Little Chinese kid running around saying, "Indie, indie!"
April 18, 2007 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Managing a band: good sources to learn everything from scratch.

One of my favorite bands asked me to move out to New York to manage them. They want me for the job alone on my enthusiasm for their music. They know I'm completely inexperienced but want me anyway. (Yay!)

I can't for the life of me find a couple bookmarks I used to have. One was some website that detailed everything about managing a band. Then there was another one about starting a label. Finally, there was some Amazon book on managing a band that was highly recommended. I've been searching earnestly but coming up empty.

If you know any of the sites/book I'm talking about, please fill me in.

Otherwise, general advice is always welcome, or other sources you feel would be beneficial to my quest.
posted by Mach3avelli to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In theory, the velvet rope has a bunch of band managers.

This is supposed to be the gold standard of music industry books.

The one big thing to keep in mind is that part of the music business may be changing dramatically in the next few years (mainly record labels and the like).
posted by drezdn at 1:53 PM on April 18, 2007

Here's how you do it. Find a bar that features the kind of music your new band is into. Find out their open nights, they will give you the door and they will take the bar. Usually it's a 60-40 deal to the bar. Press and case some CDs and postcards beforehand and sell them. Start a website, do some mailings to other clubs. The importance about this job is the amount of time you are going to have to 'sell' the band to other promoters. There are a lot of bands who want to be on stage, even at small venues. I saw a signed artist yesterday here in DC who played a gig to an audience of 15 for $8 a person. Whoever is managing that guy is a total disaster.
posted by parmanparman at 1:58 PM on April 18, 2007

MaximumRocknroll used to (and I presume still does) publish an annual how-to guide called Book Your Own Fuckin' Life. A great resource as I remember.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:03 PM on April 18, 2007

They don't publish that anymore, but it is online at It focuses mainly on hardcore and punk.
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:24 PM on April 18, 2007

Thirding BYOFL. That was the bible for indie/punk bands in the 80s. Surely you'll get some value out of it, at least a view from the gutter of the touring scene.
posted by intermod at 7:42 PM on April 18, 2007

The Donald Passman book drezdn recommended is a great place to start - it covers the business side of the business, and will give you a feel for how the show is run.

Having managed a band (and failed spectacularly) - and having been lucky enough to see people make bands successful, the key is the same as anywhere else - hard work and networking.

The band is great? Good start. You love them? Even better. But unless people who book shows, set up tours etc. know and like you and your band, nothing will happen.

You need to know the industry and the people. Be NICE. Go to shows, parties, industry events and make friends. Talk to other managers, get their feedback and suggestions.

Don't give bookers, agents, and labels a reason to think you're not in this for the long haul. If you're only in this for the one band, you're going to have a tough time - there are a million "tourists" in the industry (I was one) who are long on enthusiasm and short on sense - and there are vultures out there who live to take advantage of them.

And while enthusiasm and passion are gread, don't think your band is so good that people will just "notice" - or worse, that they're so good that asshole behaviour can be excused.

Remember that if you and the band are friendly and good to work with, people will want to put you on that tour. Show up on time, help unload, and stay for the closing act. It will be noticed.

All of this is even more important if you want a career in the music business beyond this band - you need people to respect you even after the lead singer trashes the bathroom / spits on the club owner / blows his major label signing by showing up two hours late and so high he walks into doorframes.

It's a tough and dirty business, and even with the best band, the best work ethic, and the best attitude in the world, it can still go pear-shaped - but even if it does, it can be a lot of fun along the way.
posted by nometa at 8:50 PM on April 18, 2007

The International Managers Forum is an organisation expressly set up to assist music managers in your position. They offer advice in books and on websites, run events and workshops, and provide directories of contacts that you will find invaluable. Their membership includes many successful managers as well as up-and-comers.

It is set up with sub-branches in many countries; the landing page is For UK management advice visit and for US music management advice visit

There is no replacement, however, for getting out there, doing it, learning as you go, and taking advice from others whenever you can.
posted by skylar at 1:27 AM on April 19, 2007

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