why artists looking for soft skills to grow with independence in hand?
The artistic process is like photosynthesis for creative people. We absorb our environment: sound, space, light, everything that happens to us. In this relationship, the blooming flower is the artist, while the manager spins the planet and holds the sun.
In my experience, having had the privilege of meeting and dealing with some of the most savvy managers, I can rely on one hand on the rules that represent the successful partnership between an artist and a manager. All four are soft skills you learn in the schoolyard rather than in the classroom: honesty, teamwork, loyalty, and courage.
Honesty: Do you make art or are you an artist?
Mexican pop master Luis Del Villar said during Billboard Latin Music Week in 2018, “Not everyone who makes art is an artist. The successful artist is rarely satisfied with his creative output because the journey is his identity, which is also his message. It’s complicated to try to describe whether the “real” artist exists or not, but the honesty that both parties need is the prologue of any artistic journey.
As the arbiter of their reality and identity, your responsibility as a manager is to ask brutally honest questions that an artist cannot – for their life – answer. Their art grows through them, and if you as a manager can’t see that flow, if you can’t understand that flow, it’s impossible to define it and therefore retain it for consumers.
Artists post millions of pieces of content and artwork every day, but not all of them have an origin story that’s deeply rooted in the artist’s mind. Therefore, not all have the monetizable benefit required by an artistic asset. Honesty is key here: honesty in the recording studio, honesty during contracts, and honesty when the art just doesn’t fit. It’s only after you promote bad music that you realize there are no second chances in this industry, and going overboard only wins you.
Teamwork: Recruit smarter to complete your roundtable.
You may be good at a few areas, but specialize in one area. Find yourself other industry experts if you are looking to grow properly and be patient. For example, just as super-manager Matt Llewellyn of Dark Horse Management says, “The biggest misconception emerging artists have is that success happens overnight. Artists, like most people, want immediate success and notoriety. It’s really important to set expectations for your artist.
This business is a marathon. It doesn’t matter how good your music is; it takes time to grow a fan base and develop relationships with the right people to gain visibility and momentum
Good managers hire; the best managers recruit. Your personal expertise, whether it be legal, accounting or simply “a musical ear”, is completely secondary to your ability to mobilize the talent of experts. As CEO of Artist Image, you are responsible for delivering every step of the way. From marketing to managing the emotional balance of the artist’s creative space.
Speaking of ROI artist, realize that the whole journey is a fine balancing act. Your returns occur when the whole equation is well-oiled and aligned.
Loyalty: It’s rare. If you find it, keep it.
Relationships that are bound by word and tested by trial are the key factor in your ability to evolve. Monique Blake and Swizz Beatz, a 20-year kick-to-camel relationship, is a prime example of how loyalty pays off. The producer has expanded its brand every few years and now includes verticals such as fashion, art, real estate and even camel racing. True to that mogul mentality, Blake rose from personal assistant to managing director of Swizz Beatz Productions. The humility that accompanies loyalty is imperative for the long-game mentality that has an invariable edge toward success.
Longevity of the relationship is what all managers aspire to; loyalty is the cement. Your artist will grow through the world that you reveal to him. The artist’s ability to reimagine his vision depends on your ability to navigate his emotional space and direct yourself to a grounded endgame. If your artist is a loose cannon and you let them burn bridges, you won’t be able to salvage industry loyalty because you, the manager, let that happen.
Courage: Bet big, bet bold, but pace yourself.
Courage, the last and most important pillar of the equation, has everything to do with the manager’s ability to recognize talent, accept their own abilities and use the resources around for a powerful strike. Betting on an artist is always the last step. You may have all the resources in the world, but if you can’t confidently sign that check, you’re just wasting your time.
Drawing inspiration from Luis Del Villar’s answers on a 2018 Billboard panel, as a super-manager your courage doesn’t just have to be mixed with recklessness, although some odds do work. You can’t just release any track that comes your way because quality matters above all else. This also goes for your reach campaign; as a potential manager, you have to take risks with the bigwigs or you’ll never get out of your hood.
Honesty, teamwork, loyalty and courage – master these four soft skills and you can take any career to the next level. The rest is just paperwork.