If you're here to look into new and different methods by which you can market your band or artist. You've come to the right place. I'm Tom Colohue, and this is Marketing Methods; your guide to traversing the basics of the marketing world while avoiding the pitfalls, the traps and the unreasonable arseholes in it.
Marketing Methods by Tom Colohue
Part Fifteen: Managers And Agents
On the surface, a manager or an agent is a wonderful thing. They take over the booking of gigs, organise your hectic life schedules, plan tours and book travel, as well as numerous other small things that suggest that you've hit the big time. However, the same basic rule applies with a manager or agent that applies to your band mates: They are not your friend, they are your business associate.
A manager or agent is an employee of you that you hire to basically organise your musical life. For exchange of either a flat fee or a percentage of all profits from bookings (in which case, it's in their best interests to make you as rich as possible) they free your mind up for just rehearsing, writing and playing.
First off, let's look at the difference between the two:
A manager belongs to your band, while your band belongs to an agent.
That's the basis there. When you have an agent, a lot of other bands are likely to have that agent, meaning that bookings are often made en masse and then you are told about them. A manager is much more interactive. You can instruct there where to book you gigs, what money to settle for and how to promote you best. That said, managers often look for more money out of you, since they will always have more time to devote solely to your band.
The pit fall with a manager or an agent is a really simple one. Workrate. Do you work to their workrate, or do they work to yours?
A good manager or agent can literally fill your schedule with gigs. This sounds good, giving you the chance to travel around performing to new crowds and making plenty of cash for it, but it destroys your personal life if you're never home, always working and, after a while, it seriously dents your desire to live the rock 'n' roll dream. People get tired, and people often have day jobs to work around or Universities to attend. It's not all parties and hot teenage girls, you know.
The flip side of that coin is easy to work out. A manager who commands a high fee, yet books only a gig or two a month is entirely worthless.
So here are the basic tips:
Ensure that your manager or agent signs a contract to work with you detailing what you expect from them and what they expect from you. Sit your band down before you consider hiring somebody, or just after the offer comes in, and plan out how many shows you want to do, how much you're willing to pay and what additional benefits can be offered by either side in place of royalties.
Read the contract. I mentioned this in a previous piece and I'm mentioning it again. Never sign something that you don't understand, and never sign something you're pressured towards. If a manager presents you with a contract and says 'sign this' then tell them no and read it.
Do your research. What is this person's experience? Have they managed any bands before, and is it somebody you've heard of? Who else is on the books for this agent and what venues are they most recognised at. Always check if somebody is beefing up their CV, especially when it's possible that they might be trying to work for you.
Check the books. When it comes to money specifically, always review the numbers as and when they come in. Confirm payments given with venues, confirm money taken by the manager and confirm the records that a manager or an agent has to keep in order to be legally licensed in their field.
And the most important tip of all: Have terms of dismissal written into the contract. Yeah, didn't think of that, did you? There is nothing more dangerous than a contract without an end date for employment, an easy-out clause or terms of dismissal. If you find out that your manager has been stealing money from you, and you have no terms of dismissal, you have no defence against it at all. You are completely in their hands.
With a little care, any bad situation can be turned into a hugely profitable one for everybody involved.
Tom Colohue is a writer from Blackpool, England. Though he specialises in Fiction, he also writes music theory articles, and new media articles based primarily on the internet. On occasion, these also intermingle. He is well recognised by numerous critics and analysts for his integrative descriptive work and his cynical textual mannerisms. For more information, Tom Colohue keeps a Facebook Fan Page, which contains updates from new articles and his personal blog, Mental Streaming. This page can be found via this link.