3 Reasons Managers Don't Take You On
You pour your heart into your performances. You practice — even when there are a million other things you’d rather be doing. You take time to grow your network and expand your reach.
But when you reach out to managers and agents, you keep hearing the same thing: no.
If you have the talent, the drive, and the foundation for a successful career — why can’t you get a manager or agent?
Today, we’re going to remove the mystery behind why an agent or manager signs some artists but not others.
What Artist Managers are Really Looking for
To find representation, you need to know what artist managers really want from the artists they represent.
But before we get into that, let us explain how we know what artist managers want.
It’s pretty simple: we manage artists!
While you might know us as the founders of iCadenza — a company that helps independent, freelancing artists — we also own Cadenza Artists, a talent agency and artist management company.
As such, we are frequently approached by artists looking for representation. (And we are constantly in awe of just how much talent there is in the world!)
Having said that, most of the cold inquiries we get from artists don’t lead to us offering them representation. And that’s because the artists — even if they’re extremely talented — aren’t giving us what we’re really looking for.
To help you avoid hearing a no, we’re sharing the top three reasons that an agent or manager won’t take you on.
Reason #1 You’re not ready
Many artists approach us saying that they need a manager to take their careers to the next level so that they can focus exclusively on their art.
Unfortunately, this indicates a lack of understanding of what it takes to succeed as a musician in today’s climate.
Unlike in the past, where sheer talent might have been enough to win an agent, today’s agents are looking for artists who are bookable right now, or have the potential to be bookable in the near future.
To be “bookable” requires that:
- Presenters want to hire you
- Audiences want to buy tickets to see you perform
That means that you or your offering must be so obviously compelling that audiences would want to buy a ticket just by seeing a picture in a brochure or by hearing about your upcoming show.
That means you must have done the difficult work on your own of creating a solid product and booking your own gigs — all before you hire a manager.
Hello Stage (as well as other social networking sites) are fantastic for building an audience and communicating with your fans! For better or for worse, presenters are looking at the kind of social following that you have gained.
Reason #2 You’re an “undercover” diva
Some musicians who have gained a certain level of success have a reputation for being difficult to work with.
And we don’t mean the traditional idea of diva — where you make unreasonable demands or require a certain level of luxury.
We mean any behavior or habit that makes you difficult to work with. It could be a negative attitude, emotional outbursts, a lazy work ethic (see reason #3 below) — or even being unresponsive to emails.
That’s why we call it “undercover.” You might be turning potential agents and managers off without even knowing it!
Given the plethora of talent available, both agents and presenters will almost always opt to work with an artist who is professional, respectful, responsive, and a good colleague.
Here’s an example. An artist we previously worked with was incredibly kind but rarely responded to our emails. As much as we liked this person, their unresponsiveness made it much harder for us to do our job! Opportunities would come and go, which meant fewer gigs for them.
We prefer to work for artists who help us get them opportunities by being our partner in the process. Which leads directly to our third and final reason that managers won’t take you on.
Reason #3 You don't understand your role in the artist-manager partnership
Success requires healthy dynamic between an artist and his/her manager. Many artists think that getting a manager is the golden ticket to success.
They believe that now they can just sit back and wait for the phone to ring.
Getting representation means entering into a collaborative partnership. Be prepared to be in conversation with your manager regularly, and be prepared to bring effort, ideas, and energy.
Getting signed by a manager doesn’t mean that your work on your career ends — it’s just entering a different phase.
How to Make the Leap
Although it can be challenging to find a manager or agent, it’s not impossible.
Remember that there is great value in being a competent, self-representing artist. That means you should take time now to learn how to package yourself, book your own gigs and tours, and grow your audience — without an agent or manager.
Only then will you have the skills, background, and foundation you need to find an agent or manager who can’t wait to work with you. (And who knows, maybe it will be us!)
Jennifer Rosenfeld and Julia Torgovitskaya work with driven musicians who are looking for a high standard of support to push past their plateaus and bring their big ideas into reality. At iCadenza, they help emerging and seasoned musicians grow their careers without sacrificing their other dreams. If you want to book your own gigs and tours — even if you don’t have a manager yet, check out our FREE 7-step guide:
Make What You’re Worth: How to Get into Venues That Pay.