If You Think A Manager Is There To Do The Business Side For You, You Already Lost The Game


Being out at CMJ last night, I had many conversations about the New Music Model. One of the things that prevailed from convo to convo was the entitlement artists still feel to be lazy and think that the business hustle of their life should be done by their managers and label. This morning I awoke to an article by Bruce Warila on The Music Think Tank that also touched on a similar subject. In this article Bruce touches on the idea that managing bands is often like the lottery. I will actually contest this analogy because the lottery is based on pure luck, the fact of the matter is the flaws in what is expected in the artist/manager relationship diminish your chances compared to others who get it.

While many people in the luddite society of the music business have woken up to the realities of free and and the increasingly level playing field that the Internet has created for artists, what they have not woken up to is this means that artist is going to have to do much of the hustle on the business side if they want to even survive, never mind get ahead.

While we have all grown accustomed to talks of lower profits and decreased staff at labels, it seems that the work ethic of musicians has not quite caught up with the times. While in the past there was the glorious image of an artist sitting around getting wasted all day, sun tanning in between groupie orgies in the back of the bus, for most artists this reality is never going to be obtained unless the artists are hustling just as hard as they think a manager should be. If you think for one second that your manager is the person in charge of the business and once you have one you can then relax you are living in 1989 and not 2009.

The function of the manager in 2009 is to come up with strategy and crack the whip on an artist about what they should be doing. A manager should have a clear plan and wisdom of what needs to be done when and how, not be the sole person working on things. Having your manager booking local club dates when they can be working on deals and the press is a foolish thing to do in this age. What needs to be restructured is the thought of what goes on in this relationship. Think of the manager as the brains and the artist as the braun. The days of watching DVDs all day in the tour van are long and gone, since many of the more saavy acts are sitting on a netbook, bonding with fans and taking care of much of the tedious work that needs to be done. The manager should be making the big moves and thinking about the big decisions and strategies that go into breaking any band. Dismissing this new alignment puts you at an instant disadvantage and makes it so you are not in a lottery but instead a horse race with one broken leg.

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.

  • Jorge

    Right on. It is amazing how many people I know who are trying to “Make It” yet are completely delusional/lazy. It’s all about the music man…