What Makes a Good Artist Manager?

By David Lowry

One of the topics I am often asked to write about is the difference between good management and not-so-good management. What makes a good manager? What are the expectations? This is a very broad subject and has many answers but let’s assume for the sake of this article that the band or artist being managed has given the manager a lot to work with. This means that the artist has a large fan base, is gigging constantly and has a business to manage. The artist always needs to be on the up-and-up and gets the manager everything he needs in a timely manner.

Working with management is a team effort. Most artists seem to think that once they sign management they don’t have to work anymore and that they can just focus on music. This is very far from the truth. Assuming that the artist is really putting the effort in to promote their careers, music, video’s and performances, then management should be in relative constant contact and operating as a team and coach with their artist. Management should be able to put a fair amount of time into all their artists especially if there is a team and not just a single person as part of the management team. Management should always be thinking of the artists best interests and have a system of organization in place to not let things fall through the cracks.

Organization is vital to make sure that opportunities don’t pass the artist by.

Management should be able to handle all requests that come in and weigh the priorities of those requests. Management should be professional enough to respond in a timely manner with a professional demeanor. Not everything that comes in is a good thing or should be acted on, but in today’s music world, the more things you have going on to share about the better. It’s all about the exposure and number of impressions an artist can develop to break through the masses of artists in this online music world.

In lieu of an artist not having financial backing, the manager often plays many roles, that of publicist, booking agent, tour manager, accountant and possibly many others. You need a manager that is set up to do this. All things being equal, please remember that if the band isn’t able to financially compensate a manager for all the “extra” work that goes into their career and the artist themselves can’t or isn’t able to handle any of these extra duties then the manager will probably focus on bands that generate income versus those that are still only making smaller incomes. It stretches a manager pretty thin to handle all that goes into an artist’s career and their goals need to be adjusted to be more realistic based on the workload.

Depending on where an artist is in their career, business and marketing plans need to be developed to help the artist progress business wise. Clear-cut goals should be put into place here. Both the manager and the artist need to adhere to them and review them at least quarterly. Managers need to help the artist define who they are, their image, sound, stage show and identify weaknesses that need to be worked on.  A game plan to tackle their weaknesses while operating on their strengths should be put into place. Performance consulting should be added to the mix. More often then not, the artist can improve greatly here with a knowledgeable manager. The manager is the eyes, ears and coach for the artists they represent. The manager supplies other things such as media training, social media consulting, business advice and many more issues. The artist needs to be open to learning, working hard and also holding their team accountable.

Most importantly, a manager needs to be able to be honest with their artists. To tell them what they are doing right, but also what they need to work on. Artists need to heed this advice. If you don’t trust your manager here, why did you hire them?

A good manager knows this is a work in progress and needs to have the patience to make it happen. The artist should know this and be on board with it too. Develop a good team, work realistic goals and remember this is a business. The manager needs to keep the artists head in the game and teach them how to run a business so as to have the most effective team possible. Remember artists, it’s “your” career and it’s your responsibility. Your manager is your teammate, coach, consultant, partner and biggest supporter. Work hard to identify the traits you look for in a manager, work hard to develop your rapport and work even harder to make sure the manager has the best artist to sell to the world.

This article originally appeared on Rusty Cooley’s website “Guitar Asylum TV”: http://guitarasylumtv.blogspot.com/2011/11/what-makes-good-artist-manager.html?spref=fb

David Lowry is the President of The Lowry Agency, a full service artist management agency that works with musicians, speakers, entertainers, actors and models based in Nashville, TN. David manages the musical careers of Brother Cane, Damon Johnson (Brother Cane, Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper), Kris Bell and Mindset Defect. For more information please contact The Lowry Agency at http://www.thelowryagency.com

  1. many of the bigger bands do performance critiquing often – some even nightly – a debriefing after each show to find out why it did or didnt work that night. more bands need unbiased honest opinions about their onstage performance i think. i also think many new artists esp dont realize what a manager should be doing for them – last year there seemed to be a surge in ‘new’ managers who had little or no experience suddenly developing management and pr companies. Good blog.

  2. Nice information, good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need; thanks for this.


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