Let me take care of the boring stuff, while you get on with your doodling.
March 4, 2009 5:33 PM   Subscribe

Emerging and small/medium scale artists and creatives: what would you like your manager to do? What would compel you to hire the services of a manager/admin person/PA and how much would you be willing to pay?

I've been doing similar semi-managerial work for my best friend who's in broadcast media. Officially I manage her website and web presence, but I also manage fanmail, keep out the creepies, pass on job offers, liaise and organise job contacts & interviews, research opportunities, and help her hash out ideas. She finds me useful because she herself isn't very tech-savvy and doesn't know how to harness current technology as effectively as possible.

Based on my "charmed bridge" question, as well as past work & volunteer experience, I feel that I could do more this kind of work, as a freelancer or a business owner. Essentially I'd like to help artists concentrate more on their work by dealing with the extra not-creative side. I'm particularly interested in those who feel overwhelmed by the Internet (I've met TONS!) and who only have a basic poorly-designed site but not much else to help them get out there.

The things I thought of doing (that I'm actually pretty good at) are:
* Social media - knowing what their audience uses, maintain their web presence, etc
* Managing and screening fanmail
* Liaising and organising media/work/volunteer/speaking requests
* Research opportunities relevant to them (workshops, gigs, etc)
* Introduce them to other people they could collaborate with
* Taking care of "boring" paperwork (forms, visas, grants, etc)
* Ordering equipment/tools/items and finding good deals

Some other skills that may be handy include booking events, accounting, and PR/publicity, though I'm not as great in those as I am in the above.

If you were an independent creative person (of whatever form), what would compel you to hire a manager or assistant? What is the difference roles-wise between managers and PAs and assistants anyway? How much would you pay and how were you willing to pay for it?

Also, there are some tasks where I work better in collaboration with someone else - for instance, in managing people's websites, I usually deal with the concept and putting things together, while I get my boyfriend (who studies web services at uni) to code the website. How would I bring in a collaborator ethically and with fair compensation? Do I just recommend someone, get a commission, do it all myself?
posted by divabat to Work & Money (2 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Well, I'm a standup comedian and writer looking to make more of a career out of it, so I'm probably pretty close to your target market. Speaking for myself, I think I'm pretty good with computers etc. so while some advice on setting up e-commerce on my website would be cool, I'm much more interested in someone savvy on the industry side of things.

So I'm looking for something like a combination agent/manager who would give me savvy strategic advice, for example how much effort to focus on a talk for the lecture circuit while preparing my book proposal, how to brand myself and make choices about my looks, media appearances, and ways to dovetail the different aspects of my career.

Not sure that's much help to you directly, but at least an answer to your question finally.
posted by msalt at 10:02 PM on May 18, 2009

I think you may be spreading your interests too wide. I don't want the same person to be designing my website and managing my gigs. A web designer will do the website job properly, and an agent will negoiate the contracts- but these are both complex jobs better handled by specialists. Double-dipping doesn't help anyone. Any artist with a big enough budget to outsource that stuff is going to go to specialists for each job anyway. So trying to become an all-purpose "artist helper" isn't going to make you any money.

I'm a professional freelance creative / performer type, and I don't ever need anyone to introduce me to other artists- I just go to parties. As for workshops and stuff like that, there are email lists for that. A person trying to hook me up with that kind of stuff might occasionally be appreciated, but there's no way I'd pay for someone to help me network unless they were a professional publicist getting me on talkshows and in magazines.

A publicist job isn't a bad fit for what you're interested in, acutally. It's basically a desk job, but also lots of fun schmoozing at parties & events. You'd write press releases & send them out to get media exposure and party invites for artists to promote their new work.

In the first few years of your career, you might charge, say, $1000/month for a single artist- say, for instance, a 25 year old actor who just got a mid-size recurring part on a TV series. You'd be trying to get, say, a newspaper article, two magazine spots with photos, a radio interview, a local entertainment news or talkshow appearance, and a few shiny party invites that month- that much publicity would be a steal for $1000. You could perhaps also help suggest ideas for their personal branding, or facilitate a relationship with a local designer who'll lend them clothes for appearances or shoots, and maybe help them write copy and pick photos for their website, but that might be a better job for a stylist and a web designer- again, people are more likely to spend money with specialists. To be a good publicist, you need to form professional relationships with at least 5-10 media outlets, so they actually read your press releases.

- Personal assistant - Car & desk job. Answering mail, running errands, booking reservations & flights, etc.

- Talent Agent - Basically a desk job, lots of email and phone, occasional jaunts to the theatre to find promising new clients, but that isn't really necessary once you have a roster. You'd have a small roster of clients, and you'd submit them to casting breakdowns and negotiate their contracts. Aim for a job as an agent's admin assistant- actually these people are in fairly high demand as it's hard to do this well- to see if you'd like this work.

- Speakers' agent - Basically a desk job. You'd have a roster of potential speakers, and you'd be on the phone with lots of organizations to see if you could basically sell them a speaker.

- Stage Manager - A rehearsal & venue job. You'd take notes during rehearsal and liase between creative & production sides of the process.

- Theatre Producer - Mostly a desk job. Writing grants & budgets, getting visas, sourcing deals on stuff, etc. This sounds the most like what you're interested in doing.

One thing I'll mention- right now it sounds like you're a bit of a "fan" of creative people. That kind of enthusiasm will make you seem low-status and unprofessional. It's a business and you're a manager trying to help them make money. Don't be a cheerleader, don't act excited. You need to be a cool-headed businessperson looking for mutually beneficial agreements and helping promote an artist like they're a product. You can and should admire your artists' talent, but you should never gush about it. A good agent is levelheaded and kind of a bulldog negotiator, more like a lawyer than a supporter.

Hope all this helps!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:09 PM on June 14, 2009

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