5 Ways To Manage the Band Yourself

“Who’s the leader of this band?” It’s a supposedly straightforward question that can strike fear into a musician’s heart.

Music is supposed to embody self-expression, cooperation and freedom. Mixing those innocent pleasures with business can taint the pure and beautiful thing we call “playing in a band.”

Unfortunately, a band can’t succeed without management. To gig and record regularly, someone in the band should master the business side of music.

That’s because the music industry has changed. Not many gargantuans of band management like Peter Grant or Brian Epstein still roam the earth, discovering bands and guiding them to fame and fortune. But a lot can happen when a present-day manager finds a band that has already managed itself to some degree of success.

So put on a tie and dust off that briefcase. Follow these five steps to managing a band or solo act.

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1. Question Everything

The manager of a newer band should ask the following questions.

  • How will the band make a recording or promote one that’s already finished?
  • Where will the band play shows?
  • Is the gear good enough?
  • Where will the money come from for gear, recording and promotion?

These questions could help tune up the management of a band that’s been around for a while.

  • How good are the band’s shows?
  • How good are the recordings? Do they achieve what the band is seeking?
  • Does the band sound good? How does the sound affect shows and recordings?
  • Should the band tour? If it is touring, are the gigs a success?
  • How do you measure success?
  • Is the band raising enough money to cover expenses?

2. Take Creative Control

The creative life of a band doesn’t end with songwriting and performance. Besides music, a band needs art for flyers and recordings, photos for the press, and graphics for advertising, physical propaganda and merchandise. Take note of everything that successful bands have online and in real life, and then re-create the same. If necessary, contact artists, photographers, designers and other creative types for help. Reach out to them and see how they can help turn the band’s visions into reality.

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3. Communicate

The de facto manager becomes the face of the band. Let the public know the band exists by hitting the pavement and spending time on the internet. Even in 2016, fliers and stickers remind potential fans of the band. Put them up wherever possible. At an event or show, keep friends up-to-date with the band’s musical pursuits and make sure to support theirs.

Embrace social media. For better or worse, Facebook and Instagram have become crucial for letting people who care about the band know what’s happening with it. Make sure the band’s artist page has everything someone who’d want to book or work with the band would want. That could include the band’s music, contact information, including an email address, pictures and any information relevant info to the band’s music.

4. Book Shows

A show should provide a forum to showcase music. Take advantage of that by doing everything to guarantee the band benefits from every show it plays.

  • Book shows at venues with receptive audiences.
  • Book gigs the band’s fans will attend.
  • Put the band in shows with interesting bills.
  • Make sure the show has a cool flier plastered everywhere in real life and online.
  • Get to the gig early and meet everyone associated with the performance.
  • After a great show, stick around and watch the other bands.
  • After performing, make sure to get paid out. If is an issue arises with payment, fight for it. Most likely, someone at the venue wants to see the bandleader jump through some hoops. Do it. You’re the manager now.

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5. Care About Bandmates

It might seem crazy, but a manager has to learn to care about bandmates. Without them, the band has nothing. Take care of everyone in the band, and let them know if anything is compromising their ability to perform. Bad shows, wrong notes and bad attitudes all negate the band’s hard work. Learn to keep everyone happy and learn what makes everyone mad. Find the limits of what a manager can push bandmates to do in the name of the band.

Ultimately, every cog has to mesh for a band to operate as a unit. But it’s important to know when to pull back and let things sort themselves out. Don’t micro-manage. With experience, a bandleader develops intuition and learns when to dip into the managerial tool kit and when to leave the situation alone. Grow a thick skin and never give up. With the right planning, becoming your own manager will begin to pay off in no time and continue to pay off in the long run.

Photo by Rolle Ruhland


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