A Good First Test For A Potential Manager


This weekend while being locked away in my windowless studio we had a lot of guest come by. The conversation that kept coming up over and over was whether various bands should work with this manager or the other one. Lots of things were thrown around that were used as credentials for these managers, “they have been in the business for a decade”, “used to be in this band” and “worked for this ____ management for a year.” Unfortunately, I had bad news for everyone that none of this stuff really mattered.

Think back to your days in high school when there were people who really paid attention in class, others who synthesized all of the information given to them and really got it and some people who just showed up waiting for lunch time. This all still applies to what goes on when someone “works in the music industry.” Just because someone has been along for the ride does not mean they understand what really goes on. Having connections can get you somewhere, but having ideas and a work ethic is what really counts. While a work ethic can only be tested in the field, the ideas can be tested before you connect yourself to someone.

My advice to every band who is looking at someone potentially managing
them is to have them write you a plan as to what you are going to do
with the next year of your life. How are they going to help develop you
and make you stand out from the countless other bands looking for
everyone’s attention. If they come back with a plan of obvious things
and ideas you easily could have thought of on your own, then why do you
need to give away a percentage and energy to this person?

As we have discussed many times before if you think a manger is going to do all the work for you, you are bound for failure. The managers role in 2009 should be fresh new ideas, with a means to accomplish them and the first test is they should have a clear and insightful vision as to how to get your band somewhere that isn’t just record, promo pics, record release party, tour and repeat. Every great manager I know has a strategy and ideas on how to make their artists stand out from the pack and if someone can’t demonstrate these ideas to you, they have flunked out of class and aren’t going to be of much use to you. Many wise-ass Italian gangsters have summed this up in one easy saying “Tell me something I don’t know.”

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.

  • Anonymous

    I work for a management company, and another great way for artists to decide if a manager is right for them is to work with that manager for an agreed amount of time with no commissions. If a manager is willing to do this, than they obviously believe in your music, and while they still may see your potential in dollar signs, they have enough faith in your career that they’d rather keep you under their wing than let you slip away to someone else. Granted, not every manager will be willing to do this, and most managers already have their hands full as it is. So projects with no revenue can be a waste of time in some people’s eyes. However, its definitely something that can happen. I’ve seen it done.

  • Todd Thomas

    This is a great point. We’ve definitely heard of good managers doing this with artists they believe in so it does exist out there!