Should Artists Pay For Management?

It would be great to have a discussion about this.

My answer: No, never, at no time, forget it, not on your Nelly..... what, are you mad? Etc. I'm of the opinion that you are managed by someone who fully believes in yours (and their) abilities. They believe in you so strongly in fact, that they're convinced they will get you work and therefore earn themselves money from it. Hence they get paid when you do, simple.


PR Companies
It's like, and I really don't want to open up a wriggling can of worms here, and besides it could well be an article in itself, but, it's like paying a PR company... there, I've said it. Now don't get me wrong, as with any skill or profession, there are good and bad to be found just about wherever you look. The reason I liken it to PR is because PR is one of those areas where you pay your money up-front, it's not, well not with the companies I've used anyway, a commission based thing whereby you only pay for the results they've achieved.

I've had good and bad experiences but the worst I've come across is a colleague who paid thousands to a very large and reputable PR company for a campaign and only received 1 play on a local radio station. He then decided to see what he could do with the same music (and 0 contacts are that point) and amongst other things, got play listed on BBC Radio 2.

So in an ideal world, PR companies should only be making money out of you when they are successful.. which brings me back to management... I got there in the end at least. It's that cut and dried though, surely?

Midem
Last year I was out in Cannes, France at the Midem Music Conference and spoke to a number of music producers, songwriters and artists from Los Angeles. The discussion turned to music management and they were intrigued to know what the going rate for management is in the UK.  I was talking percentages but it soon became clear they were talking of both a percentage of earnings and an upfront fee.

My reaction was as above, you don't pay them, the money's going the wrong way in that scenario. To my surprise they told me that this is how things work in LA, it's the norm, all managers charge. If anyone can validate this please comment below, thanks!

I told them that as far as I was aware, this isn't the way managers work in the UK. This time it was their turn to be surprised.

Back In the UK
Thing is, just recently a few artists in the UK have asked for my advice about management deals they've been offered and guess what? The deal requires them to pay and the management company takes a percentage of their earnings.

So what's going on? Are things in the UK music industry changing to be more like in LA? Other areas have changed as far as money goes so maybe that's the current trend.

Or is it that times are hard, artists wanting management are many and so some companies are taking liberties?

I'd love to hear your thoughts, situations and experiences with this, wherever you are in the world. Please add comments below and feel free to share this article with others who may find it of interest.

Until next time!

James.