Advice from a Band Manager: All You Need to Know

So, you want to become a band manager, or your band is looking for a manager. Where to start? Music can be a confusing industry to navigate at the best of times, so we’ve decided to make it a little easier for you by giving you an All You Need to Know guide.

To create this, we enlisted the lovely Jamie Ford from Concrete Management, who kindly agreed to help us out. Jamie is the band manager of not one but TWO incredible bands: Hotel Lux and Mystic Peach. Read on for some comprehensive advice from the man himself…

How did you get into artist management?

It was just one of those things I randomly fell in to and started doing myself. I’ve been in bands for quite a few years where I mostly booked our shows and self-released music. After that I started putting on shows, working in-house at a venue and then leaving to create my own live promotions company and label. I found a band I loved and it seemed fitting that I get involved and help!

How did you find the bands you currently manage?

I found Mystic Peach through a close friend. They were just starting out and only rehearsing and putting new songs together – said friend sent a demo over and I was intrigued from then on. They’re locally based to me in Southampton which is great - and has meant I’ve been able to get really involved in the development side from day 1.

My brother began managing Hotel Lux around the same kind of time – I knew them as they’re originally from Portsmouth which is just down the road. As I really love Hotel Lux and have the same music interests as my brother it made sense to join the dots, birthing Concrete Management. It’s a great dynamic between us.

Hotel Lux | Image: Rhi Harper

Hotel Lux | Image: Rhi Harper

Is it good to get a contract with them?

It’s good to get a contract mainly so both parties are clear on what they can expect from each other. I suppose it’s one of those things where for a brand new manager, they may take a while to put a contract in place because they want to prove themselves to the band/artist. A contract is definitely good early on and protects all involved!

How do you help secure shows?

We have a booking agent for Hotel Lux who is really great, though we booked shows for them up until late last year. I book all shows for Mystic Peach currently and it mainly comes from having good relationships with other promoters (as I’m a promoter in Southampton/Portsmouth too). The more you play good shows in other cities and release music, the more demand naturally comes in from other promoters. So I do a lot of reaching out to promoters and sometimes management about support tours, but you also get a good amount of demand come to the inbox.  It’s important to target the right promoters and/or support shows.  

An element of this is also on the band – it can help if they’re a social bunch and make friends with other bands. That can lead to good shows. We managed to get some European tour dates for Hotel Lux with Shame last year thanks to that.

How do you help promote artists/tours?

Based on the schedules for announce we get set by festivals / support shows or the announce we set for our headline shows, it’s all based on social media really. It does depend on what the tour is and whether we have any new music releases around it as to how we promote it (i.e. if it’s accompanied by our video or artwork visual). Both of the artists I manage are quite different on social media, Hotel Lux are brilliant at being regular and posting funny things on Twitter on Instagram stories – and Mystic Peach are a bit more secretive and ‘mysterious’ I suppose. I guess you change socials strategies over time and depending on their genre and tone of voice.

Do you need to study to become a manager or is work experience best?

Having some background knowledge wouldn’t do any damage, but it’s all subjective based on the artist and their commerciality / genre / ambitions. Sure, I could read up on how to get a record deal – but it’s never the same journey for any band so that would be false knowledge almost. It’s all about work experience and getting to know your artist – knowing exactly what you want to do and don’t want to do. The best thing in terms of study is to know different areas of the industry: how publishing works, what kinds of record deals labels are now offering, looking up promoters and venues you’d like to work with, knowing when it’s worth having a press person on board etc.

What are three qualities that make for a good artist manager?

Persistence, passion (for what you do and more importantly for the artist(s) you work with), and finally just be friendly – it goes a long way in this industry! It’s easy to be remembered or known for being a dick.

What’s the difference between artist management and tour management?

In artist management you’re managing and guiding an artist’s career – making decisions with them, coming up with a timeline / plan / strategy. Tour management is what it says on the tin really: managing a specific set of tour dates and making sure the band are there on time, are looked after in terms of catering and being paid and often doing the driving too. I always try and manage tours for both of my artists and that reinforces my relationships with promoters at shows.  

Mystic Peach | Image: Mix It All Up

Mystic Peach | Image: Mix It All Up

What’s the best thing about being a manager?

It’s really exciting. You get to craft a team around you over time who more often than not want to really help the band succeed. One thing I love is being part of the development stages of music; hearing a new song and then watch it be worked on by the band, structured, taken to the studio, mastered, video made, sent around and then finally released and watching all of the great feedback come in on socials, email and at gigs. A lot of work goes in to a release and making sure every part of the puzzle is in place, so it’s very rewarding when it’s out to the world.

What’s the worst thing about being a manager?

Struggling to answer this one really. I’m lucky that this hasn’t happened but I guess the worst thing would be any internal bust ups between the band members which you’d have to try and settle.

There can be a lot of pressure when a release is coming up making sure all the plans are in place with label / royalty collection / tour dates / travel booked / video / press etc. but it’s usually rewarding after watching all the feedback come in from fans.

Do you have any advice for becoming a manager?

The most important thing is that you and the artist are on the same page. Be realistic in what you can offer but make sure you really love that band/artist’s material. It can be demanding but really fun too. It’s good to have a line in the relationship, but also good that the band can see you as a friend as well as a manager. It’s your job to have more contacts (and awareness of the industry) than the band so get out there and don’t rely on just email.  

Do you have any advice for artists looking for a manager? 

Make sure they’re the right fit for you. Sharing the same vision and actually have a passion for your music. Think about whether you need a manager yet – there’s so much you can do yourselves in this day and age to begin with. Be persistent but friendly, go to your local venues and meet the promoters and venue staff.

Thanks for chatting with us Jamie!

 

Follow Jamie on social:

Twitter/Instagram: @jamietheford

Hotel Lux:

Twitter/Instagram: @hotelluxband

Facebook: http://facebook.com/hotelluxband

Mystic Peach:

Twitter/Instagram: @mysticpeachh

Facebook: http://facebook.com/mysticpeachh

 

If you’re a creative looking for support, get in touch with us at www.pistonheadfoundationuk.com/support