Assembling a winning team: Choosing a Personal Manager.
Most performers in the entertainment industry have a team of representatives looking after various aspects of the Artist's career. The manager, agent, business manager and attorney are all integral to a successful and fulfilling career. In this article, I'll discuss the role of the personal manager. In future articles, I'll discuss the other members of your winning team.
A personal manager is generally a person with experience and skills in the entertainment industry, who will advise and counsel you on nearly all aspects of your professional life. Your manager will likely have advice for you on your selection of parts, wardrobe, where and when to make public appearances, photographs, publicity materials and in some cases, perhaps even on aspects of your personal life. Your personal manager will be the primary contact for the other members of your team, coordinating the activities of your agents, lawyer, accountant and other representatives.
Since signing with a manager can be a lot like a marriage, it's important to choose very carefully. Obviously, you'll want somebody with whom you get along well, who believes in you and your future, and who will help you achieve your goals. When speaking to a manager it's a good idea to ask for and check his or her references. I can't stress enough the importance of a thorough knowledge and understanding of this extraordinary industry, so your manager should be experienced and well connected. An inexperienced manager can be worse than no representation at all. Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous managers who will try to latch on to a promising young artist in hopes of riding to the success on his or her coattails.
A typical manager's contract lasts from 3 to 5 years. This can feel like a very long time if you're unhappy with your management. One safeguard that you can often negotiate with the manager is an earnings benchmark. For example, the agreement might provide that either party can terminate the agreement if your earnings have not reached a certain level within the first year. This gives both the you and the manager a way out if the relationship isn't working.
Most management agreements give the manager broad power to act on the artist's behalf. This power of attorney allows the manager to handle day-to-day matters without constantly getting the artist's permission. It should, however, be limited only to the day-to-day business matters, and not to the larger, more creative decisions such as which jobs to take or turn down.
Managers are generally paid a commission, usually between fifteen and twenty percent of the artist's gross earnings. Sometimes, though, it is possible to adjust this so commissions aren't calculated until after the deduction of various expenses. An often difficult point to be negotiated with a manager involves the manager's compensation after the agreement has expired. The manager will want to receive commissions on all work originally performed or booked during the term, while the artist will want to have these payments eventually come to an end ( i.e., a Sunset Clause). In addition, since managers often act as producers, it's important to ensure that the manager will not receive commissions on work performed where the manager is also your employer.
Finally, you'll want your manager to account to you frequently. Two to four times a year, your manager should provide you with a detail of your earnings and expenses, and of the commissions the manager has received. The contract should also require that the manager keep you informed of all job offers, and activities conducted on your behalf.
Your relationship with your personal manager must be one founded on mutual trust and respect. Artist/Manager relationships often span the artist's entire career, so selecting the right representation is of the utmost importance.
This article was originally published in Callback Kids magazine
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