How do you know if your Christian band needs to hire a manager? Who do you hire? When should you hire?
Answering these questions incorrectly can leave your band broke. Be careful when hiring a band manager.
Here’s the video transcript:
There comes a time when most Christian bands need to hire a manager.
The first step is to determine if you need a band manager, and then when to hire a manager.
I am a strong advocate of Christian bands starting out as member managed bands. A member managed band uses one of the band members to do the tasks of the personal and business manager. It’s important that only one member of the band takes on these responsibilities to avoid confusion both in the band and with people the band does business. Frequently that same member will also do the booking for the band. But when the responsibilities of being the manager take too much time, booking can be delegated to another member of the band. At that point the band has a manager and a booking agent, who are both members of the band.
Here’s Some Advantages of Being a Member Managed Band:
• The band retains much more control over their careers as all decisions are made internally.
• The band is not locked into management or booking agent contracts.
• The band saves money—member managers are usually paid an extra 5-10% of the gross from gigs for the extra work. The band picks up the tab for all expenses such as postage, phone calls and office supplies.
Reasons NOT to be a Member Managed Band:
• No members of the band are at least 18 years old. Parents can become liable when minors sign contracts and this is never a good idea because the parents assets are at risk.
• No members have the skills needed to accomplish management tasks.
• No members have the time needed to accomplish management tasks due to family or work responsibilities.
… and the best reason of all… the band is so busy playing shows that no one can keep up with management and booking.
If any of these reasons are true for you, it’s time to start looking to hire a non-member manager.
What Kind of Manager Do You Need?
There are three kinds of managers for a band:
Hiring the wrong kind of manager at the wrong time can leave your Christian Band broke. Generally when a younger band talks about hiring a manager they’re referring to a personal manager. The business manager is hired later, after keeping track of the bands finances becomes too much work for the personal manager to handle. The road manager is hired after the band books major tours. They take care of all the details of the band travelling.
The personal manager is usually the first person to be hired by a band.
What does a personal manager do? The personal manager is the director of operations for your business. He or she guides all areas of the band’s career and all other people on your team report to them. They help with major decisions, give opinions during songwriting and recording, coordinate publicity and marketing, work with the record company and publisher, coordinate tours, and act as a buffer between the artist and the professional world. When a band first starts up the personal manager usually does booking as well.
How much does a personal manager get paid?
The managers’ usual contract is 3-5 years. Some managers work on a handshake, feeling this is more ethical. Others want an actual signed contract to protect their investment in your band. Personal managers usually receive 15-20% of gross, which is all the money the band makes before deducting any expenses and before the group divides it, plus the expenses they incur from travelling and working in their office.
For example: The band gets 4 shows in one month with total performance fees of $800. They also sell $500 in merchandise and get another $200 in donations. So, the total months’ income is $1,500. The manager would receive $300, which is 20%. They would also get paid travelling expenses to the shows if the band didn’t provide those things (gas, food, and housing). So, the manager could get another $300. Plus the manager charges the band for office expenses such as phone, postage, photocopies etc. which could be another $200. In the end the manager would get $800 that month and the band would be left with $700 to cover all their expenses and split the rest to pay themselves or invest in the ministry.
These are just made up numbers, but they are not at all unrealistic. It is possible for the manager to get paid more than everyone in the band combined. If a band hires a manager before they can afford to pay them from band money the individual members of the band must make up the difference. The band manager gets paid regardless of the band actually making a profit, covering their other expenses, or paying themselves. Ideally the band manager will increase band income as well as profit, but this is not always the case. A young band, a band that has gained a poor reputation or an incompetent manager can lead to a lack of funds.
My Best Advice Before Hiring a Personal Manager:
DO NOT hire your best friend.
They probably don’t have the skills or connection needed to advance the band’s career. Band managers are in conflict with the band frequently—it is part of their job. They should be challenging the band to grow in every area. This can really stress friendships, and could eventually cost you your best friend.
Realize that you need a good manager more than he or she needs you.
A professional manager doesn’t make enough money from new bands 15-20% of their income to be worth their time. So, if you find one treat them well and give them what they want as long as they have a proven track record.
Most likely the band will have to start out with an unproven manager. In that case negotiate their contract to limit what is considered to be the managers’ expenses and get some of the band’s expenses (especially recording expenses) to count prior to figuring the manager’s percentage of the gross. For example: don’t allow the manager to take travel expenses; instead offer the manager travel with the band and the band pays for meals and housing not provided by the venues just as it would for a band member. The band could also limit office expenses to a set amount each month with written permission required prior to any additional expenses. Unless the manager is directly responsible for managing and operating the merchandise table, don’t allow this income to be counted as part of the band’s gross income. In the end, negotiate what seems to be fair to both the band and the manager.
Take time to discuss terms prior to hiring and be sure to write down what you agree on. Memories have a way of slanting in favor of the person doing the remembering. People get funny when dealing with money, especially if there are any other conflicts involved. Discussing and putting terms in writing may help preserve your relationship in difficult times.
One Final Word of Advice:
Make sure your band has a legal business structure BEFORE you sign a contract with a manager. I would highly recommend you seek legal counsel from an entertainment attorney to set up your business and negotiate the manager’s contract; especially if you’re planning to work with a management company or professional manager.
I hope your band gets to the place that you are so busy that you need to hire a professional manager. But my best advice is to not to do this too soon because the expenses and the liabilities may be more than your band can reasonably handle.
Do you need more help with booking and management decisions for your Christian band?
One of the best tools we have developed for you at Christian Band Help is The Christian Band Handbook. This resource book covers topics such as defining your ministry’s mission, how to find the right band members, choosing and protecting your band’s name, copyrights, press kits and booking, music marketing, how to make the most of your ministry dollars, and a whole lot more.
We know what it’s like to be a Christian musician. Between us my husband Mark and I have over 60 years of experience in almost every aspect of music ministry. I wrote this book so you can learn from our experience. We want to help you launch your band on the journey to impact the world around you while avoiding the pitfalls along the way.
The Christian Band Handbook is available as a paperback or e-book on Amazon and most e-book retailers.
For more information go to ChristianBandHelp.com, click on ‘Store’ on the navigation bar, and then click on ‘Christian Band Handbook’. Or you can click on the link directly below this video.
Do you need more help creating an extraordinary music ministry? Check out all the resources and articles on ChristianBandHelp.com. And as always feel free to e-mail Marie@ChristianBandHelp.com with questions.
Thanks for joining me today.
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