| Friend or Foe? Many bands starting out may already have management in one of two forms:
Whilst you are still in the position of sending out demos and gigging locally, this may be the only type of management you require. The only caveat to this is that you all agree with all the decisions made, and all remain totally happy. You will not have time to argue about whether you want two different types of beer in the dressing rooms after the gig, when you're still working on your material and presentation.
- Collective decision making.
- The friend, who is also roadie, sound engineer, caterer, and general all-round helper.
At some point in your career, you may need to consider appointing a professional manager, or indeed, you may be approached in the first instance.
As the band becomes more established, a manager can become indispensable. Without daily help in many of the administrative matters, valuable time can be lost which could more usefully be used writing, recording, rehearsing etc. And it's not just time – some of the non-music work can actually be a complete turn off to performing at all.
Friend? You may decide to appoint a third party to negotiate on your behalf who is already known to you. Perhaps the one mentioned above.
Foe? You may have an inherent distrust of a total stranger working for you.
The decision must be made collectively within the band, and everyone has to be totally content with the idea. It is such an emotional, as well as practical, decision that we have devoted another tip to the subject next week.
So, briefly in the meantime:
It is worthwhile emphasising at this point the professional nature of the industry, and therefore the attitude displayed by you and your band to the business is fundamental.
- You must have someone that you trust completely.
A manager will be negotiating with other professionals on your behalf. He (or she) will have control, to a greater or lesser extent, over your finances, sometimes personal as well as business.
- Your manager has to be competent to do all the tasks required of them.
Each individual manager within the business at the moment has different talents. Realising this, some will employ others to cover their weakest areas within their own organisations. Others will simply explain that they don't do that work, and advise on people who can!
- You have to be clear what you require of the manager, as do they.
Start as you mean to go on, professionally. This can sometimes become a problem when a friend who has been around the band since their inception gradually takes on tasks beyond their capability.
Record labels, publishers, promoters etc., are usually happier dealing with third parties when negotiating deals, rather than with the artists themselves. This is changing slowly, as some bands show themselves to be perfectly capable of understanding contracts, and behaving in a business-like fashion. However, it is sensible to nominate one spokesman for the band, even if you're all at the meeting.
Decide in advance what you're going to require including a leeway position, and then stick to it. Do not squabble in front of music executives. It will not help your cause.
Do not forget that you are attempting to enter an industry which has a professional attitude, sometimes despite appearances to the contrary – don't forget it was the music business that also invented the phrase: 'Sex, drugs and Rock n Roll'!
Next week – more on management.