How to get a great manager: 6 tips from music executive Jeff Rabhan

This guest post is written by Jeff Rabhanartist manager, music-industry executive and international consultant. His clients have garnered twelve Grammy Awards, sold more than one hundred million records and generated over one billion dollars in global receipts. Rabhan currently serves as Chair of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

After 20 years in the business and hundreds of showcases under my belt, I’ve seen a lot of aspiring artists who have two things in common: They’re all looking for a manager and all trying to get signed. But for the great majority, that’s a pipe dream. The odds are against you. I know it sounds harsh, but in truth, many artists miss their opportunity by not being prepared.

Finding a proper manager can be a painful and frustrating process for many artists; the seemingly endless amount of pitching, sending out unsolicited material and inviting seasoned pros down to showcases only to be met by rejection on the other end can be debilitating. Many musicians blame the managers — it’s easy to convince yourself that their blind eye and stone ears can’t see and hear your musical greatness. But in truth, artists often are not properly prepared for management, nor are their careers in shape to the point where an experienced manager would be interested. So how do you know the right time to get a manager and what are the best ways to secure proper management?

DIY until you no longer can

If you’re sitting at home on the couch right now, chances are you don’t need a manager. You should be your own booking agent, publicist, marketing exec and radio promotion person before anyone else. For one, you’ll learn about all of the different aspects of your career and become educated. Second, you’ll build the relationships yourself instead of hiring a manager based upon who they “know.” Hopefully, by the time you’ve reached the point where you are so busy that you can no longer handle the tasks, proper management will have taken notice. After all, if you have a lot going on, the buzz of a band finds a way of reaching music execs.

In fact, there’s a funny saying amongst music industry people: “If you’re unsigned and great, I’ve heard of you;” meaning, if all of the pieces are put together and you’re ready for the major leagues, managers will find you, as will labels, and lawyers too.

Trust me. Rock bands are famous for handling their business correctly. They split up the chores, handle the tasks and operate their band like a business. This is one sure way to impress a possible manager. I remember before Incubus was signed to Sony Music, they had a strong relationship with their fanbase in southern California, kept meticulous fan lists and had plenty of merch to sell so much of the groundwork was done. The rest is history. Remember: If you’re a new act, no one is waiting for your music to come out. So get all the elements right first.

Get your online presence together

Any manager worth his salt will want to see an organized online presence. That doesn’t mean a website with a few old songs and bad pictures! Managers, labels and executives alike will want to know that you are part of an active community that includes a destination website for your project or band, as well as Facebook, Twitter, a ReverbNation profile, or even a Tumblr. The website should be updated, platforms linked, and the artist active. This is the bare minimum! In today’s market, artists are getting deals with labels and managers based upon the strength of their online presence alone. You could be one of them if you “work” your social media fanbase. Just ask Justin Beiber if YouTube helped him….

Know who you are

Very few managers are interested in figuring out who you are for you. Without a strong sense of identity, a sonic footprint, and a dialed-in look you are wasting time pursuing representation. Take the time to experiment and know exactly who you are, who your audience is and how you communicate with them first. A manager can help you execute but only you can determine those key points. Stepping forward without these three things intact is like a guitar player leaving his instrument at home the night of a gig. Branding is the phrase that pays and every artist needs to be in the branding business.

Some artists take offense to the term “branding” and feel that it goes against their artistic ethos. Think again. As a wise manager once said, “No one wants to manage the greatest band you never heard of.” Branding is music.

Captivate a following in your hometown

A manager friend of mine once told a band looking for management “Don’t call me until you can sell out the best club in your hometown!” I believe that message holds true. If you’re not popular where you are, how can you expect to be in demand anywhere else? Work on establishing yourself in your hometown and making yourself a household name at clubs, radio stations and the musical community. Bands that are making noise locally are usually the ones that get snatched up long before projects that have no local development.

Master your live performance

These days, an artist with no live following looking for management is like a tree falling in the forest. With so much income reliant upon touring and merchandise sales in today’s market, most managers will want to know that you are capable of earning on the road and building a fan base every time you get out and perform. This means that if you’re a band, you are tight and know how to sell it from the stage. If you are a solo artist, you should have a band together that showcases your talents and they are prepared to perform your material at any time.

I can’t tell you the number of times I was hyped on a band that I went to see and they couldn’t deliver it live. It’s a deal-killer every time.

