Your band is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Your pay-to-play days are behind you. The clubs are getting better. The gigs are starting to pay a bit of money.
You no longer have the time or energy to book gigs, negotiate with club managers, keep the band rocking, and still make great music. You need a manager. But what do you need to know? What does your manager need to know? How do you keep from either getting ripped off or, just as bad, hiring a manager that’s incompetent?
Here are few pointers:
- Use your own lawyer. The management lawyer works for the manager, not for you. You are about to enter into what may be the most important business relationship of your life. Don’t do it blindfolded. Get independent legal advice (ILA). Never sign anything that says you declined the ILA. Get the advice. Follow it.
- Never hire a manager that wants up-front payment from the band. Your manager should make money when your band makes money, not by taking money from his client’s pockets before it’s been made.
- Look hard at the proposed commission rate. Typical commissions are 15-20%. There’s nothing wrong with paying a higher rate, if the management is offering something worthwhile in return. Brian Epstein charged the Beatles 25%! But he offered them the security of paying them a guaranteed salary in their early days. You don’t want to get “robbed”, but there is more than way to rob a band. A low commission rate is no bargain if your manager doesn’t get you any gigs, and your contract prevents you from signing with someone else.
- Don’t lock yourself in to a bad contract. The manager will expect something from you. You have a right to expect something in return. Make sure you have an “out”. An initial time period, like a year. Or performance goals, like a minimum number of paid gigs and recordings, or a minimum gross income.
- Make sure your commission pays for management services, not just your manager’s “take”. Some services that you should expect as “fully included” are:
– Negotiating on behalf of the band
– Booking gigs
– Music videos
– Public relations, marketing, and advertising
– All administration tasks
- See item number one! Good ILA up front will be your best defense against bad news from items 2 through 5.
BTW: I offer independent legal advice.
Making Sense Of Music Contracts
Artist Management Contracts (Songrights.com)
Sample Contracts (links to several)