Artist management companies typically represent musical performers and artists. These companies are ultimately responsible for providing artists with career guidance, communication support with record labels and performance venues. Starting an artist management company requires strong knowledge about the inner workings of the music business in addition to any or all of the following: promotion, tour management, music publishing, union regulations and merchandising.
- Skill level:
Make sure you love music and know what a good song is, recommends artist manager Terry McBride. Know how to relate songs to people's lives, which is very useful in promoting an artist's songs.
Study as much as possible about the music industry in relation to how record companies operate; how artists receive record deals, contracts and music publishing deals; and how artists and record companies make money. Purchase books such as "All About the Music Business" by Donald Passman and "This Business of Music" by William Krasilovsky and Sidney Shemel.
Get involved in the music industry. Volunteer or get a job working for a college radio station or a commercial radio station and pay attention to the communication between radio station personnel and artists or between personnel and record labels or promoters. Consider booking acts for your college or booking acts at your local coffeehouse.
Ask those bands or other bands you may know about managing them. Select one band to begin managing. Hire an entertainment attorney to help you draw up a contract that will specify how much you will earn in commission (typically 15 per cent), the services you will provide and the duration of the agreement (which is typically no more than two years to start out). Present band members with the contract and encourage them to have it reviewed by an entertainment attorney before signing.
Consult with your artists about image, which is vital in helping to sell and market your band. Begin putting together a plan to increase your band's exposure, including contacting talent reps at record labels, selling their music online and creating merchandising opportunities.
Establish a business name for your management company (e.g. "New Artists Management"). Register your business name at your local county clerk's office; fees typically range from £13 to £19. Open a current account under your business name using your certificate from the county clerk's office. Hire a print and design company to create business cards, letterheads and envelopes with your company's name. Purchase a cell phone since managers spend a great deal of time speaking on the phone on behalf of their artists.
Apply for a federal tax ID number by visiting Irs.gov (see Resources). Download the online application and complete it. Save and print your confirmation notice.
Train a friend or someone you know who is interested in the music business by instructing them to read "All About the Music Business" and "This Business of Music." Assign them the task of going to see artists perform and with recruiting more artists for your company.
Tips and warnings
- Going on the road with artists in an assistant role (such as guitar tech) is a great way to learn about becoming a tour manager. Many tour managers often go on to become artist managers.
- In building your artist management company, consider individuals involved with the music industry such as music business writers, producers who work with artists and those who have worked in music business sales, publishing or promotion.
- Managers are generally not responsible for finding work for their artists, though this may be an initial part of a manager's function until the artist is able to secure a booking agent.
- Because of changes in the music industry, record companies prefer to sign artists with an established audience base and that are actively promoting their music themselves.
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