Artist Management 101

artist management
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If you are serious about building and sustaining a successful music career, you will require the services of an artist manager. This could either be one person or you could make use of an artist management company to handle your bookings and affairs.

In 2008 I was young and inexperienced when a musician friend asked me to manage her. I had doubts but I reluctantly accepted her request. We went into the studio and recorded three songs and after seven months I found her a record deal with a small Independent label (I still have copies of the contracts).

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with the label deal and we went back to the drawing board but this time we released a few singles on the internet until she left to be managed by a formal artist management company.

I must also mention that prior to all of that I had a short stint working as a runner for an artist management company in Northern Johannesburg.

But being an artist manager was not my calling. However, the experience of being able to interact and work with artists was priceless because I learned people skills.

This blog post is for the Independent one-man show artist – An artist who doesn’t currently have representation and does everything on his or her own.

If you want to know more about artist management and what it really entails, stick around because I wrote this for you.

What does an artist manager do?

Some artists often question the need for an artist manager as if it’s something new in the industry.

But come on let’s be honest, no man is an island and you surely can’t do it alone (and you shouldn’t) – no matter how talented or energetic you are.

Artist management has been in existence since the formal inception of the music industry.   

An artist manager is a person(s) or company that is in charge or involved in handling an artists’ affairs.

It is not uncommon for an artist manager to serve as an artist’s business manager. But the responsibility is usually far bigger because in most cases you would handle the financial affairs of the artist.

But the average artist manager often takes care of an artist’s bookings and record deal negotiations and so forth.

Artist management contract

An artist manager is not an employee unless he or she is working full-time for an artist management company.

In order to avoid any problems later, a formal artist management contract should be drafted and signed by all parties (artist and manager).

The artist management contract can be drafted by an entertainment lawyer and depending on the complexity of the agreement, it won’t come cheap. But it will be worth it. 

An artist management contract usually consists of (but not limited to) the following:

  • Should state the names of the parties of the parties entering the agreement – In this case, it is the artist and manager
  • The address of both artist and manager (Postal or Physical)
  • The Background
  • The services of the manager
  • Rights and Authority of the manager
  • The term of the agreement
  • Compensation
  • Accounting
  • Expenses
  • Loans (Should any loans be given to the artist)
  • Termination of the agreement
  • Mutual Representations and Warranties
  • General Provision
  • Space for signatures and witness

The above points should explain in detail what the agreement entails. As mentioned previously, the agreement can be drafted by an attorney of your choice or you can do it yourself.

But should you do it yourself, make sure that you understand what every clause means so it doesn’t come back to bite you!

Artist management companies (in South Africa)

It’s not easy to sign with an artist management company unless you can create a buzz on your own or have a large following.

So don’t expect to send an email or call any company with the hopes of getting signed unless you have done the groundwork (online or offline). 

Artist management companies usually manage clients across all spheres of the entertainment industry, not only music. There is no incentive for them to work with any artist who is starting from ZERO without having done any groundwork.

It requires time, money and effort to manage anyone so the best thing you can do as an artist is to meet them halfway – play your part. In other words, promote and release your music as much as you can. It doesn’t matter how you do it but you must hustle!

If you think you are ready to sign with an artist management company, I have included four companies below which I would recommend.

About Entertainment: About Entertainment is an artist management and booking agency. Some notable names of their books include Khaya Mthetwa, iFani, Lira, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Tamara Dey.

Morgeez: Morgeez used to operate as a traditional record label but it seems like they have prioritised that with talent management. They have done well thus far by staying in business for so long.

Stamp Communications: Stamp Communications is a division of Electromode. This division was created strictly for public relations and artist management services. It might be harder to get their attention because they have worked with big names such as Teargas, L-Tido, and Micasa just to name a few.

Plug Music Agency: Plug Music Agency is a fully-fledged PR and marketing agency for artists and companies. What I mean by fully-fledged is that they handle the publicity, PR, artist management, bookings as well as the album artwork for you.

Artist managers in South Africa

Of course, should not be able to sign with an artist management company, an individual artist manager would be your best bet. 

An individual artist manager is an independent, just like you – Someone who might also be trying to break into the industry.

Finding one is not that hard if you can show that you are determined in succeeding as an artist.

Anyone can pretty much be an artist manager and it doesn’t have to be a full-time job.

In the early stages of their careers, musicians usually rely on friends and/ or family members to manage them until they hand over the reins to someone who is more experienced and involved full-time in the music industry.

Final Thoughts

An artist manager is not in the business of doing any favours for any artist. As an artist, your job is to focus on creating and promoting your music to the best of your abilities. If you can do that, then artist management becomes easier.

Think about it; if you can get some traction on your music without a manager, then people will suddenly be interested in managing your affairs or dealing you.


………Because it’s human nature.

There has to be an incentive (and it doesn’t have to monetary) for people to really get involved in your career. That’s how it works.

If you are an artist and looking for representation, I want you to stop reading this right now and get to work – make music and promote it as if your life depends on it! 

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