Avoid “Uncle Joey Syndrome”

Many musicians fall prey to this horrible disease! Rarely is an artist served well by having a family member or close personal friend as their manager. More personal relationships are destroyed in this scenario than successful careers made. Plus, opinions are so subjective that often family is blinded by the reality of your situation. Hire the best person with the most experience you can find. Occasionally you meet the artist who believes that their career is the family business. I’ve managed artists who have insulated themselves with family and do not have the ability to see themselves clearly. Objectivity is the key to great management and blood rarely possesses it.

Having great songs is truly just the beginning. Without building your base and utilizing all of the tools available, you may find yourself in the unpleasant situation of waiting to be heard. So get off of that couch and know that success is in your hands. If you build it, they will come. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Jeff tweets daily at @JeffRahban.

KevinHow to get a great manager: 6 tips from music executive Jeff Rabhan
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How-to video: Fast and easy way to create ads for top music sites

In case you missed the announcement about the new ReverbNation “Promote It on Top Sites” campaign, get the scoop >here<. Basically, with this campaign, independent musicians on a tight budget are finally able to create their own custom ads and promote them on top sites like YouTube, Pandora, MTV, Pitchfork, and Rolling Stone.

Watch the video below to see how easy and fast it is to make professional quality ads and start gaining fans from music sites you know and love:

Look at Jenny Kowalski’s and Fastwalkers’ ad on AllMusic.com

Want to see your ad on premium sites just like Jenny Kowalski and Fastwalkers got to see theirs on AllMusic.com? Just click the button below to be seen, get heard, and start building buzz!

KevinHow-to video: Fast and easy way to create ads for top music sites
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September’s Breaking Artists: Kudos to these ReverbNation opportunity winners!

Do you ever wonder who submits to those opportunities you see in your email inbox every week? Do you wonder who gets picked to perform or chosen for a feature? We thought you might. Our monthly Breaking Artists newsletter features a sampling of those artists, along with this nice and shiny blog post you’re reading right now. The whole Reverb community will get the newsletter (all 2,000,000+ of them). Yep, it’s kind of a big deal.

Please, support your fellow musicians by listening to their music and sending them kudos in the comments!

PS: Breaking Artists are selected by Reverb staff from opportunity winners. Increase your chances of being one of them by submitting to opportunities here >>

Rocking Out at Iceland Airwaves…

Singer/songwriter Ghost Town Jenny.

The Foreign Resort

Alternative band The Foreign Resort.

Ghost Town Jenny and The Foreign Resort will play the Iceland Airwaves annual music festival in Reykjavík. The five-day festival has been called “the hippest long weekend on the annual music-festival calendar.”

“I am just over the moon about playing our first major music festival, especially when it’s in such a magical place like Iceland! I will be forever grateful to ReverbNation for being the platform we needed to get our music heard by more people…” 

-Ghost Town Jenny

“We have not played Iceland Airwaves before, so this is going to be a great experience for us. We thought it would be a long-shot, so we were absolutely thrilled to get the acceptance email! (…) We have now started applying to more opportunities through ReverbNation as we are now also seeing a lot of great opportunities that are in line with our goals.” 

-The Foreign Resort

Performed at Reverb’s Hopscotch Day Party…

Casual Curious at Hopscotch.

Casual Curious performed at ReverbNation’s “United by Music” Hopscotch Music Festival Day Party. Hopscotch is an annual independent music festival held in Raleigh, NC.  This year’s event featured 175 bands that played across 15 venues!

DJ’d the Electric Zoo Main Stage…

Julien Loreto

Toronto-based DJ Julien Loreto.

Julien Loreto performed on the Main Stage at Electric Zoo 2012 in NYC! Check out a short documentary about his experience here. Electric Zoo is an annual electronic music festival held over Labor Day weekend. This year, more than 110,000 people showed up to see the show headlined by Pretty Lights, Above & Beyond, and Skrillex.

“It was my first time DJ’ing at Electric Zoo and it was an honour to perform at such a world class festival. (…) Thank you to Reverbnation and MADE Events for the special experience. Electric Zoo in my heart. Hope to be back next year!.”

-Julien Loreto

Came Together for Make Music New York…

230 ReverbNation artists played Make Music New York.

230 ReverbNation artist performed at the Make Music New York music festival in NYC! The event took place on June 21, the first day of summer, and featured more than 1,000 free concerts throughout New York’s five boroughs. Good going to everyone who came out and participated!

Featured in Substream Music Press…

Come What May

Athens-based prog rock band Come What May.

