Most artists would love to have a manager who takes care of business and helps them achieve their goals. However, attracting a manager who could make a difference in your life is not easy. Often, when first starting out, you will likely have to manage yourself, or a friend or fan might offer to manage you. That may not be perfect, but at least it’s a start. To see what you should look for when someone offers to manage you (and what it takes to attract a manager who could make your dreams come true), Music Connection spoke with four industry experts and managers to get their take on the situation. We believe their insights will help you make an informed decision, when that time comes.
Alexandra Lee is the founder of WatchuWatchu Productions and has been managing artists for over six years. Lee is unique in that she prefers to develop new artists, so she keeps her roster small. That way, she can focus on each act and give them the time and attention they deserve. Lee is the type of manager that is almost like family, helping her artists in every aspect of their career.
You work with new artists who need development. That’s the hardest part of a manager’s job. Why do you do it?
If I see talent that I believe in, I’m drawn to them. Yes, development takes time and a lot of work. But, I find it fulfilling. Helping an act find their own sound and niche is rewarding. It’s not about the money—it’s about their art and their career.
What should artists look for in a manager?
They need to find someone who is willing to go to any length to get them what they need and want. They need to find someone who believes in them 100%, because there’s little or no money in the early stages.
Is experience important?
A manager with experience can be helpful and, possibly, make things happen quicker. But, the marketplace has changed—it’s not just about getting signed to a record deal anymore. It’s about having a successful career, which is possible as an independent act. So, working with someone who has knowledge about the market, as well as the business, is important.
What is your focus when working with new artists?
I try to educate them about the business and let them know what they need to do to succeed. It’s a team effort.
What’s the most important aspect of artist development today?
Today, it’s about fan engagement. Working within your social platforms is very important. Fans decide who will make it and who won’t. If you don’t engage your fans and make them part of your project, you may not get what you want.
How about a vision and some sort of plan?
Both are important aspects of development. You should have some idea of what you want and what you need to do to get there in one year, two years, and so on. I like to think long-term. I’m not interested in a 15-minute hit––I want to create a legacy for my artists.
When should an artist look for a manager?
I think the sooner the better, so they can focus on their art. The biggest problem is attracting a manager early in an artist’s career. Not all managers want to take the time to develop an act (NOTE: Typically, it can take two to three years or more).
What’s the hardest part of managing new acts?
The fact that they’re unknown. With new acts, a manager has to be willing to network, make cold calls, and overcome obstacles every step of the way. It’s not easy and it takes time.
What do you look for in an artist?
I look for artistic potential, great songs and a strong work ethic. I only work with acts that are willing to work as hard as I do. Everyone must work together to get things done. •