We have already discussed building the right team in a previous article, but I think we should get a little more in depth on at least one team member… the Personal Manager or “PM.” Next to your personal assistant, this team member is likely the one you see or talk to on a daily basis.
Your personal manager is the person who companies will meet before they even meet you! So, your “PM” has to be one who can interact with the professional world very well. A “PM” is responsible for advancing your career, helping you with business decisions, promoting your career, coordinating your touring schedule, assisting you with the assembly of the other members of your team, communicating with the record label and helping you perfect and develop your talent with the right producers, band, photographers and the right songs, just to name a few.
You put a lot of trust in this person and if they are not business minded, then you do not want them. Your manager has to be organized, persuasive, and business savvy. Since this person is the glue to your overall operation, you do want to compensate them accordingly and structure a management deal that fits your business plan. Nobody works for free… not your manager, not your accountant, and definitely not your lawyer! You are a business and businesses must compensate their employees. So, your first issue with your potential manager will be his or her percentage.
For the artist, try and limit that percentage to 15%, but if your potential manager has some major connections or is taking a risk by taking a new artist or band then they may push for 20% of the net or from the gross earnings. Of course the artist would prefer a percentage off the net earnings in the event that the artist loses money. But if the manager wants to negotiate a percentage of the gross, put a cap on it at around 50% (or less) of the net. The purpose being that you never want your manager to take home more money than you do!
Managers do not get a commission off of everything, so make sure the contract states those exclusions, so that there are no misunderstandings later. Contracts should always be as clear as possible. This will save you money from having to pay your entertainment attorney an hourly fee of having to explain to a judge of “what you meant to say” because the contract was unclear, which is another important reason for having the assistance of an attorney at the beginning of this process.
Your next discussion with the potential manager will be how long you are employing them to do this job, or the term of your agreement. Of course artists want to make them short and the manager wants to make them longer. Many artist and managers are having terms that reflect album cycles, as opposed to a specific number of years. When you think about it, it is fairer to the manager who has worked on the promotion of a certain album to reap the benefits of his labor. The artist will definitely want to know about this part of the agreement… how can you terminate if it is just not working out??? Make sure your contract says specifically how you can do this. If you do not earn a certain amount during a cycle you may want to terminate, but if you do achieve a certain earning amount then your manager may want the contract renewed. It’s a balancing act. Or if your manager is just not using his or her best efforts in securing you work… you want to be sure you can terminate them and hire someone else.
Management deals also contain provisions that have a power of attorney clause, meaning that your manager has the power to act for you. This clause gives them a lot of power… most importantly the power to bind you into agreements and if misused you may be liable because they are an agent of your business. So, the best thing for the artist to do is get rid of what’s not necessary and limit what your manager can do. Sign your own checks and cash your own checks! Ask for your manager’s input on team members, but hire and fire your staff when necessary. You always want to know what is going on in your business and stay actively involved. I could go on and there is plenty more you should know. Search for someone who can handle their job, someone who genuinely believes in you and your talent. If you have one already, reevaluate them. BUILD A SOLID TEAM!
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Written by: LaQuita R. Stokes, Attorney at Law
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