What Artist Managers REALLY Do

Author: Andre Mullen

No one really knows what artist managers do.

Artist managers themselves don’t exactly know what they do.

When asked, they say they do “everything”, which is code for “I don’t know what I do but I do whatever is needed.”

This thinking is common among many artist managers – some of whom I have the privilege of calling my friends.

If you’re reading this and you’re an artist manager, then this is probably the mindset you have adopted as well because you’ve heard this is what artist managers do.

I’m here to tell you that is not the case at all.

The problem artist managers have had to deal with for decades is a position that is without boundaries and set expectations.

Both have led to burnout, mismanagement, and unprofessionalism.

They have also led to a strained relationship between artists and artist managers.

So what do artist managers REALLY do?

Artist managers' fundamental duty is to turn their client’s creative ideas into business models.

Artists want to work with an artist manager for a variety of reasons.

Some want to work with an artist manager because of the increase in demands from their career. Some want to work with an artist manager because they want to elevate their career. For the artists starting out, they want to work with an artist manager for more visibility and exposure.

All of these are well warranted.

But this is why artist managers have to know what they do.

They say that “ignorance is bliss.”

In my early days of artist management, I didn’t know what I was doing.

But despite that, I loved being an artist manager.

What did I love?

Being challenged with turning creative ideas into creative BUSINESS models.

I’ve always had a great rapport with my clients because of it. It was my superpower and I never tried to use it any other way.

Artist managers don’t tell their clients what they’re going to do – they ask.

Artist managers manage their client’s business, not direct it.

Artist managers use systems to grow the artist client’s audience

Artist managers must know how to grow their client’s audience and use systems to do it.

An audience is necessary to build a fanbase. Your client can’t build an audience without releasing content and giving an audience an experience.

I realized how important building an audience is for an artist when my own artist client was practically offended when he was asked to open for a tour in his hometown.

The Los Angeles-based group sold out a New York venue because they grew their audience into a loyal fan base.

In this digital and social media climate, your client is able to use social media to build their own audience into a devoted fanbase and community.

When you look at the graphic below, your job as an artist manager is to move your artist from having the attention of the audience on the left to the influence of fans on the right.

Artists create music to build an audience.

Content creators create content to build an audience.

Your artist client is a content creator.

You need to use systems to grow their audience as this affects their bottom line.

And you, you’re part of the bottom line – their finances.

Artist managers use systems to organize, manage, and scale their artist client’s business.

James Clear, author of the New York Times best-selling book, Atomic Habits, talks about the importance of systems:

Any artist manager who believes they can build an artist career just by plugging their client into outlets and pitching them to press and playlist curators is doing their client a disservice.

You cannot make your artist client any money if you do not have a system in place.

In my career as an artist manager, the reason why my clients did not make any money was not solely on audiences not receiving the music, but on the lack of systems in place.

Artist managers use systems to create sustainability for their artist clients.

Good artist managers don’t neglect systems.

Systems are part of the bottom line.

And you, you’re part of the bottom line – their finances.

Here’s the play…

It is very important to know what your role and responsibilities are to your artist client.

The better your understanding, the better you can serve.

While your fundamental duty is to turn your client’s creative ideas into creative business models, you must have a firm grasp of who your client is and the scope of their business.

Make sure you CLEARLY understand these 6 things:

1. their backstory
2. their definition of success, along with goals and objectives
3.the scope of their business
4. what systems are needed to manage, organize, and scale their business
5. their audience size (this could be done via vanity metrics)
6. how they engage with their audience

The above 6 things will give you a basic foundation for creative business models that you’ll create for your clients.

Do you want to build sustainability for your client?

Know their audience.

Know their business.

Create the models and grow both.

Whenever you’re ready, here are two ways I can help you:

1. I’m offering a Growth Strategy Session. Let’s put together a growth strategy for your and/or your client’s business.

2. I’m also conducting a Systems Audit to see what systems you are using and optimize them.

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