5 Ways Your Manager Can Screw Up Your Career

Top51) They update your social networks as if they're you

Your fans are not dumb, they know your music probably better than you do, and they can also tell when it is you tweeting or if someone else is doing it. It is fine for others to post general information, gig dates, TV appearances etc. But unless it is your own words, don’t let it get embellish it with badly worded faked enthusiasm, written in an attempt to be “down with the kids”.

2) Studies everything the band puts out through a microscope

The new music business is about being in the moment. Being too careful about what goes out and worrying if something truly represents the way the bands image should be portrayed, invariably ends up missing the core essence it was striving for in the first place. The best way to ensure the purest message and connective message gets out, is to encourage the band to be spontaneous and speak their minds. Sure a little guidance doesn’t go amiss, but if a manager finds the need to censor their artists through worry that they should say the wrong thing, shouldn’t be managing that band. Decisions made by a committee are decidedly old school in a bad way. A truly great artist will know how to connect with their audience, through their music and through what they say. Alternatively they will know when to shut up and let the music do the talking.

3) Insists on adding a “Call to Action” to everything

A call to action should never go further than making great content. Sure the ability to share what you have made should be easily visible via a tweet button or embed code. But people today are savvy when it comes to putting content on their own page, and they do it when they love the music or video you have created. “Call to Action” is a term for those who are out of touch with how people use social networks and interact with their peers. A call to action cheapens you and your band and adds an air of desperation. When you make content that is good enough to go viral, an amazing thing happens, other people do your promotion for you without being told to do so.

4) They spend $10,000 of your money making one video

If you have a video budget of $10,000 for the album, then use that to make 10 videos, not just one. Money doesn’t buy viral, just because it looks expensive doesn’t mean shit in today’s world. It is the idea that counts and the purity of how the band is portrayed. Even if you get 10,000 plays on a video, which is a healthy number, is it really worth $1 per person? More than likely the video will only get 1,000 plays, which ends up costing $10 a person. You would be better off standing outside Best Buy and paying people $10 to take a copy of your album, but that would be ridiculous right? Well, so is spending all that money on one music video.

5) Their business plan includes getting a record deal, and licensing music to films and TV

Your manager should be well aware that these things are highly unlikely to happen, and even if they do, unlikely to be lucrative.

A business plan should be based on two things:

1)   Getting traffic to your website
2)   Getting people to your gigs

Because synchronizations earn instant money, they are seen by managers as a way to ensure return on investment. But a manager’s job is to create a platform for you to build a lasting career on. This is not achieved by getting a song on a soundtrack. It is achieved by the greater exposure that these placements bring, being capitalized on through accessibility to other engaging content created outside of the synchronization opportunity. In other words those drawn in by hearing you song on a movie, have a plethora of content to engage them once they get to your site or search you on Youtube. Movie synchronizations are a bonus not a business plan. And as for record deals, if I even have to explain that to you, you are in the wrong business.

Robin Davey is an Independent musician and Head of Music and Film Development at GROWVision and runs FreeMusicAcademy.com follow him on Twitter @mr_robin_davey

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  1. This has to be one of the dumbest articles I’ve read in awhile. I’ll agree with #1 but the other 4 things are wrong. This is just an anti-management post based on the writers personal experience or what he’s heard from “failed” artists. You said it yourself music goes viral on it’s own.. Fans are very savvy!!! If you have such great music won’t you over come your idiot manager? The reality of the situation is if you work with an idiot odds are you’re an idiot and your music probably sucks too. The “manager” has always been the #1 scapegoat of all times for artist’s who just can’t “make it”. A manager nowadays is pretty much an unpaid volunteer if you let an unpaid volunteer screw up your career that’s on you not him.

  2. Jake you say a manager these days is pretty much an unpaid volunteer. The truth is a BAD MANAGER is an unpaid volunteer, a good one figures out how to most efficiently make money for the band and build their career.

