to do so if they choose.

A standard “key man” clause could reads as follows:

During the Term, John Doe shall be primarily responsible for Manager’s activities under this Agreement. Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is understood and agreed that John Doe may delegate day-to-day responsibilities to other employees of Manager provided John Doe remains primarily responsible for the activities and services provided by Manager. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained herein, in the event that John Doe shall cease to be employed by Manager or shall cease to be primarily responsible for Manager’s activities hereunder (“Key- Man Event”), Artist shall have the right to terminate the Term of this agreement effective upon the date of Artist’s notice to Manager of such Key-Man Event.

Overall, a personal manager is an essential member of your music business team and one that can truly make or break your career. They can be a driving force behind your success or a stumbling block to your advancement; consequently, the negotiation of a written management agreement helps to ensure that an initial managerial arrangement doesn’t have a negative impact on an artist’s career going forward and that all parties fully understand what they sign and feel protected.

This article is not intended as legal advice, as an attorney specializing in the field should be consulted. Some of the clauses have been condensed and/or edited for content purposes, so none of these clauses should be used verbatim nor do they act as any form of legal advice or counseling.

Part 1: The Artist & Manager Relationship – A Look At Recording Industry Management Agreements

[Editors NoteThis is a guest blog written by Justin M. Jacobson, Esq. Justin is an entertainment and media attorney for The Jacobson Firm, P.C. in New York City. He also runs Label 55 and teaches music business at the Institute of Audio Research.]

 

Update: Read Part Two of this series to learn more about the Artist & Manager Relationship here.

We will now begin a series of articles exploring several music business agreements. The first agreement we will examine is the agreement that governs the artist (talent) and personal manager relationship. An exploration of what a manager does, a few standard provisions included in most management agreements as well as a few negotiation tips for these clauses follows.

A “personal manager,” usually referred to as the artist’s “manager,” is one of the most important individuals in an artist’s career. Managers handle all of a musician’s day-to-day affairs, including booking hotels, procuring transportation to and from live performances and appearances, booking recording sessions and all the other personal matters that an artist doesn’t have time to handle on their own. In addition, a manager acts as a buffer between the artist and other parties, including the press, record label and endorsement requesters. In addition to coordinating day-to-day affairs, a personal manager advises the artist on all aspects of the career, including assisting in developing the artist’s creative direction, such as selecting producers, instrumentals (“beats”) and album artwork. They also help in various other facets of a musician’s life such as managing the artist’s tour, advising on merchandise design, licensing, songwriting and anything else related to the artist’s entertainment career.

Choosing a manager is one of the most, if not most, important decisions that an artist makes in their career. It is a choice that should not be taken lightly as an artist’s first manager can have a profound effect on the talent’s long-term development. Once a musician has selected the individual to act as their manager, it is prudent, if not essential, for the manager and artist to enter into a detailed written agreement. This agreement should outline all of the essential terms of the arrangement to ensure that both parties are adequately protected. The document lists each party’s expectations and rights in an effort to alleviate any concern as to who is responsible for what and who is entitled to what.

To better understand this contractual relationship, let us now review a series of common clauses included in many standard artist management agreements.

A manager wishing to act on behalf of an artist must be appointed as such. In order to effectuate this, a management agreement includes a “power of attorney” clause such as the one below.

Power of AttorneyArtist hereby irrevocably appoints Manager for the term of this agreement and any extensions hereof as Artist’s true and lawful attorney-in-fact, to:

(a) sign, make, execute and deliver all agreements or contracts in Artist’s name as if Artist were personally present;

(b) make, execute, accept, endorse, collect and deliver all bills of exchange, checks and notes in Artist’s name; and,

(c) demand, sue for, collect, recover, and receive all goods, claims, money, interest or other items that may be due to Artist or belong to Artist, and to defend, settle, submit to arbitration and compromise all actions, accounts, claims and demands which are or will hereafter be pending, in such manner as Manager will deem advisable in Artist’s best interests, including retaining attorneys and accountants to represent Artist’s interests thereof.

