Many indie bands struggle with how to shed the “indie” label. Oftentimes, a band member is elected “manager” and is pushed to the limits of trying to juggle work, getting gigs, writing new material, practicing, recording, and balancing the books.
I was at that limit. I was stressed doing everything for my band, Chaser Eight, and at wits’ end. As lead singer, songwriter, and manager, I was getting nowhere fast. Venues and booking agents treated me as just another artist. How did I overcome these challenges? I brought in a manager dedicated to our success; here’s how I did it.
I admit, how I came to find our manager was kismet. Random day on a random train talking to a random guy. But he was cute, intelligent, and had a beer he offered me. And it took two years of us staying in contact and him not only taking an interest in my music but offering a substantial amount of advice (that made sense, and worked) before I asked him to join us as manager. He initially turned us down, but we convinced him it would be the greatest move of his life. He had everything we were looking for, and more:
- Entrepreneurial Ability: You may want someone with limited music experience, but you DO NOT want someone that does not have experience in business. Your music is a business. You should have a balance sheet, a marketing plan, and a product (music!) roadmap. If you can’t entrust your business, your life to someone else, or, most importantly, you can, and they can’t handle it, you’re a cement letter in alphabet soup. Sunk! Find someone with great, successful, business experience. For us, I found us someone who has started and sold multiple businesses successfully and is someone that I trust implicitly.
- Natural Leadership: You need a born leader. You need someone that can communicate with multiple types of people (booking agents, the media, other musicians, you), with ease, and can also be accessible to you when you need them. Many people we vetted didn’t pass this test; you want someone that you’re comfortable spending 100% of your time with. Because you will. You will spend more time (or should spend more time) with this person than anyone else.
- Connections: You want someone who has connections and can make new ones. That’s the most important part. You will constantly meet new people. You need to be able to capitalize on those connections. It’s much better to call on a venue, or talk to a booking agent, as a band with a manager, and to have that call come from the manager. To know that you’ve invested 20% of your top line of your business to someone, that gives you tremendous credibility. NOTE: Don’t fake it to make it here. Don’t have your brother pretend to be your manager. People can sniff out fake managers miles away. You want to have someone that’s legitimately invested in your success.
- Marketing Savvy: It’s all marketing! Your site, your social media pages, your brand, your set list, your show. It’s all marketing. You need someone that can objectively review what you’re doing for each show, voice their opinion, and have it improve your product. That takes huge skills and salesmanship. Most of us musicians don’t like being told what to do or how to do it. You need someone, like we have, that can get us to where we want to be, and more.
- Willingness to Learn: I really don’t place much stock in the belief you want just someone with connections, or is “in the industry.” You want someone who wants to learn something new every day. We do, why shouldn’t our manager? He’s injected himself into every single aspect of our business, and manages it better than I ever could. And, most importantly, it’s freed me up to explore my music, not my balance sheet (at least, not every minute). We review all business matters constantly, but I’m able now to create, not react. What a tremendous feeling.
Find someone that meets the above criteria. You won’t be led astray.
Keep up with how Chaser Eight is growing their career at: http://chasereight.com