  3. I’ll agree with you on point #1. Either post on behalf of the artist in a voice that is ALL business and make it obvious that it’s not the artist. Or let the artist post their own content. Any combination thereof is confusing for the fan. (See Blake Shelton and -Team BS)
    I’m going to have to agree with Jake. The cream still rises to the top… which brings me to #2 in this contrived attempt at a post. If you’re not putting your content under a microscope to some degree, you’re going to inevitably produce rubbish at some point. Everything that is going to reach the senses of your fan base should be scrutinized, whether it be by the artists themselves or a team of advisors… furthermore, there should always be a plan for damage control when something goes awry. Be it a tweet, video, geek fight, etc.
    Thirdly, if you’re not pushing for a call to action, pray tell, what do you expect to happen? How do you plan on tracking success? How will you know if you’ve reached a tipping point? This is like asking a band to wish in one hand and s**t in the other and see which one gets filled the fastest. Every email marketing effort should be a call to action. Social Messages can get a pass from time to time, but it should still end in “What do you think?” to entice interaction.
    I’ve already gone a bit long winded…. but #4) do any of OK Go!’s videos look like $1000 budgets? (even the treadmills cost $ and post production, much less anything after that) and #5) WHERE DO YOU THINK THE REVENUE IS GOING TO COME FROM? Spotify???? How do you afford the travel to “gigs” without investment? If it’s not coming from a label or idiot manager you’re going to be playing that coffee shop in your hometown for a long long time. OR you could use Kickstarter… but that’s a call to action.

  4. yay on no call to actions! I hate getting constant call to actions. I KNOW you freakin want me to share your info with everyone I don’t need to be told to RT or Post, etc. Just give us the information. Say… here is our new video blah blah… You don’t have to tell me to post it, or comment on it. If I want to I will! Say… I’m in a contest for blah blah anyone can vote here’s the link… Don’t come off as vote for me on such and such a contest. Don’t task your fans. Don’t task your fans. AND you aren’t going to get new fans by tasking them either.

  5. The idea is that you build a fanbase who want to discover your next release. Urging fans do things for you means you are not connecting. A Kickstarter campaign can be initiated in a creative way that it sidesteps the chintzy call to action tags that litter every bands pages these days.
    You track success by seeing your sales, views and followers grow by making engaging content.
    You can hire treadmills for $100 a month and buy a HD cam for $100 from Walmart. Total budget doing it that way – $500. It is the idea that is priceless.

  6. This is a terrible article for a number of reasons, but I’m not going to get into specifics. What I am going to do is call out Robin, Hypebot & MTT for constantly posting ‘What not to do’ posts. These posts are NOT helpful. Stating your opinion about what doesn’t work or is annoying is not going to help anyone. Try posting tips and strategies that do work if you want to actually help anyone. Telling people what not to do is never helpful. Offer creative ideas that are helpful or keep it to yourself!

  7. Hypebot, please screen your writers prior to letting them post complete and utter bullshit. I also agree with Not Helpful. Start advising artists how to think not what to think. Everyone’s story is different. I don’t agree with anything stated in this article–not even #1– but I think the biggest beef I have is with #2. Artist are a brand. If you’re telling me that Apple doesn’t look at everything under a microscope that goes out you’re far less intelligent that I had first thought. Yes, there are going to be antenna gate issues or exploding iPhone, but overall the brand is fundamentally sound. And that fundamentally sound brand will resonate more with listeners/viewers creating the true fanatics rather than an artist with one great song or is a pretty face.
    So my advice to you is not to stop posting, but think of it in the eyes of everyone you’re posting about and advise others how to strategically think rather than what to think. You’re intentions are great, but you execution is flawed.

  8. tone bloke totally agrees with Jake. This is straight up the stupidest article to ever appear on HB, (editor must be on the rd)… The reasons are so many that tone bloke can’t even take out the needed time to educate the poor writer of this trash…
    (but does wish him good luck)…

  9. No one has ever disagreed that the goal is quality contet. That’s a foregone conclusion. The way your post is written seems incredibly shortsighted. Although we’re dealing with the arts, we’re still in the business of taking a product to market. The product is nothing without marketing strategy and a strategy nothing with a poor product.
    You only address on side of this equation.
    Sales, Views, and Followers are a macro view of what is going on at a micro level.
    To someone in my position you seem to have no strategy to get from point A to point B. content alone does not grow a monetizable fan base.
    A strategy surrounding actionable content with measured results, is another matter. With strategized content I know how and when to release content for maximum exposure, I know when to present an “ask”, and most importantly I do this from imperial data… Not simply floating it out there.
    And perhaps the treadmill video was less than $1k. But have you seen every video since? Or similar efforts by bands like Red Fang… or for that matter Rebecca Black.
    Point being. I understand that there are artists that get mismanaged. But to place all the eggs in the content basket, and none in the strategy is a recipe for failure… just the same as choosing a poor manager.

  10. Read it again along with the don’ts there are plenty of do’s. I should imagine it is because it criticizes your managing techniques that you attack and dismiss. An artist is not a brand it is a band – they are a unique entity. Sure there is a certain amount of branding that exists, but they are not corporate, they are human beings making music.

