Opinion opinion

Published on October 30th, 2012 | by Hugh Hession


Everyone wants artist management, but are you ready for it?

Bands want it and their friends wanna do it. Welcome to the world of artist management; a place where anyone can take on the role and either screw your career, or take it to another level.

One thing is for sure, artist management is one of the least understood roles, especially in today’s music business.

Often, I hear how a certain artist wants to get a manager to “take care of all the business,” so they can focus on the music. C’mon guys. There’s a reason why they call this the music BUSINESS. There tends to be this ongoing paradigm regarding artist management; where artists can live in creative bliss and not have to be worried about the business of the band. I’m here to tell you that you will have difficulty succeeding with this attitude. Both you and your manager have to be in complete agreement about which direction the ship is sailing. This requires you to take an active role in your career. You cannot be detached.

No one works harder than Jon. No one is more involved on every level of his career than Jon. He knows exactly who he is, and has embraced that. –Creative Artists managing partner Rob Light on Jon Bon Jovi

One of the principal roles of an artist manager is to work with you to cast the vision, develop the strategy and execute the plan. A great manager always stays in tune with the vision and keeps the goals in check. However, if you’re unwilling to embrace the plan, disregard advice and remain disengaged, it’s impossible for even the best managers to be effective. If no one is on the same page, how can there be any unity? More importantly, how do you expect to move forward?

Are you manageable?

This may seem like a paradox, but you also have to be willing to loosen up on the reigns and let your manager do their job!  There’s a certain working dynamic involved with the artist/manager relationship that I find is unknown to a good many artists until they’re in the middle of it. Simply put, they don’t know how to be managed. They’re so use to doing everything themselves that instead of using their manager as a valuable advisor, coach and leader, they tend to keep doing things the old way. Why would you continue to do the very things that you hired a manager to help you with? Why would you do the same stuff that doesn’t work? It defies logic.

Which brings me to a valuable point: If you have it all figured out, then what benefit will a manager bring?

For those of you looking for career guidance – if you truly want to secure the services of a legitimate and professional artist manager, then you need to have a clear understanding that to create a successful manager/artist relationship, there has to be a high degree of trust and confidence from BOTH SIDES.

Managers bring varying skillsets to the table. For instance, because of my background in performance and producing, I take a hands-on approach to artist development and A&R. To me, that’s a major benefit that I provide for my clients who need it. However, if they ignore that aspect, then that only shows me they aren’t serious about what it takes to compete on a major level. It also brings up those trust issues we spoke of.

In all fairness, I will mention that it is the job of the manager to also listen intently to their artists and understand their needs, as well as being dedicated and loyal to them.  It’s certainly a two way street and to sustain that trust, both the manager and the artist need to work together for the common goal. As my friend Cappriccieo Scates says, “when you’re clients interests are protected, yours should be as well.”


About the Author

owns and operates Emerging Artists Entertainment Marketing & Consulting, LLC - a company devoted to cultivating aspiring music artists, He is also the head of Hession Entertainment Group, LLC (artist management) and the Music Industry Liaison for the artist discovery site, TalentWatch (www.talentwatch.net). He has over 25 years experience in the music business as a performer, composer, producer and artist manager. Hugh holds a BA in Marketing and is a professional member of NARIP and a voting member of The Recording Academy. He often speaks at seminars and workshops on artist development.

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