It's not easy to book shows, submit to labels, keep up with social media, manage merch orders... AND maintain the creative bandwidth to write good music. For that reason, some bands enlist in the help of a manager. I've heard about bands having both positive and negative outcomes from hiring a manager -- but never having had that experience myself, I reached out to band manager Cori Westbrook to learn a little more about what she does.
Westbrook may be new to managing bands, but she is a marketing professional by day and also writes and runs the Instagram account for the long-running music site Metal Injection. Between her day job expertise and her passion for heavy music, she was well-equipped to dive into band management and create success. Read on to learn about how she views her role with her clients, and what bands should expect when looking for a manager.
Asking as someone whose bands have never warranted being managed by anyone else, what kinds of things does a manager do for a band? What is part of that role?
In a nutshell, a manager's main role is to find opportunities for their bands to be heard, whether that is performing, interviewing, or attracting the attention of labels and promoters. They also keep the band on schedule and ensure everyone is meeting their deadlines. I get a bit more involved with my band as I have a few skill sets that are unique among managers: I built their website, set up their e-commerce, and manage their digital advertising. But the biggest thing a band manager is, is the bands #1 advocate.
What does a manager *not* do for a band?
A band manager cannot bring you fans. We can tell people about your music, but if the band isn't putting out quality, people will not respond. The band has to create in a way that resonates with people and they have to do so consistently.
You've been working with the French metal band Akiavel. How are things going with them?
Everything is going great! We are all very busy prepping to drop their new album on April 23rd. We have a lot of fun things in store: limited edition vinyl, new music videos, all new merch designs and a guest spot on Gimme Metal.
The thing with Akiavel is that they stay really engaged with their fans. The pre-orders haven't even started yet, and fans are already trying to reserve a copy of the limited edition vinyl. It's crazy and only going to get more busy as they grow!
What made you interested in doing band management?
It wasn't really something that I set out to do. From the beginning, when I first applied with Metal Injection, I knew I wanted to do *something* to support the industry, but not exactly what. It wasn't until I really got my hands dirty with Akiavel that I found my calling. With them, I got involved because 1 - I really, truly, loved their music. It was something I knew I could be passionate about supporting. And 2 - because they had no support, at least not in a formal, industry sense. They had their fans, but like most bands seem to have, they had a bad experience and were ripped off by somebody unscrupulous before me. Things like that make my blood boil and I just decided that, if people were going to be like that, I am going to be the opposite and do what I can to really support the industry.
What should bands look for in a potential manager? Other side of the coin, what red flags should they watch out for?
They should look for someone who is passionate about them and not just in this for a paycheck. If your manager isn't passionate, the band will get pushed aside when they do find something they are passionate about. They should also look at who they have worked with and what they have done. Akiavel took a big risk on me. I had never done anything like this before, so they really didn't have much to go off of. But for anyone who is approached by someone or looking for someone to manage them, look at their roster and check their references.
Beyond that, ask for a plan. If they cannot give you a plan for how they will help you, they aren't ready to be a manager.
A third thing to look for is how are they expecting to be paid? Many sketchy people will ask for a monthly fee to "manage" a band, take it, and then disappear. There is no incentive for the manager to do well in those types of relationships. Managers should be paid a percentage based on how well the band is doing. If my band isn't getting paid, I'm not getting paid.
If you could manage any band past or present, who would it be?
Cannibal Corpse 100%. I've been a fan of theirs ever since Ace Ventura and George Fisher is one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. There are a couple of others that I would love to work with like Lindsay Schoolcraft and Herr Nox. Those three and Akiavel would be the perfect roster.
Connect with Cori at the links below:
To learn more about budgeting, band finances, and more, order Money Hacks for Metalheads and Old Millennials in paperback and ebook formats: https://amzn.to/3lCsFdq
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