  11. I love critics, and I’m very comfortable with my management techniques. I know I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that all the answers don’t consists of putting execution styles in a box and simply only picking something that already resides in there– and missing out on everything that’s not. I’m not saying that your theories aren’t sound in some cases, but advising people to simply not do something is absurd. Especially the topics in which you are advising on. Maybe advise them to not jump off a building or shoot themselves in the head after listening to your advice, but don’t advise them to put their thoughts in a box when each marketing strategy should be tailored to the specific artists and their community.
    As for artist not being a brand you’re quite ignorant and living in a utopia type fantasy. Everything in this day an age is a brand. You are a brand, and if you don’t think so you need to think again.

  12. If your biggest concerns about your manager are that they are:
    1.) Involved in updating your social profiles
    2.) Concerned about keeping the band in check when it comes to saying and doing stupid things
    3.) Being direct with fans about how they can support the band
    4.) Are in a position to spend $10,000 on ANYTHING, including music videos
    5.) Can help you develop partnerships that will build your team, extend your reach and improve your chances of a more successful career…
    If THESE are your biggest concerns, you aren’t reading this article. If these are not your concerns, you are sitting here shaking your head and writing unnecessary comments about how stupid it is.
    +1 to everyone suggesting a “how to” approach rather than a list of “how your manager is probably destroying your career.” If you’re lucky enough to have someone helping you out, stop looking for reasons to fire them.
    But seriously, I’m going to write an article about when to fire your manager. It goes like this… IF THEY ARE BAD AT THEIR JOB.
    And that’s how the whole article goes. The end.
    You’re welcome.

  13. This article should be titled “Here’s What Not To Do If You Want Music To Be Just A Hobby For The Rest Of Your Life”

  14. Thanks for your passion and your comments. They make Hypebot more informative and worth reading. Robyn does sometimes write in provocative tones, and that in my opinion also sometimes has a place here.
    I’m curious, would you all have liked the article better if the headline was:
    5 Mistakes A Rookie Manager Should Avoid?

  15. Hey Bruce – was just forwarded this article. Changing the title doesn’t change the content… people have voiced plenty of response on the content, but just want to say this is one of the most dangerous pieces of advice I’ve ever seen:
    “A call to action cheapens you and your band and adds an air of desperation.”
    We have terabytes of data, stemming from billions of fan engagement scenarios, and I can tell you that following this statement is the single best way to completely eliminate your chances of building a committed fan base.
    Yes, overly repetitive and unnecessarily loud CTAs can be incredibly annoying and do more hurt than good. That said, this point should be rephrased as “Insisting on Calls to Action That Aren’t Tied to Value for the Fan”.
    Infact, here’s how I would rephrase all these points…
    #1 (fine as is)
    #2 Studies everything through their personal perspective vs. listening to the audience
    #3 Insists on CTAs not tied to clear value for the fan vs. setting clear goals for CTAs that align incentives between artist & fans
    #4 Spend entire video/promo budget on just the video vs. scaling down the video production and investing in getting it into the hands of core fans
    #5 Their biz plan is limited to a record deal & film/tv licensing vs. a diversified strategy heavily geared towards cultivating a passionate fan base (tied to defined/tracked success metrics that have a direct and needle moving correlation with ROI)

  16. Wow, crazy responses. I feel that a pre structured call to action is very different to an artists own spontaneous call to action. Maybe I should have made that clearer. I feel that many of the responses from people is because what they feel is their way of building momentum is under direct attack . Though from an artists perspective I think the reaction is very different when you look at the tweets and likes on the article. We have moved on from the blatant self promotion that plagued the MySpace days. If you are unaware of the shift and direction taken by cutting edge companies then you continue the route you are taking. Promotion gets more clever and creative everyday. We are in such fledgling days of utilizing the internet as means of promotion, so it is hard to keep up with trends. You can try to shout down my comments all you like but maybe you should think a little deeper before plotting your attack course.

  17. Robin, I’m at a loss to this comment: “An artist is not a brand it is a band – they are a unique entity. Sure there is a certain amount of branding that exists, but they are not corporate, they are human beings making music.”
    A band/artist/musician is absolutely a brand. However reasonably and safely you can build equity in your product or service is fundamentally the same with bands, energy drinks or surf lessons. You raise your impressions (in the market place), engage with your fans (buyers) and bring your product to market (albums, t-shirts, live shows).
    Although they might have different storefronts, marketing, etc. bands and brands are mostly ubiquitous.

  18. Could not agree more with you, Perspective. I’m sick and tired of people referring to “brand” as a dirty word, something separate from the creative process that drives everything we love about our favorite artists. Branding is the most powerful tool an artist has at his/her disposal, and it’s a beautiful thing. It’s the core of engaging with fans, communicating your story and identity, and creating meaning for your audience. It’s time we all embrace it.

