The Three Essentials of Management: The Importance of Connections
You can make the greatest music in the world, but unless you can get it heard, it doesn’t much matter.
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In part I of this series I addressed the crucial element of passion in the management equation. In this second part of the series, I’ll look at the second essential quality: Connections. Please recall that while this series of articles is written from the perspective of providing advice to the artist looking for a manager, the information is equally applicable to those interested in a career in artist management. The goal of the series is to provide both the artist looking for a manager, and the individual interested in management with the needed perspective to increase their odds of success.
While it is fine (and often refreshing) for a manager to have a low-key persona, they must be able to sell themselves and, more importantly, the artist. In so doing, they will build connections. The record business is one where you live and die by how connected you are. You can make the greatest music in the world, but unless you can get it heard, it doesn’t much matter. Simply put, at all stages in your career—from getting an A&R person to listen to your demo, to getting your video played on MTV, to getting a gig to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime Extravaganza—it is often connections that make the difference.
The reality is that the strength of the connection is frequently as powerful as the strength of the music. There are many examples of someone who makes mediocre music but is well connected getting a record deal before an artist who makes the most amazing music in the world but has few connections.
To get started in the industry, you often must develop your connections from the ground up. The process can be accelerated if someone on your team, in this case the manager, has connections.
A fundamental role of the manager is to expose his artist to more people. Therefore, managers spend much of their time casting a wide web around all the corners of the industry. In so doing, they develop relationships with booking agents, record labels, radio stations, press, and so on. When you partner up with a manager, you are not only getting this person’s individual expertise, energy, and hopefully, passion. You are also gaining access to their connections and relationships. These connections help in many similar ways, from having your music heard by music supervisors at advertising agencies to introducing you to a music publisher to securing you an opening slot on a coveted tour.
Connections are built over time and must be maintained. You need to carefully examine any potential manager in order to determine just how broad, good, and most importantly, applicable their connections are to the music you are making. Much in the way that you research appropriate labels for your music, you must do the appropriate diligence when you are considering your manager. Understand also that connections can and do come in organic fashions. It is perfectly acceptable for you and your manager to have a symbiotic relationship in which your manager benefits from his association with you, and vice versa. The trick is being able to make connections that have real meaning to your career. If you have a manager who is very well connected but not in any way that is appropriate to helping advance your career, they might as well not have any connections.
Having now covered both passion and connections, our final article in the series will examine the importance and role of capital in the management equation.