First of all, let me say that this is NOT about the good or great Managers out there. (You know who you are!)
Management is a tough job and this isn't about you.
I'm talking about everyone else.
They say it's hard to become a doctor or lawyer or even a good cook, but the reality is, being a good manager is probably one of the hardest jobs out there.
Because you're responsible for EVERYTHING (marketing, promotion, PR, image, relationships, social media, legal, finance/$$, pitching, etc.) in an artist or band's career, knowing a little about everything is key.
I have been in the music industry for over 20 years and you just see artists and bands sign with inept managers who don't know what they are doing.
I was recently taken out to drinks by a manager of an artist. We spent like four hours just talking, and while it was a fun time, not once did we even discuss business. I understand that relationship-building is important but I think small talk for 15-20 minutes is plenty of time to get to know each other before diving into business. He dropped $100 on wine and a charcuterie plate honestly for nothing. If we talked about business, it was about him, not the client in question and he seemed honestly more interested in the wine than in discussing how I could help his client create buzz and make money.
I will give him credit as he did get his artist a showcase and meeting with the head of a major label. But he pulled his artist out of Burning Man to showcase and let me say, the showcase did not go well. Clearly if you've been in the desert for days and probably on some stuff, you're not going to be performing at your best. That's it. That's your big chance. A smart manager would have told the label, "Sorry, my band is at a festival this week and really not able to perform to their best ability, as I'm sure can appreciate. They are free in two weeks though." Or make up some story about a sick aunt or something but don't showcase when your artist isn't at their best. Word will also get around and really inhibit your chances of getting a deal down the road with other labels too as guess what, label people all know each other and talk. Why should another label fly an artist out that's already been passed on by the head of their competitor?
I've had managers demand unfair deals and walk away from opportunities where their client could make tens of thousands of dollars because they are asking for too much money or won't do a fair split for song licensing. Why would I cut someone a special deal when everyone else agrees to a 50/50 split? I've had Grammy-nominated artists and artists who've been signed to major labels agree to my deal, but some indie band who hasn't really done anything thinks they are worth more? Think again. Being difficult will get you nowhere in this town unless you're a diva and I think you need tens of millions of sales before you can command that title.
Also, why would you sign with a licensing agent who doesn't have good relationships? This same manager didn't want to pay me a 50% cut for some songs I was pitching and said their agent pitched her band's songs...but my contact had never heard of the band when I asked about them. What a mistake!
I'm sure there are countless stories, but basically, don't sign with a bad manager. I started my career in artist management and it's not an easy job to do well. Signing with the wrong manager can be the difference between fame and fortune and success––or a life of obscurity.
Don't make a bad choice.
Don't sign with an idiot.
JENNIFER YEKO is a 20-year music veteran who currently owns and operates True Talent PR. Her specialist is film/TV promotion, music licensing, artist management and public relations. See truetalentpr.com. And check out her music blog with over 100 articles of free advice: truetalentmgmt.wordpress.com.