It’s not groundbreaking news that the music business is changing. The music business has been in a state of flux for the past seven or eight years. The biggest thing now is that artists no longer feel the need to rely on external forces to create and promote their products on the market. DIY is bigger than ever and not even the DIY punk movements can rival an uprising of this magnitude. While I strongly advocate artists writing and structuring their own material, finding an image that comfortably works for them, and targeting the right audiences with their works; overall, I feel many artists still need to rely on some of the external forces that helped to build the music industry in the first place. One of those major forces is management.
The basic premise behind any manager is simple. A manager is someone who provides practical advice and positive direction for the group. Over the years, the title manager has evolved into something sullied and unclean. Managers may be viewed as soul-less and mechanical human beings whose sole purpose is to provide a fat Rolodex for the band. While some artists may feel they just need managers for their networking skills and contacts, I feel the artist-manager relationship should delve much deeper and into something more significant.
Artists need managers – let’s face it; we are our biggest enemies, especially when it comes to group scenarios. On a daily basis, music groups create more tension and friction internally than any slick-talking record exec, pr person, or anyone outside the group could create for them. We are our own enemies and largely responsible for our own failures. I can’t express how many times I’ve heard band members chime in and say we’re going to make it the top, but in their actions refuse to create a brand or a signature sound that will differentiate them from the crowd. Too many musicians refuse to see the music business for what it is, a business.
Often times, groups become subject to the classic groupthink syndrome and fail to evaluate and understand outside perspectives and angles. Managers can and should provide an observer’s perspective.
A manager’s number one responsibility should be to be to mobilize the team. On top of that, managers need to be able to execute insightful and strategic game plans for the groups they manage and keep those members abreast of everything happening within the organization. The manager acts as the glue of the group, keeping people bonded and motivated, but they should also distance themselves at times so as to always keep their outside observer’s perspective intact.
Music groups need coaches and instructors just like sports teams or any other team. The manager’s job is to provide strong leadership and direction within the group; band members should trust this individual and not fight against them.
Nonetheless, it is still very important that musicians are astute and hard-boiled when picking their managers. If you lay in bed with a wolf every night, expect to be bitten.
As the music business evolves; musicians will continue to experiment with new DIY marketing tactics, engage listeners in their social media lab experiments and in general, try to grasp at the what the heck is going on. While all of this happens, the manager or at least a trusted consultant should be at the core of the team, working to further the group’s career as much If not more than the group members.