This is a delicate topic, but let me dive in starting with the difference between a self-managed company and a self-managed artist. If a company has a full staff that separates duties between an artistic director and a tour or managing director, that tends to work quite well. So I won’t address that in this post. What I do want to talk about, though, is an act where the artistic director/performer also handles all the business aspects of the act. That can be, and often is, a completely different matter.
I have presented several self-represented artists over my career and have many colleagues that have done the same. All have been excellent performers, but not all have been excellent managers. It’s not easy excelling in all things. What I, as a presenter, need is someone to make sure that an act is tour ready, communication is immediate and accurate, all press materials are top notch and timely, and that all details are handle professionally. A performing artist does not always have the time to do all that, especially when they need to focus their energies on making sure the performance is exactly at or above the performance level I expect based on what I have seen and heard.
That’s not to say that all agents and managers are perfect or that all presenters are similarly perfect. But there are certain aspects of this business that demand full attention, which is why I have tended to be cautious when considering a self-managed artist. Can they follow through on all the managerial aspects of what I need to make sure the performance is successful, well-attended, properly staffed, and expertly tech’d. I also have to consider why the artist does not have professional management. There could be a host of reasons, and they don’t always point to a positive answer.
And consider this. A stellar reputation by an agent or manager speaks volumes of the artists on their roster. Although I have grown to prefer seeing an artist in a performance before booking them, I will pass on that if I respect the agent or manager and my fellow presenters who have booked the act before. That all speaks volumes of quality and tour readiness.
I would love to hear thoughts on this from all sides.