Sometimes thought of as the single most important person in career of artiste. A good manager can expand an artisteís career to its maximum potential - a bad one can rocket an artiste to oblivion. What they generally do is most of the things the artiste either can't be bothered to do or doesn't know how to do - they do these things usually in exchange for a percentage of the artiste's earnings, this is called commission.

Most important aspects of manager's role.

  • Helping with career decisions - which record deal? Which publishing deal? How much etc.?

  • Helping with the creative process - selecting a producer, deciding which songs to perform/record, selecting photographers or band members etc.

  • Promotion by hyping to everyone - helping co-ordinate publicity campaign, etc.

  • Assembling and heading professional team - introducing lawyers, business managers and agents, etc. - overseeing their work.

  • Co-ordinating tours by working with agents to make the best deals.

  • Hounding the record company of the artiste - co-ordinating record company advertising and marketing campaign for artisteís records - making sure these are treated as priorities by the record company, criticising and praising.

  • Generally being a buffer between the artiste and the outside world.

Management deals.

Overview of commission

Managers typically get between 15% and 20% of artisteís gross earnings with the majority earning 15%.


1. During touring this 15% means more than you might think.

2. If the artiste is a band with five or more members, the managerís 15% could easily be more than any memberís share.

Negotiating the Managerís deal

Negotiating power depends on status. If you are already established and earning a load of cash, you will be able to get the deal on your terms. If, however, you are something of a newcomer you have less bargaining power.

Points of importance

First issue is managerís percentage. Try to keep it to 15%, although some managers might argue that the risk of taking on a new act is worth 20%. It is possible to arrange the deal so that it starts at 20% then changes to 15% after a certain time or when a certain amount has been earned. Sometimes managers earn a percentage of net as opposed to gross, which is better for the artiste. Net deals sometimes mean the manager will ask for limits on expenses. So for example a manager might agree to be paid on net tour proceeds, but that the expenses on the tour canít exceed a percentage of the gross. With absolutely huge superstars, the manager might just be on a salary with no percentages. This salary can run into six figures!

It is sometimes possible to exclude or reduce certain earnings. For example, the manager might get 15% of touring money but less of the artistes songwriting royalties, maybe even none of it. If a manager is excluded from certain monies you canít expect him/her to work in this area.


Some monies are customarily deducted before working out the managerís cut - non-commissionable. It is a good idea to spell these out in the contract to make sure.

(a) Recording costs - money paid by the record company for recording should not have a cut in for the manager. They are not really earnings, they just pass through the artisteís hands to the studio.

(b) Money paid to the producer - Same as above.

(c) Tour support - this is money paid by record company to offset losses from touring. Commissioning tour support is controversial and some managers think it should be commissionable, but most will agree that it is loss compensation and therefore uncommissionable.

(d) Costs of collection. - If an artiste has to sue someone to get paid, the cost of suing should be deducted before making the managerís cut.

(e) Opening acts - for big artistes personal appearance deals might include money to pay a support act, this is not commissionable as it merely passes through the artisteís hands.


Generally three to five years. An artiste wants this to be a short as possible, the manager wants it to be as long as possible. Most common compromise is to say that if the artiste doesnít earn a certain amount, he or she can terminate the agreement early. Or it can be set up as a shorter deal which carries on if certain earning target are reached.

Earnings after the term

Very important!! Even though the term might be, say, five years, the contract might say that the manager continues to earn some commission after the term has finished if theyíre generated under Ďcontracts entered into or substantially negotiated during the termí. This means;

1. As to records made during the term, the manager gets a commission from sales after the management deal has ended.

2. The manager is paid on records made after the term of the deal if the records are recorded under a recording contract signed during the term.

This means the manager could be getting paid long after the term has finished.

Sunset clauses

These are measures to cut back on after term commissions.

1. Records

(a) The manager gets paid only on records recorded and released during the term and not on any others. This is best for the artiste.

(b) Half commission after the term.

2. Publishing

(a) The manager is paid only on songs recorded and released during the term. This is best for the artiste.

(b) The manager gets half commission on songs recorded after the term.

To manage properly you need a strong element of creativity and patience.