This past Saturday I caught the Building Your Team panel at the ASCAP EXPO at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. The panel included entertainment attorney, Josh Binder Esq., artist manager, Marcus Grant from The Collective, business manager, Sean Welch, and A&R rep Walter Jones from Sony/ATV Publishing.
They discussed what they look for in a client, when artists are ready for representation and how to build the team.
The sentiment that sums up the entire talk came from the artist manager, Marcus Grant, when asked how artists can get his attention. He said:
“If You’re Not Selling Tickets and T-Shirts, You Don’t Even Matter.”
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “how do I get a manager.” But the simple answer is: you don’t find a manager, a manager finds you.
Grant also revealed the hard truth to the room full of musicians:
“You’re not going to get a record deal by asking for a record deal.”
Believe me, I understand how frustrating it can be to think you’re ready for representation only to be greeted by cold shoulders and silence.
But that should not be discouraging, it should be inspiring. Inspiring to get better.
Can you sellout a club in your hometown? Or a club in any town? Are you getting hundreds of thousands of plays on YouTube, SoundCloud or Spotify? If not, then why do you think big players in this industry are going to care about you?
They want to know that you are proven. You don’t have to have the full package set in stone, but you have to be making some waves somewhere.
Having a million twitter followers doesn’t mean anything if only 100 of them are actively engaged. If that’s the case, “you just have a lot of spies,” Grant joked. But it’s true. You don’t need Lady Gaga #littlemonsters engagement, but you need some influencing power that will get people to actively go out of their way to proselytize for you.
“When You Create A Business, People Will Come To You”
– Marcus Grant, Artist Manager, The Collective
You have to be killing it in at least one area of your music career before people will pay attention. If you want to work the YouTube angle, then model successful YouTubers, get high quality video up every week and start to build a solid subscriber base. If you want to work the Twitter angle, then study up on building a Twitter fan base and ENGAGE. If you’re a DJ, take over SoundCloud. If you’re working the grassroots, live scene then sellout your local venues and become the biggest band in your scene. Start touring and building a real ticket buying following.
Once you’re at a level where things are starting to happen, then people will take notice. If the right people aren’t taking notice (while things are actually happening), then it may be time for you to hire an entertainment attorney to get you in the door with a manger FIRST.
But don’t take the first manager who says yes. If the manager takes the meeting then she’s obviously interested. Ask her what she can do for you. What are her 3 year and 5 year goals for you. What tours does she see you supporting? What producers, labels, publishers or booking agents does she see you working with?
Remember, the gut check is the most important check before hiring anyone on your team.
Depending on the manager’s vision, she can start bringing others onto your team, like an agent, label, publicist, publisher and business manager. These people can manage the macro side of your career.
But you need to also have either a personal manager, a “best friend manager,” or yourself, to micromanage all of the day-to-day duties to build and sustain a career in the modern age of music.
“It’s up to me to build the story. I’m not promising you anything. My job is to build the best bridge to get you wherever you need to go.” – Marcus Grant, Artist Manager, The Collective
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of Ari’s Take. Listen to his new album, Brave Enough, on Spotify or download it on BandCamp. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake