Read This Before Signing An Artist Management Deal
Perhaps the most important agreement you will sign in your career is a Management Agreement. Managers have never played a more important role in the music industry than they do today, and your manager will likely have a greater impact on your career than any other person on your team. Why? Because they are involved in every single aspect of your career, from touring to releasing records to publishing. Your manager is the person who coordinates things between your record label, publicist, booking agent, publisher, and promoters. They are the quarter-backs of your music career, and if you are ready to take the next step, you probably need one.
Here are the principles you should familiarize yourself with before signing with a manager:
1. Do Some Research.
If this is going to be the most important person in your music career, do some reconnaissance. What experience do they have? How many other bands are they managing? How much time will they have to dedicate to your career? What connections can they bring to the table? Half of what you’re paying for is connections, and that goes for anyone on your team.
2. If You’re Not Making Money, Neither Should They.
Managers make a commission on revenues you earn. If you don’t earn any revenues in a given period, neither should they. If your potential manager is asking for a weekly/monthly/ yearly fee, that is a definite red flag.
3. The Shorter The Term, The Better.
Almost all management deals come with an initial term, followed by one or more option periods. The shorter the term, the better for you as an artist. If things are going great, you can always sign another agreement to extend the relationship. But if your manager isn’t living up to your expectations, you’ll be able to cut ties sooner and find a better fit.
4. Beware The Sunset Clause.
Related to the length of the term is the length of the post-term, known as the “sunset period.” is is the period following the term where commissions are still payable to the manager, from contracts that he/she negotiated during the term. As with the term, the shorter the better, and the sunset commissions should decline over time.
5. Know How Much Is Being Commissioned.
Manager commissions are typically between 15 and 20 percent of their artist’s gross income. Whether it’s 15 percent or 20 percent really depends on the level of the band and the bargaining power of each party.
6. Know What Is Commissioned.
Knowing what is commissioned is as important as how much is commissioned. Certain funds you receive should be excluded from your manager’s commission, such as money received from your label to make music videos or record an album, money received as tour support, and so on.
7. Don’t Take Advice From The Manager’s Lawyer. Ever.
This might seem obvious, but it happens more often than you’d think, and would be totally unacceptable anywhere else besides the music industry. If your manager doesn’t want you to obtain legal advice on the contract, consider it a major red flag. This could be the most important contract you sign in your career, so get proper legal advice.
The most important thing to consider before working with a manager: What does your gut instinct say about the person? That is as significant as any legal clause, and is where you should begin. All the negotiating in the world won’t leave you with someone you enjoy working with on a daily basis. Once that box has been checked, take the contract to an experienced entertainment lawyer, and create a deal that opens doors for you rather than closing them.