The decision to hire a band manager is one of the most important ones you will make. You often hear musicians refer to artist managers as a member of the group, and for good reason. Managers are usually intimately involved in every decision you make as a band, and they have tremendous power to mold the direction of your career. Of course it makes sense to be cautious when you're shopping for management and to do everything you can to make sure you're hiring a manager that shares your professional vision and gets along with your personally. Keep these questions in mind to help you make a good choice.
Who Have You Worked With/Who Are You Working With?The answer to this question will net you lots of valuable information. A manager's past clients are *USUALLY* indicitive of the genre of music they know the best. If their past clients have all been country musicians, and you're an indie rock band, this might be a red flag that although this potential manager may be well connected, most of their connections might be in a genre of music that doesn't match yours. Plus, when you know who a manager has worked with in the past, you can evaluate that musician's career and see if it matches where you're trying to get.
Some managers only work with one act at a time, but other managers may have a few clients. Finding out who they're working with now lets you know if they have time to focus on you.
Who Do You Think Our Audience Is?Does your potential artist manager understand where you're coming from with your music? Where do they think your music fits in? Hopefully, an answer to this question will not only tell you if the manager "gets" your music, but it will also give you some idea where they envision taking your career.
One caveat - although you certainly want to feel like a manager understands how you see your music, keep an open mind about the answer to this question. It's one thing to count out someone who is way off base about your music, but one of the best things about having a manager is getting a new perspective on things. If someone identifies an audience or outlet for your music you hadn't thought of, that could be a very good sign in a new manager.
What Do You Think We Could Accomplish in Six Months?Actually, the time frame isn't as important here as the discussion that this question will spark. This is where you can find out what a manager thinks they can make happen for you and how they will get it done. You'll get an idea of what kind of contacts they have as well as more insight into the direction they think your music career should take.
Do You Have a Standard Contract?Some managers work with standard contract agreements. You should never sign a contract you don't understand, and in almost every instance, you will want to get any management contract with which you are presented checked out by a lawyer. However, you need to know if there is a standard contract your potential manager uses and how open they are to adapting their standard agreement if parts of it don't apply to your circumstances.
If this manager has a standard contract and pressures you to sign it on the spot and without receiving any advice, run. Fast.
How Much Do You Want To Be Paid?There's no getting around the importance of this question! You need to know what kind of percentage a manager wants and if they are expecting a base salary on top of the percentage. This is also when you will find out which revenue streams your potential manager hopes to be a part of. If you can't come to an agreement on the answer to this question, then your management relationship is a no-go.
Are You Listening to Me?OK, you don't have to say this one aloud, but you should definitely be thinking it during your entire meeting with your manager-to-be. Be sure that your ideas are getting through and that the potential manager is interested in working with you rather than telling you how it is going to be. You simply can't be at cross purposes with your manager. You have to trust them with too much of your career. Make sure they are listening to you, and make sure you are listening to your gut feelings. Just because someone was the perfect manager for another musician doesn't make them the best fit for you. Take the time to find your own perfect manager.
By Heather McDonald