Beehive Tips: An Artist Management Perspective

Engaging management as an artist can be tricky. When do you know you need one?
Can someone in your band be both a performer and manager at the same time?

To get a perspective on artist management from someone who has been through it all, all the while diversifying her own skill set, we got in touch with The Brag’s Millie Dwyer. Below, she’s given us her specific insight into her job as an artist manager: what she looks for in new artist pitches, hurdles she’s had to clear and more.

As we’ve noted throughout our Tips series, the relationship music publicists have with all tiers of the industry filters down through many roles. Radio programmers, publication editors and of course, artist managers, are all part of the eco-system.

Beehive PR’s lucky to be engaged with so many fantastic individuals – check out our Q&A with Millie below to find out about just one of ’em!

How did you get into artist management – was it something you had always wanted to explore?

I got into artist management five years into my career in the music industry. I’d been working in other areas of the industry in PR / Marketing and then live entertainment as a booking agent and tour manager.

I loved both of these roles, but working with the artists and talent directly is where I found myself to be the most passionate. It’s a role that involves wearing so many hats and it’s never boring. I love being involved in the creation from the early stages, all the way through to marketing, touring and brand development.

You’re essentially building a business together and being involved in the wins and even the losses during the come up is so rewarding. 

What can you remember being a significant hurdle you had to overcome as a young artist manager and how has that lesson helped you out today?

There’s been so many lessons! One that holds significance would be balancing the relationship as manager and friend. Early on I found this really hard because you do often grow really close when you’re spending so much time together and have so much respect for what they do.

Finding that sweet spot between being the friend who always has their best interest at heart, and being an assertive, business minded manager is game changing. These days that’s the mindset from the get go when taking on new clients and I’ve finally mastered it!

When it comes to working with artists, how crucial is transparency and communication to not just fostering a great relationship with them, but for their brand as a whole?

There’s a lot of trust involved in an artist / manager relationship so it’s so crucial. You’re representing the artist and their brand so everything you touch on their behalf has to be in line with their values and their vision.

Being aligned and united in the vision is just as important so communication is massive. I find making sure we have structure, where we do WIP’s every week no matter what and have an agenda of everything we need to go through helps a lot. 

Do you think all artists need management from the jump, or is it something they should only be looking into when they reach a certain level or point in their journey?

It really depends on the artist. I don’t think it’s necessary right away in a lot of cases as there are so many resources out there these days. I think from the jump it’s great to have a mentor who is doing what you aspire to be doing.

Some artists are amazing at the creative process and struggle on the brand-building side which is where a good manager can help. Other artists are so self-sufficient on both fronts and may not need a manager until the volume of opportunities and requests start to impede on their creative process.

It’s really up to the individual but I think if you can, DIY for as long as possible then negotiate a great deal for yourself (with a lawyer)!

As someone who must be approached by potential clients frequently, what is it that you’re looking for? How should an artist pitch themselves to potential management?

For me, direction and discipline is a big indicator of how successful someone will be. It’s small things I notice that aren’t necessarily anything to do with their talent, like replying to emails and being on time to meetings.

Another thing I learnt early on is that an artist can be so amazingly talented and passionate, but if they’re not willing to put in the hard, slow grind and work the long hours that it takes to become a successful artist then being their manager is like pushing a wheelbarrow of concrete up a hill.

My advice would be to be professional in a way that’s natural to you and be prepared. Let them know how serious you are about your career and clear on the direction you’re looking to go in. That shows dedication.