Starting a music management company allows someone who loves the music industry and wants the excitement of the music business to get involved in the scene. There are a lot of jobs in any professional music scene, so even people without the musical talent to be an artist or musician can join in the excitement and glamour. Being a music manager may not be as glamorous as fronting a chart-topping music act, but you’ll be an integral part of the success of those music acts.
First of all, let’s discuss what a “music management company” does. A music management company becomes a musical artist or band’s business manager. The company will book concerts and gigs for the band, guide the artist’s career and sometimes handle negotiations with the record label executives. In return, the music management company will earn a percentage of that artist’s earning. These earnings will be mainly from concerts and musical performances and less from record sales (which mainly go to the record label).
Starting Your Music Management Firm
Now you that you know what’s expected of a band management company, here’s how you go about starting your music management firm.
- Learn About the Music Industry – Get a cursory knowledge of the music industry you plan to operate in. Obviously, you won’t really learn the business until you’re in the business, but read everything you can about the music industry, musicians of note and other successful band managers. Especially focus on this last topic, because these are the people you’ll need to emulate and eventually compete with. Check out information provided by industry organizations like the Musicians Union, and read every industry trade publication you can get your hands on. The musicians you’ll be handling won’t be expected to know the business, so you’ll be the expert everyone is looking to for direction.
- Collect Start Up Capital – This business won’t be economic self-sufficient for at least 6-12 months, so you’ll need to line up some “start up capital” until your bands start making money and your commissions start paying the bills. Be patient, because you aren’t going to build a successful music management company overnight. Know that you’ll be losing money for a little while if you are getting into a business with no contacts at all.
- Get an Office – Don’t worry about getting a huge, impressive office space. Find a functional office with enough space for your needs, because you’ll be meeting with potential artists and clients, as well as other industry figures. Most importantly, make certain the office is conveniently located. For instance, if you open an office in Nashville, make certain it’s relatively near Music Row. Decorate your office in a style befitting a music management company, and make certain the office presents the aura of professionalism.
- Network – Maybe the most important answer I can give you when you ask, “How do you start a music management company”, is to get to know other people in the music industry. Music is a “who you know” business as much as any in the world, so you need to start meeting people. This means you’ll need to attend every industry event you can get into. Live the music business. Meet anyone and everyone you can meet. Get to know as many people with contacts in the industry, and make certain these people get to know you. Make friends and not enemies. This is good for your clients, because you’ll have more connections to help their careers. It will be good for your business, because you’ll learn about more potential clients and these artists will soon learn you are “connected”.
- Sign Clients – At the same time, see as many music performances as you can see. Watch local concerts and talent (or open-mic) nights. Go to local bars and clubs and get an idea who’s who among the unsigned artists in your scene. Even attend performances at local colleges, because you’re likely to find talented student-musicians who have yet to be noticed. Cover the entire scene. Watch several shows a night if you can. Most of what you’re watching won’t amount to anything: but the more musicians you watch, the better your chances are you’ll find that one unnoticed talent that will take you to the top. You’ve heard people call themselves “the hardest working man in show business”: you want to be that man.
- Learn Your Strengths – You’ll eventually want to limit your band managing to a select type of musician. At first, though, you’ll want to keep it broad and learn exactly which bands are the best for you to manage. Once you start to figure out which type of bands are the best for you to work with, begin to fashion an identity about the type of bands you’ll manage. Heck, if a talented act comes in the door that doesn’t fit your profile, you can always refer them to a friend in the industry. Become a real part of the community, but one with an identity and a reputation.
- Get a Rep – Establish a reputation in the business and let the game come to you. Don’t immediately sign every act you can get your hands on. In fact, most bands will be suspicious of the unknown band managers showing up after a show with all kinds of promises. Don’t overload yourself at first. Start to build a reputation and then let clients come to you. That doesn’t mean you should stop going public. Watch as many shows as you ever did and figure out who has talent: just don’t try to sign acts after shows.
- Network Online – Make certain your bands can network online through sites like MySpace and Facebook. CDBaby is another important online tool for musicians. These sites help bands attract interest and followings beyond the venues they are playing in. Remember, bands that have not yet got their music contract can still make money, if they play enough and create a market for themselves. In turn, this will help the band get enough buzz that a record label might notice.
- Send out Demos – Send a music demo tape to industry people to get your band noticed. This means you should be sending a band’s demo to as many record labels, agents and club owners as possible. You not only get the band gigs, but are trying to get them signed by an agent, if not a music recording label. Besides sending demos, send promotional photos when you present your band to these people. Also, send along any press releases and news clippings of any buzz your band has created.
- Book Shows – Get your band into clubs and music venues. Make certain the band is professional and on time. Check up on the progress of your band. Your acts affect your reputation and your relationships with club owners, so make certain they are representing you in a good light. The last thing you need in the music business is a bad reputation.
- Hire a Good Lawyer – Retain the services of a good “entertainment lawyer”. When you’re negotiating with a music label, you want to know the implications of every word and phrase of the contract. An entertainment lawyer will focus on the legal side of the business, while you focus on the business side.
- Build a Good Reputation – Build good relationships on every level of the industry. Always return phone calls. Build a reputation in your music scene as someone who is fair and trustworthy. If your the business of your music management company gets too big for you to answer every call, hire a good assistant who will take some of those responsibilities for you. Make certain they have a level head and a good attitude, because this person will be representing you to other people. Remember, you never know who is going places in this industry, so it’s not in your business interests to alienate potential future contacts.
- Build a Relationship with the Record Labels – The record executives ultimately have the keys to the kingdom. When you interact and negotiate with them, be professional. Build a relationship with the record labels you deal with, because you’ll be going back to these same people, time and again, asking them to sign your clients and negotiating with them over details.
Running A Music Management Company
As you can see, running a music management company is a full-time business. You’ll have to master a lot of skills, meet a lot of people and do a lot of hard work for each and every band you represent. To be a successful music management company, you and your people will have to have a passion for the business. Don’t get in if you’re interested in just the wealth and glamour. That might come if you work hard enough, but you should only become a music manager if being in the music scene 24/7 is enough payment for you.