The Double Role as an Artist-Manager
Managing yourself as an artist is similar to standing with each foot in two different worlds.
The artist is the creative, sensitive side.
It's the heart, the soul, it's the emotions.
Sometimes the artist needs protection from outer influences.
She doesn't care about making the work sustainable - for the artist,
only music matters, her job is to hone her craft.
The manager is the calculating, non-emotional side.
It's the brain, the intellect.
Her function is to take care of the artist,
to have a career vision, so that the artist can make a living.
She negotiates with clients, agents, organizers, she takes care of things the artist wasn't even aware that they exist.
In a way, we all have the two roles inside of us, some of us though, are actively pursuing both.
It's the double live of creatives.
I sometimes feel like the Colossus of Rhodes.
That big guy standing with each foot on different shores.
Isn't it amazing that this statue actually existed?
But the question is how to combine these very different roles and keep your sanity?
How can one do this balancing act?
What helps me most is to separate the roles clearly.
For the "desk tasks" of sending concert proposals and
dealing with organizers,
I block out a chunk of time in my calendar to take care of "things to do" that I've been collecting.
I have the materials ready before I start.
These can include: a website,
a HELLOSTAGE profile, social media, a PDF with informations
about programmes and the musicians, links to audio and video,
a demo-CD, business cards and a concert rider.
I have someone with me on concert days.
On those days, I will have someone jump in
for me to do the management part,
especially if I'm organizing the concert myself.
On concert days there are so many things to take care of,
that have nothing to do with music,
that there comes a moment where I consciously step away
from the manager role so I can be the musician.
Obviously, the management tasks are not over
when the artist steps on stage.
I communicate as much as I can in written form.
With organizers, as well as fellow musicians:
what they said yesterday, they will forget tomorrow.
I learned this the hard way.
So I follow up a telephone conversation with a short email:
these were the things we talked about, this is our agreement.
Also: I try to write my communication as short and clear
as I can. The shorter it is, the more likely that it will be understood.
I collect information about each project separately.
I have a spreadsheet where I write down the
latest communication for each organizer with the date attached
to it, so I know what the situation is instantly
and I don't have to keep it in my head.
I learned to say "no".
I have to decline offers because I only have so much
space in my management calendar.
This is the only way I can keep the joy and quality of my work,
as a manager and as a musician.
I always keep an eye on the musician in me.
Sometimes I'm a manager who makes music and sometimes
I'm a musician who manages herself.
I'm a fierce protector of my sleep.
I have my system in place to make sure I get
good quality sleep. Sometimes I fail at this -
but I'm getting better.
I enjoy the interaction with people.
Working and interacting with people is one
of my favourite things to do.
It can make my day more fun and gives me energy instead
of draining it.
I'd like to know: how do you keep your sanity while managing yourself?
I'd love to read about your experience in the comments.
Maria Busqué is a coach for musical performance and a freelance harpsichord player based in Berlin.
You can follow her on twitter, @maria_busque,
visit her HELLOSTAGE page
or find out more about her work at www.mariabusque.net.