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Artist management | Andy Inglis
"Get over it: There’s no rule for managing artists"

There's no rule for managing artists
Foto: Valerie Siba Rousparast

It’s a Friday night, everyone is ready to go home. The dark circles around the eyes of the participants are hanging low. Then, a smartly dressed Scottish guy enters the room, starts a motivational talk dealing more with failure than success and lights up the audience.

He’s funny, dramatic, honest, a keynote speaker with a purposefully crazy act. Because, what even is 'normal', right?
Laughter resonates throughout the room as Andy Inglis talks about drug abuse, alcoholism and unnamed artists he won’t work with anymore. He doesn’t provide a tool box of 'This is how you manage an artist' or any Sheryl-Sandbergy lean-in type of advice. No. He talks about failure and the personal aspects of engaging with artists.

„It’s just like any relationship“

There are certain tasks a manager deals with: manage the artist’s album campaigns either with or without a label in place, helping them assemble team members like a PR manager, booking agent, accountant or a lawyer. At the same time, managers are so much more. When being asked how to become an artist manager, Inglis fires back with a wink and looks directly at you: “It’s kind of like asking 'How do I make new friends?' Well, it depends on who the people are. You have no idea who they are and what kind of person they want you to be for them until you meet and spend time with them. It’s just like any relationship.” Inglis really means it: He presents a slide showing all the different kinds of personal relationships, with the artist manager listed at the bottom of the slide. His advice to managers applies in the same way to artists: “If you want to work with a manager, think of them as anybody in your life: ask yourself who you want to work with intimately, or want to spent time with. Like them! Care about them! Trust them!”
During the break, everyone is hyped about Andy Inglis’ talk: “I am pretty impressed, I was expecting more kind of a book talk, but he’s just talking about his own experience. He’s an outstanding person, and I think his advice is very useful. You can feel that he’s thinking out of the box how to reinvent the whole management praxis”, states Patricia Bandala, who has a background in communications and management. Two days after the workshop, Yankey Perpetual, an Accra-based singer states that “it was actually the best workshop to learn what is good for your career, when to work with a manager. Artist management is really important to me, because we always have this problem in Ghana where artists and managers always have an issue.”

„It’s all negotiable“

Most participants are curious about at what point it makes sense to have a manager as well as about the percentage of fees that is adequate. Inglis looks around the room and raises both his arms: “Well, there’s no one rule for any of this. It’s hard to tell at what point a manager is affordable and a good career choice. It also depends on what the deal is. It’s all negotiable. You have to ask yourself: 'Is it a solo artist or an orchestra? What are the production costs? What are the living costs?' Every artist is different. Some managers might say 'I won’t take commission for the first year, or the first two years, until you earn this amount of money, or until you’ve paid your mortgage.' It’s all negotiable. I don’t take money from my artists if they do a show and make 50€. If they start making 5,000€, sure, I can take commission. I look at every artist differently. From some I take commission from the beginning, because they can afford to pay it. Some maybe can’t afford to pay me for three or four years.”

„It’s built on trust“

Of course, Andy Inglis has another steady job, and he’s very straight forward about it: “If you want to manage a band or an artist, have some other income. Get some other work, because you probably can’t make money out of this for a while. I love managing bands, I can’t do anything else. But I still have to find some other work, otherwise I can’t afford to pay my artist’s legal fees or the PR company, because sometimes they have no money and I want them to get to a point where we’ll both make an income.” This sounds very insecure, and it sure is. If an artist leaves the managing relationship, you can lose everything. But managers can protect themselves. Inglis explains: “There are two ways: Either you have a contract with a 'sunset clause' and then if you stop working together you can continue to earn some money. If you can’t afford a contract - which often happens, because the industry often expects the manager to pay the legal costs for drawing it up - then it’s built on trust.”