  19. Disagree with that too. In 2012 any management company that’s worth a shit that has a staff and generates money isn’t going to take on act unless they’re making money or have something seriously going that’s about to make them money. Good managers are capitalists.
    What this article kind of implies, In my opinion, is that most artist/musicians just need to find a “good” manager and they’ll be successful.
    Here’s a good analogy. If apple started selling rocks how many rocks do you think they’d sell?? The product is ultimately the most important thing and that’s what artist/musicians should spend 99% of their time focusing on. Here’s a simple guide for all artists who aren’t ready to be capitalized by a manager yet.
    1. Write Write Write Write Write Write
    2. Play Play Play Play Play Play
    3. Record Record Records Record
    4. Worship Fans Worship Fans Worship Fans
    5. Think Creative Think Creative.

  20. wow a lot of ignorance in that post. Would had been a better fit to call it “5 mistakes that bad managers do with ultra rookie bands”. U should talk with successful managers and artists in order to understand WHERE and HOW real money is made in the new music ecosystem. The rap or electronic scene would be a good start. That will be more helpful to help the artist than talking about who update what …. A real manger is FIRST all about the product aka the music and the story around it. THEN money hustling, and finally taxe optimisation, smart investments, insurances etc …
    PS A young artist can buy a house and a career out of a good sync deal …

  21. Spencer I agree completely – the backlash is largely an issue of semantics more than anything. The re-worded sections you provided read better and still match what I assume is the original sentiment. It might not hurt for HB to spend some extra time in the editor’s chair on posts like this.

  22. Geez, OK a brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. A band is a group of people who create music. You can brand their name, their likeness etc – which like I said there are elements that fall into that catagory, but the band themselves are unique. Branding is a part of it, but in order to have a very successful band it goes well beyond thinking of them as a brand.

  23. But Robin, even this is a contradiction… isn’t a “pre-structured call to action” just “putting everything under a microscope”?

  24. “5 Mistakes A Rookie Manager Should Avoid” might have been a better title, but it is still a bad article. Perhaps if he cited specific examples of any of this stuff it would have had more relevance. Who is the last indie band you know of that had $10 G’s to spend and their idiot manager blew it all on an “expensive” music video? When was the last time you met a seriously committed band with an ace manager who had no interest in a record deal, getting their songs on a great soundtrack or otherwise building the BUSINESS of selling music through partnerships and mainstream exposure?
    We can all agree that getting fans to your shows should be the primary focus for any (touring) artist, but this alarmist approach, without any real world examples to back them up, is just noise.
    #1 on the list of “Mistakes A Rookie Manager Should Avoid?” would be taking articles like this one seriously.

  25. Licensing is a pretty amazing source of income for unsigned/new artists. I’ve seen quite a few tour vans, websites and new backlines paid for with early sync money. In a lot of cases, it might be the only real revenue an act will see for awhile at the beginning.
    I don’t know if it would be item #1 on my agenda, but if your music has the potential to be licensed and you don’t have an issue with it from an artistic perspective, there no reason you should tell a manager to ignore the opportunity.
    As for labels, I know it’s not reality for everyone, but having a great label partner can be incredibly beneficial to an artist.

  26. You misinterpreted my position. Spontaneous is good. Building Call to action campaigns based on a business idea of what fans can do to help the band succeed is bad and old hat and now drives them away. An artist saying check out my new video we released today will get traction as long as he doesn’t over push it and the video is fresh. Fans want to hear direct from the artist and a manager needs to be aware of this. There are of course far better ways of artists engaging fans than saying “check out my video” the best thing to do is make a great video and let it do the work as I said above.

  27. So you agree with what I said, except for the one line you took out of context, which in context you actually agree with. You added some business terms to make yourself look smart and rewrote exactly what I said as if you were presenting it as your own idea to the E-Team of a company? Everything doesn’t have to be bullet points in the real world you know.

  28. – Get over yourself Robin.
    – I made edit suggestions to try and salvage an article that was clearly providing no value to anyone.
    – Deal with it.

  29. I openly engage with people who comment on my articles, and am one of the few who actually defend the words I write. If you wish to criticize then you have to be able to take any responses that are dished out. The above average number of facebook likes and tweets on this article speak for themselves when it comes to it actually providing value for people. The only thing I can think of is that it angered you because it attacked things that you regard as good business practice.
    I appreciate the inclusion of bullet points in your response though, it does make it somewhat humorous, I presume that was the intention.

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