Come What May got a feature in the Warped issue of Substream Music Press! Substream Music Press focuses on discovering and sharing the best new music– especially the stuff sometimes missed by the mainstream media.

More Winners: The World’s Fare, TreeHouse!, Ajam band, and Alexander Cardinale!

The World's Fare

Prog rock band The World’s Fare performed at the Masquerade Musician’s Showcase in Atlanta.

TreeHouse!

Reggae band TreeHouse! played at the Creative Food Drive in Durham, NC. “ReverbNation has helped us gain gigs, exposure, and press, and has facilitated our exhibition of professionalism throughout this process, with quality RPKs, widgets for our website, and several methods of keeping up with all our fans!”

Ajam band

London-based Ajam band performed during the Olympics at London International Arts Festival!

Alexander Cardinale

Singer/songwriter Alexander Cardinale won a Dream Recording Package from Seagate Creative! “Reverb is my ‘home base’. And it’s the only place I use for my industry EPKs!!!” Follow him @XanderMusic

Congrats to all of September’s “Breaking” Artists!

Don’t want to miss out on next opportunity?

There are four ways you can use to stay up-to-date on the latest gigs (we recommend using all of them to ensure nothing gets missed!):

  • Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook
  • Check the email updates we send you
  • Check the latest Opportunities on this page
  • Go to your Control Room on your Reverb page > click “Opportunities”

So, where’s your next gig?

KevinSeptember’s Breaking Artists: Kudos to these ReverbNation opportunity winners!
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ReverbNation rock band selected for new Dodge Dart commercial

After two months going through a couple rounds of online voting, competing against hundreds of other talented artists, and crafting just the perfect song, Michael Williams Band has been crowned the winner of the Dodge “Inspired By You” contest! Along with the free promotion and the worldwide exposure, this kickass rock band from L.A. will get the amazing opportunity to have their song featured in a new commercial featuring the All-New 2013 Dodge Dart.

If you haven’t had the pleasure to listen to Michael Williams, the lead singer and guitarist who is known for combining blistering guitar licks and intense performance energy with soulful songwriting and a dynamic voice, take the time to do it now. Here’s what Rock’s Back Pages has to say about the band:

“Imagine if Jimi Hendrix came out of Texas. That’s what you’ve got in Mike Williams, lead singer, guitarist, powerhouse. The kind of performer who makes you scream. He’s just outrageous… Williams is the real deal: raw rock power, great voice, powerful stage presence… anything you hear on the record is ten times wilder, heavier and more intense onstage.” read more…

Congrats also to the runners up bands!

Bungled and Botched, bluegrass band from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

If Birds Could Fly, folk band from Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

If you like what you hear, make sure to send kudos to your fellow musicians in the comments below!

KevinReverbNation rock band selected for new Dodge Dart commercial
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Breaking Artists #1: Highlighting winners of performances and feature opportunities

Do you ever wonder who submits to those opportunities you see in your email inbox every week? Do you wonder who gets picked to perform or chosen for a feature? We thought you might so starting this month, we’ll pick a sampling of those artists and send out a new, monthly Breaking Artists newsletter along with this nice and shiny blog post you’re reading right now. The whole Reverb community will get the newsletter (all 2,000,000+ of them). Yep, it’s kind of a big deal.

Please, support your fellow musicians by listening to their music and sending them kudos in the comments!

PS: Breaking Artists are selected by Reverb staff. Increase your chances of being one of them by submitting to opportunities here >>

Maren Morris

Singer/songwriter Maren Morris was named “Artist On The Verge” by the esteemed New Music Seminar (NMS), beating 99 other talented artists.

“It was all around a great experience. (…) I thank ReverbNation for giving me the opportunity to be discovered by NMS in the first place!” 

Listen and download Maren’s track Best of Me.

Veilside, Losing Scarlet, and The Heroes Lie

Hard rock bands Veilside (above), Losing Scarlet, and The Heroes Lie played the ReverbNation stage at WIIL Rock Fest 2012. Veilside told us they were honored to be asked back to WIIL Rock’s annual Rock Fest, this year celebrating 20 years of the Radio Station by sharing the stage with 20+ of their favorite acts like, Black Stone Cherry, Texas Hippie Coalition, Fear Factory, Saving Able, Static X, and much more. Listen to Veilside’s Dust in The Wind, Losing Scarlet’s Learning to Bleed, and The Heroes Lie’s I Am a Fighter below.

