• Joe Sage

1 - Getting Signed To Management

This is the question I by far get asked about the most so I thought it would be the perfect topic for the first in this new series of blogs.

Nearly every unsigned band I work with asks me the same question “Hey Joe, how can we get signed?” or “Hey Joe, how does working with you affect getting signed?”

What Is Management?

Firstly, I think a good thing to address what a management company is as you’d be surprised at the number of people who get it confused with a record label. A record label is a more traditional route. In the halcyon days, they’d give you a huge recording budget to head into whatever studio you liked to write and record your brand new album. Whereas management will handle tasks such as booking tour dates, creating electronic press kits, organising your social media output and many other tasks depending on the company.

Is Management for me?

This nicely leads me on to a massive point and one of my main hesitations when bands ask about getting signed to management… it varies; wildly! I worry sometimes that bands get caught up in the romance of the phrase “getting signed” or “talk to my manager” and ignoring the small print of the actual deal itself. When considering management, the questions to ask yourself are;

  • How does being signed to this management actually affect me/us?

  • Do I actually need it?

And by the second point, I mean can you do the things they offer and save money in the process? Not to mention, plenty of acts, that have had great commercial and non-commercial success, have scrapped the conventional routes and are totally independent. Some further examples can be found in my free e-book The 5 Biggest Mistakes Independent Musicians Are Making'. Get your copy here.

How Do I Find Management?

If you’ve asked yourself these questions, answered them HONESTLY (you’re cheating no-one but yourself here) and still decide that management is the right option for you then here is some advice to attract the kinds of management companies that you want. I spoke to Tom, the drummer for London Indie-Rock Band, the Taboos, who have just signed to management (I’ll leave a link to their socials at the bottom of this blog). Asking for his advice on how to attract management, this is what he had to say;

“In terms of management, I’d say the most important step for us was putting a lot more effort into our image. If you have a professional website, a strong EPK, professional recordings, etc it already puts you to the front of the list for a lot of submissions.
For us, our management loves the fact that we were already pursuing PR and investing a lot of money and time behind the scenes with our social rather than just being a band that shows up and plays gigs”

Tom makes a really good point here. In my opinion, the band did an incredible job of managing and laying in the groundwork themselves to allow a perfect and seamless transition for a management company to take them to the next level. Too many bands I’ve spoken to have yet to release a single before they start looking into management! Think about it, if you were a management company, would you take on a band that hasn’t released any songs? I’d certainly be very suspicious of any companies that do.

Getting Signed

So you’ve considered all the above, done your research and found a management company you like the look of. Here are some questions to consider asking them;

  • How does payment work?

  • Are they taking a percentage or are you paying them a flat monthly fee?

Ask them to outline everything they’re responsible for as your management for the next 12 months. This means you can hold them accountable if you feel like they aren’t doing their job properly. Too often I’ve heard “we signed for blah blah, and they’ve not done anything we expected”. Further probing finds that they signed up for exactly what they weren’t expecting and all because they got too caught up to read the fine print of their deal.

As a side note you might be worried about asking questions but here’s some food for thought. If they aren’t prepared to answer your questions now, what will happen when you really need to rely on them for sage advice. It should set off some red flags if they avoid answering your questions.

My final bit of advice would be this; don’t suffer in silence. If something doesn’t feel right or confuses you then just ask. What’s the worst that could happen? Don’t be afraid to ask the opinion of friends and family; they can often be great for having a different perspective on things you might not have considered. Find a family member who disapproves of your choice to pursue music and ask them for their opinion (stay with me on this one). I promise you they’ll offer up points and perspectives you’ve never considered before.

Or even better… you could reach out to your favourite half Welsh, half scouse mix engineer with the initials JS and ask for their opinion… (unlike your Auntie Susan, I approve of your life choices to pursue music).

What are your experiences with management companies? Let me know in the comments below!

Get My Free E-Book 'The 5 Biggest Mistakes Independent Musicians Are Making' Here

Also, you can check out Tom's band, The Taboos here.