DIY or DIE- Building your Team and their roles: Managers

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How people create, promote, discover, distribute, sell, and monetize music is constantly changing.  I’m calling this series DIY or DIE, why you don’t need to go it alone in the Canadian music scene. In it, I’d like to share some insight in how to build a team to support your career goals by explaining their roles.  Though this is aimed at indie artists, this breakdown is just as applicable to commercial artists. 

Unlike days of yore, musicians don’t need to be waiting to be “discovered” by some magical A&R man.  It’s one click, tweet, or viral video away attainable because of the strong team you build. On average behind a 5-piece mid-level band, there’s a team of 20+ individuals whose mission is to make your band the greatest.  Even labels don’t try to do everything themselves.  They hire professionals (hi!), companies and services to do things they are more skilled in.


When you first start out your manager will most likely be a close friend that doesn’t have a lot of experience but really believes in your band.  Whether or not you’re comfortable letting someone else run your affairs/make the big decisions/be the first point of contact is something your band should discuss at length.  (So if your drummer’s on-again-off-again girlfriend offers to help manage you should probably say no.)  You need someone that will be a solid foundation for your band and won’t flake out or miss important emails.

Obviously there’s loads of things here bands can do for themselves just through general networking but here are some things a manager does for the artist:

  • Helping with major business decisions (whether to sign with a label, which one, publishing, establishing advances for music)

  • Creative process support (what songs to record, where, with whom, what producer, hiring other band members; firing them if need be, talking about sound and image)

  • Being your hype machine!  King or queen of networking this person sends a million emails, phone calls, etc. to get you attention.  Hiring publicists, web designers, …

  • Putting together your team

  • Booking and coordinating tours (budgets, grants, road crew, promoter contact, google-maps-fiend to get to the club,)

  • Being your cheerleader.  Making sure your label, distribution, promotion team is working to make the biggest impact on the market which could involve the typical scream-fests caught in Spinal Tap between promoters and management.

Clearly this sort of management has its limitations for first-time-well-intentioned managers (not being familiar with the ins and outs of the industry, not being aware of financial support, legalities, music licensing etc.)  If you’re on top of this and just need a manager to help with admin support, that’s cool, but if you’re being approached by a label, invited out on a big supporting tour and your manager has no idea how to book a show, it’s time to look elsewhere.

NEXT WEEK:  We talk commissions, hiring a professional manager, legalities, and how to hire the right one for YOU.    

If you’re looking into hiring a manager and aren’t sure if the person you’ve selected is right for you, or has the experience necessary, send me an email!  Part of the consultation services offered by YouRockRed means we help you build the strongest team.  We can sit in on meetings or skype chats to ask the questions to allow you to choose the right team.  Having managed bands and worked with their managers on and off for the last 10 years helping bands avoid pitfalls of bad management is almost as fulfilling as seeing bands matched with the right manager that lands them on a festival like Bonaroo.    – S

Band management fail ^