Word of mouth and some research. I think you can find out a lot by looking up the artists that you respect, that you would consider part of your creative world. Who manages them? Look into them. Look at artists who are doing well. Managers are easy to find (our email addresses are listed on the websites of our clients).
Look for a comparable artist. Or if you’re a solo artist, look for a comparable artist who’s achieved some of the milestones you’ve set for yourself in your career. You really wanna play Bonnaroo? Go find a Manager whose client played Bonnaroo last year. If you want to land an Audiotree or Paste Session, all those cool opportunities are out there. You can make them happen on your own, yet it helps to have representation who’s done things like this before and already has those relationships.
Does this person manage artists who achieved some of these milestones? It’s not required, but these are things you might look for. I still think your cousin could be a great Manager, even if she has no experience. If she’s the one in the front row who’s singing every word and knows everything about the music, I respect that. You can’t fake that. You can’t pretend to care about music if you don’t really love it.
If you open up Passman’s book on the music business [All You Need To Know About The Music Business], which is kind of the bible we all use, he nailed it. You want someone with a network. You want someone with a strong work ethic. Yet of course this works both ways. I love the music industry and I love developing artists, but I like to see that the artist is going to work as hard as I work. There has to be a balance there.
I don’t think it’s a requirement that the Manager has some massive list of contacts, like they know all the labels and have friends in editorial at all the DSPs. I think you can still win as a rookie Manager if you just have this real passionate love for the music.
I’ve had to turn down people that are really successful and I had to be honest with them and tell them that their music’s just not my thing. 300 million streams later, sometimes I wonder if should have taken that one for the team, but what can I say…I just wasn’t feeling it! Just because it’s popular on Spotify doesn’t mean I like it. It’s gotta be original for me.
Our motto at Yonas Media is, they’ve gotta have a unique perspective or something unique they bring to the world. So if you look at our roster, everyone is different and combines different music/genres in a way that’s kind of eclectic. I get asked frequently why we have a roster that includes violinist Jeremy Kittel, hip hop duo Los Rakas, alongside Psychedelic Latin Rockers Making Movies. What can I say? That’s my personal taste. I love all of this music and don’t really care what genres they fall into.
I try not to use genres to define my clients or when thinking about music. Max Gomez gets classified as Americana (a genre I never fully understood or identified with). He writes songs and sings in English and he’s crazy talented. I got referred to him by Charles Driebe, who’s a widely respected fellow Atlanta-based Manager–one of the best in the business. Max reached out to Charles looking for management and Charles was nice enough to recommend me. I didn’t even know who Max Gomez was, but I pulled him up on Spotify in shuffle mode, went for a walk, and I was just floored. I was an instant fan and thought…“I could do this. I could build his career.”
Also, I would like to offer some additional advice to those pitching Managers.
Let your music speak for itself. When you write your emails, start with a little bit of gratitude for taking up someone’s valuable time, and don’t do any self-deprecating. That’s always a red flag. Don’t put down your demo or your recording for reasons why it isn’t this way or that way. It doesn’t accomplish anything; it hurts you. Just own it. “Be proud of where you are and what you’ve accomplished”. Even if you’re not, pretend to be proud. For all you know you might blow someone away. Be real. People appreciate that.
You’re asking a complete stranger who manages a famous artist or a more established artist to invest in your career. That’s what management is. We invest our time and resources into our artists. I have a staff of six people, some full-time, some part-time. It all costs money. Despite the pandemic, we’re still here and we’ve been signing artists and growing. It’s a real commitment. It’s a long-term commitment.
If I may add a plug, Yonas Media offers virtual internships (so you can live anywhere). Info here.
Applicants should have an interest in learning more about the music industry through hands-on experience. Interns will gain experience in management, tour marketing, publicity, digital marketing, and social media management and work with one artist on our roster as part of their management team.