At least once a day, I get an email from someone asking me to manage their band. Is it because I am a great manager? Doubtful. The reality is that there are a lot of artists out there but a very small amount of working managers. It is a supply and demand problem.
I’ve never once signed a band who sent me unsolicited email. I listen to everything, though, and there are some real gems. But I care less about the music than I do about the people.
Management is stressful. Many days it is a pain in the butt. I easily work 80 hour weeks. If I don’t L O V E the people I work with, it’s not worth the investment. If I spent 80 hours a week on Wall Street I’d be retired by now. I do this job because I like the people and I respect their art.
This chain is attached to a big wad of money (that is obviously not connected to the music industry).
I believe when a hard working band is doing something right, people will notice. Generally my #1 piece of advice to a new band is: pick one metric, and focus on it. If your live show is amazing, sell a lot of tickets and let the promoters talk. If you have an interesting personality get your YouTube views up. Don’t try to do everything. Know your strengths.
I won’t say that sending email to people you’ve never met is a waste of time, but it probably is. Most managers want to see that you’re able to build fans on your own. Rarely does a manager (or an agent, or a label) come on board before the fans do.
As an interesting exercise, here’s how I met the clients I’ve worked with. Note: none were through email.
Fear Before the March of Flames – I was an intern at a company in the middle of a meltdown, and another intern turned me on to them. She used to chat with the singer on AIM and said he was brilliant. I tried to sign them to the record label I was interning for before they imploded and so I ended up managing them instead.
Gatsbys American Dream – They were on tour with Fear Before and I got to meet them at a show. Some of the best guys I ever met. We laughed and laughed all day and had an instant bond. I still work / talk to a bunch of them ten years later.
Casey Bates (producer) – He was part of the Gatsbys family. I was a fan of his work and he was really good at Halo. Met him in Seattle and that was that.
Meg & Dia – My roommate came home one day and said he met two sisters who needed a place to crash while they recorded an album. He offered them our floor for a month. The next morning the band showed up and we ate breakfast together.
3OH!3 – A buddy from the Fear Before crew told me to watch a video of her friends from Denver. It was the most exciting live performance video I had ever seen. I got on a flight a few days later to meet them.
The Summer Set – My brother brought me to a Pink Spiders show and they were the opening act. Less than ten people in the room. I found myself against the stage, alone, by the end of the set and figured it was a sign.
Tonight Alive – An art designer I had been working with told me about this band they were making t-shirts for that they really loved. Coincidentally, Tonight Alive opened for 3OH!3 in Australia as the local band, and the 3OH!3 guys said they were very courteous. I respect courteous.
I met Bon Jovi on match.com and then became his manager.
Luck is what you make of it. Get out there, make some fans, and let people talk. Be confident in your art and the rest will follow.