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   >> article   

Is an Independent Artist Management-Consultant
the Answer to your success?

by Ken Cavalier'

In today’s independent music environment the onus for success is totally on the artist.  It’s basically up to them to do it all --  Music Marketing, P/R, Music Promotion, Music Distribution, etc.,  you name it.  The independent artists must do it all themselves.


Although it’s totally wonderful, and a very good idea to be an active partner in the business end of your music promotion and music career, which after all – is your business, many obstacles could come between you and your success.  These barriers are pretty obvious; 


Ø      Your time is far better spent on the creative end of your career as a performing and recording artist.

Ø      You lack the necessary connections and media relations to propel your career

Ø      You simply are overwhelmed by it all and have no clue where to even begin



Trying to obtain Interest of a Professional Well Connected Management Company


A little history …. 


There was a time in the music business – and I’m going back many years, when it wasn’t as difficult to gain representation from a reputable well connected artist management firm where the typical 20% commission off the top end was standard remuneration for their management services as it is today.  Even in some cases when the artist was not actually bringing in a lot in the way of funds.  Reputable management firms as did Major Record Labels back then, even before the onset of Independent Record Labels, put faith in the idea that if the artist truly had major potential, and they believed in them, they were more willing to spend their time and own money further developing and promoting an artist or a band.  This of course essentially boils down to speculating.  Something a financial investor might do.  Let me be clear – Artist Management Companies are not investors!


In today’s music world with literally hundreds of thousands, and probably millions of independent artists attempting to gain exposure and accelerate their career – all in the same way, at similar talent levels, I would ask you to imagine the enormous kind of competition you are up against.  Speculating with those kinds of odds is just not something a creditable management firm or even a smaller Independent Record Label is willing to do any longer.


Before a label, major or high level Indie, will even consider signing a new artist to any kind of “Record Deal” they will look for and expect nothing less than a fully developed act – one with a huge fan base, major tour history, has created a major media buzz, and has significant Soundscan™ results for selling many thousand units of records.  Same goes for a reputable Artist Management firm where a commission based roster signing applies.  Now of course there’s always your good friend Johnny or Alisa, or your Mom or Dad, who follows the band, and loves you dearly and is willing to be your manager –but let’s get real now – just how far will Johnny, Alisa, or Mom and Dad be able to get you?  You might as well do it yourself.  If you are truly serious about accelerating your music career, and for many of the reasons stated above, you can’t or don’t want to do it yourself, then you need professional representation.


Why a Shorter Term Artist Management/Consultant is a Great Alternative


Hiring a manager consultant can fill the gap and play a major role.  If you manage to find a consultant that is actually a manager with high degree of music business creditability, connections, and experience, and will professionally represent you in all aspects of management with no contractual commitment it could be a very smart move.


Management consultants are becoming an extremely popular method for Indie artists to gain all the benefits of a well connected manager while they are still a bit under developed and not quite ready for roster based management.  A lot of music consultants will work with you on a retainer or hourly basis to accelerate your career. Once they have helped to propel your career to an acceptable level of buzz – some will shift the arrangement to a commission based roster scenario at your request.  So in the earlier stages of an act’s career, an artist with serious potential should seriously consider the artist management consultant path and reap its many benefits. 


Okay here goes the question I’m sure you’ve been asking yourself or possibly even shouting to yourself angrily -- Why on earth should I have to pay for a manager?  That’s B_S_!


 If you can find one that will actually do something for your career – you shouldn’t, the manager should just receive their 20% commission on gross intake.  But, the likelihood of gaining the interest of a creditable – connected firm willing to manage your career at a low or mid level of development, on a strictly commission basis is slim to none, if you have not achieved great success independently and are not making money.  After all, no one – not even an artist manager whose passion is working with and helping artists attain their goals can work for free for very long.  20% of nothing equals nothing. -  Even you as an artist if you are no-doubt out there playing shows for free just to gain the promotional benefits.  I’m pretty sure you don’t want to do that forever.  If you manage to find and work with a select professional consultant that truly has experience, connections, and knows what he or she is doing then the BS your were thinking above may actually turn out to mean B_S_ – short for Brilliant Selection, instead of the proverbially B_S_ definition and much used expression that we all know and love to use.


