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.
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.
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.