How to be an artist manager with George Baker
We learn from artist manager George Baker on how he got into the music industry and the skills you need to thrive in the business...
Artist managers need more skills than ever to survive in 2018.
From booking gigs to negotiating business deals, the role is a varied and demanding one with managers needing to be a jack of all trades. But it's also an important one when it comes to advancing a musician's career. But how do you get into this side of the business and what does a typical day look like (or is there even such a thing?).
We asked Martin Luke Brown manager George Baker for his words of wisdom - read his advice below...
How did you get into the world of artist management? Was it something you'd always wanted to do?
I started out in management after leaving university with artist, Martin Luke Brown. Initially we were kindred spirits, writing together, gigging etc whilst in uni and essentially, I was just trying to help him out with his artist project as best I could.
After I’d set up some co-writes and collaborations, we got a few decent tracks together and after releasing the first one, interest came flooding in from labels and publishers. As conversations progressed and it was clear we were going to be doing deals, we decided I’d become Martin’s manager more formally and it went from there.
What skills do artist managers need to succeed?
Hard to say really but I guess what springs to mind are qualities such as patience, determination/drive, initiative, creativity, self-discipline and a strong work ethic. I often read the MBW Manager of the month interviews which are very eye-opening and are certainly inspiring to see how various heavy-weight managers have become so successful.
So often than not, I think it’s collaboration of all types that is the backbone of the music industry - the best way of getting anything done or improving on anything is by having input from other people
For me, I’ve certainly found that having someone to bounce things off and work together on things can really make the difference."
What does a typical day look like? Is there even such a thing? If not, what are your main tasks as an artist manager?
As an artist manager, things can be so varied as an artist can be doing a number of things which more often than not, require your involvement, attendance or at least your attention. A ‘regular' day is usually based between the office and meetings but your artist could well be in the studio, in rehearsals, playing a show/touring, at a photoshoot, doing promo etc. These are all activities which you will probably be involved in in some way so it’s always varied which is great … it keeps you on your toes and means things are never boring!
As an artist manager, what's the most ridiculous situation you've been in/asked to solve?
Interesting one. I’ve ended up in a sweaty mess grafting as a proper roadie/tour manager on several occasions for my artists which is knackering and makes you question what you’re doing but equally, on the other end of the spectrum, sitting down in front of heads of labels/big execs with your artist also seems ridiculous when you were stuck in university only a few months ago. Things can change so quickly! It was quite hilarious when I’d just closed my first record deal and the competing label caught wind of it. Within minutes, I had the head of the competing label calling me asking where exactly I was and that he was going to come and meet me right away to talk things through and hopefully persuade us not to sign elsewhere!
For anyone considering a career as an artist manager, what would you advise them to do? How can they prepare to take on the role?
It’s tough to advise how to go about being a manager as there are no rules or set way to do anything - and that’s kind of the best thing about it! You can be as inventive and creative in what you do, obviously depending on who you’re working with and how your role as manager takes shape but for me, being independent and working closely with my artists, I’ve always had the room to get involved and stuck in creatively. Ultimately though, the best bit of advise I can offer sadly is just to get out there and do it.
Whilst I was studying, I got various bits of experiences and some more ‘formal' education as to what management was about and how it worked, but nothing can prepare you for actually doing it and simply learning as you go."
What's keeping you busy at the moment? And what does the future have in store?
My roster! I’m sitting across a roster of incredibly talented and exciting songwriters and producers who I manage with another manager but I also have my small roster of a couple of artists who I’m constantly working with so all in all, I’ve got my hands full and every week is a busy one. The future looks good … As I say, the songwriters/producers are super talented, all in great shape and across all sorts of amazing projects so I’m keen to see how things progress there. Equally, both of my artists are doing well and we are continuing to slog away, putting more music out, building step by step as new artists have to these days.
Follow George on Twitter for more information on him and his musical projects.
Read our recent interview with Martin Luke Brown.
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