Are Managers Important for Indie Artists?
There are many things that even a DIY artist needs help with. Hence, it is more important than you initially think, to be with the right people. With time, you realise that having the right people around you is as important as having a perfect gear. Be with individuals who value their dreams and are sure of the work they are doing. Find some dedicated, talented individuals who are passionate about indie music and want to work with an indie artist.
For many independent artists, the DIY option is chosen either by design, meaning they are perfectly capable of doing things without a label or a manager and are happy to do so. Or it is for the lack of options, meaning they are unable to attract the attention of a label or manager or label. Either way, artists have lots of help getting things in their way.
As discussed in my post Assigning Copyrights of Indie Artists, a label is obligated to issue royalty statements or income reports at least twice a year or every six months. Payments are made to indie artists only upon receipt of a valid invoice. If the label has not provided the income reports, you must be proactive in requesting statements and invoice, as labels will not pursue you to let you know they still owe you money. It is the responsibility of a publisher or manager, if you have one. So keep your managers well-informed of all your deals and accounting cycles in order to do their job. An occasional nudge may often be required.
In this DIY era, indie artists are often presented with options of fan relationship management resources to be used as tools that enable them to engage with fans in a more meaningful and direct way. Social media networks make it possible for artists to handle publicity duties themselves. Indie artists are free to pitch directly to venues and book their own tours. Technology enabled websites have made this possible. Music libraries and licensing agents offer assistance with music placement in film & TV productions. Digital distributors offer musicians a means to distribute their music directly to fans via iTunes, etc. Internet, social networking and all the online tools available today make life much easier for indie artists in a lot of ways. It’s anything but difficult to get a single song on iTunes and see how it performs before you release an album. Other sites enable artists to raise money for recordings, videos, tours, and more.
So, with the availability of all these resources to indie artists, what exactly does the artist require a manager for, in today’s DIY era? The manager’s role in the DIY age is less that of an advocate and cheerleader, and more that of an analyst and advisor. With fewer artists interested in record deals today, a manager’s role has evolved away from choosing which labels/agents/publishers/attorneys to work with, towards finding ways to best help artists increase their fan base and generate more income. The division of labor in the artist/manager relationship is for artists to concentrate on writing and recording songs, rehearsing and performing live shows, and growing and engaging their fan base; while managers analyze data and make strategic recommendations based on the information gathered.
An indie artist, however, understands that there is more to the business side of music than what these resources alone offer, and while all these resources, widgets and apps help to reveal a strategy; they are not in and of themselves the strategy. It is up to the manager to have a deep understanding of how things work in the music business, and along with access to the best available resources, to formulate the appropriate strategy for the artist to follow.
In my next post, I am going to write more about the role of a manager in an indie artist’s career in today’s world of internet.
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