“If you want to get spotted, just send them your demo.”
You might have heard this kind of baloney before but, to be honest, it’s not entirely true. The main problem is that most record labels and film, television or theatre companies don’t take unsolicited demos, résumés or portfolios. Most think that it’s not worth paying their valuable attention to endless random demos, videos or recordings from a stream of hopelessly talentless chumps in order to try and find somebody worth speaking to.
So that’s where artist representation and management comes in. These guys are the eyes and ears to the various performance industries and are tasked with making sure the best talent is on their client list.
These guys act as the eyes and ears for performers and use their knowledge and contact base to promote them to different record labels, production companies, theatres or wherever else they may perform.
Where do I begin my career in the artist representation, management and promotion industry?
It’s a competitive industry to get into and many of the people involved will either have experience as an artist within the industry or experience of working in human resources. It’s not uncommon to find yourself moving into this area of work a little later on in your career. Having said that, it is entirely possible to start off in this field and work your way up.
Early on in your career, you will be looking for experience which can be hard to find and many people end up working for free for extended periods in the form of unpaid internships (N.B. unpaid internships are incidentally illegal, as you are required to be paid the national minimum wage, though this is unfortunately often flouted).
What responsibilities does an artist’s manager have?
It’s likely that you will be working on two fronts. Firstly, you must represent clients that sign to your agency. If they sign exclusively to your agency, you will be totally responsible for their earnings. Consequently, you will need to be someone that they can trust and able to get them as much work as possible. Secondly, you must gain trust amongst the production companies, media houses, record labels and other potential employers for your clients.
Signing clients, exclusively or non-exclusively, is also a major part of this line of work and you will need to be able to attract the top talent in order to ensure that other performers begin to use your agency too. Reputation will go a long way!
What qualities are essential to succeed in artist representation, management and promotion?
People management is another skill that you will need if you want to work in this industry. You will also need bags of confidence and a knack for getting on with others. Most of your career will be built on the relationships and bonds you form with others. Furthermore, you need to get the best out of your clients, so that they perform at the right times and get the job done. This will help them to promote themselves and your services at the same time.
As a representative of a performer, you will be under pressure to provide your client with suitable work and you will need to be able to handle yourself in tricky situations. For example, you may find yourself acting as a spokesperson for your clients or having to defend audacious claims about them.
Is it difficult to build a career in this industry?
Building a healthy reputation for your agency and your clients is of paramount importance. Reaching the top of this profession can take time and luck. If you are able to work with a rising star, it can be a quick route to the top; if not, you will need to prove you have consistently good judgment in the clients you choose and you must provide a steady stream of work for them.
Artist representation and management is full of confident people that have a mastery of communication in all forms. If you can understand the needs of your clients and you have top notch communication skills you will be in a great position to go far in this line of work.
If finding the next Justin Bieber is on your agenda then, firstly, we salute you for being a Belieber! Secondly, we suggest you check out the occupational profile of an agent to get a real idea of whether babysitting burgeoning superstars is the one for you!