Artists often need someone to take care of the business side of their work. A manager, sometimes called a “business partner”, can help them bring in more income by getting them more exposure and negotiating better deals with venues and labels.
So, you want to succeed as a musician, and you keep hearing that you should get a manager. However, this manager wants to take 15%-20% of your income!
In this article I’ll go through what music managers do, why it’s actually reasonable to share your royalties & income with them, and what are the normal rates you should expect to pay your music manager.
What is a Music Manager & Why Do They Get Royalties?
A music manager does many different things for their artists. They help them plan tours, coordinate press, and book concerts. They also help with publicity and marketing to get the artist’s name out there.
A music manager is the go-to person for all things related to an artist’s career in the music industry. With a good music manager, an artist can feel confident that they are on the right track towards success.
A good music manager will make sure that an artist feels confident in their decisions while still pushing them to be better than they were before.
Why Do Music Managers Get Royalties?
A music manager is the number one factor to an artist’s success besides his/her music. Therefore, it’s reasonable to share some of the success with the person who promotes it that much. In fact, music managers are now more important than ever since the music industry has changed so much lately.
The traditional way of being a musician was you write songs, record them, release them to the public, and then hope that they sell well. But that is no longer the case.
There are so many new ways for people to consume music these days – Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, Live Concerts, Radio, Public Places (e.g Bars, Parties, etc..) so you need someone to take care of each one of these platforms and make sure that everything is optimized for success.
These days, managers are also taking on social media tasks like promoting artists’ social media accounts or managing their online presences. They may even source new opportunities for the artist to make money by collaborating with other brands.
These parts of the business are easier to do on your own when you’re a beginner musician, but as you grow more of an audience, and have way more things to take care of, you’ll need someone to take care of the business part for you, so you can take care of making music.
What Percentage Of Royalties Do Music Managers Get?
Most music managers get 10% – 20% of the artist’s income. Regardless of all the different type of royalties, the taxes the artist has to pay, and other expenses that the artist has such as marketing, music producers, mixing engineers, etc.
The music manager gets his cut off of what the artist makes from all sources, regardless of his/her expenses, as opposed to mixing engineers, or music producers for example, who usually get a one time payment and or a cut from the royalties of the song they’ve worked on only.
To see the how you should pay your music producer, and whether they deserve royalties or not take a look at this article that I’ve written where I explain everything there is to know about music producers payments and royalties. Check out this article to see how you should pay your mixing engineers.
You should know that music managers usually also get a cut even from income sources that the artist has made before working with them. This may seem really odd, and it is a little strange. However, think of this way: a good manager will take the old songs of an artist and make them do better for the artist as well. Therefore, it does make some sense.
Sometimes, the manger also funds the artist’s business expenses such as studio time, marketing expenses, etc. In such cases the manager’s cut is much larger – it starts from 50% and can go up to 70% or more sometimes. It depends on the level of investment the manager has to put in. The larger the investment, the bigger the cut.
Do Music Managers Fund The Expenses Of Artists
Music managers sometimes pay for the artist’s expenses such as studio time and marketing expenses.
Sounds like a dream right? Well, it’s not as good as it sounds. If your music manager funds your expenses you should expect his cut percentage to be much higher.
Managers who fund the artist usually take a cut that starts from 50%, and depending on the level of investment they put in, it can go up to 70% or more sometimes.
What Extra Expenses Should An Artist Pay To His / Her Manager
The artist usually only pays for the expenses that are related directly to him. For example, artists usually pay for their marketing expenses and studio time on their own. However, artists won’t pay for the manager’s personal business expenses such as rent for the office, or secretary.
All those things as well as others should be explicitly written and agreed in the contract between the manager and the artist. Otherwise, you’ll always find yourself arguing, and both of you will feel deceived, and unhappy.
Even if your manager is your friend, make sure that you get a formal contract, that you’re both happy with and agree on. Of course, things might change with time, but this will give you a great ground to building a good manager-artist relationship.
It is absolutely fine and even recommended to test the water first and work with the manager a little before you start working together so you can make sure that you get along, and that he / she really help you promote yourself. But, after you feel sure about a manager, it’s really recommended to get the contract done.
How Should An Artist-Manager Contract Look Like?
A contract is a vital element in a good artist-manager relationship. It should be clear and concise. It should also be written in a way that emphasizes the importance of transparency and trust between both sides.
The contract should be written in a way that is understandable for both parties.
There are many obligations for both the artist and the manager, so it is important to have a contract that outlines what each party needs to do. If there are any discrepancies, the contract can be renegotiated to better suit both parties’ needs.
It should also specify what is the manager’s cut percentage, what expenses are on the manager’s side, and what expenses are on the artist’s side. And other important things such as what happens in case one of the sides wants to end the relationship, and what happens if the artist gets a record deal.
This way, everyone is aware of what they can expect from this partnership, and there is a safety net that makes sure that everyone are happy, and can get you through hard times.
Is A Record Label A Replacement For A Manager?
A Record Label is not a replacement for a musical manager. Record Labels are in charge of the promotion and marketing of the artist’s music in order to get more listeners. A Record Label will also ensure that the artist can get royalties when their creations are used by other artists or companies.
However, a record label takes care of everything in a wide level. Meaning that it usually won’t take care of personal things like making connections for the artist, and booking shows for him.
Sometimes the record label of an artist will assign a personal musical manager for the artist on their behalf, that way they can probably get a better deal with him / her, and make the artist more successful.
However, you’d usually want to separate your manager from your record label, as you wouldn’t want a dissonance with one to affect the other.
A manager might actually really help you negotiate and get a better deal with a record label, therefore, it’s almost always a good thing to get both and keep them separate.
When Is It A Good Time To Get A Manager?
Getting a manager is one of the most important decision an artist has to make. It can make or break an artist’s career. However, when is it the right time to make this decision?
Generally, a good time to get a manager would be once you see some success, and you’re unable to take care of the business side of your music on your own. Until then, you should probably work on your own, and grow you brand a little more.
If you get a manager too early he / she might take advantage of your situation and close a very bad deal with you (not for them of course).
Don’t forget that a manager also takes 10% – 15% of your income! The longer you can avoid that while still maximizing your income the better.
There are a lot of tasks that artists have to manage themselves. This includes handling their own social media campaigns, booking tours, and promoting their music.
An artist manager can help them with these tasks by providing resources and connections to other managers or agents in the industry. They also make sure that artists are making the most money for all of their work.
However, you probably shouldn’t get a manager until you know that treating the business side of things is bothering you maximizing your income.
Thanks for reading the article, I wish you all the best luck in the future of your music career!
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