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An artist manager, also known as a talent manager or band manager, is an individual or company who guides the careers of professional artists in the music industry. Generally, managers take care of the business side of an artist’s or band’s career, giving them the space to focus on creating music.
A manager for an unsigned band, or a band signed to a small label, may wear many different hats, including that of promoter, agent or accountant if the need arises. A manager for an artist signed to a larger label may act more as a supervisor of the other people working for the band. They will make sure the label is carrying out its role in a satisfactory manner, that advertising and promotional activity is in place, that tours are being booked, and that the band is being paid.
A good manager can change a muso’s career in no time, and over the years, managers have become a must-have for musicians from all walks of life. MIO recently caught up with manager Bhoza Mphela, who has worked with all kinds of artists, including Thandisile, DJ Ganyani and DJ Beef.
In this interview, Mphela gives us insight into how artist managers are perceived in the local music industry, the challenges they face as well as the benefits they provide.
Q: Most up and coming artists in South Africa don’t have managers. What do you think is the major cause for this?
Bhoza: I think it’s because some artists have no idea of the amount of work that goes into artist management. They think they can do it themselves and therefore think the manager basks in the artist light.
Q: For those who don’t know, what are the benefits of having a manager if you are an artist?
Bhoza: Since a manager’s role is to look out for the artist, the artist does not have to worry about being ripped off by promoters for example, as the fine print detail is taken care of by the manager. At times artists forget their worth, and the manager’s role is to uphold the artist’s name and ensure it is a respectable household name.
Q: What are the basic fees artists pay to managers and is it affordable to have a manager?
Bhoza: Working arrangements differ. The basic is an admin fee but mostly, artists prefer the manager to work on commission. For example, the manager may receive remuneration from the events the manager sets the artist up with. Also, the manager earns a percentage on the CD sales. A manager is affordable because both parties can negotiate and agree on a working fee that is appropriate to the level of the artist.
Q: Can you briefly tell us how one can successfully set up a business like yours from scratch?
Bhoza: First of all one has to have the personality for this business. That means being a negotiator , being firm and assertive , being a people-person and, of ccourse, haveing a passion for it, as it has its trials and tribulations. It is also vital for one to understand the business insideout and be a realist who does not want to start at the top. My advice to someone wanting to enter this field would be to get an education, understand figures, have the ability to interpret contracts, negotiations skills and, above all, networking ability.
Q: Can you share some of the challenges you face in the industry.
Bhoza: The challenge is normally explaining to an artist that, although the artist thinks he/she is good, they are actually mimicking Ntando or Rebecca Malope.
Q: You also organise events?
Bhoza: Yes, I organise events in the form of formal (corporates) and informal (clubs, launches etc).
Get in touch with Bhoza: email firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook : Bhoza Mphela.