Talent Management

Confessions of a Music Artiste Manager

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“Record labels really don’t care two hoots about artistes or independent music. They act more like a distribution unit”

I had a well-paying corporate job in the media before I became an artiste manager. I joined because I feel strongly about music and want to promote independent bands in India. But it’s not something you should get into if you want to make money. Independent music has very little value in India and bands themselves hardly make any money. I also do freelance work on the side as I can’t live on the money I make being an artiste manager.

The job of an artiste manager is to promote and market the band, and get them gigs. Only those who manage famous bands make money, as they charge about Rs 2 lakh or so per gig. There are also very few live gig places in India. But it’s all changing. This year itself, there were varied music festivals across the country. The main objective is to make the band popular and get their music out there. Internationally, there are many music festivals that want independent artistes from different countries to come and play. Our aim is to get our bands there. In India, most people listen to only Bollywood and don’t believe in buying music.

Record labels really don’t care two hoots about artistes or independent music. They act more like a distribution unit. They fill their quota by signing on five bands a year, but don’t put any consideration or money [into] promoting them. It’s only about producing a CD and putting it in stores. There is no publicity and no marketing. It makes it very hard for the artiste. Most of them have day jobs.

Also, like in most professions, being an artiste manager is all about socialising. But it’s at a completely different level. This is not professional. You have to go to all the gigs, know the right people and hang out with them and drink with them. Then they might take you seriously. I didn’t know how to do that. You also have to be a Yes Man. And that’s real hard work. It’s a very snobbish world and it’s very hard to fit in.

(This person has been an artiste manager for three years)

As told to Aastha Atray Banan