Great managers are hard to find – especially when you consider that it's one of the few professions where no experience or license is required to negotiate contracts and collect money on behalf of someone who is not under their guardianship. While there's a body that governs managers on the film side of entertainment, there are no such organizations in the music business to set standards for best practices among managers, which is why so many artists and bands are likely to experience a bad management situation at some point in their careers.
The good news is that there are some good managers who really care about their artists, and are willing to wear a number of different hats to ensure success is attained. As a former manager/damage control agent, I can tell you that it's not a glamorous job to juggle the various personalities of creative artists. Here are some of the tough, but necessary, intangible roles that a music manager may have to fill. Hopefully by the time you finish reading this piece, you'll understand a little more why great managers are hard to find.
1. The babysitterIt's every manager's hope that a musician or band will be responsible and receptive to guidance, but sometimes the manager is forced to babysit. Whether it's partying too much or being late to everything, there are some musicians whose actions don't line up with what they told the manager they wanted to accomplish. When an artist consistently needs to be called 10 minutes before they're supposed to go onstage, it's a very frustrating situation for the manager. If your manager is spending all of his time handling your personal affairs, when will he have time to help you advance your professional career? Babysitting is no fun, but it's just one of those undesirable hats a manager must wear.
2. The mediatorDisagreements are par for the course when you're a music manager. On any given day, a manager might encounter issues that thrust her into the role of a mediator. This might include talking to a venue promoter who is having an issue with her artist, settling disputes between band members, or helping to resolve administrative issues between an artist and the other team members (i.e., accountants, record label reps, booking agents, and tour managers).
3. The interrogator
This role is sometimes coupled with both the "babysitter" and "mediator" roles. As a manager, I had times where I had one or two clients who would lie about doing things that were counterproductive to the plan we established from the outset. For example, some musicians might get into legal trouble, and it's the manager's responsibility to find out from the artist what happened. I can tell you that it's no fun trying to get the truth out of artists who are upset or embarrassed by the trouble they're in. In most cases, the interrogation process increases tension between the manager and the artist, oftentimes leading to a split between the two parties.
4. The shrink
This is one of the most common areas of a manager's job. Managing the multiple personalities within a band or an artist's team can really be tough. Everyone thinks they're right, and everyone has an opinion on what the artist should and shouldn't do. This makes the manager's job even harder. When an artist has too many conflicting opinions coming from friends, family, and other reps, there's bound to be some confusion the artist needs help sorting out. Some artists will actually turn on their manager and blame him for everything that isn't to the artist's liking. But in all actuality, the artist is upset with all the confusion.
This is where the shrink hat is put on by the manager, and he must work to get his client back on track emotionally and mentally so that the artist doesn't completely lose the momentum she's worked so hard to build. This may mean that the manager and artist suspend some of the business-related activities just to get back on the same page with one another. This is never fun and rarely ever yields true progress.
In the end, a great manager cannot be measured only by the tangible things she has produced. In many cases, it's the intangible, unrecognized, non-glamorous aspects of the job that lead to many of the accomplishments we see artists and bands having. If you have a great manager, be sure to thank her for what she's done for you, because sometimes that's all she needs to keep fighting for your success.
Shaine Freeman is the co-founder and music editor of the award-winning I Am Entertainment magazine, as well as the host of the highly talked about music podcast, The Miews. Although he studied construction engineering at Bradley University, Shaine has worked with major music publishers, licensing companies, and even spent five years as a talent manager guiding the careers of top film and TV actors and indie recording artists. Today, he resides in Atlanta, GA, with his family where he's leading his editorial team into their fifth year of circulation.