Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a music manager? How about the burning question in every new artist's mind: "How do I get a manager?"
Our very own Tom Kwiat had the opportunity to sit down with music entrepreneur Rachel Sellick, founder of Scarlet River Management, to ask some of these questions and more. An ISSA Finalist for "International Promoter of the Year," as well as a Fair Play Country Nominee for "Manager of the Year," Sellick genuinely loves what she does. She holds to the idea that no two artists are alike. In her eyes, management should be tailored to each individual musician.
Based out of Wales, Scarlet River Management is a "company that specializes [...] in modern country." Some of Scarlet River's artists include Danny McMahon and Kelsey Bovey (click here to read a Live and Amplified Review of her single, "Magnetic"). Rachel Sellick, the founder, has been in management for around two years now and works with artists not only in a managerial aspect, but also in third-party booking, social media representation, and promotion. Read on for some interview highlights, and catch the full video in the embed media player at the end of this article!
Rachel's background is surprising. While one might guess "business" or "management," Sellick says that her background is "not in music at all." She currently holds down a full-time job in the neuroscience field. How (and why) was this company started, then?
This savvy entrepreneur says that Scarlet River Management began around relationships and friendships that she had with country musicians in her area. She started promoting a friend as a favor, using skills already in her arsenal (such as email communications and organization). She translated these know-hows into the field of music.
So, what exactly do managers do for artists? According to Sellick, "a lot of things." Rachel says that it's "really kind of managing the day-to-day with the artists and working with them, finding out what works for their audiences, what works for their particular music. Being a manager is different for every artist. What works for one artist might not work for another one." Rachel also believes that good relationships are key. She believes that managers should be able to talk about more than just music with their artists. "If you have a really good friendship, you find that things work better, and they flow better."
Sellick works within the social media avenue to assist her artists in determining "how to approach social media" and what content they need, whether video content, photography, a poll, or a particular marketing strategy. When they have music going into the studio, she works as a support network for them, partnering alongside the producer. Afterward, she dives into release strategies. How are they going to implement doing festivals, doing gigs, and doing online streaming? In Rachel's words, her work is "not to replace what the artist is doing. It's to kind of amplify what they are already doing for themselves."
So, the question now becomes, "What exactly does Scarlet River Management look for in musicians whom they might be interested in representing?"
Rachel lists three components:
As a manager, she has to love the musician's music and be totally invested in it.
There must be a good artist/manager relationship. You have to "click." And:
She "like[s] to know that the artist already has a vision for themselves and that they've already committed to their music. They need to believe in themselves, and then we can believe in them with them."
What should musicians, then, be looking for in a manager?
Rachel states that artists need to know what they want (visions, goals, etc.) and then use that to determine which managers will be able to give that to them. It's not about going to the top and finding the "most successful managers out there." Whomever an artist chooses to represent them must be invested in the particular genre of music that they create. Pick someone you'll get along with.
As part of our Live Q&A, audience member Amberle Madden chimed in with this question:
"Do you think that artists should pay managers monthly, take a percentage, or both?"
Rachel: "I don't think that they should pay for a manager, personally. Managers should take a percentage revenue on something that [they] are able to give the artist."
[Take note! Keeping this advice in mind can help with "scam avoidance."]
What should musicians work on to make themselves more appealing to management?
Rachel's answer? A good online social media presence, especially in today's age. You should also take the time to make really good recordings.
Speaking of social media, have you ever wondered if managers and labels can you tell if someone has bought a following versus built one organically? Sellick believes that she can spot the difference. According to her, the two can be differentiated based on engagement.
A person can have a small number of social media followers but have really high engagement from the fans that they do have. This is representative of organic numbers. Likewise, a person may have thousands of "followers," but only 4 or 5 "likes" per post. This is usually a hint that a following count may have been purchased.
A few more words of advice from Sellick:
Artists, you need a good support network because "you just can't do it on your own - you just can't." Not every artist needs a manager, though. You can do very well yourself; it just depends on you as an individual and what you want. It's up to each artist to "make that executive decision" for themselves. "Center yourself as an artist and figure out what it is that you want to achieve."
Thanks for your time, Rachel!
Alisha Peru - @alishaperumusic
Singer | Songwriter | Multi-Instrumentalist | Educator
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