When you talk about qualifications that speaks to the ‘what’ of the manager’s role. But it doesn’t tell you about who they are as a person. It doesn’t tell you about their character.
Hiring a manager is a lot like getting married.
Its likely that you will spend lots of time with that person so its important that you know who they are from a character point of view. Every person has their own unique personality. Some folks are shy. Some folks are outgoing. Some are passive. Some are aggressive. Having a great chemistry is what you want. When that mixture of personalities is just right great things can happen. Every manager will have their own personality type as well. So let’s talk about what the great personality traits are of a manager.
First and foremost they need to be honest in good times and bad.
If the goal is to constantly improve then many times the manager will be the one talking about the ‘things we can do better’ or things that ‘we are doing wrong”. And let’s face it, most folks do not want to hear about what they are doing wrong. But, the truth is the truth and somebody has to put it on the table in an honest way if you want to keep getting better.
Manager has to accept responsibility.
Every manager will make mistakes and the honest ones own up to it, accept responsibility for their decisions and try to do better on the next one. Those managers will constantly be delivering bad news. The record is not selling. Radio does not want to play the single. The record company is not happy with the music you’ve turned in. The tour is not going well. Hiding from bad news does not make it go away.
Manager has to have integrity.
A manager has to have personal integrity to play fair, treat people with respect, to set the crossbar for how you will handle your business, whether its with a band member, another professional, or a partner. The music business has had its share of talented artists and professionals who’ve had success without being honest and acting with integrity. Sad but true. But if you are looking to stick around a while that catches up to you. That’s not who you want to be in business with.
A manager has to be decisive.
Time is always of the essence in the music biz. When the great opportunities come, you’ll need to make decisions in a timely way even when the answers are not always clear. I’ve seen situations over the years where artists have hesitated on a critical decision and somebody else comes along and steals it away. He who hesitates is lost. Make sure your manager can pull the trigger when the time comes. Manager has to have conviction. The manager is the filter for just about every decision that will come your way. Big ones, little ones, and everything in between. And all those decisions will need an answer. So you’ll need to evaluate each one best you can.
And that manager better have done their homework.
Because they can assume that every decision they make will be second guessed whether its from the client or a record company or a promoter. They need to be comfortable with accepting the responsibility of the decision making process. Know that every great decision you make won’t get much praise but every one you get wrong will be all yours, no matter whose idea it is. When they make that call you better believe that its the best one.
Manager needs to be assertive to sell that idea to all the parties who need to be a part of it.
Whether you are the quiet type or loud type. You need to be an advocate for the artist. It will be up to that manager to tell your story. They’ll need to have a clear vision and a well thought out plan. And they will need to articulate it to everybody. But not everybody is going to agree. All those money folks are going to want an opinion. Be ready for pushback. Your manager must be ready to defend your plan and win the debate. Sometimes it means putting a line in the sand. You can’t allow yourself to be intimidated when you have the right idea. The great managers assert their will and typically prevail.
Finally, the great manager will have a MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN attitude!
They will need to be the hardest worker. They’ll need to start early. Always available. . Managers do not wait for the game to come to them. Great managers can’t take no for an answer. They keep coming back. They are relentless in their desire to make progress. And truth be told I think they drive everybody a little crazy. Perhaps because the great ones all figured one important thing out. If the artist doesn’t win, neither do they.
So they make something happen!
Emily Gonneau, Manager of OK Go – Europe, talks Management: Have a Sense of Purpose
Emily Gonneau is part of this new wave of hungry, talented, and innovative Managers. She lives in Paris, teaching for Sorbonne, has a couple kids to raise, and still stays in the thick of the Music Biz running her own show at Unicum Music. Whether managing, consulting, or doing publishing, Emily has begun to make her mark on the European front. However, it wasn’t always this way for Emily. She started out just like the rest of us, but she was eager and willing to do what it takes, whether that meant holding down two jobs or working crazy hours. After busting her tail, she got in at a record label but found it to be too impersonal when working with artists. Her leap from label to Management surely was the right call because it led to her representing OK Go in Europe! Listen to Emily reflect on what it truly is to be a Manager: Have a Sense of Purpose for your Artist!