(d) In addition, and without limiting any of the foregoing, Manager may generally do, execute and perform any other act, deed or thing whatsoever that reasonably ought to be done, executed and performed, as fully and effectively as Artist could do if Artist were personally present. Artist further understands and acknowledges that the power of attorney granted to Manager is coupled with an economic interest on Manager’s part in Artist’s Career, in the artistic talents of Artist, and in the products of Artist’s Career and those talents and the earnings of Artist, arising by reason of Artist’s Career. Such power is therefore acknowledged by Artist to be irrevocable during the term of this agreement and all extensions and renewals hereof.

Limitation on Appointment – It is expressly agreed that Manager’s jurisdiction and authority as personal manager, the power of attorney and compensation due Manager under this Agreement are limited to matters directly related to Artist’s Career in the entertainment industry and Artist’s professional business interests relating thereto; such jurisdiction and authority does not include Artist’s business interests which are separate and distinct therefrom.

The above language provides the manager with the power to enter into contracts on the artist’s behalf as well as deposit and draft checks on the artist’s behalf from the artist’s accounts. It also gives the manager the power to sign agreements on the artist’s behalf, institute lawsuits on the artist’s behalf, hire and fire attorneys and other third-parties on the artist’s behalf and to approve use of an artist’s likeness for advertising and promotional uses. It also includes a limitation to ensure that the power of attorney only applies to the “entertainment industry” without providing the manager with rights in other non-entertainment related areas of an individual’s life. It is also prudent to try to include some additional limitations on the Manager’s power of attorney, such as requiring additional written approval from the artist for certain appearances over a certain time period (i.e., a live appearance lasting more than two or three days) or for issuing a check over a certain amount from the artist’s bank account (e.g., any check over $500 requires prior written approval from artist).

When determining where a manager’s compensation derives from, the following language is typically utilized:

Manager is entitled to a percentage of the following:
(a) Any and all contracts, engagements and commitments now in existence;
(b) Any and all contracts, engagements and commitments entered into or
substantially negotiated during the term hereof;
(c) Any and all bona-fide proposals of contracts, engagements and commitments which are offered to Artist during the term hereof and entered into after the term hereof; and,
(d) Any and all renewals, extensions, additions, modifications, amendments.

This language means that the manager is entitled to a percentage of the income from all existing contracts. That is in addition to any entered into during the term of the agreement. Also, any agreements that are substantially negotiated during the term but executed after the term’s expiration are included. This means that the artist’s manager is compensated from any existing contract that currently already pays the talent as well as a percentage from any agreement that the manager negotiates during the term of the agreement as well as from any agreement “substantially negotiated” during the term of the agreement and entered into after the term expires.

While there is no set typical payment or commission rate for a manager, most managers earn anywhere from 10-25% of the artist’s total income, typically the rate is between 15-20%. A manager is entitled to a percentage of either the gross or the net income received by an artist during the applicable period of time known as the “term” of the agreement. Gross income is the total amount earned prior to the deduction of any associated expenses or fees; while, net income is the total amount earned after the deduction of all associated expenses and fees. A manager typically takes their commission from the “gross” income as that is amount is larger than the “net” income. Depending on the manager’s level of clout, they may require a higher percentage (e.g., 25%); while, a newer manager may accept a lower percentage (e.g., 10-15%).

Typical contractual language that explains what streams of income are subject to the manager’s commission may be described as such:

The term “Gross Earnings” as used herein refers to the total of all earnings whether in the form of salary, bonuses, fees, royalties, recording budgets or funds, video production budgets or funds, tour support or advances against royalties or advances against royalty guarantees, percentage shares of profits, shares of stock, other kinds or types of income, earnings or proceeds, or property, including real property, merchandise, performances, appearances, or other income flows which are reasonably related to Artist’s Career in the entertainment industry received by or due to Artist.

This language is extremely broad and includes any potential income that the artist receives “in the entertainment industry.” Since this language is so broad, it is prudent for an artist to try to exclude certain avenues of compensation from the manager’s commission. These areas could include the exclusion of funds earmarked as “recording budgets” or “touring funds/support.” The reasoning behind this is that these funds should be fully utilized to pay for all the associated recording, mixing and mastering costs to produce the album.

