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PROS AND CONS OF ARTIST MANAGERS

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MBABANE – Artist managers play a huge role in helping artists develop their craft, however, this comes with advantages and disadvantages.

An artist manager is an industry professional who helps artists meet their goals, find opportunities and market their music. They often act as both representatives for and advisors to musicians, helping shape their career direction and professional activities. There are quite a few local artists who have realised the need to have managers, these include The Scientists, Mandisa Mamba, Lyrikal Busta, !Sooks, Sarnilo, Young Zesh as well as M Nation. The role they play is vital, especially when it comes to establishing networking channels for the artists as well as assisting them in positioning their brand in the market. However, this comes at a price as there can be advantages that are associated with the profession.

Managers usually earn a percentage, it can be anything between 10-30 per cent of the gross income made by the band or artist. In most cases, and depending on the agreement, this applies only to income that the manager helps to generate. In some cases, it may apply to all income made by the artist, even if the manager didn’t actively help generate it. There are some international managers who have made moves in the entertainment industry by securing artists as clients who have done well in the entertainment industry. These include; Rene Angelil who is managing multi award- winning artist Celine Dion, Jonny Shipes who is rapper Joey Badass as well as Big Krit’s manager. There is also Scooter Braun who manages Justin Bieber. These artists are all well-known in the international stage through the management skills of these individuals.

Thembinkosi Mthethwa manages multiple local artists such as Mandisa Mamba. She has bagged gigs in Maseru, Lesotho. According to Mthethwa, managers are of significance in an artists career as they handle the business side of the career. “To have a representative as an artist makes your work easier, you are taken seriously and people cannot just take advantage of you when you have representatives. Whenever you have someone doing things on your behalf, you appear professional. This makes formulation of important aspects such as clauses easier as this enables the artist to operate based on some certain guidelines that govern your craft,” Mthethwa said.

“Artist managers further open a lot of doors for the artist. They do not only represent the artist, but they also secure gigs and manage the market for the artist. If an artist is operating without a manager, they are exposed to exploitation where you will find that he or she is underpaid because there is no one to advocate for them based on the artist’s ratings. Artists are busy people, naturally they do need extra hands which is mainly from their managers,” shared Mthethwa.

Echoed

Melusi ‘Zox’ Dlamini echoed Mthethwa’s words to the effect that managers are important for artists as they assist them in achieving their goals. “Every artist needs a manager who is going to lead a team that will help them achieve their goals so they are able to focus on their creative journey, which is their strength. It is not advisable for artists to dabble as managers themselves. It is easy for that to happen because of the size of our industry and economics currently. But I personally wouldn’t advice that. The manager focuses on the business, both in a day-to-day and long-term sense. They help artists book gigs, plan album projects, public relations, orchestrate record releases and tours, create marketing and merchandising strategies.  Being an artist is a business, and growth is essential in business,” Dlamini said. 

Upscale Live artist manager Sibusiso ‘3T’ Simelane, who is currently managing Lyrikal Busta, Young Zesh as well as Sean Cast HQ, says artists need to have managers if they are looking to achieve more in the local industry. “First of all artists are the business, or should I say an investment, so every business or investment needs to be managed properly for it to succeed and bring back revenue. With that said, artists need to have managers or a team if they have a global superstar vision,” Simelane said. He went on to say that: “Having a manager helps the artist to be more creative and effective. You grow very fast, because all your behind the scenes day to day duties are taken care of, which gives you more time to focus on perfecting the craft. Because without the craft being perfect, the artist will never be a global superstar.

Theory

I very much believe in the 10 thousand hours theory, and now you need more than that because 10 thousand has turned to be entry level, you got to triple those hours to be recognised at national level at least, meaning you have to work 10 times the average artist to go international.’’ Simelane further said one can’t achieve that while they also run their day to day duties. The main duty for an artist is to create. So a manager helps with the day to day duties.  Artist managers are music industry professionals with the same passion as artists. He went on to touch on some of the benefits associated with artists’ managers as well as the job that they do for artists. “Managers often help oversee an artist to meet their long-term goals, find opportunities and market their music. They act as both representatives for and advisors to musicians, helping shape their career direction and professional activities.

Managers also help book gigs, plan tours or create merchandise. Additional responsibilities could be to help inform producers and labels of their artists’ work and otherwise strive to grow the reputation of the artists they manage,” Simelane said. Nhlonipho Dlamini, who is a local artist based in South Africa (SA), shared with this publication that having a manager may sometimes block chances of collaborating with random people even if you want to work with them. “The disadvantage of having a manager is that sometimes you won’t get to work with random people even if you like them. A good manager knows when to say no to features that won’t add value or improve your brand. At the same time I feel like it is good to protect the artists’ brand. However, it is very important to have a manager, someone who takes care of your business while you focus on the creative side.” He went on to say that a manager hunts for opportunities to improve the brand while an artist focuses on making more songs. “I feel like having a good manager helps reduce stress for an artist,” Dlamini shared.

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