I’ve worked with hundreds of acts both big and small. The ones who do get popular and have a lasting career are the ones who take part in many of the decisions about their music. The musicians make the decisions with their manager. While there are a few genius managers who have ordered around some dummy musicians, that is the exception–not the rule. Usually, the musicians are just as involved with the decisions in their career as the manager is. The more you know about the business, the better you’re able to help make good decisions that help your fanbase grow and allow you to make a living out of your music. Knowing what you’re talking about in these discussions and being educated in the business will help your career last.
Begging Takes More Time Than Doing – All the time you spend stuffing envelopes, sending emails and begging someone to manage you could be much better spent by building yourself a following and attracting a strong management team. No manager is ever impressed by a group that begs and always annoys him to manage them. They’re impressed when you make progress happen without their help.
Avoid The Lame – Many managers who are willing to take on musicians in their early days are not worth signing away your dreams with. These are the “professionals” who throw a lot of crap (musicians they only half-heartedly believe in) at the wall and see if anything sticks and catches on. Even worse, it could be a manager who does little to no work. This is detrimental to your progress since you assume someone is taking care of business for you when they’re not. If you think of your music like a stock, the more passionate fans you have, the higher your stock’s value is. When something has value, more people want to be a part of it. If your stock soars, you’ll have many great managers and other team members trying to work with you. This allows you to make a great choice instead of going for the only lame candidate willing to take you on at the get-go.
Day-To-Day Duties – Even when you get a great manager with a powerful staff, it helps to be able to handle the day-to-day duties on your own. There’s less money to split when you don’t need to hire someone to do dumb tasks like update your Twitter feed or post your tour dates. If you’re able to handle many of the small duties your manager has on their plate, your manager will have more time to concentrate on bigger moves to help build your fanbase. Instead of micromanaging your drummer, showing up at practice and lecturing your bassist on getting lessons, they can spend that time talking to someone about a great tour for you.
Scam-Proof – A lot of musicians worry about getting ripped off and scammed in this business. If you know the business and are an active part of the decisions for your music, there’s less of a chance for you to get taken advantage of. If you’re able to manage your own tours, you’ll understand the finances behind everything. As these tours get bigger, you’ll more clearly see where the waste and fraud happens. In today’s music business, you need to always optimize finances in order to maintain a livable profit. In the end, no one will ever care about your share of the profits and your dreams coming true as much as you do. Learn the basics and you’ll be able to help make sure both of these goals are more obtainable.
Making Better Decisions – Smart musicians have lasting careers. Though a lot of your favorite bands may appear to be vacuous party animals buried in groupies, there’s often a quiet genius musician involved, concentrating on what’s best to grow a fanbase. If you’re able to take part in the decisions made for your music and have an educated opinion on them, you’ll be confident you’re making good decisions in your life, instead of hoping someone else is making them for you.
Paying Your Dues – While this is one of the worst cliches of the music business (and boy are there many),other musicians respect their peers who do it themselves–and the more musicians respect you, the easier it is to get ahead. Musicians don’t like when others “have everything handed to them” and won’t want to help them. If you’re seen as one of those musicians, it may set you back a bit.