These subsidies should also be used to alleviate any touring deficiencies that may arise during an artist’s tour without a manager receiving a percentage; thereby, reducing the artist’s budget for these matters. Furthermore, if a musician is also involved in other entertainment activities, such as a songwriter or actor, the management agreement language should clearly outline whether funds earned from these activities are included in the manager’s commission or not. This is commonly referred to as a “carve-out” clause, which specifies streams of income that are ‘carved out’ and not included in the fees subject to the manager’s commission.

Additionally, when negotiating a management agreement, a compromise regarding a manager’s percentage might be possible through the creation of an escalating or de-escalating clause. For instance, a manager could be entitled to 20% of the first $10,000 earned by the artist during the term; and, then his percentage could decrease to 15% for the rest of income earned during the period; or, vice-a-versa, where the manager’s percentage increases from a lower percentage after reaching a specified earning mark.

Another key point in the management agreement is the process by which the manager recoups the expenses they incur on the artist’s behalf. Since this amount can start to add up quickly, it is imperative that the management agreement outline the exact parameters of the manager’s recoupment, including how much can be recouped and the procedure to receive reimbursement. It is judicious for an artist to insist on a specific monthly, weekly or other “cap” or set a limit on the amount a manager can spend on behalf of the artist. The artist should also include provisions that require the artist’s prior written approval for certain large expenses, such as incurring a $10,000 marketing bill on behalf of the artist for the artist’s promotions.

These are just a few of the main points that need to be agreed upon between the parties. We will explore some additional clauses typically included in many standard management agreements in our next installment.

This article is not intended as legal advice, as an attorney specializing in the field should be consulted. Some of the clauses have been condensed and/or edited for content purposes, so none of these clauses should be used verbatim nor do they act as any form of legal advice or counseling.

Artist Management Series: Paul Steele

In the finale of our Artist Management Interview Series, we chatted with music industry vet Paul Steele, founder and CEO of Good Time, Inc. Paul has been working with artists in some capacity for about 15 years, getting his feet wet in college. Handling management for Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, Judah and the Lion, Ellie Holcomb and Kris Allen, Good Time Inc. acts as a management, label services and marketing company.

With us Paul discussed how he got involved as a rep for Aware Records, the importance of maintaining a ‘hobby mentality’ in the music industry, and why being a good person in business can go a long way.

How long have you been in artist management and how has the way a manager/artist relationship begins changed in the last 5-10 years?

I’ve been doing this since around 2000. I started in college when I was at TCU in Ft. Worth. I had my own company, and then rolled that up with two other companies, forming Trivate Entertainment in 2005. I started Good Time Inc. in 2011.

The relationship is always kind of fluent. It depends where the artist is in their career when you start with them. When you start with a younger artist, they’re a little more wide-eyed, so you’re helping cast visions, and you’re doing a lot more for them because they’re just getting started. Whereas if you’re working with a more established artist, they may have already worked with other managers; so there’s a different job description. Yes, the relationship has changed over time but it’s also really relative to where the artist is in their career.

Management is like marriage. If you work with someone who has had a couple managers, you’re really working with someone who has been through a couple of divorces. The best manager is like the artist’s ‘chief of staff’.

How did you begin as an artist manager?

It was a complete accident. As a freshman in college I was in pre-law; a philosophy major with a psychology minor. At this time, Napster had just come out and I was discovering a ton of music. MySpace wasn’t even a story yet, much less an idea. There weren’t a lot of ways beyond word of mouth, Napster, Morpheus and KaZaA. For me, college was a great time to discover new interests, as I think it is for many, and there were some people making music around town. I liked to promote things, so on the side I helped put together a couple of shows.

I was my mom’s musical puppet as a kid – she thought I was going to be god’s gift to the world and I wasn’t. I was a terrible musician. I really liked the way it felt to get music heard and somehow I started promoting more shows and bands. I was also listening to the college radio station a lot, and I remember when I Train’s first single, “Meet Virginia”, came on.

They were a tiny no-name band out of San Francisco, on a small label out of Chicago. I found that out by going to the record store and seeing Aware Records on the back of it, and wound up being an Aware rep for the for a couple of years, (one of the only in Texas). Within that two-year period they signed John Mayer, Five for Fighting, going from a five-person label out of Evanston, IL to a powerhouse with an upstream deal with Columbia. That’s really what piqued it, they (Aware Records’ staff) became mentors of mine. I was learning a lot with Aware, thought I knew a ton, and every six months I’d realize I didn’t know anything. I just kind of kept finding bands to work with. I dropped out of school a few times, went on tour, worked for free under a couple of managers – I kind of did anything I could do to work in the music business. College is a get-out-of-jail-free card to do stupid things and (most of the times) not have them ruin your life.

