Over the years I’ve had meetings with artists who claimed they were ready for a team (i.e. record company, manager, booking agent), but discovered their wishes were way too early in the game. There is a right time and a wrong time. Allow me to explain.
I’ll never forget meeting with an artist several years ago who almost, but didn’t quite ‘make it’. Four or five labels in Nashville were seriously considering signing this band. Their sound was unbelievable. They had great songs, a phenomenal recording, and to make matters even better, the band lived together and practiced 6-8 hours per day. Then we found out the truth – this band had only played 2 shows in the past year. Suddenly, every label walked away. It was just too early to have a team.
Weekly, I get calls from artists asking for management assistance, only to find out there isn’t anything for me to manage. Record labels get demos from artists who are seeking a recording contract, but are unaware of why they need a label. Booking agents get calls from those who “can’t find any shows” only to find out that booking agents are looking for artists who have some element of demand.
So ask yourself this question: When is the right time to get a team behind my career?
1 – WHEN THE LOAD IS ABOUT TO BREAK YOU – How many appearances/bookings/gigs are you doing every year? If the answer is less than 50, it’s definitely not the right time to surround yourself with a team. Team members LOVE to have a work load. They want to feel like they’re invested in something that is working. The time is right when you’re able to delegate part of your workload to a manager, agent or record label.
2 – WHEN THE MONEY GETS SERIOUS – Understanding that agents and managers work on commission, is your career/brand generating enough money that they would be excited to get their percentage? Remember, we’re talking about team members who want to earn their living, just like you. If the numbers aren’t there, it may be best to wait.
3 – WHEN GOD SAYS YES – Okay, sounds simplistic, but business wishes sometimes can overshadow that gentle whisper that comes from God. Have you spent time praying about a team? Have you asked God to provide you with the right people? Have you prayed for your business while understanding that it belongs to God?
While considering these three guidelines, God will give you exactly the team you need at the right time.
In the meantime, spend most of your time focusing on #3.
About Chris Erlanson: Chris is founder and President of 168 Management in Nashville, TN. 168 Management serves artists such as Phillips, Craig and Dean, Bryan Popin and No Other Name. Chris’ track record in Christian music includes eight years in management at INO Records working with artists like The Jonas Brothers, MercyMe, CeCe Winans, Darlene Zschech, Chris Rice, Sara Groves, The Afters, SONICFLOOd, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and numerous others. Before moving to Nashville, Chris spent time as a buyer for a Christian bookstore, served as music director and on-air talent for various radio stations, and worked as an independent producer. To top it all off, he’s taken 8 years of piano lessons and still can’t read music.