Please keep this in mind.  An artist manager is not a booking agent – at least not the authentic ones.  They work with booking agents to whom their 15% commission must be paid by the artist.  So if you are looking at a manager strictly to book you gigs, you are viewing the position of a real manager incorrectly.  So if you’re thinking – well if my manager actually gets me good paying shows he will make money on commissions. He’s got to earn it.  Remember what I said – An artist manager is not a booking agent.  The commissions for bookings go to the booker - Unless you want to shell out 15% to an agent and another 20% to your manager.  By having a reliable professional music management consultant working hard on you behalf, and getting results in the advancement of your music career, the modest retainer or consulting fee you pay them will be well earned.  In the long run advancing your career to higher levels,  gaining the attention of reputable booking agents, and where roster/commission based management is feasible is what it’s all about.


By utilizing the services of a music management consultant you are paying for what a music management consultant does, basically the same thing as a manager only there is no contractual commitment on your part.  A consultant will  motivate, counsel, and advise you in every aspect of your career, artist and image development, promottion and marketing, initiates press and media, interviews, film and TV appearances, record label and publishing negotiations,  connects you with music producers, publicists, and attorneys for legal needs, and essentially professionally represents you in all aspects of your entertainment career – with no long term commitment or ownership in the lifetime of your career as an artist.  That is to say that if you are one of the lucky enough artists to make it big – your manager will not get 20% of the first one million dollars you earn.  Wow, that’s a savings of $200,000.00 right there.  From my mouth to God’s ears - Right?


Hiring a short term well connected and experienced artist management/consultant to professionally represent, advise, promote, and market you and your music career in your early to mid stages of development can be a great alternative to the standard commitment of roster based management, which would be next to impossible at the early to mid stages of development anyhow.  If you’re not happy with your manager-consultant’s performance, or you can no longer afford one, then you can simply fire him or her at any time.  You can’t fire a roster based management firm that has an iron clad contract with you.  Engaging the advice of an Indie Artist Coach on an hourly basis may also prove to be beneficial.


The basic idea behind the theory of starting out with an Artist Management Consultant or bringing one on at your mid-level development stage is that they should be able to advise, develop, and promote your music career to the point whereby you’ll be attractive to a reputable roster based  management firm and Record Label.  Or you can change the terms of your temporary agreement with your management consultant and possibly enter into a commitment with the consultant (who should be an artist manager and have serious experience and connections in this area) for commission-based roster management.  The beauty of this possibility is that through your previously non-committed working relationship with your management consultant you have essentially built the foundation of trust, loyalty, and respect, which is crucial in any artist – manager relationship.  Before you sign a 2-4 year management contract (Which is basically like a marriage) you’ll know with peace of mind, exactly how effective your manager will be for you, and the kind of performance you can expect moving forward because it has already been proven.



about the author >>

Ken Cavalier' is a music business coach, author, panelist, consultant, and Artist Manager with over thirty five gruling years of music business experience, performing, recording, managing, producing, and coaching unsigned and signed independent musicians and bands  He is widely considered a major expert in his field. His focus remains the advancement of his Artist's career while building a strong independent foundation for bands and artists at any level of development. 

Ken is the founder of Allure Media Entertainment Group, an artist management & consulting firm for independent and signed artists.  He is also a voting member of The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS - The Grammy Association,  National Conference of Personal Managers (NCOPM), and many other distinguished organizations.  Ken has lectured and authored many informative guides and directories on digital branding, music promotion, and marketing.  His widely popular Tip Sheet "The Unstoppable indie" is published and distributed monthly to thousands of Independent Artists and Bands.  Ken is available for independent artist consultations on an hourly or longer term basis. 


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