The term "manager" does not have a precise definition in the music industry. A manager can range from a friend who helps book shows for you, to a corporation that handles dozens of artists. This column will focus on professional managers.

A manager is someone who takes an interest in an artist's career and invests his or her time and energy in helping the artist succeed. The duties of managers are rather ambiguous. They include counselling the artist as to all aspects of the entertainment industry including record companies, advertizing and merchandising. Overall, a manger is your link to the entertainment industry. He will advise you as to standard practices, reputations, etc.. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to get a manager who knows what she is doing. Since the manager will be getting a percentage of your income, be sure you get what you pay for. Some managers will sign you up for a percentage of income and sit back and do very little and wait for the band to hit it on their own.

There are various things you should look for in a manager. First, make sure you like the manager personally. You will have more contact with your manager than with anyone else. If you don't get along, don't feel comfortable or trust him, don't hire him as your manager. Second, make sure the person respects your music and your abilities as an artist. Your manager should be your biggest fan and supporter. Third, check out the person's reputation. Call people in the industry and ask what the manager's reputation is in the entertainment community. Remember, this person will be representing you, you don't want someone who is generally viewed as a jerk as your representative. Finally, find out if the manager has contacts in the record industry. If you are desperate, you can ignore the previously mentioned three criteria if the manager can secure you a record deal. There are some people who have incredible contacts. However, be forewarned, my experience has shown that managers talk a good talk about industry "contacts" but seldom deliver. Therefore, I would stick with the first three criteria as paramount. If someone says they can get you a record deal, allow them to "shop" your tape non-exclusively, but don't let them be your manager.

Most professional managers will present you with a contract to sign. Like any music contract, have someone who knows the industry look it over for you. There are generally accepted terms in manager's contracts and there are people who try to take advantage of a band's naivete. The best managers, i.e. professional, will hand you a fair contract. A fair contract is for a term of 3 years with an option period and 15-20% of the artists' total income. A fair contract will also have escape clauses for the artist such as, "if manager fails to secure a record contract within one year, contract is void," or "if artists' gross income fails to reach $X in the second year, artist may terminate this contract." A professional manager will agree to these type of provisions. An unscrupulous manager will take a large percentage, do little work, and not allow the artist to get out of the contract.

Most managers will demand (and get) power of attorney for the band. This means that the manger can sign his name and bind the band as if they signed themselves. This power is important, but once again, you must be able to trust your manager. You should specifically list what power the manager has to bind the band. It is advisable to limit his authority to spend your money to a specific amount. For instance, you may chose to give the manager power of attorney to spend under $200, but for amounts over that, he must consult with the band. There are infinite combinations, but the possibility for abuse is clear without these limitations.

The final issue in management contracts is that of assignability. Beware the contract that states that the manager has the power to assign his rights under the contract. This means that the manager can give her management rights to another person. This clause completely defeats all my criteria for selecting a manager. If you picked your manager based on my criteria, why allow the manager an opportunity to get out of the job of managing you and appoint someone else in his place? Insist that the manager not be allowed to assign the contract. A scrupulous manager will agree to this. She will either be with the band for the long haul or not at all.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to the question, "how do I get a manager?". Finding a manager can be as difficult as getting a record contract. In fact, a first step to getting a record contract is getting a manager. It is a classic Catch 22 situation. Here are a few suggestions. First, network among entertainment industry professionals. Get to meet the bar owners, the recording studio owners, journalists, and do I dare say, lawyers. Word of mouth and personal salesmanship is the best route in the entertainment industry. You should also pursue a manager as you would a record company; send your tape, invite them to your shows, send publicity, etc.. There are a couple of good resources that list managers. Try the Yellow Pages of Rock, Recording Industry Sourcebook and Billboard Buyers' Guides. Even if a manager says, "solicited material only," send your tape anyway. This standard warning serves to lessen the number of tapes one has to listen to and chances are they will listen to everything they receive.

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