When is an Artist Manager Managing Too Much?

What is the role of an artist manager?

artist managerTwo recent lawsuits highlighted dramatic portrayals of managers who may be described as somewhat imposing, which raises the question: What is the role of an artist manager in the music industry?

According to the biopics “Straight Outta Compton” and “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story,” at least, an artist manager can be quite controlling. The defamation suits that emerged after these two docudramas accused the films of portraying managers in each as taking advantage of musicians who didn’t know better, according to the Hollywood Reporter. These conniving managers displayed in the movies could allegedly harm their real-world counterparts’ careers. Each film shows the individuals blurring the line between management and mind control. The depictions may lead some artists to wonder what exactly their managers should be doing for them, and possibly even more importantly, what they shouldn’t.

Responsibilities of an artist manager

Artist – or band – managers are typically in charge of the business side of musicians’ careers. This entails promotion, working out deals and booking gigs in addition to other responsibilities. Musicians should first ensure that they and their managers have written up and signed contracts that outline the requirements of their relationships. If possible, it may help to have a lawyer join in developing a contract. The expert entertainment law advice he or she can provide could prove beneficial while drawing up the parameters of the relationship.

The contracts between musicians and their managers may differ depending on whether the artists are signed. Artist mangers’ jobs, when they’re working with unsigned musicians, are heavily characterized by spreading the word and attempting to inform the world of the talent their working with. This consists of networking, booking studio time, sending out demos and inviting label personnel to shows. As artists get further in their careers, what they want or need their managers to do for them may change. Contracts between musicians and managers may vary substantially depending on a number of factors.

The role of an artist manager changes

Really, how far a musician wants his or her manager’s role to extend depends on what the artist needs when the contract is drawn up – keeping in mind that it should be beneficial to all parties involved. Additionally, contracts now are certainly different than they were two decades ago. Sponsorship deals are becoming increasingly important as forms of revenue for musicians, and these agreements tend to be more business than music. As a result, seeking out these deals will typically fall under the management umbrella.

What an artist should not allow a manager to do though, is take over every aspect of his or her career. A contract should allow for decisions to be collaborative and mutually beneficial. This is why it is essential for musicians to read over their contracts with managers.

If you are on the verge of writing up a contract with your future manager, or believe there may be something unfair about your current agreement, speak with an entertainment law attorney about what you should do.

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Anthony R. Caruso is a business transactional attorney in New York and New Jersey with experience in structuring, negotiation and completion of legal deals involving business, entrepreneurs, athletes and performers.

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