In those years, what stood out as key lessons have you learned as an artist manager?

Probably the biggest takeaway, which was passed down to me from a mentor, which is treat everyone you meet in this industry with the utmost respect that you possibly can; because you never know if you might be working with them. SO much of this business is luck, and you don’t know when luck is going to strike someone. Don’t ever condescend someone because you feel better or more powerful than them. You really never know where things will take them…or you – you may need a favor from them in a few years!

Second, kind of in the same light, be a person. So much of this business is transactional – asking someone how their day is going goes a long way. The assholes don’t win as much as they used to. You’ll feel better about yourself at the end of the day and you may get more out of that relationship because they like you.

Three is the music business is a hobby that people make money at through various times in their lives. We’re trying to make money with art, and that is never lost on me. The people I work with, I’m very thankful to work with them, but this is a very volatile industry. Any time this becomes something I don’t enjoy, I can leave. I’m happy to be paid and be paying several people off of a hobby. The entertainment industry contributes less than 1% to the GDP to all of America. Do this because you love to do this and you’re going to work your ass off. Don’t expect this to be a normal job. The only way you’re going to make is it if you do everything and anything you possibly can.

In your experiences, what are some of the biggest misconceptions of an artist manager’s role(s)?

Management is the worst job in the music business, by far. The reason I say this is because it’s the only job that doesn’t have clear lines of definition. When you sign with a booking agency, you know exactly what you’re getting. They get you shows, they get you on tours, and they get you on festivals and soft ticket opportunities. When you sign with a label, they get a record paid for, recorded and distributed. Publicists – you’re hiring someone to get you reviews, on blogs, (hopefully on TV shows) – you know what you’re hiring them for.

Management is the catchall. And no one is good at everything. There are people who specialize in all sorts of things. We have a six-person staff and they only work on four artists. Management is probably 75% of what 11 people total work on. And we’re a decent sized management company for our roster. You can do 10 great things for an artist’s career, but if you didn’t get that one thing they wanted, you can get fired. Managers are expected to help with press, bookings, and label services now. Finally we decided if we’re going to be doing these things we should set up companies for these things. We didn’t really mean to become a marketing company.

It’s just funny. People expect the world, and no one can do that.

Explain the importance of managing an artist’s expectations when it comes to getting the desired results of any given career goal.

We are doing the best job we can, and the only way we can do that is to know the expectations of the clients. Every six months we have our artists establish goals. We do six month, one year, and ‘dream list’ goals. Who do you want to tour with? Do you want to be on TV? What kind of shows? This gives me the chance to say, “Well that’s not happening.” Or, “That’s a good idea.” No one should be working harder than the artist. Having goals that can be revisited every month and checked off is important.

A lot of managers think they’ve found this amazing talent. I see talented people all over the place on the way to work every day. If they don’t have the right work ethic, they can’t cut it. People tend to forget this is a job.

Some artists remain focused on staying ‘independent’. What components are key to this goal and what can managers do to maintain this identity?

I think it depends on the artist and where they’re at in their career. Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors are fiercely independent, but they’re ten years into their career and they’ve been on labels before. For a guy like Drew who’s not beholden to radio, he’ll probably remain independent. His wife, Ellie, is niche and we’ve had radio success, but she’ll likely remain independent.

We want to do what the artist feels is best for what they want to accomplish. We have artists that want to be independent, and we have artist that could benefit from a label if the setting was correct. We don’t need a label for everyone we work with, but I don’t think labels are bad. There’s a lot of great labels out there, independent and majors – just relative to what the needs of your artist might be.

When we go to radio, we don’t have a Coldplay to leverage. There’s not a one-size fits all mentality for every artist out there. To quote Drew Holcomb: “It is the worst time ever to make a killing in the music business. It is the best time ever to make a living.” There’s more indie artists out there paying their bills with their music than there ever have been in history, and that’s great.

