How to Manage: Self-Sustaining Musical Endeavors

Having a band manager is a good thing for when you have built an audience and have the draw to negotiate contractual details with venues, deal with public relations and help creatively promote and brand an artist. Here we go over the basics of how to manage your band without the help of a third-party and different methodologies associated with management that will help keep your music on track. But first, what is a manager?

A band manager is responsible for operations; dealing with everything from creatively promoting shows, maintaining public relations, scheduling gigs and tours, keeping track of and divi-ing up the workload for shows and being the biggest critic and fan of the band. Successful managers ensure all aspects of the performance are running smoothly and are able to think on their feet to fix issues. Going the extra mile to take musicians to practice, purchasing extra cables or renting gear when necessary, keeping track of the books so that proceeds can be appropriately apportioned, etc. (Learn.org).

Keeping all of this in mind we can start to build an idea of what needs to be accomplished on a daily basis. Here we have a list of priorities involved with managing talent:

  • Booking gigs, this entails keeping track of the logistics, finding bands to play with
  • Loading/unloading gear
  • Appropriately apportioned practice time
  • Studio time
  • Social media interaction, Facebook, Instagram, bandcamp
  • Show promotion, flyer distribution, social media promotion, flyer creation/fact checking
  • Logo creation, branding
  • Photo/video shoots
  • Creating merchandise, finding merchandising opportunities
  • Selling merchandise and music
  • Basic accounting

So how can a band do all these things without experience? It’s a combination of having the gusto to get things done, being professional about your craft and simple trial and error. But since this is an article about how to manage a band, let’s give some perspective to how a group might begin to share the load. I highly recommend going over these things with your members and coming to an agreement of the kinds of things that can be accomplished, sharing tasks shouldn’t be an issue, but there certainly should be definite responsibility attached to each of the goals. Run your band like a small business (Music-Biz).  Use spreadsheet programs like excel or numbers and be sure to stay organized.

Disclaimer! If you don’t intend on doing this full time, schedule less time or prioritize areas that need the most work. If you have a smaller social following spending time on social media and creating Internet content should take less priority than mixing a demo, or practice sessions. Use your best judgement for what to focus on and plan accordingly

Method 1 (all members involved):

The easiest way to describe this method is using a typical four-member scenario. Duties can be adjusted for the amount of members you might have, and based on interest in the separate work areas. (See Table below)

Band mate 1 Band mate 2 Band mate 3 Band mate 4
Booking shows/logistics Graphic design Videography Booking shows/tour scheduling
Recording/studio time Practice time allocation Selling merch Practice schedules
Gear lugging Accounting Social media interaction Social media interaction
Show promotion Show promotion Show promotion Show promotion
Music distribution Public relations Scouting new areas Merch opportunities

As you can see, utilizing all members is a much more efficient way to delve into management and communication in this scenario is key. Regular band meetings via video chat or before and after practice to summarize goals and accomplishments as necessary. Keeping relatively consistent communication via group text is a great way to notify one another of upcoming events and duties. A common way to keep track of events is to use a band calendar. Some use some simple online services, some use notes sections in phones, but the most versatile, visual representation of a calendar that needs kept would be to invest in a giant white board. Something along the size of 4′ x 6′. This will be where you keep track of all your shows and assignment dates that are both necessary and could cost you opportunity if you do not meet deadlines.

Method 2 (the lone wolf/the jack of all trades):

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Booking logistics Graphic design Videography Booking/tour scheduling Music distribution Public relations Posting Show Photos/Media
Studio Time Practice time allocation Selling merch Practice schedules Merch opportunities Scouting new areas Thanking crowds for attendance
Accounting Practice Practice Recording

studio time

practice pre-show Show Accounting of merch/cd sales
Show promotion Show promotion Show promotion Show promotion Show promotion Show promotion practice
Social media interaction Social media interaction Social media interaction Social media interaction Social media interaction Social media interaction

This is by far a more difficult route while you are not only responsible for the separate aspects of keeping the group going, but you are also responsible for creative musical input, and finding time to make sure all areas are met. It’s especially important to stay organized and future-focused. This style of management that exceeds the act of managing is perfect for the mind that needs to keep busy, both conceptually and physically. It can be both a great deal of fun and a great deal of stress to maintain this for long periods of time. Therefore be sure to include time for respite. This could be a typical schedule of someone taking on the multi-functioning role. Try to schedule time in no more than 50 minute blocks to keep fresh. Dwelling too long on any individual task will lead to burnout.

Check out our other articles on the different aspects of managing to find out what else you might be missing!

Outside Sources:

http://musicians.about.com/od/beingamusician/a/band101.htm

http://m.wikihow.com/Become-a-Band-Manager

http://blog.sonicbids.com/5-types-of-managers-you-dont-want-managing-your-band

http://www.musicbizacademy.com/knab/articles/selfmanage.htm

http://learn.org/articles/What_Does_a_Band_Manager_Do.html

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