What Makes A Great Artist Manager?
Finding a manager is a tough feat for an independent artist, heck is it even worth getting one? In this day and age if you’re clever enough you could potentially build your music career all without a manager. At the same time, a great manager brings a lot to the table. They could connect you with just the right person which could potentially speed up your whole career. Just like anything in life there are pro’s and con’s. Fortunately, I got to sit down with one of the best managers out there to get his take on management.
Kwame Kwaten has done it all. Musician, record producer, consultant and now a manager. He currently looks after a number of different artists from Laura Mvuala to Shannon Saunders. He’s created his own management company, ‘Ferocious Talent’ and it’s been growing from strength to strength.
I had a chat with him and we talked about a number of different topics, we looked backed at his illustrious music career, the ever changing face of the music industry and where to find the right managers. You can listen to the full interview below.
So where do you even find a decent manager? Kwame mentioned a great website in the Music Manager Forum, there is a big network of aspiring and established managers here and it could be a great starting point. There are artist management companies everywhere and they’re so easy to find, finding a diamond in the rough is what makes it hard. I asked Kwame what qualities are needed in order to make a great manager.
Look For People Who Understand Your Music
Kwame joked, "Don’t hire your friends and don’t get your family involved". Although he was joking, there is a lot of truth to that statement. Just because your friends and family support you in what you do, that doesn’t mean they understand your music, there is a clear difference. Having friends and family members involved in your career can get a bit messy, especially if they start managing you. You need to make sure that you’re both on the same level, and unless they have a lot of experience to offer I wouldn’t get them involved in the first place.
It's Not A 9-5 Job
Your manager needs to be able to go above and beyond for you, they need to hustle just as hard as you do, not just between working hours. They should be just as passionate about your music as you are, it’s their job to get your music heard and they should be promoting you as much as possible. They should be getting you wins in areas you wouldn’t expect it.
Can They Adapt?
Kwame mentioned something interesting, “The music game changes the whole time, it’s like a rubix cube which has colours changing every time”. Adaptability is really important in the music industry, Beats & Spotify weren’t even around 3-5 years ago. If your manager can’t keep up with the ever changing face of the music industry maybe it’s time to move on. Kwame said it best, “Adapt or die”.
Your manager should be open to other options. Yes you can take the traditional route in a certain project, however that doesn’t mean there are other available (even more creative) options that is worth exploring.
Disagreements Aren't A Bad Thing
Both you and your manager will get into some disagreements along the way, this is not the first sign to get up and run. Disagreements happen, you should both be able to rationalise and solve the task in hand. In a way it is sometimes good that managers don’t agree, you don’t want someone agreeing with you all the time just to please you and avoid any confrontations. They may disagree in order to push you out of your comfortable zone, to allow you to flourish as an artist.
In any career experience is everything, I know I would personally take experience over any certificate of accomplishment. An inexperienced manager will make mistakes. If you’re deciding on taking on a manager to help further your career, surely you’d want someone who knows what they’re doing because they’ve done this before. You don’t want them to fold at the first sign of failure, an experienced manager will understand the situation and be able to act accordingly.
An Extension Of Your Brand
These managers are representing you, in a sense they are an ambassador to your artistry. When they’re out there promoting you, they need to be representing you the right way. When they walk into a room they need to be able to know when to blend, stick out, be quiet and give their opinions all the right time. This is a difficult quality to master, but it’s an essential skill to have especially when networking in the music industry.
These are but a handful of characteristics that Kwame outlined during the interview. If you’re interested in everything else we talked about, you can listen to the full interview here.
Keep these characteristics in mind when looking for a manager to represent you, if your current manager doesn’t have all of the characteristics it doesn’t mean you should ditch them at the first chance. However if they don’t have any at all, maybe it’s something you should start thinking about.
Perhaps you’re an independent artist who is not looking for a manager to represent you, maybe you want to be able to do it all by yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you think it’s getting too much and you need some help, be careful with who you bring into your team. I’ve heard many stories where it didn’t work out with management and the artist, it ended in a bitter way and both parties had to pay for it. This could be avoided if you know what you want in a manager. If you do your research on them, ask around and get some more information on them before you commit to anything on paper, you could find a manager that’ll be right for your career.
Did Kwame miss out on any other characteristics that make a great manager? Do you disagree with any of the qualities that were mentioned above? Why not share your thoughts on this article and comment below.