Finding the Best Artists to Manage

Updated: Feb 23

Many artist managers have developed the framework needed to help their clients succeed, but being a great manager means nothing if you don't find the artists who are worth your time and effort.


The Rolling Stones kick off the USA branch of the No Filter Tour at The Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1962, the band is just months away from celebrating their 60th anniversary of being on stage together - an unprecedented milestone that has not been reached by any other major touring act in history.


Just the Facts

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: artist management has always seemed to be a black-and-white practice. However, the managers who truly stand out among others are the ones that work to put their artists' visions into full-color. If you are an artist manager or are interested in getting started, you might believe that you have the network and skills to pull it off. Assuming that you're right (even though you probably aren't), having excellent artists on your roster is the key to making your time and effort go the distance.


Look at the success of The Rolling Stones, for instance. The band has released over 25 original studio albums, while also performing across the globe for nearly 60 years. Generation Z couldn't care less about these old farts. However, young professionals in the music industry probably don't know that The Rolling Stones have quietly emerged as the world's second-highest grossing touring act since 2010. With ticket prices rising by 38% during the same period, and the average gross income per show also increasing by 87%, The Rolling Stones have truly mastered the art of drawing profit from the live music industry. With a brand and presence that has aged better than any fine wine, the Rolling Stones have proven to be the pinnacle example of artist success in the music industry. Keeping their monumental success in mind, here are the qualities you should for in any artist you are planning to add to your roster.


Passion is Power

The most important thing you need to consider for any artist you plan to manage is if they're willing to put their money where their mouth is. If they want to have a successful career as an artist, they have to have a true passion for their craft. Furthermore, their music should convey a musical or personal message that resonates deeply with their fanbase. While this should go without saying for artists who want to take it to the next level, there are many who fail to come across with a consistent message. In addition, there are not enough artists committed to the endless hours of writing, rehearsing, recording, and performing that are required to compete with top-grossing acts. While fame and wealth are not the end goal for many musicians, profitability and longevity are legit concerns for artist managers. Find the artists who are inspired by their craft, and also seek to inspire others. These are the people that are more willing to fight the hardest battles for the sake of their careers.


Social Media Presence

It goes without saying that any artist you plan to invest in should have a strong social media presence. Artists should engage with their fans on multiple social media platforms, using the different features on each app to diversify their content. For example, with Tik Tok emerging as the world’s most engaging platform, artists can build their own feed to better engage their fanbase with their music. Furthermore, micro-syncs on Tik Tok may give artists the exposure they need to jump-start their careers. It’s no secret that some of the most successful artists in the digital age started by creating a trend, and any artist you are scouting should be well-aware of new and ongoing social media buzz.


However, Tik Tok isn’t the only platform for engaging audiences. Certain groups of people who haven’t been able to keep up with the newest changes in social media are still committed to Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms. After all, the medium is the message, and each platform offers a different strategy for artists to share their content. Though a presence on Tik Tok is nearly essential, other social media platforms offer excellent tools for artists to showcase their strengths. If you are thinking about managing an artist, checking out their social media pages is one of the best ways to measure how their vision is translating with others.


The “It” Factor

When we say the “it” factor, we aren’t talking about an unusual skill, or something out of the blue. Even if you have "moves like Jagger", the whole package is still more important than any single talent. Can the artist truly put on a good show? Are they inspiring, and do they have a message to spread? Artists should have a vision they want to bring to life, and a set of goals that you can help them achieve. On the flipside, you need to believe in your artist just as much as they believe in you. If your artist is expecting you to build their entire dream for them, then you are not the right manager for them. Your artist should have all of the talent, grit, and potential to succeed, while you are just the one helping them make the best decisions to guide them towards success. Measuring the overall potential of artist prior to adding them to your roster is one of the best things you can do for yourself as an artist manager.

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The Vibe Check

Do you and your artist get along? While this one seems generic, it’s actually vitally important for the success of both you and your artist. While you and your clients don’t need to be best friends, trust is one of the most critical building blocks for successful businesses. According to a 2016 survey of CEOs by PWC, 55% of business leaders believe that lack of trust in the workplace poses a substantial foundational threat to their companies. If you plan on doing business as an artist manager, this should matter to you a lot. As a leader, you should care about having good relationships with those around you, and trust is a huge part of that. Since 9 out of 10 major label deals end up being a commercial failure, and artist success is a driving factor of the management business, you’ll want to take your steps wisely. If you want to be included in that 10% threshold of success, don’t burn bridges with talented artists you’ve worked with, or plan to work with. Invest your time into artists who believe in you, while also believing in them.


What About Record Deals?

Speaking of major labels, many artists carry the assumption that great managers are expected to connect them with major labels. While this is true for some artists, it actually isn't the case most of the time. Based on a ROSTR study of the world's top 3000 management companies, roughly 75% of roster artists around the globe remain unsigned by a major label. While being a great manager with a deep network will help your artists pursue a potential major label deal (if they want one), you should have the expertise to help your artist succeed in the same way without one. Great managers can provide the same resources as major labels, while also allowing artists to retain their rights. At Brain Candy, our management services are tailored with artist success at the forefront. Learn more about how our artist coaching, business development, and creative nourishment services can help you launch your career, without giving away your rights and freedoms to a major label.


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