Q&A – I Was Asked To Manage Someone. How Do I Get Started?

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We received a question out of the blue the other day.  It’s fairly common, so rather than keep it a secret, it made sense for readers to see if they can learn from this.  Read the question and see our answer.  If you have two cents to add, comment below and give us your thoughts.

Question: I Was Asked To Manage Someone. How Do I Get Started?

I got a quite unexpected job offer the other day: to be the personal manager for two of the players on a well-established competitive gaming/esports team. The two players both play the game that I specialize in, and I wanted to send you a note because the it would appear that this job bears some similarity to being an agent or manager for a solo-act musician. I don’t have any formal experience being a personal manager, but I know it’s a normal thing in the music industry so I thought you might be able to offer some advice (or resources to look at).

I’ve already typed up some of this info in an email I sent to Karl Guthrie inquiring about the contract portion of the deal, but here’s some background info:

They’re interested in hiring me as the manager for their (name withheld) team. It only consists of two players, but both are professionals with extremely good results and proven branding value. They’re looking to fill a vacancy that was created when one of the business managers left. He’d been managing the team on the side, and so they’re looking to find someone to do it part-time, remotely (except for events, when I’d be assisting on-site).

Essentially, I’d be the personal manager for the players when they’re physically at tournaments, be the point of contact between the company and the players, and I’d be the company’s only “inside source” for their competitive scene. I’ll probably be handling some social media responsibilities for them (Twitter primarily), but I don’t believe it’s intended as a major focus for the job role.

Here’s a little bit of context about the scene:

A professional player has a similar lifestyle to a touring solo artist, although I’d bet they spend a little bit more time at home during the week.  There are about 8-10 “big events” per year that most top players fly to, which tend to be Thursday-Monday trips. However, there are also a host of smaller 2-day events that a professional player will go to fill out their schedule. Many top players stream on Twitch.tv during the week or during the weekends that they aren’t traveling to tournaments, however most players are too committed to their tournament results to put enough energy into their streams to make them a significant source of income.

It’s probably also worth mentioning that I got my “start” in the scene by offering controller repair+modification services for individual players in the community, as I mentioned to you previously. In the past year, I developed an unparalleled reputation amongst pro players, to the point where I’d guess that a majority of the top 100 players in the world are playing on controllers I made. It helped me develop a very strong Twitter presence in the community. Both of the guys on the roster of the team I’m talking with are playing controllers that I made, and part of the appeal of bringing me in as a personal manager is to ensure that the players don’t have to worry about controller malfunctions mid-event.

Overall, the season heats up in Q3 and Q4, but doesn’t have too many big tournaments until mid-summer. However, unlike touring artists, the work is more consistent throughout the year with fewer long breaks than a touring artist.

My job will essentially be a road manager, but with these players there are a lot less variables than a band (IE: not much equipment, staff, etc). I probably won’t be attending some of the smaller events, but obviously I’ll be responsible for the player’s travel/hotel, etc.

I’ll be assisting personally at the “big events” to ensure that each player’s weekend goes smoothly.

I suppose the main distinction between this and your typical personal manager in the music industry is that I’m unlikely to be doing any managing on a free-lance level. Just focusing on managing these two players is the limit for now, so I can focus hard on making sure everything goes well. I’m fairly sure that the compensation will be a little less than impressive, but honestly just having the word manager in my title is job experience that I desperately need.

If you have any advice or resources on how to get set up with this based on the limited info I sent, I’d really appreciate it. Perhaps there are more – or fewer – similarities to the music scene than I thought.

I should also mention: I’m still waiting on a few specifics to come in to my inbox, regarding compensation, some more detailed job duties, etc. If you need that to make a good recommendation, let me know!

Answer:

Right off the bat – cool!  This sounds very interesting.

Steve Marcone and I just published a book about artist management called Managing Your Band: 6th Edition, which you can buy for a low price here (click on the cute pic below or the ugly Buy Now button):

You’re doing everything right by reaching out for advice.  Make sure you have something in writing in terms of commission or compensation with your potential new clients.  Some managers prefer to work via handshake agreement.  But unless you have a very strong relationship AND still have some basic agreement (even in an email) of what you’ll do and how much your commission will be, they can turn around at any moment and bid you an Adios!  They may fire you at some point anyway.  Or you’ll decide to quit.  While you want experience and this looks good on your resume, you shouldn’t be working for free (even most interns get paid nowadays) when they’re generating income.  

Also, figure out with them if you’re their personal manager, business manager, or tour manager. There’s a difference.  You’ve mentioned all three above.  It’s important that you know, and they know, where your time will be spent and for what.  The last thing you need is poor communication at the outset.  Then you and they may have differing expectations based upon incomplete information, all because you weren’t clear from the beginning.  Get this set so you can start without hiccups of potential disorganization.

A lot of what you do will be organization and keeping these guys in check. You’ll be busier than you think.

Read the book.  Listen to our podcasts with managers.  Listen to this one we just did with tour manager Charity Lomax:

We have a lot of resources like these for you.  But really, where you’ll learn the most is by doing – just doing the job, messing up, fixing your mistakes, and making things right.

I also suggest you read the book “They Call Me Supermensch” by Shep Gordon.  He managed celebrity chefs and built that whole category of people to manage.  Seems like you might be on a similar trajectory by managing gamers.  The book was also a good documentary directed by Mike Myers.  Watch that, too.

You can always email or call.  We’re here to help.

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For full details about the Music Management Program, including courses, the minor, and our MBA, click HERE.

For full details about the WPU Pop Music Studies Program, including courses and audition requirements, click HERE.

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Professor David Philp is Assistant Professor Music Management & Popular Music Studies at William Paterson University. He is the co-host of the only FREE advice college radio-based music & entertainment industry talk show in America, Music Biz 101 & More, which airs live most Wednesday nights and is available as a podcast HERE every night (days too).  Your favorite professor is also co-author (with Dr. Steve Marcone) of Managing Your Band – 6th Edition.  Reach him at PhilpD@wpunj.edu or find him on LinkedIn HERE.

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