Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How To Become A Band Manager

It’s not like you can just call up your favorite band and say “Hey! I want to be your manager!” Managing a band takes a lot of patience, hard work, ability, and drive. However, if you really have the passion for music but lack the talent of a gifted musician, a band manager may be just the job for you.

How does one go about becoming a band manger? Well, there are a lot of steps and the process is a long journey. Patience and perseverance are the two biggest assets that you need to possess. You’ll need a thick skin, exceptional negotiation skills, the power of persuasion, and a little luck. If you can handle all of that, a band manager may be an area of the industry where you can excel.

Start Local And Grow With A Band
The biggest challenge to becoming a band manager is knowing where to start. The big time acts already have successful managers, and even those that are looking for new managers aren’t going to hire someone with no experience. Like almost any career, you’ll most likely have to start at the bottom and work your way up, earning your reputation as you go along.

Visit your local clubs and see who is performing. Most of the bands on the local level don’t have representation and would be willing to work with someone who has little or no experience. They’d be happy to have someone else take over the responsibilities of contacting venues, working out payment arrangements, and finding the next gig. This gives the artist time to focus on what’s most important to them – creating music. If you find a band that you really believe in, approach them and ask if they are seeking management. It might land you your first client.

Know the industry/know the venues
Research is the key. If you really want to make it as a manager, you’ll need to do your homework. If you want to get your band at the right place/right time, you need to know a few people. Being a manager is about more than just being a fan of the band. You’ll need to be able to have good negotiation skills and you’ll need to know which key venues will give your band the proper exposure and the right price. Taking the time to know the clubs (both local and nationally) and whether your band is right for their audience is a huge investment in the future of the band.

Meet everyone you can in the industry
Getting your foot in the door at key venues is no easy feat. However, as a band manager, you will need to be able to do just this. One of the best ways is by meeting everyone you possibly can in the industry. A band manager has to have the gift of gab. If you are shy or reclusive, this is not the job for you. A good manager is talking about his/her band every chance he/she gets. A good manager is always promoting the band. This is a skill that should be ingrained in you. The more you talk about the band you are managing, the more opportunity you will have to meet the right people. Networking is extremely important in this business. Don’t expect to have your band open for Nickelback right away. It takes time to work them up through the ranks.

Good negotiation skills
If you can’t negotiate, then you must go home. You will only hurt yourself and the band by not negotiating. When starting out, bands will have to play clubs, dive bars, and seedy, out of the way, places to perform their music. Most likely they will be playing a lot of them, 4 to 5 times a week. A lot of these club owners want to pay the band as little as possible (some will pay nothing at all) to have them perform. As the manager, it’s your job to negotiate the best price with the owner, while negotiating with the band. Sometimes you may want the band to perform at a certain venue, pro bono, for the exposure. The band may not want to perform for no money. That is where strong negotiation skills and the power of persuasion come in. You must be able to talk the band into the exposure aspect of a free gig.

Excellent Program/Project Management Skills
Managing a band is like executing a complex project. The better your project management skills, the better chance the band you are managing has of becoming a huge success. Like any detailed project, there has to be a project plan in place. As the manager, you need to know all of the key component s of the project, map out a detailed timeline of how this plan will be executed, and effectively communicate this plan to the other members of the team (in this case, the band). Exceptional project management skills will go a long way to helping you as a band manager.

Once your project plan is in place and agreed upon then it is up to you as the manager to make sure the plan is executed. Timing is key and if the band is late for any gig or misses the bus, it can spell disaster for the entire tour. A good manager knows this and always has a contingency plan in place in case something should go wrong. Knowing your band members’ habits is crucial to your success. This helps the manager to anticipate any potential problems before they occur. As the band manager, you will need to execute the project plan as flawlessly as possible. It will be your responsibility to coordinate schedules, make sure the bus is on time, make sure the band arrives on schedule for their performances, and making sure that the band has what they need to be a success. Does that mean you will need to seek out their groupies or their booze for them? Absolutely not. A good band manager will do his/her best to keep those temptations away from the band and have them focus on what matters the most – their music.

This goes without saying, but trust is extremely important in any relationship. Nothing is more important than trust in a manager/performer relationship. If the band doesn’t trust their manager, then there are going to be complications every step of the way. The band needs to know that what their manager is doing is always in the best interest of the band. Stay in touch with what direction the band would like to go in. Know how these performers want to grow and know what it will take to have them grow in that direction. Trust is a very hard thing to earn, and unfortunately it is also the one thing that is very easy to lose. Always make sure that you are acting in the best interest of your client (the performers) and not in your own best interests. That is the easiest way to earn the band’s trust and to establish a strong bond with the band.

To be an effective manager, you need to be an exceptional communicator. You will be talking to club owners, record companies, the press, and countless other people. All of this information has to be run by the band, and effectively communicated to them. As the manager, you will also need to communicate what is expected of the band. Is there a photo shoot coming up? Do they need to be in the studio? What time is band practice? An exceptional band manager knows all of these things, and he/she is sure to communicate them to the band on a regular basis. The band should only have to worry about one thing, creating great music. Their manager gets to worry about everything else. The manager is the one who will have to handle all of the communications between the band and whoever is seeking their attention. Great communication and exceptional organizational skills are essential to this position.

The life of a band manager is not one of fame and glory. Not everyone is going to be Doc McGhee, and even he has his bad days. A manager’s life is one filled with stress, anguish, and anxiety. If you have exceptional management skills, excel at communications, and have an overall drive to a successful program execution, then a band manger could be the right position for you. If none of this sounds exciting to you, then stick with the guitar lessons and perhaps someone will be managing you someday.

Comments are open. Feel free to post some.


Sonya Singh said...


This is an interesting article I bumped into. Any person who aspires to become a band manager can find a basic outline of what the job comprises of. Also appreciate the clarity and honesty present in the article. I aspire to become a band manager someday and appreciate the info shared here. It would also help If you can outline a few more minute details related to the same topic for eg. maintaining contacts, online and social media exposure know how's etc


Anonymous said...

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