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Managers: How to Pick the Right One

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

Artist managers have developed a questionable reputation in recent years, but having an excellent manager can mean the difference between blindly shooting for the moon, and actually reaching the stars.

A graph from a ROSTR study of over 3000 artist management companies, showing the average Spotify reach generated by the world's leading contenders.

The Crossroads

So, you’re finally at the point where you’ve started to get some success as an independent artist. With more and more opportunities coming your way, managing your day-to-day has become increasingly difficult. Furthermore, picking the best opportunities to pursue is starting to feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. If this sounds like you, it might be time to consider searching for an artist manager who can help you navigate the waters.

While artist management can be a risky business to get yourself involved in, having a talented manager is incredibly important for your success as an artist. Especially if you are one of the many artists in search of a successful record deal (which, by the way, only happens 10% of the time). Deal or no-deal, managers have emerged as extremely powerful players in the music industry alongside labels and publishers. Given that 85% of management companies have less than 5 artists on their roster, finding the one who truly wants to invest their time and resources into your artistry can be challenging. To make matters worse, 73% of roster artists in the U.S. are male, pointing to significant diversity problems on the management side of the music industry. However, having an experienced manager that truly caters to your needs can help you bridge the gap between good and great. These are some of the qualities you should look for in a potential manager before signing on to any long-term deal.


While the meaning of professionalism varies depending on the context, there are lots of responsibilities that fall under this umbrella for artist managers. There needs to be a sense of trust between you and your manager, and both of you should have respect for one another’s talents. Trust is one of the key components in any relationship, and going forward without it will only lead to disruptions down the road. Your manager should show you through their ebb and flow that they are organized, have the right connections, and practice effective communication. They should be well-seasoned on how to help you make the best moves, and they should put your interests and success in front of theirs. These things come naturally from great managers, and it all comes down to how professional they are, how much experience they bring to the table, and how passionate their attitude is.

Network = Net Worth

The word networking has become so important for how we do business in the digital age, and it couldn’t be more true. Your manager needs to have a network of people in the music industry who can help bring your vision to life. Strength comes in numbers, and there’s naturally not much any manager can do alone without bringing a top-tier team to the table. Before you sign on with a manager, it can be important to know who some of their closest friends are (seriously, check Facebook at the very least). While you shouldn’t expect your manager to be connected with everyone, some have a better network than others, and picking one with access to the right people and organizations can be a game-changer.

Guardian Angel

While your manager isn’t your bodyguard, they should be adamant about guiding you away from risky opportunities, flawed contract deals, and other endeavors that may endanger your career. They need to have your back when others in the industry do not, and a great manager will protect their artists at all costs. As much as your manager wants to be successful with you, they also have to be willing to handle the bumps in the road, and going through these experiences will only make your relationship stronger. Get the manager who looks out for you rather than the one who will take advantage of you at the first opportunity.

The Big Picture

While there’s no precise list of every detail you should know about a potential manager, looking at these three big ideas can help you make a wise decision before signing on. Whether your prospective manager is a lone-wolf or company-based, it’s a smart idea to take the time to find the right person before jumping into any management agreement. Looking for management that is trustworthy and transparent? Learn how Brain Candy goes beyond the traditional through our artist coaching, business development, and creative nourishment services.

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