A lot of people who have managers don’t understand what those managers are supposed to do and this leads to crushing I had to face a kind of a frustrating disappointment this week in a friend who I hooked up with a manager this week. This isn’t so much to talk shit on that friend as much as it is to talk about how his expectations were a little muddled by the twisted realities of the industry. There’s a lot of issues at hand here, from miscommunication to entitlement but I want to take a minute to look at how a lot of these things can impact a client/manager relationship and what it means for your growth. Note too this isn’t just about managers, it can also apply to agents, labels and all that other good stuff. There’s a whole lot to pick apart with these sorts of things and we need to embrace the weird realities that this world can throw up at us with a smile and a wink.
I think the beginning of the issue is that people don’t seem to appreciate what a manager is supposed to do. Look at it this way – you are probably not generating that much income. If you’re a fairly big band then you’re maybe generating six figures annually, which means your manager is barely getting more than five from you. Think about how much money that is objectively, not for you, but in general. It’s hard for a manager to justify spending that much time on you even if you ARE paying them $10,000 a year so if you’re making less than that think about what it implies over the long term. The point I’m trying to make here is don’t expect your manager to do all your dirty work. They’re not going to write all your fucking press releases and they’re not going to do all your Facebook posts. They’re not going to handle all the bullshit finnicky bits, unless maybe they are a part of a bigger company that has interns to do that for you.
I know that many of you might think that’s what a manager should do, but that’s not really what they do, that job sounds more like a personal assistant. While for a lower level manager they might buy into that you gotta understand why many don’t want too or why they would end up being frustrated with that. A manager is supposed to help you get good tours and solid merch. They are supposed to help figure out the label situation, make sure the PR is on point and hep with growing your band on a level that requires serious industry connections to do. They are not there to babysit you every day of the week. If you want to be in a band that people take seriously then you need to appreciate that you at least need to have your shit moderately together. This is not an industry that you can expect to get everything handed to you – but a lot of people don’t seem to understand that to handle the day to day shit is not always the managers function.
Now a lot of this is due to miscommunication – some managers don’t understand that they don’t need to be doing all the lower level bullshit and some actually enjoy it. Sometimes it really just depends on how much money the band is generating. This can be a good thing. After all there is a place to create structured social media posts etc. I totally get it. Both sides on any management agreement need to be aware of what is expected. Again though this goes for things like labels and agents too. Sometimes your agent doesn’t realize that you expect them to help with vans and stuff (They shouldn’t, and if they do that’s bullshit) and you need to sit down and appreciate that. I feel like a lot of the larger issues in the music industry essentially boil down to bands not understanding what the powers that be are willing to offer. It’s not because they hate you but because at the end of the day it all depends on how much money you are generating.
Entitlement definitely also plays a role, and as much as I have waxed on about this in the past you guys get to sit through another few lines of me ranting. Entitled artists don’t seem to understand that people in the industry don’t merely exist in order for them to not have to do anything bu create music. In fact I don’t know any artists, even the really huge ones like Elton John and Metallica who don’t have at least some part of their job that they don’t like. There is going to be monotonous stuff because sometimes people just need access to the artist and nothing else. That’s the simple and harsh reality of it al and something that we are going to continually have to embrace. People can’t make all your problems go away, especially if your own shitty attitude isn’t helping you to figure out the next important step forward for you and your music.
So pull yourself up by your bootstraps and embrace the fact that adding a manager, agent or label to your team is not a way of alleviating all your work but rather a question of adding another tool to your arsenal so that you can reach out to more people. There is a weird balance that you’re going to need to figure out and its particular to every artist. Every band has a different relationship with their manager and you need to accept that as a simple reality and move forward together in a way that makes sense and leaves everyone with a smile on their face. I know that’s not always the greatest, but realize that your team probably has your best interests at heart and if you have the time you should sit down, shut the fuck u and be grateful that ANYONE is interested in supporting your music at all.
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