Late Cambrian

Brooklyn indie rock band Late Cambrian performed at LUCKYRICE Festival 2012 in NYC! Here’s what they have to say about the experience: “We entered the LUCKYRICE Contest a few days after we joined ReverbNation. The head of LUCKYRICE said he listened to over 250 bands before choosing us. It was an honor really! The Festival itself was amazing. Some of the most delicious food we’ve ever tasted! They gave us free passes to 3 of the 5 nights of Luckyrice. Our show, on an outside stage, under the Manhattan Bridge was an awesome thing to be a part of. It was professionally run and we sold a bunch of CDs.”

“Thank you ReverbNation for connecting us with the contest… It was one of the highlights of our time as a band.”

Listen and download Late Cambrian’s track I Gave You My Limit.

D.V.S*

Brooklyn-based guitarist and producer D.V.S* performed at the 2012 Gathering of the Vibes’ Silent Disco. This year’s lineup included big acts like The Avett Brothers, Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, and ALO. Definitely sounds like a good crowd to be part of! Listen to D.V.S*’s Shortness of Breath.

Herukhuti Ausar

North Carolina rapper Herukhuti Ausar opened up a SOLD OUT SHOW for Logic and Tayyib Ali at The Roxy in LA! He said: “It was great! I really enjoyed the opportunity to communicate with the Roxy crowd. I got a real good vibe from there and the fans let us know that they enjoyed the performance. GREAT ENERGY!!” Listen to Herukhuti Ausar’s track Carolina:

Eitch, 4onthefloor, Sumilan

Eitch played at Wakarusa Music Festival this year (last year she went as a fan and promised herself she would do everything in her power to play there this year). “I honestly believe that if it weren’t for [ReverbNation’s] update in my inbox, it may have never come to my attention that Wakarusa was gathering their artists in time for me to act.” 

“ReverbNation was definitely the catalyst in making a dream come true.” 

Along with Eitch, 4onthefloor and Sumilan also got the amazing opportunity to play at Wakarusa Festival this past month! Listen to Eitch’s Sun and Moon, 4onthefloor’s On Tuesday, and Sumilan’s How Now Does It Feel below.

The Nearly Deads, One Days Notice, Zak Smith, Slave To The Day

The grunge rock band from Nashville, The Nearly Deads, got a feature in Substream Music Press.

Pop rock band One Days Notice opened for The Offspring at House of Blues Cleveland. “We had an AWESOME time! The Offspring, the crowd, and the House of Blues staff were GREAT!”

NJ rock band Zak Smith opened for Carbon Leaf at Brooklyn Bowl. “It was awesome playing at Brooklyn Bowl with Carbon Leaf, who are an unbelievable band. It’s by far one of the greatest venues to play in NY.” Photo by Vernon Webb.

Metal band Slave To The Day played Dirt Fest 2012 in Birch Run, MI.

Listen to The Nearly Deads’ The Perfect Cure, One Days Notice’s Shake It Out (free download), Zak Smith’s Crawling (free download), and Slaves To The Day’s The Waking below.

Congrats to all of August’s “Breaking” Artists!

Don’t want to miss out on next opportunity?

There are four ways you can use to stay up-to-date on the latest gigs (we recommend using all of them to ensure nothing gets missed!):

  • Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook
  • Check the email updates we send you
  • Check the latest Opportunities on this page
  • Go to your Control Room on your Reverb page > click “Opportunities”

So, where’s your next gig?

KevinBreaking Artists #1: Highlighting winners of performances and feature opportunities
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We need your vote to send our panelists to SXSW 2013!

Vote to send our expert panelists to Austin!

I know, it may seem that South By Southwest Festival was the other day, but believe it or not, we already have our eyes on next year’s festival. Our team has proposed two cutting-edge panel topics to lead at SXSW this coming March… they just need your vote (yeah, I’m talking to you) to get to Austin! ReverbNation staffers have led panels at SXSW for the past three years and are looking forward to making it four straight!

HOW YOU CAN HELP
Follow the links below and give us “thumbs up” for our panel suggestions. Voting ends on August 31st, so please take a moment and vote for us if you can. Anyone may vote. You don’t have to be attending the festival, or even live in the United States! You may vote for both topics.

Why Artist Development Matters: Then and Now by Victoria Camera (ReverbNation) and Jason Lekberg (Eleven Seven Music)

Artist Development is a second thought at the major labels as they rely more and more on hit singles at Radio and on iTunes. But to have a long term successful career, you need artist development to grow your fan base. This panel will talk about all the key elements in artist development.

