Personal managers, lawyers, and booking agents can be very instrumental in advancing a recording artist’s career. Assembling the right advisors can often be the difference between success and failure for an artist. Qualities to consider include: Experience, contacts, knowledge, enthusiasm, competence, personality, fees and commissions.
Years ago, talented acts would often be discovered by a record company executive or a producer with strong A&R contacts. The artist would be developed, recorded and then eventually marketed to consumers.
These days, most artists are presented to record company executives through a manager, lawyer, agent, producer, or publisher. By the time they are even heard by an A&R rep, the artist should have already been developed, recorded a demo and created a significant buzz.
Most record companies are now counting on the artist’s advisors to groom, develop and market them long before they offer a deal. This has made the importance of personal managers, lawyers and booking agents greatly increase over the years.
A skilled personal manager can be a tremendous asset to the artist’s career. On the other hand, an incompetent manager can harm the artist.
A manager will often make a great deal of decisions with an artist, or on the artist’s behalf. You need someone who knows the music business inside and out.
The majority of personal managers receive a 15 to 20 percent commission, and their contracts usually last between one and five years. Before signing any contract, make sure that you have an entertainment lawyer review it on your behalf.
When you’re ready for a producer and a recording studio, your manager should help you locate the right people and setting. It is vital that your manager understands your vision, so he or she can find the right producer for the project. If you eventually sign with a record company, your manager should be in regular contact with them on your behalf.
You should look for a manager who has genuine enthusiasm for your career. You also want someone who truly believes in you and understands your artistic vision and direction. Many experienced personal managers are talented negotiators with excellent business skills. Your manager should do everything in his or her power to advance your career, while allowing you the luxury of concentrating on writing, recording, rehearsing and performing.
It’s crucial to have an entertainment lawyer when you need legal advice relating to the music industry. They can help you with career guidance, copyright issues and even your contract-related needs.
If you are given any contract related to the entertainment industry, hire someone to review your paperwork who deals with those issues every day. Entertainment lawyers know what the industry standards are when they review or negotiate for you. They know what deal points and percentages are fair. If someone has no music industry experience because they concentrate on another area of law, they may not know all of the nuances that are found in music-related contracts.
Lawyers are generally paid via one or more of the following ways, including an hourly rate, a flat rate for a specific service or on retainer. I always hear stories of people who signed a contract without the guidance of an attorney “to save a few bucks” and wound up very sorry they made that move. Speak to several people and decide which fee structure and firm is best for your needs.
Many up-and-coming acts cannot find an experienced and competent manager who is willing to work with them. In those situations, an entertainment lawyer can somewhat fill that void and guide the artist’s career.
The booking agent’s primary duty is to secure well paying gigs for you. Some booking agents will also help promote and advertise concerts and personal appearances. You already know the importance of playing live and how it relates to increasing your buzz and income. It’s very important to secure a booking agent who has contacts at the venues in your region so they can get you steady, paying work.
Unsigned acts can perform at a variety of venues including clubs, colleges, festivals, hotels, casinos, restaurants, record stores, book stores and so on. Most booking agents receive a 5 to 10 percent commission for the concerts that they secure for you.
If you are planning a tour, an accomplished booking agent can also help you decide how much money you could expect and what markets would be most receptive to your music.
This article is an edited excerpt from Eugene Foley’s book, Artist Development – A Distinctive Guide To The Music Industry’s Lost Art exclusively for BackstageMusician.Com
Eugene Foley is the Founder & President of Foley Entertainment, Inc., a full service music industry consulting firm and licensed Entertainment Agency. Foley represents artists, labels, managers, producers, songwriters and other industry participants. Clients have earned nearly 40 Gold & Platinum Records & three GRAMMY® Awards for their overall career accomplishments. Foley is the author of two acclaimed music industry educational books and lectures extensively on topics including artist development, marketing and intellectual property. Foley offers a free music evaluation to all unsigned artists.
Visit his Web site at: www.FoleyEntertainment.com