Here is a truth that is perhaps unpopular to speak but is, of course, extremely accurate: Being in a band basically means owning a small business. You have finances, you have marketing, and you have the understanding that in addition to making great music, you hope to drum up a little bit of cash, as well. Unfortunately, musicians, like a lot of creative entrepreneurs, aren’t always super-confident in their ability to take care of the nitty-gritty elements of business ownership.
“Sometimes, there’s a pretty big jump in taking something that’s very artistic and building it into a business,” says Mike Mowery of Outerloop Management — which is what managers are for. But what does managing a band actually entail? And what can you reasonably expect from your manager?
Mike, who has spent years helping over 100 artists grow their businesses by developing their brands, says establishing the perfect touring schedule, and helping them land interviews and other crucial marketing events. And even he admits that defining a band manager’s exact job description is difficult.
“The job description for a manager is actually one of the hardest things to describe in the business,” he explains, because the position is “so robust.”
“A manager’s roll is typically not the label, not a booking agent, not the attorney, not a publicist, or any of the other members of the team,” says Mike. Essnetially, the manager acts as a CEO, ensuring the members of the team — including the press, label, etc — are all working together. But being a manager can get a little complicated, and there’s a lot to managing a band that you might not even realize, like the following tips from Mike:
Managers’ roles are always growing. “As the music industry continues to change, more and more responsibilities fall into the manager’s, or the management team’s, lap,” Mike explains. Everything from social media management to ensuring that a music video hits YouTube on the right day can fall to the manager — it’s really just about whatever needs to be done.
They’re a fan. Mike says one of the best ways he finds bands to represent is simply by finding bands that he loves, or artists that he loves individually.
“I consider it a win-win when I love both the artist and the music,” he says. Being a fan of the music helps Mike really understand not just what the band is about, but also get a better feel for the fan base, and makes the job more fun.
“I have to believe in the music and the people,” he says.
They like it when you’re green. Sure, managers would love to represent established bands that have been around forever, but Mike says there’s a lot of fun challenges to representing an artist who’s just on their way up. “Oftentimes, they have no infrastructure, so we can be a lot more maleable with our plans…As a manager, I like it that I get to build the team around the band from the ground floor, up.” Developing artists also have fresh ideas, which Mike loves to use for growth.
They really do care about your dream. There are plenty of horror stories of unscrupulous managers who don’t seem to have their bands’ best interest in mind, but Mike says those tales are the exception, not the rule.
“Balancing artistic integrity with the overall business needs of the band is what leads to the successful relationship between an artist and a manager.”
See more of this interview from Mike on CreativeLive’s YouTube channel.