Beginning the search for a manager is an exciting time, even if a bit daunting. Not easily found as a subject in performance curriculums at schools and universities, if at all, seeking management is none the less an important topic for everyone looking at making singing a career. You are considering a relationship that will affect your livelihood and growth as an artist, hopefully for many many years to come. When is the time ‘right’ to obtain a manager? Regardless of your age, education and vocal abilities, when it comes to looking for management there are a few things you need to know and things you need to have at the ready before most to all managers will take notice let alone grant you an audition or offer you a contract.
The best advice we can give you is to start searching for a manager when you have something to manage. What do we mean by this?
- Get performing experience, as much as you can, and as varied as you can prior to seeking management. This lets a potential manager know you are actually out there performing, gaining experience, perhaps making money already, perhaps obtaining reviews, recordings etc.
- It is always good to show a potential manager that you have work coming up! It shows you are not only talented but proactive, positive, and people want to work with you.
- Perhaps you have an offer from somewhere – contact a manager and ask their help with negotiating the contract. This shows them that you are serious about working, you ARE working, and the manager may make more money for you (as that also increases their commission). Remember this is a business and when managers see they can make money with you then you become the commodity that managers want and you may even find yourself having several from which to choose.
- Managers with smaller rosters might take a chance on the voice alone (meaning no experience to speak of) but that is very rare in the business.
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- Graduating from a major young artist program certainly can be beneficial as often the company in which the young artist is a part may be likely to take a chance on that young artist (you) singing major roles for them in the future based on their success in the program.
- When a mid-tier opera company’s artistic or general director tells you that you are ‘ready for management’ it is probably time to get moving. Reach out to people you trust, including your voice teacher, vocal coaches, trusted colleagues and friends in the business, and ask for their advice. Often, these are the people that will tell you when you are ready for management.
- These days, reaching out to connect with a manager or management company is fairly easy as most have email addresses on their websites. Emailing your materials is generally preferred to physical mailings. You should always include a resume/biography, repertoire list, reviews, pictures, website and sound/video clips. When your materials are well put together and complete, it is easier for managers to get you work and this is what they are thinking – “So and so, has her act together, everything is very professional, great pictures, reviews, and her sound clips are very good – I can work with this, in fact, I bet ‘so and so company’ is looking for a (role you are suited for) and she might work.” A good manager will see, hear potential and capitalize on it, give it a try, especially if they see you have your act together.
Some other basics:
- Do not have your mother or father or family member call a manager for you. (It happens more often than you think.)
- It is more important to have a recommendation from someone who might hire you for a job in the future than from your voice teacher.
- Your website and sound/video clips are extremely important. Make sure they accurately represent your talents.
- Look at the manager’s website you are considering reaching out to so as to determine how many other people on that roster sing your repertoire. Then ask yourself: Do I want to be on that roster?
- Do you know anyone who is represented by the manager or managers you are considering? Are their singers working? If not…then it may not be the manager/agency for you.
- Does the manager require a retainer? Some managers have been known to charge up to $1200 per month just to be on their roster. While this is excessive an out of the ordinary most charge fees. Just make sure you know what they are charging you for before you sign anything.
- Consider contacting a singer on the manager’s roster you are considering. They can often answer many questions you may have when there is interest from their manager.
- A singing career often involves a lot of travel. If you don’t love to travel this is something to consider.
A manager should be a great asset to your career but you must be your own manager as well by staying on top of your voice and your performance skills. Whether you have management, are seeking management or have not yet begun seeking management but are readying yourself to, be responsible for your talent, keep your performances skills as high quality as possible, sing well and always connect with your joy for the art and what you share with others. Stay the course, believe in yourself and you will SHINE!