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Recording Arts Management [Article]

Management is definitely an interesting profession, especially the management of recording artists and producers. There are no real set rules and regulations. I mean, sure there’s classes on management and there’s books and texts and all that, which, definitely have some value to them but really…it is what you make it.

There are two main types of managers I would say. The first kind takes on more of a consultant role. These are often managers with high-profile clients and have established reputations. They will serve as advisors to the artists and step into the important meetings between the artist and the label, company, firm, whatever the case may be, when their weight or network would be needed.

The other, more common type is the manager who takes care of each aspect of the artist’s career. These are the managers who work with the artist from ground or close to ground level up to superstar status and on…

This manager takes care of every aspect of an artist’s career. They are the link between the outside world and the artist, taking care of all aspects of their career so the artist can concentrate on the artistry. They are by turns the “good guy”, the “bad guy” and most times the “everything else in between guy” or girl of course. The manager must be a mile wide and at LEAST an inch deep in every aspect of the game. They must be this way because every good manager knows that though eventually they will not be handling every aspect of an artist’s career personally, they must be knowledgeable on each aspect to make sure their artist is not getting jerked.

If you are a manager you are basically the hub of all that passes in and out of your recording artist’s career. This is not a control thing this is instead necessary so that the artist can…

1. Concentrate on the artistry and

2. Because your artist can never be the “bad guy”.

Your artist’s image is key. This is true not only in the entertainment world but also in the business one. Your artist can never be labeled “hard to work with” or “difficult” that is death for your career.

For this second reason the artist manager, while always representing the artist’s interests to the top of their ability must also be able to make the hard decisions in a way that doesn’t leave too bad a taste in the receiver’s mouth. Despite personal feelings of distaste for who your dealing with, or if it’s obvious someone is trying to play you, leave them feeling like there is an opening to do further business in the future even if you are firmly closing the door on their present business ventures.

You can never cross a burnt bridge and even the worst built bridges can sometimes lead you to greener pastures.

I guess I should probably try to clarify what “everything” entails when I’m saying you are responsible for everything in your artist’s career. Everything in this case means: Publishing, marketing, imaging, street promotions, record promotions, booking, road management, accounting, and have at least a cursory understanding of legalese. There’s probably more aspects but you get the point.

The manager is in charge of the artist’s team. They make sure you have the best lawyer, producers, studio, graphic designer, art director, stylist, video director road manager, etc. A manager is the artist’s point person at all times. I don’t know how many different ways I can say this. That is why it is so important to have the right one.

Artists: I know people are always saying don’t go with your boy. Don’t work with someone just cause you grew up together and you know they’re not going to fuck you. My opinion on that matter is, you need a champion. Straight up and down. You can have the best manager in the world but if they aren’t impassioned about you the way they should be, your screwed.

That being said, get a proper manager.

You need someone hungry, with strong personal skills and a good sense of time management. Add a healthy dose of a great attitude and your set. Personal contacts are what make the world go round and this is especially true in the entertainment industry. Your manager doesn’t have to know everyone in the world but he or she must be able to eventually meet them all and keep them all as accessible contacts. That is the first and foremost.

A lot of people ask me about managers and whom I would recommend and I always come up short on answers. The urban music industry in Canada is so fresh that there hasn’t been a lot of time for the proper training and experience time, at least for this generation coming up. (I am aware that people have been making rap music for over a decade here and that there are some more then capable people from that era but what I mean is it has been only relatively recently that major labels have made official the additions of specialized urban departments in their structure, let alone the first black A&R at a major label in Canada was hired in 2002.) As the infrastructure grows and the industries up here recognize more and more that urban is a profitable business in Canada so too will grow the opportunities for young managers to learn the ropes by experience. The best, hands down, teacher.

People I would recommend in Toronto (besides the establishment of Chris Smith, Day, Chase and Mr. Morgan/Mayday) in no particular order are,

– Phil ‘Sideshow’ Rayos of Sideshow Management

– Solomon of Lions Share Music

– Carlos ‘Reka’ of Reka Inc.

– Gene Tegola of Insomnia Promotions

– Lo Falcioni of Won-by-One

– Laura Commisso who handles Arabesque’s business.

I have dealt with all of the above people on a personal level and can comfortably put my name and recommendation behind each and every one of them.

Up and coming managers:

See how people are always saying don’t just choose your boy as a manager cause you know him. DO THE SAME ABOUT YOUR FRIENDS!!!! If your friend is not your favorite unsigned artist or at least in the top 3, why are you working with them. Again, straight up and down. Do not waste your natural gifts if you know your heart isn’t in it. You are not doing the artist or yourself a favor. It might not be the easiest decision to make but please, please, please think long and hard about it. You are going to be a part of this person’s life for the next couple of years AT LEAST. If they do not inspire you, or if the person is a dope artist but you guys are already bickering or you can see it being an issue in the next couple of months, walk. Don’t do it.

To everybody concerned:

This is your life. Anyone successful or even just getting by on this music shit will tell you that. This is not a 9-5, it’s not even a 11-7, it is an all encompassing job that had better be your passion cause if it’s not, your not cut out for it. This is not a warning or meant to scare anyone it is simply the truth.

There are three reasons why you wont be successful in this business as a manager. You either don’t have the necessary skills, your working with the wrong artists or you burn out.

My best advice to anyone in the so-called game is this:

Always be honest with yourself. Listen to your heart and your first instincts. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal but once the right one comes along, go for it. And never look back until it’s your turn to sit down, breathe for a minute and write an article for a website or something.

Then get moving again.

Good luck. Better living.

Written by Gavin Sheppard for HipHopCanada


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  1. erik kabatay aka E.K

    whats up listen to this tellme what you think iam from canada nova scotia,rezavation membertou trying to find help out there”

  2. Myke Bulley

    Yo Dope article.

    I agree with almost everything you said. There are two types of managers, and you don’t become to the high-end clients type without busting your ass as the personal manager first. This was a real inspiration, keep writing the good shit like this!

    – An aspiring young Manager

  3. G.Q west

    Yoo straight i need a manager,
    and new producer, ppl i was working with
    suck… can’t even set my songs right
    Edmonton, alberta. holla if your digging
    the flow check the

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