A Manager by Any Other Name...Is not a Manager, but a Booking Agent
To live a life and career of music, despite many of the challenges and hardships, is a blessing. But regardless of the enjoyment we may receive from doing something that we love most every day, there is an accompanying reality that the act of organizing, scheduling, booking, and so many other managerial tasks associated with this life are at times far from pleasant. With musicians essentially acting as "content creators," whether by composition or performance, there exist a plethora of occupations that live outside of these arenas who's sole purpose is to facilitate the work of musicians. These include booking agents, band managers, tour organizers, marketing managers, and many more, but for now let's focus on the two that most often get mixed up - managers and booking agents.
A frequent and unfortunately misdirected call that we often receive here at Gigroster goes approximately as such; "I'm looking to get more gigs, what are the possibilities of your organization managing my music?" Though understandable, there are a few elements of this request that are wrong both in substance of what we here at Gigroster do, what a manager does, and what the performer themselves needs to do.
First, let's look at the primary focus and job of a band manager. As a working role, a band's manager is intended to deal with logistical details associated with performances, organizational tasks of the band, handle existing and future bookings of the artist, and deal with and potentially create incoming performance opportunities based on the artist's existing draw and reputation. A manager may receive payment either in commission from sales/performances like a member of the band, or as a salary if the group is successful enough to warrant it. The critical element here is that they are paid based on the band's success, thus their role is based in facilitating the opportunities of the group that they manage, which leads us to the second point; a manager would have no incentive to manage a group that is not already in some degree successful and performing. If you as a performer want more opportunities to perform and are at hand unhappy with your level of success, YOU are the one who has to lift yourself up. Management is not a charity case, and if you have not proven that you're willing to sweat for your art, then why would a non-involved individual want to do so? There are of course the rare exceptions, but by and large this is the reality that we as artists must accept. A manager's initial job is to help to organize your existing gigs, and based on their success potentially line more up, so if someone is promising otherwise then you may just be staring down the barrel of a scam artist.
One may then be wondering at this point, where does Gigroster fit into this spectrum then? Apart from the rare cases of managing some elements, such as Government or University performances for very specific groups, we here at Gigroster are not an entity for band management, but work more in the capacity of a booking agent. A booking agent, in difference to what a band manager handles, offers performance opportunities to artists and bands that they have been independently approached and hired for, acting rather as an agent for their client than for the musicians. A booking agent may repeatedly grow to rely on a given artist if they have proven to be a trusted ally in cementing successful performances and leaving clients happy, but they still remain as an independent entity from the band. In other words, the booking agent's success is determined by the successful appeasement of the client's needs, whereas a manager's success depends on the success of the specific band or musician across numerous performance opportunities. At the end of the day all parties realistically need to be properly cared for to call a performance a success, but to whom the individual is beholden to is one of the main differences.
Where then does that leave the current job for you, the performer? The ideal of making these distinctions is not to deter you from working towards your goals, but in helping you as an artist to be best oriented and educated as to what must be done to achieve these goals. Let's present a few options of what you may be asking, and see their appropriate solution:
I am a new artist seeking to find more performance opportunities, how can I do that?
If you are in this category, the honest truth is that you likely have a lot of work on your end still to do. Most often a new artist is solely responsible for creating their own performance opportunities. What this entails will depend on the the style of performance - rock bands, hip hop, and other popular styles would do best to find the venues in your local area that feature live music of your style, and contact the booker who handles that business. This may seem like a tedious and menial task when done dozens of times, but these are the building blocks by which artists build their reputation and eventually career. A massively important element of this is developing a cohesive and well-organized online presence, generally regarded as a website and audio/visual promotional media. For more information on this subject, please refer to our article I Am Worthy.
I am an established performing artist, seeking to find better paying and higher-end performances.
This is the realm in which we here at Gigroster are best suited to work with you. By creating a profile on Gigroster.com (Gigroster Sign Up), you are making yourself marketable to the hundreds of clients that Gigroster works with every year. This doesn't necessarily ensure that you will land every gig opportunity that comes up, but if you or your band fits a specific event well then you will assuredly be suggested to the clients that work with us for their entertainment needs. Given that we consistently work with entities like Skechers, Bass Pro Shops, Port of Seattle, and numerous city governments, the potential benefits of creating a profile with Gigroster should be obvious.
I/my group have cemented a lucrative career within the music industry, but the organizational tasks associated with performances have reached a point where I feel like I am no longer the person for the job, which is deterring from the quality and success of my musical endeavors.
Congratulations! Though the stress is very real, this is the point to which many musicians aim to achieve through their musical endeavors. Although a do it yourself approach is wonderful to foster early on, continuing in this manner often ends up causing more harm than good when an artist ends up spending more time on organization than on what actually matters for their music like practicing, composing, etc. At this point, a manager is likely a great consideration to try utilizing. One may be weary at handing over some of their hard-earned profits to someone not even playing an instrument, but the reality is that if successful a managerial partnership will actually help you to generate more income as a whole, and leave you better situated mentally and time-wise to do what you do best - play music! Large management companies like Red Light Management, Advanced Alternative Media, Riot Artists and many more are large players on this scene, but there is plenty to be said about small, independent management professionals. These individuals or small companies are often who one would first turn to as an artist looking for initial management, and can be best found by researching in your specific area or genre demographic. Asking a musician you respect who manages for them never hurts, and can in turn help you find the best person for the job simply based on their specific talents and interests rather than simply larger name recognition.
Take a moment, and imagine your musical talents and aspirations like a barge floating on the water. Though the barge has some intrinsic worth, where the real value is held is in the load that it carries, and so it carries over that the worth of your art is in the value that you create with your talent and hard work. Create enough value and people will want to pay for what you have, with booking agents acting as port city businesses willing to pay for what you hold. Prove your load valuable enough, and managers will happily be your little tug boat to better facilitate marketability and sales, bringing mobility to the value that you as an artists have created. But without sufficient personal work and hustle, your musical aspirations will simply sit idly like a barge with no load. We here at Gigroster love seeing the musicians we work with succeed, but when approached by artists with little performance history seeking an easy connection to be managed it's just simply not what we, nor any booking agent or music manager does. We offer a wealth of tools available to performers to best facilitate the marketing of their skills, and hope that this has helped orient you towards what needs to be done to make your performance dreams a reality!
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