In the case that you’re being presented with a label deal for an artist in 2015, what factors do the artist/manager team have to take into consideration?

Again I think it depends on what kind of music you make. The reality of it is you’re probably never going to recoup the records if you do a major deal. From my perspective, I want a guarantee that there’s going to be money spent on promotion.

The term is very important to me too. If things go south, I don’t want the artist to be stuck on a label with no option to make another record. As long as my artist is in a position where they’re going to be promoted and they can continuously create, that’s a big deal to me.

Plenty of the A&R guys you might sign with, are a different company by the time an album comes out. If the guy/girl who gets you in the door leaves the label, you’re potentially screwed. It’s difficult to rely on the relationship with the label because the relationship is a volatile one, (less so with independent labels). The only reason I’d sign someone is if it’s a major label is if they want to be truly famous. It’s near impossible to accomplish ubiquity as an indie.

Do you get involved in the licensing and publishing side of your artists’ careers?

We try to be a non-copyright owner. We consider ourselves a true service company. We instead help service, distribute and market/promote records, then get paid a little more to do those things rather than own them. We’d rather get paid for our labor and our work than get a copyright claim. Technically speaking that may be bad business, but I think it’s right business. I’d rather work for someone for 20 years and never have anything mucked up than have the copyright – and that’s a hobby mentality. I want artists to win, and that’s why I got into management.

Artist Management Series: Mark McLewee

We’re back with the second installment of our Artist Management Series, where we’ve been talking with current managers of independent artists about their day-to-day roles and responsibilities, how their coveted position has changed over the years, and the lessons and misconceptions they’ve encountered.

Last week you got to learn about Vanessa Magos at New Torch Entertainment, and this week we’re psyched to share our chat with Mark McLewee from Red Light Management! Mark has been helping with the day-to-day management of Bonobo, ODESZA and Ki:  Theory. Check out the interview below.

Has the way artist/manager relationships begin changed much in the last 5-10 years?

Mark McLewee: While I’ve only been in the business for five years, it hasn’t changed much. It’s still a process: an artist finding a manager who truly believes in the music and them as a person first. It’s important for an artist to remain focused on finding someone who isn’t going to be a yes-man or someone to just turn the keys over to and say, “Go do what it takes to make me a successful musician.”

It’s all about finding a person the artist can trust; someone who believes in their music, and can be their advocate. You want someone to bounce ideas off of and be a reality check, but also guide you through this ever-changing and often daunting landscape.

Vice versa, managers are ultimately looking for an artist who’s willing to put in the work that’s required. An artist who has a clear vision of what their art is and how they want it to be presented to the world. It’s the manager’s job to go out and help execute that mission – to bring in opportunities that grow the artist’s career without compromising their art, and to handle all the details.

How did you begin as an artist manager?

I started as an intern at the Artist Farm, working with the Infamous Stringdusters, basically helping out wherever I could. Then I began helping with their merch and I helped them build a website. I tried to glean as much as I could from artist managers and members of the band themselves. From there, I got a job over here at Red Light doing day-to-day management through some connections I had made while at the Artist Farm.

The reason I got into artist management came from growing up in a family that had professional artists and musicians in it. I wanted to be able to help artists share their art with the world while also helping them maintain a small business, because that’s what most artists are: a small business of which they are the CEO. It’s important to make sure that when their music career is over, they have something to fall back on and have something to rely on after all the hard work.

As an artist, you’re getting into the music business for the first time, and you go into it somewhat blindly – you don’t know what you should be looking out for.

What are a couple of the key lessons have you learned as an artist manager over the years?

I think that good music will prevail. It has a way of finding its way into the public ear and making itself known. The job of a manager is to facilitate that and to set your artist up to be rewarded as much and as fairly as possible for creating that music. It’s kind of a daunting proposition to take mediocre music and make it into something sustainable that can generate revenue for an artist. It’s a great gift to find an artist that makes amazing music, and it’s our responsibility as managers to make sure they’re rewarded for that.

I guess the old adage of “It’s not what you know but who you know” is as true as ever in the music business. As much as there are horror stories about managers, agents and lawyers taking advantage of artists, there really are a lot of good people in the music industry who really care about music and artists. It can be harder to track those people down, and it seems a lot easier to find people who are ready to come in and just add you to their roster. But if you can track down a great team of people, it’ll end up making a huge difference in your career.

