'The Art of Artist Management'
Updated: Nov 4, 2022
Blog written by Charlotte Elizabeth
Wow! I can’t believe it is October already. Herein starts the beginning of my favourite month; the colours changing, the crisp air, Halloween and my birthday! What’s not to love?
October is special to me for all of the reasons above but it also marks 8 years in the music industry as an Artist Manager, therefore what better time than now to be invited to guest blog for Scarlet River PR than now?!
Firstly, I have to say thank you to Rachel Sellick of Scarlet River PR for inviting me to write a feature. It’s wonderful that we can support each other in business.
So, let me introduce myself.
I am Charlotte Elizabeth, a country loving, Brad Paisley stalking (did I say that out loud!), artist manager & developer, songwriter and co-own of Halo Music Creative and ARC Radio with my partner Simon Birds. Artist Management very much started off as a hobby back in 2013 when I was asked to go along to a gig to write a review of a locally based country band. I knew American country music and was a huge fan of (stalker alert!) Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Sugarland, Reba McEntire etc. but didn’t know that there was an emerging country scene here in the UK.
I happily sat listening to the band playing and got talking to them afterwards and they said they were looking for a manager to take them to the next level as they didn’t know where to start and asked if I knew anyone. I quite literally said ‘I’ll do it’ and there my story began. I never professed to be a manager, but I was keen to learn the music industry and I like a challenge! Nothing has proved more challenging than artist management and breaking the industry.
Fast forward 8 years and I have since travelled worldwide to talk about ‘The Art of Artist Management’. I have delivered talks in Los Angeles, New York and closer to home in London and have worked alongside Live Nation and Kobalt to name a few.
I also co-own ARC Radio with Simon Birds which specialises in Americana, Roots and Country Music and is one of the fastest growing stations in the UK. We reach over 100,000 people a month and have numerous dedicated shows from decades of country to In The Red Dirt with Jonny Brick to mention but two. We also have CMS – Collective Music Showcase which is our flagship show and dedicated to playing independent and emerging artists from around the world.
So, What is Artist Management?
Artist Management is all about guiding your client, safeguarding their career and moulding and developing their brand to reach their end goal. Ultimately, an artist manager is responsible for orchestrating the day to day business of an artist so that they can concentrate on being creative and making music.
I have found there to be a preconception that an artist manager should be your manager, booking agent, social media developer, radio distributor, PR team and so on and so forth. A manager is a role in itself and whilst occasionally they do have a hand in the above, they are not an all in one package and you should have a team to concentrate on the different areas so that each area is the best it can be without diluting the time through a range of tasks.
That said, management is a very personal and bespoke role and as such you should always ensure that both parties are clear on what is expected and all is agreed too, either formally or in a manner that suits your relationship.
How do I know if I need a manager? When do I need a manager?!
There is no right or wrong answer here. Not everyone wants a manager or needs one however hopefully in the future there will come a time when doing it yourself just becomes too much to do.
I’ve spoken to artists in the past who have literally spent three out of five working days not focusing on the creative and productive side of their music career because they have been tied up with admin. This is where a manager can be a lifesaver! It can very much and very quickly become a chore and whilst it is exciting (at first!) filling in those application forms and PRS set lists, it isn’t where you want to focus your energy.
A manager should be someone who has good communication skills, who has a network of contacts that can work in your favour and create opportunities for you, however do not be fooled into thinking that your music career is going to change overnight and that fame is going to come calling.
The music industry is a very hard business to crack and succeed in and for the majority it may never happen but with a network and team of industry professionals you will stand a good chance of getting better, higher profile opportunities but again you need to put the time and work in and have a lot of patience!
How does a manager choose an artist?
In my opinion, being a manager is a huge commitment because you are expected to be available 24/7 so it is important to set guidelines and expectations. Any artist that I choose to work with has to match my work ethic and have more than just talent.
You could be the most talented artist in the world but if we don’t connect on a personal level then I won’t work with you because it is a time-consuming role that you have to develop together. You really have to drill down into the artists career, make plans and build an empire together. You need to commit 100% to the end goal and work together to make it happen.
Any artist that I work with has to have a combination of qualities. The raw material is obviously necessary and vital to the project but trust, work ethic and a willingness to listen to constructive criticism and take opportunities when they arise are also necessary.
What makes a good manager?
I believe that a good manager has to love your music. Without it, they won’t be able to sell the product and no-one will believe that you enjoy what you do. If your manager doesn’t seem to enjoy it, then why would anyone else?
A manager should also have a stubborn streak – I know I do! I strongly believe in what I want to achieve and work hard to achieve it. If I am told no, then I go back again and explain again (and maybe differently) why I am asking for what I’m asking for and how it can mutually benefit everyone involved. Great communication, a personable approach and a network of contacts is also necessary. Your manager is normally the first point of contact to bookers, labels, etc. and therefore should be easy to talk to and represent you as an artist in the most professional manner.
You should have a great relationship with your manager and have trust to ensure that they are looking after your career and you are representing them as well by being professional (turning up for gigs, responding to messages, conducting yourself in a professional way).
Does having a manager mean that they will ‘break my career’?
No. Absolutely not and this is a huge misconception. Having a manager doesn’t mean that you will become famous but what it means is that you have a sounding board to help you make the right decisions and someone to support you with admin tasks. Most importantly you’ll have someone fighting for the same dream as you.
Making a success out of any opportunities arrising rest largely on the artist. A manager can only do so much for you. A manager is a great way to have a network built and introductions are much easier however an artist should always conduct themselves in the most professional of manners.
For example, I attended the MUSEXPO in Los Angeles in 2018 and one of the performers was very, very good indeed and had a lot of interest from labels, however after coming off stage, he was impersonal, under the influence of drink and very unprofessional in his manner – this very quickly turned the interested parties off and the reputation was ruined in that instant. There was nothing the manager could do to rebuild that first impression so whilst the manager made the connection and created the opportunity, the artist ruined what could have been a wonderful opportunity and stepping stone.
My parting words for aspiring artists and artists looking for a manager….
In the eight years that I have been an artist manager, so much has changed. The music world has become much more digital and artists really need to understand what a manager does and what they need to do for themselves.
One of the most important things you can do is build an organic fanbase. It is really important, now more than ever to be accessible to your fans. The digital change and growth in the music industry means that touring and merchandise are where you make your money. In order to be able to do this, you want to build a fan base who will support you, come to your shows and buy your merchandise. A social conversation can convert someone into a fan much quicker than you would think so take the time to be personable and respectful to your audience. You also never know who you are talking to or what contacts they may have so always be professional and remember that when you feel like giving up, keep going because for every person that gives up, you are already one step closer to success than they are!
I hope this has given an insight into artist management and the ups and downs of the rollercoaster that it can be!
Until next time,