A lot of people will tell you a good Manager will seek you out, instead of you seeking out them. There’s definitely some truth to this, especially if you’re already ticking off all the boxes mentioned above in our rundown of what’ll make you and your band intriguing to industry professionals.
If you’re playing shows regularly, have an active and engaged audience, and are networking within your local music community, you should be on somebody’s radar. But what if you haven’t connected with the right somebody yet?
For starters, you can always try the old-fashioned cold call. Find bands with a similar vibe to your own (but not too similar, obviously) and write a professional, well-thought-out email to their Manager about why you’d be a smart addition to their roster. Another smart idea is to ask for referrals; after all, there’s a lot of truth to the old adage about how “it’s who you know.” Do friends in other bands you know have a Manager they like? Ask if they can introduce you to their Manager.
You could also ask your friends in this band to play a show with you; that way you’ll be able to meet their Manager in person after you’ve already blown him or her away with your awesome stage presence and amazing tunes. Likewise, consider asking this Manager if you can take them out for a coffee or a drink to pick their brain on what they look for in bands or what you can do to make yourself irresistible to potential Managers. This is a subtle way to get in their line of vision without putting too much pressure on the situation.
Although it’s a bit more of a long shot, you could also try to land a gig for your band as a performer at an industry conference. You might slip through the cracks at a large to-do like SXSW, but there are smaller, more focused conferences for music industry professionals taking place in cities across the country, pretty much all the time.
“Smaller” means there’s a greater chance of your band rubbing elbows with these folks, less musical entertainment for them to enjoy (or ignore), and therefore better odds of sticking in someone important’s head.
If you’re reading this forlornly because you’ve realized you’re nowhere near ready to net a strong, well-regarded Manager, there’s still another way to bring someone onto your team in a managerial capacity. Lots of baby bands began their careers with a trusted friend, devoted fan, or up-and-coming wannabe industry pro by their sides. Is there a friend or acquaintance with a head for business who attends all your shows? Is this person trustworthy, reliable, and committed to your band?
Perhaps there’s a college student in a local Music Business degree program who’s itching for some real world experience.
If you want managerial assistance but aren’t quite ready for the big leagues, these types of people are a viable option. Work together and see if they can help you get results, but be aware these relationships may have limitations, especially down the line when your band is attracting more notice but your helpful friend perhaps doesn’t have the equivalent music industry experience to help you advance in the world. If this happens, it’s ok. Most career musicians move up management tiers as their careers progress.
A starter management firm can help you lay the groundwork before you move up to a well-respected boutique firm, and eventually — if you’re one of the lucky ones — graduate to one of the industry’s big-name Managers.