In your experiences, what are some of the biggest misconceptions of an artist manager’s role(s)?

That’s hard for me to say. I think at least one misconception is that there’s sort of this sense of, “If I link up with a manager, he/she will know what to do and I can just make music. They’ll steer the ship and tell me what I need to do and guide me. They’ll take care of everything.” It’s a ‘hand-the-keys-over’ mentality. I don’t wanna harp on the small business notion, but the artist needs to be the leader and personality of their business. Even though you might have a manager in place, and later down the line a bigger team, you’re (the artist) still the central guiding force, and your team needs to know you’re as invested in it as they are.

It becomes much more of a partnership than simply letting someone else steer. There are certainly managers that will do that, but to me, that’s not a sustainable relationship that turns into a lifelong career, one where an artist is looking back 10 years at music they can stand behind.

Explain the importance of managing an artist’s expectations when it comes to getting the desired results of any given career goal.

I think it’s important in any aspect of life that your expectations are modest and you hope for the best while planning for the worst. Especially with young and independent artists – there’s always gonna be this phase of transition from hobbyist musician to professional musician – and that’s not a flip of the switch from working a 40-hour a week job to being a professional musician. It could be months, it could be a few years, (it could be never); there’s a stage where artists have to double up on a full time job and a full time music career. Many younger artists who see others go at it independently may not see that these people went through these career stages, too.

When you begin working with an artist who lacks the network of a booking agent, publicist, etc., how do you approach building one with them?

If you didn’t have those built-in connections, I think there’s a lot to be said for getting out there as an artist, and hustling as much as you can. As an indie artist you should feel like the time to say, “I really need a manager or agent!” is when you’ve exhausted your personal energy and relationships. And when you’re at the stage where you have opportunities presented to you that you need help figuring out.

People recognize hustle and genuine artistry. Whether it’s staying up all night finding music blogs and writing to every single one, knocking on the door of your local venue so you can get an opening slot – these are hustle plays that people, especially managers, recognize and want to work with. As a manager, it’s great having an artist who’s working as hard as you to match that energy. One connection leads to another, and it’ll sort of snowball from there. It’s not just sitting at your computer writing tweets, I’m talking about getting yourself out there and sharing your personality and drive with people.

From a management perspective, the industry is full of personal connections that can help build a team without the need for a label. Like-minded people tend to gravitate toward each other and as a manager, the further in you get, the easier it is to find a team that shares your vision and work ethic.

As more artists want to maintain their ‘independent’ status, how can managers assist in this goal?

Definitely. If you want to talk about the difference between now and 10-15 years ago, it’s totally possible to go in eyes-wide-open knowing and being fully aware of what you’re getting yourself into. Knowing about striking deals with labels where it’s more mutually beneficial and not just contingent on tons of sales. There are all kinds of great PR and independent radio promotion firms that can help you do all these things that were previously just this mystery behind the wall of a label.

That said, a hardworking label can be a great addition to your team. We have the great fortune of working with an indie label that is very receptive of the artists’ vision, and is going to put in the same amount of work that you are. There’s no longer the sense that ‘to make it’ you have to be on a major label. Personally, a misconception for me prior to getting into the music business was that there was this sort of “yes or no” when it comes to the success of artists. There’s definitely a continuum of success, and there’s no formula to follow.

When it comes to being presented with a label deal for one of the artists you work with, what factors do you and they have to take into consideration?

There’s two sides to it, one side being the level of commitment that the label is willing to put forward; not necessarily just speaking financially, but basically putting forward a legitimate team who is willing to battle for us like our agent or lawyer when it’s time to. I think there are some great indie labels out there that have good people who love music and will stand up for it, but those aren’t always the labels who come knocking with record deals.

The other side is probably more obvious – making sure the deal terms are fair for your artist so you aren’t relinquishing too much control. That’s where, as an artist, you want to have a manager and lawyer who have worked on multiple recent deals.

Having that stamp of approval from a credible label can certainly open up doors for an artist, but if the right team isn’t in place, it won’t serve the artist well in the long run.