Link to vote: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/5596

Ditch the Headliner! Big Brands Need Small Guys by Glenn Goldman (ReverbNation)

Brands have traditionally focused on soliciting support from big-name spokespeople for marketing campaigns. The assumption was that paying a lot of money for the right spokesperson was worthwhile due to their embedded network and social status — people ‘look up’ to celebrities because they want to be like them. This panel will reorient this old school logic by concentrating the core ideas and scaling it vertically for larger reach. We’ll propose solutions to attract more fans with less money by empowering the long tail. We’ll learn how to maximize the potential of small groups. The panel looks at the formation of social nodes and identifying the ‘social leaders’. We’ll discuss how non-monetary motivators can solicit better engagement than money. We’ll go in depth on the variety of technical tools available for this approach, including the use of Facebook developer tools and the Facebook API.

Link to vote: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/5879

Thanks!
THE REVERBNATION TEAM

KevinWe need your vote to send our panelists to SXSW 2013!
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Musicians and Facebook Timeline: Here’s What Reverb Artists Think [Infographic]

Back at the end of March, all Facebook pages switched to the Timeline layout. We wanted to know what the ReverbNation community thought about the switch, so we reached out with a survey after 30 days… and again after 90 days. If you missed yesterday’s article on Hypebot, take a look at the resulting infographic below then let us know how you feel in the comments (feel free to share it with your community!):

 

KevinMusicians and Facebook Timeline: Here’s What Reverb Artists Think [Infographic]
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500 ReverbNation Artists Compete for Dodge Dart Commercial: Download, Vote, Help Choose the Winner!

You may know of Dodge as the auto-manufacturer made famous by such marvelous machines as the Charger, Challenger, Super Bee, and the compact-class Dart. Back in the 60s and 70s, these straight-line speedsters exemplified American Muscle: two-doors, 8 cylinders, and more horsepower than a Napoleon parade through the Arc de Triumph. Over the last few years, the company has made a complete overhaul to their current line of autos. This year, “Little brother” Dart returns to market with a new body, new interior, and 21st century features to compete with a growing compact class.

“Why the automobile history lesson on your favorite music marketing blog?”
…Drum roll please….

Dodge "Inspired By You' contest

500 handpicked ReverbNation artists are competing for the chance to represent the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart.  What do we mean by ‘represent’? How about having your song featured in a commerical for the all-new Dart!!

1. SETUP
Dodge’s music experts scoured ReverbNation for the best indie artists in 5 main genres. Thousands of invites were issued, and songs were reviewed based on their creativity, musicianship, and recording quality. The competition was fierce! They received far more submissions than expected. There were thousands of superbly written songs in all genres. Ultimately, they could only choose 500 with the right mix.  Accepted artists were notified and preparations began for an incredible fan-powered contest…

2. VOTE
Beginning today, anyone with a valid Facebook account may vote for an artist by downloading their song: one download = one vote. You may only vote for an artist once, but you can vote/download songs from as many artists as you like. Voting is open for 2 weeks, until July 29 at 11:59pm EDT. The “Inspired By You” Contest is hosted on Dodge’s Facebook Page.

Get FREE Music and Vote »

3. CREATE
Ending July 30, the top 3 highest vote-getters in each genre will become finalists. Along with winning a cash prize, our 15 Finalists will be tasked with writing a brand new song that exemplifies the award-winning all-new 2013 Dodge Dart. They’ll have 3 weeks to conceive, record, produce, and master a single-style ‘Inspired By You’ song. Talk about pressure!

4. PAYOFF
Beginning August 20th, the ‘Inspired By You’ songs from our 15 finalists will be featured on Dodge’s Facebook page for the whole world to hear. Dodge’s panel of music reviewing experts will take one week to review the compositions. They’ll be judged based on creativity, musicianship, and quality. Finally, on August 27, Dodge will announce the two runnerups and a single grand prize winner. They’ll all receive exposure on Dodge’s online properties, but the big ticket item is a solo dance.

The grand prize winning Inspired By You song will earn the amazing opportunity to be featured in a brand new Dodge commercial!

Excited? We are too! So go ahead… explore amazing, curated music on Dodge’s Facebook page and start voting!

Go to the Contest »

 

Kevin500 ReverbNation Artists Compete for Dodge Dart Commercial: Download, Vote, Help Choose the Winner!
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