OK… I had planned to call this article “What the heck is a Talent Manager?” but I was warned not to tell the story that led to that title, so now I have to let that go… Pissed!
Regardless of the title, today I want to ask a very fundamental question… Why are you here?
Why were you employed where you work? Why did you go to work today? Why do you manage artistes? Why are you a musician? Why… Ok, that’s enough. Let me put it this way…
Have you ever been in an exam hall and you had no idea what the answers to any of the questions were? Well, My friend, why are you in that hall?
This article isn’t about exams though. I want to share my views on the job of a talent manager. I was opportuned to learn from some of the best… some in close proximity and others from afar. People like Taiye Aliyu (Dipp, Maytronomy etc), Osagie (Kel, Wizkid, Banky W, Skales etc), Efe Omoreigbe (Tuface – Efe’s list is massive so will stop here), Sunday Are (Former Mo’hits, Omawunmi etc), Enyi Omeruah (Bez) and many others. Each individual has a different method of approach but they are effective and good at what they do. They also understand one important thing: Applying and adapting whatever it is they know or do to the demands and state of the environment they operate… Nigeria!
I am not going to tell you things you can find online if you just take your time to search on google. However, I will highlight a few things, the concept of artiste management cannot be explained in one article… invest in books and some training.
As I mentioned in The Inefficient Professionals 1 and 2, business is business. The music business is not exempted from the repercussions of unplanned, uncalculated and unstructured activities. Therefore, as it is with every business, each player needs to know his role and what is required to play that role.
What is the Artiste Manager’s role in the Nigerian music industry?
This sounds like a question that has a very simple, straightforward answer. Well, in an environment where structure is established, it may be. But in Nigeria…
- Where most artistes prefer to employ D.I.Y tactics...
- Where most companies prefer to speak to the artiste directly...
- Where artistes are less interested in label deals (Mostly because they either aren’t getting any or don’t think there is really any record label (In its real sense) in Nigeria… I wonder who gave them that idea shrugs...
- Where a manager’s job is way more than selecting a record label, or agent or publicist etc to work with...
- Where artistes have easier access to marketers on bbm etc...
- Where twitter, youtube, facebook, 4shared etc have become promotions and publicity tools that the artistes can use by themselves...
- Where the artiste pays more attention to family and friends on business matters than the manager
… I could go on for days!!!!
The role of artiste managers across the world has changed. The demands of the labels, and artistes and the final consumers have changed. The more effective and successful managers in today’s music business recognize this change and adapt to fit in.
The role of the talent manager is now more than pitching to labels or simply supervising other elements that contribute to the artistes’ success. It is now more about creating visibility and value (building equity and mind share) and developing revenue streams (Building wealth). Building equity, mindshare and wealth…
Basically, Artistes Managers are now more involved in Business Development.
Unfortunately, most managers in the industry are not prepared for this. It really boils down to understanding business concepts and understanding the essence of engaging in activities that guarantee efficiency and results. Understanding this and a change in paradigm will help us all. Go and read the first two articles.
The other issue is that most talent managers in the industry are not creating results and this makes it hard for the artiste to trust the decisions or suggestions or activities of the manager.
Also, too many people get involved in the music industry for the wrong reasons. When purpose is unknown or misunderstood, abuse is inevitable. I have had a former staff/intern ask me what the benefit of working with me was if she couldn’t get tickets to a show. I simply gave her part of her salary to go see the show or finish her research work I had asked her to do. The artistes do what they do freely because they know they are taken care of by competent hands, people who are there solely because he/she (the artiste) is there. Not people who came to watch the show. In 2009, Mohammed Kawosha, Sam Stixx, 2 chocolate City artistes and myself went for a show in Minna and due to the reception we got, we felt the need to create a new plan… one that included an exit plan. Yes, we planned the artistes’ exit from the show venue. With all hands on deck, imagine getting carried away watching the show… I will leave it there.
Also, a lot of personal assistants are delusional… I will only say this once. If your job is to run errands you are NOT a talent manager!
Moving on swiftly… So the question now is what do we do?
Get Educated… It goes beyond the classroom. Google is your friend. Take a course… Read books… Understand Business!!!
Then… Understand how the music business works. What are the different roles of the talent manager? How do royalties work? How useful are Recording Labels? And so on.
Then… Most important, understand how the Nigerian music business works. Everyone complains that the industry can’t work… Most of these people wouldn’t even know what to do if it worked properly!
A clear understanding of what should be; combined with a firm grasp on the reality of the situation on ground; mixed with the ability to adopt general concepts and apply them will create the solutions you need. The solutions we all need!
Build relationships… Learn the importance of being a “people person”. Your ability to create solutions will make you the “go-to” guy… It is your ability to maintain relationships that will keep you relevant here.
Then, the part that too many talent managers forget to worry about… ensure that the artiste is making the music that can sell on a consistent basis. All the work you are doing is useless if the audience hate the music. Do not deceive or lie to your artiste. Artistes, seek professional advice if at any point in time you feel your friends are lying to you. 9 out of 10 times, when you feel this way, you are probably right.
I will end this article with one more point… There are about 6 management roles and most artistes only get to work with about 3 in their career.
The music or artiste or talent or personal manager (the most popular) he should have a clear understanding of the industry, publishing, music licenses, publicists etc and how they all add to the development of the artiste. The more contacts the talent manager has in the industry, the better. He is the one I wrote this article for by the way.
The Business Manager primarily manages money (income and expenses) and advices the artistes on investments and saving options as well as tax obligations. Most times, Business managers are either in the form of companies or an accountant.
The Road Manager takes care of the artiste on the road. The road manager ensures everything in the contract agreed upon are provided from the hotel room to balance payment. This ensures that the artistes can focus on the show and their performance.
The Tour Manager works with road managers to coordinate activities and logistics for large tours. Sometimes the road manager is the tour manager.
The others are the production manager and the technical manager.
In Nigeria, most times 1 person does the work of three people. And the artiste gets upset when the manager cannot explain why the hotel room is rubbish.
One thing is certain, when management does its work properly, the artiste will ultimately become lazy (with a few exceptions). By lazy, I do not mean with making music because that is all he/she would have to do!
If you can’t answer the question, “Why are you here?” Then you should not be there.
“We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and ‘success’, defined monetarily rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.” – Chris Hedges (American Journalist and author)