💡✍️ ADN: 012 - The Right Manager

Feb 12, 2023

Hey Friends -

Welcome to the Artist Development Newsletter.

Every Sunday, I send an email providing actionable tips for artists and industry on one area of the music business.

Last week we talked about 5 lessons from a festival headliner.

You can re-read last week’s newsletter here if you want to refresh.

Today we will discuss how to find the right manager.

Let’s jump in.


Finding the right manager is hard.

It’s also one of the most important decisions you’ll make as an artist.

Get it right, and almost anything is possible.

Get it wrong, and no matter how good you (the artist) are, there will always be “what ifs.”

Today we will talk about how you will know if you have found the right manager and what to look for while trying to.

Let’s jump into it.

Creative Business

The creative process doesn’t stop after a song or album has been written or recorded.

Creativity is a part of marketing, art, touring, merchandise, press, and every other area in your song or album planning and career.

The best managers can take an artist’s creative vision and spread it across their business to draw fans into the project.

A great manager marries creativity and business.

Creative business is the best kind of business.

To release his Mr. Misunderstood album, Eric Church and his manager, John Peets, crafted a plan to announce the album with commercials during the CMA awards (which Eric was also performing on) and to have the album released that night at midnight.

At the same time, they delivered copies of the album to Eric’s fan club, The Church Choir.

It was a stroke of genius.

They marketed the album to a large television audience while giving his die-hard fans the album before anyone else.

The plan brought the album to the top of the charts, and cemented Eric’s place as an artist doing things his own way.

That is creative business at its best.

Opportunity Eagle

The right manager acts like an eagle, rising above the fray to look for opportunities.

Managers must keep tabs on releases, tours, trends, and technology.

They should always look for the next best idea they can bring to the table for their artist.

Outbound outreach leads to inbound opportunities, which is the core of a manager’s job.

An experienced manager should have a trusted network of contacts that can help their artist get the best deals and most efficient paths to success.

Audience First

The right manager will always help an artist put their audience first.

They know that loyal fans will make their artist and (in turn) them successful.

Every decision has fans in mind.

No decision is too small.

Imagine you are making a T-shirt.

What materials, sizes, and colors are you offering?

The answer isn’t always the shirt where you make the most profit per unit.

The answer is the shirt most of your fans want to buy.

More happy fans = more $ in your pocket.

More fans wearing your awesome t-shirt means more people advertising your name and music.

The right manager super serves and always puts the audience first.

Resourceful Reach

The right manager should always be one step ahead of any situation.

They need to be able to think on their feet and come up with creative solutions when the unexpected happens.

  • Vans break down
  • Artwork changes
  • Shows get canceled
  • Artists get sick

Good managers make it their mission to ensure that their artist has access to the resources necessary to succeed.

They keep their finger on the pulse of the industry and anticipate changes so their artist can prepare.

Accountability Partner

An artist needs a manager they can depend on and trust.

Accountability is essential to an artist’s success.

Managers should be accountable for their actions, as well as their artists’.

They should have the courage to take ownership of failures and be honest with their artist when they’ve made a mistake or think their artist is making a mistake.

An artist’s manager must organize priorities and be prompt in communication.

They should be able to provide the artist with a timeline of the actions they’re taking and be able to deliver on their promises.

Ultimately, a good manager should be responsible for their efforts’ outcomes and advocate for their artist every step along the way.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

The right manager is like having the right quarterback for your football team.

It isn’t a one size fits all position.

There is nuance.

Some artists have a strong creative vision and need more business sense.

Some artists have a strong business sense but need help to figure out how they want to present their music creatively.

Some are somewhere in between.

To find the right manager, you (the artist) must be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.

Try The SWOT Framework:

Using the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) framework is a great way to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

This framework can help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses by looking at four key areas:

  • Strengths: What are your key strengths and capabilities?
  • Weaknesses: What areas do you need to improve or develop?
  • Opportunities: What new opportunities do you want to create and maximize?
  • Threats: What potential risks or challenges do you face in your career?

You can better understand your strengths and weaknesses by looking at each of these areas.

Then, you can identify and create an actionable list of qualities you are looking for when finding the right manager to match your SWOT.

To summarize, the right manager won’t be the same for everyone, but these (5) qualities are in all the best managers.

  • A creative business sense
  • Opportunity Eagle
  • Audience first mentality
  • Resourceful reach
  • Accountability for actions

Picking the right manager isn’t a decision that you should take lightly.

I hope these principles help you on your path to finding the right manager for your career.

See you next Sunday!

Neil Mason

Artist Development


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