What Skills Does A Band Manager Need?

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Toying with the idea of managing a band? Taking the business reins for a musician can be tons of fun, but it can also be a demanding job that requires juggling lots of different tasks at once. The thing that usually scares would-be managers off the block is not really understanding exactly what those tasks will be and what skills and knowledge they will need to get the job done. If you've got a band you think you can help but are concerned that you could be biting off more than you can chew, consider these skills and knowledge needed to manage a band and see if you've got what it takes.

1. People Skills

Band management - especially in the stage where you're trying to break a band - requires a lot of cold calling and pitching for opportunities. You'll have to network, be willing to be persistent when people don't return your calls and generally be comfortable with approaching new people. For some people, that's a piece of cake. Other prefer to stay a bit more behind the scenes. As a manager, you'll have to do a bit of business hustling, so if the thought of calling, say, a promoter again and again and again until they finally hear you out leaves you feeling cold, management may not be your best fit.More »

2. Being The Responsible One

As a manager, you're going to be present for some pretty fun times - including some pretty fun times that can last well into when work is supposed to be going on. It's your job to always stay in control and make sure the work gets done, even if the band is having a wild old time. You need to make sure everyone is up when they need to be, at interviews, shows, soundchecks, load-ins and everything else when they need to be, and you need to make sure that the band gets on the bus when they need to, no matter how much fun their having. To do that, not only will you need to dial back your own good times, but you'll have to be comfortable insisting that grumpy guitarists get out of bed or that party hungry drummers leave the scene of the throw down before they may be ready. It's not as easy as it sounds, so you've got to be prepared to stand your group AND not overindulge yourself.

Remember, as fun as it may seem, every backstage gathering and afterparty is really work for you, so keep in mind that you're on the clock.

3. Music Industry Knowledge

Now, you don't have to feel like you know every in and out of the music industry to manage a band - some of the greatest band managers completely learned the business on the fly - but you should go in with enough knowledge about the music business to know which opportunities to pursue for your artist. Understand the basics, like what a label is and does, what an agent is and does, what promoters do, what PR companies do, and so on - if you understand what the other roles in the industry are and how they relate to you as a manager and to your artist, then you'll be able to formulate the first steps to take for your band. From there, be active in reading about the industry and staying up on trends, and never shy away from asking for explanations, help or advice when needed - be if from a lawyer, mentor or friendly industry face. Take the time to learn the basics before you take on a band, and from there you'll learn the ropes in no time.

4. Multi-Tasking

Most jobs require a bit of juggling, but band management is in a league of its own. This notion is especially true when you're working with a band that is in the early stages of its career and doesn't have a team in place. Once there is an agent handling booking, a label or distributor handling sales, a PR company handling press and radio and so on, you'll be in the position of making sure everyone is communicating and doing their jobs. Before that, you'll be trying to assemble the team while doing all of their jobs yourself. It's hectic, and you can't let any one thing fall by the wayside for too long. For some people, the level of multi-tasking involved in band management is too stressful to make the job appealing. Others thrive on it. The choice is yours.

5. Being Neutral

Bands have disagreements. As their manager, you can't get caught in the middle, even if you have a closer relationship with some members than you do with others. Now, that doesn't mean that you won't help them settle their disagreements and that ultimately those settlements will come down to you taking SOMEONE'S side. However, you need maintain a position where everyone in the band feels like they can come to you with concerns and ideas and that you'll hear them out. If you play favorites, then you'll lose the confidence of some of the artists in the group, which will cause problems within the band and with your business relationship with them.

You'll need a strong ability to keep personal feelings at bay and to distance yourself from the internal political stuff than can sometimes happen in the band so you can keep them all on board with the work you are doing.
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