Originally posted at Grassrootsy.
THE ARTIST: Jazz Garcelle (Pittsburgh, PA)
THE QUESTION: Hello. How do I know if I’m ready for management? I feel like I’ve come to a point in my music career that I need management to get further. I’ve performed at a number of venues, gotten paid gigs, I’m working to form my own band, I just got back to recording. How do you suggest I approach a management/PR company? I’d want to be with a company that does most things I’d need. Thanks.
THE ANSWER: Hi Jazz, thanks for the question! This is a super important question that any artist who has been in the game long enough will ask at some point or another. The first thing any management company will want to know is “What is Your Market Value?” Here are some guidelines to help you answer that question and determine if you need management.
1. How often are you playing out?
The average self-managed independent working artist plays anywhere from 75 to 150 gigs a year—just an estimation, but a fairly accurate one. Are you actively building your audience and fanbase by playing regular gigs? When a management company visits your calendar, will they see a list of upcoming shows? A manager wants to work with an artist that is already out there hustling, representing themselves and playing out as regularly as possible—an artist that is on (and in) the market.
2. Are you overwhelmed?
Are you at a place in your career where you can no longer handle the amount of incoming booking requests? If your inbox is overflowing with booking requests and media opportunities, and you simply cannot handle the workload on your own, you need a manager. If you’re often receiving incoming requests that you feel you can’t respond to, because they are high-profile or because you think someone else could better negotiate a booking fee, then a manager could be the next step.
While numbers don’t matter by themselves, they are a great indication of how much support you have from your fans. They show that you are growing.
3. How large is your social media following?
I’ve always hated this question, but it’s one of the most important ones on this list. If you have somewhere between 4-10K followers on Facebook, this is a very good indication that you need a manager. While numbers don’t matter by themselves, they are a great indication of how much support you have from your fans. They show that you are growing, and that bringing someone on board makes sense because they have an audience to build off of. Has your audience grown? Very important question.
4. How big is your newsletter?
This question is just as important as the last. Assuming you are playing out regularly and collecting the email addresses of your fans for direct-to-fan marketing, your newsletter will be a highly essential piece of the Management puzzle. As mentioned above, management companies want to know how many fans you have, how they can build on that, and how they can capitalize on your already existing ”true blue” fans (See 5 Tips For Making True Blue Fans). I can’t tell you what the magic number is, but it’s all dependent on how long you’ve been performing. If you’ve been in game for several years, you should have a few thousand people on that list.
Your artwork should look as professional as you want to be perceived.
5. How strong is your content?
Professional photography? Great web content like event artwork and YouTube videos? With how over-saturated the market is, your content has gotta be sharp and professional in order to stand out. Promo shots or videos that you shot with your cell phone don’t count. Your artwork should look as professional as you want to be perceived. Your media has to be at a place where you’re putting your best foot forward so that any management that represents you feels like they have quality material to push in order for you to get ahead.
6. Are you full-time?
To be honest, living as a full-time musician is not a stipulation for having management, but it’s helpful on many levels. First, a manager wants to know that you’re all in. If he/she is going to invest their time into furthering your career, they want to know that you are in it for the long haul. Living as an artist is proof. Second, a manager wants to work with an artist who is available to take the opportunities they set up. Job flexibility is a must. Third, if a manager is making 10% (industry standard minimum) of your income, you need to be pulling in a decent chunk of change in order for them to want to take you on. See What Exactly Does a Full-Time Artist Do All Day? An Interview with Nelly’s Echo.
How To Approach A Management Company
The over-arching question of this whole post is: Are you marketable? If you’re not already burning the midnight oil on your own, it may take a while to find someone who will be willing to burn the midnight oil for you. There are just too many artists out there. With all the competition, a manager wants to work with someone who has already broken a little ground.
As to your second question, “How do you suggest I approach a management/PR company?” remember: Management companies don’t typically receive unsolicited management requests from individuals. These opportunities usually come via a back door (friend of a friend in the business or opening up for a similar artist on tour). But we highly suggest approaching an individual person—i.e. a friend or relative with a salesperson go-getter type personality who has a knack for administration, organization, and leadership. Ask them to help you get it it all together. If they do it, they’ll do it because they know you, care about you, and want you to succeed. They’ll care less about the money and be able to work with you to do what you want, instead of trying to fit you into the mold of what they expect. Management companies can be bossy and controlling, after all.
Okay, we seriously hope this post has helped you. If any readers have added contributions, please add them to the comment section below.